Midnight Juggernauts

The Midnight Juggernauts are constantly on the move, spokesperson for the Australian trio, Vincent Vendetta, perhaps more so than his bandmates. On the eve of the digital release of their second full-length album, The Crystal Axis, the Juggernauts have done a quick run around Europe, come home, only to have Vendetta turn around and fly to Los Angeles for a writing and recording session with Solange Knowles. Now Vendetta is feverishly packing his entire apartment to put into storage indefinitely as the group leaves once again on tour.

“I don’t know what the year ahead will entail, or where I will be,” Vendetta says. “It is nice knowing I am not paying rent on a place in which I am not going to be living. [But] it is also nice having a bedroom where you can leave all your stuff unpacked and not worry about the lobby call in the morning.”

Even when not on tour, the group is split between Melbourne (Vendetta and guitarist Andrew Szekeres) and Sydney (drummer Daniel Stricker). This has been the case since Stricker joined in 2007. Prior to that, Vendetta and Szekeres had been playing music together since high school, only getting serious in the last five years. Following two EPs, the Juggernauts released their debut album, Dystopia, on their own Siberia record label. The unique blend of indie and dance, which has been dubbed “space disco,” “stadium disco metal,” “dirty organ rock” and “prog rock,” caught the attention of France’s Justice who took the Aussie trio under their wing and on the road.

The Juggernauts’ synth-rock slots in just as easily with the Francophile, style-obsessed electro contingent as with the sticky carpet venue indie kids. This is also the reason you can find the trio playing the same set on the same week in London, UK; one at the rock club Koko, the other at the dance club Fabric.

“All bands say they don’t want to be pigeonholed, but it is a risk having a less-defined directional pathway,” Vendetta admits. “We try to have different sides to our band and that means diverse audiences. Every time we release new music, some people will be happy and there are going to be quite a few people that reject our new direction. But we are happy to have the freedom to have a broader sonic terrain.”

Taking advantage of the creative license they have given themselves, for The Crystal Axis, the Juggernauts take a small step away from the vocoder-ed robotics of Dystopia. In its place are percussive orchestrations and cinematic textures. “Vital Signs” infuses humanity with its science fiction structure. This futuristic theme pervades The Crystal Axis, reaching its pinnacle on “The New Technology.” It doesn’t all take place in a distant galaxy, however, as the dial shifts to AM and the decade rolls back four times to the ‘70s on “Lara Versus The Savage Pack.”

This amalgamation can be attributed to divergent musical backgrounds. Vendetta, for example, has played classical violin—practicing three hours a day—from a young age. This was balanced with Sunday morning music video programs featuring anyone from Billy Joel, to David Bowie, to Nirvana. Then there is Australia’s rock heritage, laid out by AC/DC, and classical pianist Philip Glass with his sequenced approach to progressions.

This divergent attitude is also behind the group’s Siberia label. Besides releasing their own material through the imprint, the initial intention was to release other artists’ efforts as well. To this end, Vendetta set up a website for Siberia, with the address of a veterinary clinic in Siberia for demos to be sent. What the band has received is a lot of Russian attention and demos from Russian acts, which they plan to release as a compilation, from the Midnight Juggernauts vantage point.

“The idea of pursuing music on a serious level when you’re younger, it’s a dream. You are never really sure if you will be able to support yourself and make it a career,” Vendetta says as he tries to keep the toiletries he is packing to a minimum so the rest of the band don’t blame him for excess luggage fees. “When I arrive in a new country and you have to state your occupation, I feel so lucky I am able to write ‘musician,’ on that form.”

– Lily Moayeri

Photography by Cybele Nalinowski