By Liz Lawson
Spencer Draeger grew up in San Francisco listening to his dad’s Roxy Music albums and believing there was nothing more powerful than a live music performance. Throughout high school and beyond, he formed and played with bands made up of his closest friends. When his previous band imploded, he was left without his best friends, a band, or a clear identity.
With virtually nothing to his name, Spencer saddled up. He had already made the decision that music would be his living, and he was going to stick to that. He worked as a bartender in order to buy his own equipment and record his own songs. Through this process, he taught himself how to play a variety of instruments, and recorded four representative songs by himself. He did this by playing each part and layering the recordings on top of each other—the effect of a full band from just one guy. After crafting the four songs, he decided it was time to move to New York City.
Immediately he realized how much more vast and dense NYC was than his hometown. It took him about 6 months to meet drummer Andrew Segreti from a mutual friend at a bar one night, and they immediately hit it off. Spencer acknowledges that the way he describes his and Andrew’s chemistry makes it seem romantic—and he does indeed call it “the perfect relationship.” Andrew introduced Spencer to bassist Matt Leibowitz, and there you have it—the three original members of The Midnight Hollow.
A band that values spontaneity, Spencer says his favorite songs to perform are ones like “That Rabbit Talk” and “Forward,” where he gets to put his instrument down. He creates a community in the room—as opposed to playing music at an audience, the band gets to play with them. He has “frontman freedom,” where he hypnotizes listeners and fully immerses them in the sounds they’re hearing. It’s some pretty psychedelic stuff.
The band got their name from a fellow bartender. Late one night, while dealing with rude drunk people, one of Spencer’s coworkers remarked, “The people that come into this bar are so hollow.” Since then, the band’s message to the world has been directed at drunk people who demand the cheapest shot that also has the highest alcohol content, and proceed to not leave a tip. All the proceeds from The Midnight Hollow’s shows go towards bartenders who are recovering from college girls out for their friend’s 21st birthday.
Joking aside, The Midnight Hollow’s sound has a way of creating an experience for the listener. As you continue to listen to their songs, you get more and more invested in them. Their style is one that constantly surprises and intrigues. From upbeat dance tunes like “Walls,” to trance-like alternative crescendos like “Her Morning Glow,” they have songs that inspire a wide variety of emotions.
As we went on talking, Spencer stressed the importance of his newly found independence after breaking away from his previous band. An incredible learning experience, he has fallen more in love with writing songs and recording now that he has gone through the process all on his own—and feels more confident about them, too. With The Midnight Hollow being a more self-sufficient band, each member can burrow in their respective apartments and have their own creative process when constructing a song. In this way, Spencer says their songwriting has become much more individualized. Being an artist comes from within the self, and the band’s songs together reflect this more than ever.
With an EP called “For the People Inside” and several singles already, The Midnight Hollow just released “Peach Juice,” an incredibly energized, eighties-inspired, punk track. The song sounds the same way that you feel after a night of heavy drinking—recalling a fun, fuzzy, whirlwind of memories. But, as there usually is with binge drinking, there’s some sense of darkness and regret. The lyricism also brings up the daily sexism that restrains women—catcalling, unwanted stares, etc.—which is incredibly important for today’s audience to be confronted with. While the song is exciting and tasteful, it’s also relevant.
Spencer tells me that the band is working on a few new kick-ass singles that will be released shortly. Do yourself a favor and check them out on SoundCloud, and if you still have AIM you can send Spencer a message—his screen name is c00000000lguy.