Save the World, Lose the Girl: Life Through the Eyes of
Formed in 1998, Midtown quickly made their mark on the punk and alternative scene. A year later, Midtown were signed to Drive-Thru Records and recorded their first album, Save the World, Lose the Girl, with producer Mark Trombino. After playing at the Warped Tour and touring with the likes of Blink-182, Midtown have garnered numerous fans all across the U.S. and Europe. Midtown are currently finishing up their second album, produced once again by Mark Trombino. I recently chatted with Heath Saraceno, Midtown’s resident guitarist, about their music, current plans, Christmas, and many other intriguing issues, culminating into one extremely candid and off the wall interview. Have a look…
Can you mathematically describe your sound?
Ahh, that’s hard… we’re 100% rock — actually, we’re 101% rock. We like to outdo ourselves, not too much though, just a bit.
Who are some of your influences?
Who are my influences or who are our influences as a band?
You can do both if you want.
OK, well, I used to be really into metal and German metal like Helloween. When we started the band, The Get Up Kids, Promise Ring, Lifetime, Jets To Brazil, and Kid Dynamite records had just come out, so we were listening to a lot of stuff like that. Through those bands we started to play more emotional music. I think Weezer’s album Pinkerton is the best album ever.
Really? Even more than the “blue album”?
Yeah definitely, just because it’s more personal. The song “Pink Triangle” means a lot to me ’cause I was dating a lesbian.
Really? I used to date a guy who was gay.
Yeah, high-five [laughs]!
So what are your current plans?
Well right now, we’re finishing mixing the album. We came to California right after the Blink-182 tour and started pounding out 20 new songs. We were in pre-production for three weeks and ended up changing all the songs, making them as good as we could. We recorded the album with Mark Trombino and now we just have two or three songs left to mix.
When is the album going to be released?
Probably late-March or April.
Have you titled it yet?
Nah, we had a bunch of fake names like Anyone Denying the Existence of Robots is a Robot Themselves. We have a list of ones we thought were funny, but nothing official yet.
What’s your favorite thing about Christmas?
This is going to sound really sappy, but I’m going to say it anyway. My parents are divorced, and when I was a kid I would spend Christmas Eve with my mom and Christmas Day with my dad. At night we would all go to my aunt’s house and the whole family would be there. It was just really nice knowing that every Christmas Eve I would get to see my mom’s family. We haven’t done it in a long time, but it is a good memory.
Aww, that’s not sappy, that’s nice.
So what do you hate about Christmas?
This is going to sound really bad, but I hate buying gifts. I never think I get the right gift, I second-guess the gifts all the time.
So you’re an insecure gift giver then?
Yeah, exactly [laughs].
What do you want for Christmas?
I don’t know, I don’t really need anything… I guess a new guitar, a shelf in my room for my CDs, a puppy dog or a cat.
Get a dog, cats are bad, I hate cats.
I used to really hate cats, but I’ve been around them a lot lately so I’m starting to love them. I could never get a cat while I’m still living with my dad though, he’s really allergic to them… I need a car, too, I don’t have a car anymore.
What kind of car? Anything specific?
A Tahoe, just a like a big SUV that’s really manly.
Have you been naughty or nice this year?
Well that depends on who you ask [laughs]. I’ve been pretty good to most people. There are some past relationships that I could have handled better, but overall I think I’ve been good. If you were talking to anyone else in the band, you would have to ask them about Hanukah, they’re all Jewish.
I’m a Jew! I didn’t know they were Jewish!
Yeah, they all are. Well actually, one of them was raised Jewish but just found out recently that he isn’t because his mom isn’t Jewish.
Yeah, it goes through the mother.
Right, so he’s kind of nothing now.
Who is Matt Rennick Go, and why does Midtown love him so much? [On Midtown’s Web site, there are several mentions of Matt Rennick Go.]
We don’t… I’m pretty sure he does the Web site and just put all those things up there for himself. He works for Takeover Inc., the company that does our Web site.
So you don’t love him, then?
[Laughs] Yes, I love him very, very much…
As much as Christian McKnight? [Christian is a concert promoter from Long Island. He promoted the Midtown show on December 27th at the Vanderbilt in NY.]
Ahh, now you’re making me compare… [laughs]
A lot of your songs seem to be about girls, do you consider yourself proficient in the language of love or are you still learning the lingo?
[Laughs] Well, they’re not all about girls. A lot of the time kids will come up to us and say how one of our songs really helped them through a break up, and the song won’t be about that at all. It sounds bad, but a lot of our songs are misinterpreted.
The first song off our album, “Just Rock n’ Roll,” is about other bands, not about girls at all.
You still haven’t answered the question though… Are you proficient in the language of love or are you still learning the lingo?
I’m going to use a quote from Pulp Fiction to answer that: “I got my technique down and all, I don’t be ticklin’ or nothin’.” The quote’s actually about a foot massage, though [laughs].
You just turned 23, right?
Do you feel that your age has affected your career at all?
Not really… there are a lot of younger bands out there lately. I think some of the bands who were younger a few years ago probably had a harder time, but now it’s a lot more common.
If the members of Midtown were in a beauty pageant, who would win?
Definitely not me. I have to say the other guys would all tie. I love all of them the same, I can’t pick just one. They all have their strengths and their weaknesses [laughs].
Who would win a Miss Congeniality contest?
That would have to be Rob, our drummer. He knows how to get the good out of everything. It depends on the day though, cause we all have our bad days and good days, but we’re all nice guys. It also depends on who you talk to, because we all click with different people. We’re all different, but we all talk about the same shit.
So what’s “the same shit”? What do you all talk about?
Cocks. We all talk about cocks.
Do you compare?
Well being in the same band, I’ve seen the other guys cocks, so I know how we all fall in line. Tyler, our guitarist, and I rank movie stars by their cock size. Okay let me ask you a question… which movie star has the biggest cock?
Are you going to give me choices or do I have to guess?
Guess… he’s the sexiest man alive….
George Clooney? Tom Cruise? Brad Pitt?
No, no, no! He’s been the sexiest man for like 60 years.
No! Sean Connery!
And do you know this for a fact?
Yup, Tyler and I can tell by looking at someone how big their cock is, their girth, and how they keep their pubic hair.
I can tell by looking at someone if they’re circumcised or not.
In Canada not everyone’s circumcised?
Nope, it depends on the guy. It’s like a sixth sense for me and I’m always right.
Hey, is Robbie Williams big in Canada?
Yeah, he’s pretty big, I like him. He was here about three years ago and played at a really small venue so it was neat to see him.
That’s awesome. Was he all cocky onstage and stuff?
Oh yeah, totally. He’s circumcised, though, at least that’s the vibe I got from him… Wow, we got really off track, so back to the interview [laughs]. Actually, this all ties in nicely to my next question… how would you describe yourself as a lover?
Well… why am I telling you all this?
It’s for the fans!
[Laughs] I’m giving, very giving. I like to give more than receive. I’m damn good, lady! You can quote me on that one!
Yup, it’s in there, don’t worry about it [laughs]! All right, mistletoe, is it an embarrassment waiting to happen or a perfect opportunity to get the lady of your dreams?
It’s a sham! It never works! Everyone’s always like “yeah, yeah, mistletoe, ha ha, cute.” Actually, I was watching MTV the other day and there was this special with ‘NSync where fans got to hang out with them and wrap presents and stuff. Joey Fatone comes out with mistletoe right below his belt and says “who wants to kiss under the mistletoe?” Joey Fatone was boning for a blow job [laughs]!
How did you first get into music and playing guitar?
It was in grade seven or eight and I was home sick from school one day. There was this acoustic guitar in my house and I decided I was going to learn how to play. I turned on MTV and tried to copy people’s hands. That didn’t work out too well, so I decided I would use my ears instead of my eyes. By the time my dad got home I could play the whole solo from [Guns N’ Roses’] “November Rain.” It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t terrible, either, and I went from there.
If the members of Midtown were a TV family, which one would you be?
Hmm, that’s a good question… we would be Perfect Strangers. I can relate to Balky… Wait, can I change my answer? We would be Welcome Back Kotter. Tyler would be Vinnie Barbarino, Gabe would be Juan Epstein, Rob would be Horshack, and I would be Washington!
If you could be struck by any natural disaster and live, what would pick and why?
I think I would have to say lightning. I think it would be really cool. It always feels neat when you get a little shock, it kinda hurts but feels good, too.
All right now, it’s time for bonus questions, these are for extra points.
Oooh, bonus questions! OK, I’m ready!
Name all the Golden Girls.
Blanche, Dorothy, Betty White’s character, what was her name?
I think it was Rose.
Yeah, and then there was Dorothy’s mother, I liked her. I used to watch that show with my grandmother and I always thought Blanche was a slut.
Yeah, she definitely got around. Can you sing the theme song?
No, but I can sing the Growing Pains theme song [sings the Growing Pains theme song].
Good job! On the Periodic Table of Elements, what does “Fe” stand for?
That would be iron, it stands for fer or something like that.
That’s right! Fer is the French word for iron. Most people I ask say it stands for “fuck the elements.”
That’s because most people are stupid.
The final bonus question is… do a freestyle rap or emo song about leopard print.
No. I don’t have my guitar here, I can’t write songs and I can’t rap.
Do you have any other talent you could impress me with?
Hmm… yes I do! I can say the alphabet as one word, do you want to hear it?
[Heath says the alphabet as one word]
Wow! I am impressed!
Wanna hear it backwards?
[Heath says the alphabet as one word backwards]
Where did you learn to do that?
I saw it on Sesame Street a long time ago and was really bored in biology class one day so I figured it out. I thought I’d go the extra step by saying it backwards.
It’s very good, quite the talent! Well that’s it, thank you very much!
You’re welcome, thank you!