Cleveland metal musician Jamie Walters still masked, less anonymous
As an only child, Jaime Walters learned to love isolation — an appreciation that has spilled over into his musical life as Midnight, which has existed as a solo recording project since it was established in 2003.
“I was in bands as a teenager and throughout my early 20s and nobody was ever on the same page,” said Walters, who expands Midnight to a three-piece for live shows (the trio visits Ace of Cups for a concert on Friday, March 9). “There are bands where everybody is gung-ho and does what they have to do, but [in my bands] something very trivial would happen and it would just erupt into a fight. ‘OK, why should you fight over something like this?' I was tired of being in bands, so even if the drums are half-assed, or this [element] is half-assed, at least it's how I like it to be.”
Over the course of 15 years, Midnight's sound has evolved little. Sure, the songwriting has improved, as has Walters' musicianship, but the tunes still maintain the same primal immediacy as the early days, owing to some combination of Walters' recording methods (he utilizes a minimalist setup and works quickly) and his musical pedigree.
“An easy, simple, lazy way to describe [the music] is a mix between Venom and Motorhead. That's what it's been and what it will probably continue to be,” said Walters, who was born and raised in Cleveland and started playing bass guitar at age 12, switching to guitar shortly thereafter. “That style of music is what is ingrained in me; it's what naturally comes out. There's not much I can do about that. … If you said, ‘Drum like King Crimson,' I physically can't do it.”
Other elements surrounding the band have changed, however. Early on, Walters, who still utilizes the stage name Athenar, tightly guarded his anonymity, saying he was both naturally guarded in his personal life and that by separating the name “Jaime Walters” from Midnight he was able to push the music into more extreme realms. In recent years, he's become more open, sharing the odd biographical detail — during our interview he noted he was driving by Bedford Medical Center, the hospital in which he was born — and accepting that his birth name might be used in print or online coverage.
“It's something I can't control as much, so I've learned to just say, ‘Fuck it,'” said Walters, who still appears wearing a hooded mask both onstage and in promo photos. “I should just be happy that people even give enough of a shit to care what my real name is, or other personal facts.”
Regardless of the name attached, the music still fulfills a similar role, allowing Walters to take whatever frustrations he has bottled up and release them through head-banging metal rippers such as “Before My Time in Hell.”
“[Midnight] is the thing I do so I'm not stuck wearing a white jacket with really long sleeves,” he cracked.