"It's hard not to mention the Traveling Wilburys," says Eric Pulido. He's sitting under the stars in his backyard in Denton, Texas, fielding calls about how his band, Midlake, morphed into trans-Atlantic supergroup, BNQT. "I humbly give that point of reference," he adds with a chuckle. "If we're super then we are a poor man's super when you're talking about the likes of George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison and Jeff Lynne."
Insert Ben Bridwell from Band of Horses, Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand, Jason Lytle of Grandaddy and Fran Healy of Travis and the dimensions of BNQT's debut, Volume 1, become clear.
The Wilbury parallel is not so much about the aesthetics of the new outfit – "that unabashedly lush, Seventies rock production vibe" – as the reason for its being. "What's cool about what they did was that they did it purely for the joy of making music together," Pulido says.
"This is probably not something any of us could have done 10 years ago. It's something organic and almost simple and it makes sense. There was no hidden agenda. Just a story of folks loving and respecting each other and saying, ‘Hey, wouldn't it be kinda cool?'"
The coolness began a full four years ago, when the songwriters started mailing in demos for Pulido and some of his Midlake bandmates – Joey McClellan, Jesse Chandler and McKenzie Smith – to bang into shape. Lytle and Healy went to Denton for more hands-on input. Bridwell and Kapranos worked remotely. But the common pool of musicians and agreed production values resulted in a seamless whole, from the vintage glam stomp of the single "Restart" to the classic rock swagger of "LA On My Mind".
"Oftentimes this [business] is very insular and not as collaborative and artistic as it can be," says Pulido, who insists that Midlake are merely on hiatus while BNQT pulls together what might be their only tour. "Sometimes it gets less fulfilling, or you can feel like something is missing. That's why sometimes you have to go back to the core of why you first started a band: this is fun, these are my friends and it's just about the music."
From issue #787 (June 2017), available now.