Has a dysfunctional love of music ever taken you into waters so deep that you wanted to be in a band?
“My music addiction basically started in nursery school with MTV blasting hair metal, boy bands & Debbie Gibson. I think that gave me a solid foundation” – Mickey Squeeze
Prior to Midnight Mob
Previous to Midnight Mob, Squeeze taught guitar at South Shore Music in Massapequa, Long Island & received a Bachelors of Science in Accountancy from C.W. Post Long Island University after a two year stint at Binghamton University.
My music addiction basically started in nursery school with MTV blasting hair metal, boy bands & Debbie Gibson. I think that gave me a solid foundation. I chose hair metal & forever will side with hair metal in any debate. The quest for being in a band began at 13 when I started learning to play guitar. Not soon after I saved up cash for a Fostex 4 track then saved more for a Tascam 24 track and started demoing. My first band, at 16, practiced in my parents basement but never had show.
When I attended Binghamton University I somehow managed to dorm in the one building that had a rehearsal studio in it and it was a few doors down from me. I put a band together, finally did some shows and then squashed it when I left for C.W. Post.
While at C.W. Post I spent non class time teaching guitar and putting up fliers to find other musicians. This is the time period where I played with a carousel of musicians, but nothing stuck until I met Catastrophe, a drum teacher at South Shore Music. Catastrophe and I started jamming some original material I had then he brought his friend/my guitar student, Blackey, into the mix. Shortly afterwards Carly Quinn was found through a local music contact. Midnight Mob was born & at the same time the beginning of my accounting career, which I was able to pull off simultaneously including all the touring.
Enter Carly Quinn (Late 2008)
Carly Quinn walked into my life as expected: calm, cool, collected, down for no guarantees, zero regard for safety & fully capable of making bad decisions. Carly was also a barely self taught guitar player, but we all dug the vibe and she learned bass on the job. The young 18 year old Oneonta college dropout soon blossomed into the low wearing bass hero photogenic songstress we know today.
Midnight Mob Years (through 2017)
Midnight Mob began as a four piece morphed to a five piece until 2014 then back to a four piece. In 2011 the first self titled EP was released & showcased for Atlantic, Universal & Blackheart Records at the former Crash Mansion in NYC. The overwhelming response was “I dig it, it’s really cool but there’s no where to place you”.
In 2012 Midnight Mob grinded out road shows, tightened up the unit, matured and began recording Black Moon Rising. It was during this time we were approached by an executive of Pepsi Corporation, after playing The Bitter End NYC, to write for a soon to be released women’s wellness group. The song “Rise Up” was written for this venture, but ultimately never used. The money from this relationship paid for the Black Moon Rising EP & new merchandise.
At the beginning of 2013 the songs “All For Nothing” and “Walking Dead” from Black Moon Rising brought Universal Records around once again through our producer, Dave Caggiano. This time Universal said they would be offering a developmental deal, but as luck would have it by the time the songs were done there was a regime change at Universal Records and Midnight Mob was no longer a priority.
The combination of not landing the developmental deal and totaling the van led to the most significant lineup change in mid 2013. Co-founder/drummer, Catastrophe, decided to leave and pursue other endeavors. Rhythm guitarist, Spydyr, shortly followed and the drummer carousel began.
To our surprise this took way longer than expected to fill Catastrophe’s seat. By sheer coincidence & New Years luck drummer, Chris Beatz, was discovered filling in for a friend’s band, Jackknife Stiletto, for a New Year’s show. Beatz sat in with us maybe 2 months later as a last minute substitute playing Mercury Lounge in NYC & it was immediate chemistry. During this entire drummer circus Carly and I were writing what ultimately became the “Honest Brutal Glorious” EP with a drum machine.
All of the touring, networking, ups and downs from 2009 to March 2014 finally started coming together once Beatz took the drummer throne. Midnight Mob started landing serious licensing placements in shows like Shameless, WWE, Suicide Squad and various other major network shows. Then in October 2014 Midnight Mob opened main stage for Janes Addiction Times Square NYC for the final CBGB Music Festival where awesomely Guns N Roses bassist, Duff McKagan, gave us some love for our set. Then a shout out maybe a month or two later at his book signing in NYC.
Shortly after the CBGB show began the recording sessions for the Honest Brutal Glorious EP, which lasted through the majority of 2015. This was the beginning of Blackey’s voice unraveling. The music was recorded relatively quickly, but there were substantial gaps in Blackey’s actual recording sessions. Blackey required shots in her throat to finish the recordings and 2015 ended with a sold out Gramercy Theatre NYC show. Momentum was building and we agreed we needed to capitalize by getting on major festivals in 2016.
Towards the end of 2015, Lou Plaia Co-Founder of ReverbNation, signed on to officially manage. The official release of Honest Brutal Glorious was in 2016 and the “Swing On” video release show was at Drom NYC. This one show started the domino effect that landed Midnight Mob main stage at Sturgis, Summerfest, Rock N Derby, Fashion Meets Music Festival & Great South Bay Music Festival plus other festivals and high profile shows. During this run in 2016 we opened for Kid Rock, Three Doors Down, Skillet, Trivium, Ghost, Shinedown, Sevendust, Coheed & Cambria, Third Eye Blind, Bebe Rexha.
Our performances at these festivals all made requests to come back in 2017 with the addition of Rocklahoma. Unfortunately this is where the indefinite hiatus began. Blackey needed to hit the pause for health reasons. We had to cancel the Rocklahoma show and ominously Soundgarden canceled that year due to the passing of Chris Cornell. The last live NYC show was Webster Hall with Saigon Kick hosted by Eddie Trunk and the last road show was Launch Music Conference 2017 in Lancaster, PA.
Misfit Saints & Vanzig Studios (2017-present)
Misfit Saints has been Carly Quinn’s Frankenstein. This solo project began prior to Honest Brutal Glorious and Carly fully recorded tracks with drummer, Chris Matthews. This was something she did for herself and had zero idea what she was actually going to do with it until 2017.
The pause was put on Midnight Mob and she pressed play on Misfit Saints then asked me to come along for the ride. At the same time I was beginning to formulate Vanzig Studios and asked Carly to come along for the ride.
The drummer carousel for Misfit Saints felt like an eternity before teaming up with Alex Rainbow. Misfit Saints was then setback by a number of life events. I had twins in 2019 and then Covid in 2020, which severely hindered live shows and rehearsal time. The first Misfit Saints EP was initially released in 2020, but was pulled down. The new re-released, re-remastered & re-envisioned Misfit Saints will debut on all platforms December 8, 2022 with “Greetings From Nowhere” under the new Vanzig Records flag along with proper press & promo.
Vanzig Studios finally in 2022 seems to have an actual identity and focus. This revamped website is an expression of that focus and will be the hub of all content Carly and I are a part of.
ReverbNation Music Curator (2018-2021)
Through all of this music madness reared another amazing opportunity. In 2018, former Midnight Mob manager, Lou Plaia, asked if I was interested in curating music for ReverbNation opportunities. I accepted this opportunity and was involved with personally listening to bands submitting through ReverbNation for opportunities to play at major festivals, have music added to playlists, possible label showcases, licensing opportunities etc…
My role was to listen to each submission and basically say yes or no to each submission. Then another level reviews the yes’s, then a number of yes’s are forwarded to whoever is offering the opportunity and then a decision is made what band gets the gig. I learned a ton regarding how to properly pitch your band and give the right first impression during my time as a curator. It also indirectly gave me access to an unbelievable amount of artists that were looking to network. I followed many of these bands on Spotify and continue to listen to all the new releases.
Then in 2021 after nearly three years listening to thousands of bands, ReverbNation and I parted ways. I was never actually given a reason why, but I assume it had to with Covid shutting down the music industry and money needed to be recovered. All in all the position gave me a really unique insight into the differences between an amazing band and a good band.
-Mickey Squeeze “Peace, Love, Leather”