Midnight Masses was started in the spring of 2008 by Autry Fulbright and Jason Reece shortly after the death of Autry’s father. The sudden loss compelled him to seek solace through music and travel with his friends. One of his friends was Gerrard Smith of TV on the Radio who had recently begun documenting various Brooklyn musicians in his home studio. Midnight Masses quickly grew from a bedroom project to a multi-media collective with a revolving cast of musicians, filmmakers, and visual artists with Jason Reece contributing when not occupied with ...And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead.
Initially inspired by “The Nicks” (Cave, Drake, Lowe, Zinner & Stevie) the early live performances evoked a hauntingly-droning cathartic eulogy in tribute to the memory of Autry’s father, sometimes swelling to a congregation of fourteen members. After numerous shows supporting ...Trail of Dead, Thursday, Japandroids, Islands, and many others the band released their debut EP Rapture Ready, I Gazed at the Body in 2009 that combined initial influences with Gerrard’s unique production style and nods to Spiritualized and The Zombies, as well as a doo-wop cover of Sonic Youth’s “Do You Believe in Rapture?” This was released through Collect Records by Geoff Rickly of Thursday in partnership with Team Love a label run by Bright Eyes’ Conor Oberst.
Following the Rapture Ready EP, the band now a six-piece ensemble, planned on entering the studio for their initial full-length album entitled Departures with Gerrard Smith again at the helm. Tragically, Smith passed away before recordings could commence. During this time, the group went on an indefinite hiatus and Autry focused his energies towards writing and recording as a full-time member of ...Trail of Dead.
In 2013 Autry rekindled the project with many of his past collaborators including original members Jason Reece, Eric Rodgers, and Peter Hale (Here We Go Magic). The group convened at The Sonic Ranch to record the album along with new producers Ian Longwell of Santigold and Jamie Miller of ...Trail of Dead and The START. Jason Faries (Neon Indian) contributed post-production and mastered the album.
In addition, Departures features guest appearances by numerous amazing musicians and artists including Haley Dekle of the Dirty Projectors who duets with Fulbright on “Broken Mirror.” Isaiah “Ikey” Owens, formerly of Mars Volta and a current member of Jack White’s backing band Los Buzzardos aka The Buzzards, contributed keyboards on several album tracks. Mark Palgy of VHS or Beta plays bass on “Golden Age.” Jaleel Bunton of TV On The Radio fame contributed guitar to “Am I A Nomad?” and sang on “There Goes Our Man.” And Mauro Refosco of Atoms For Peace played percussion on several songs.
All of these talented people came together to help Fulbright create Departures, an album that focused not just on the loss of his father or his producer/ friend Gerrard Smith but also in tribute to the nomadic life Fulbright began to lead constantly travelling and writing songs on the road while placing his father’s ashes in various parts of the world. The album stands as a tribute to loss, whether it be death, love, or one’s own mind.