After 29 years, the Midwest Avengers are still innovating with ‘Vengadores Del Medio Oeste’
This week marks an important milestone for a group of skater friends who grew up loving rap and punk music: the Midwest Avengers. Twenty-nine years ago, they started performing as a hip-hop rock band that centers diversity and seamlessly combines musical worlds. Next week they’ll celebrate that anniversary with their album release show.
On Friday’s St. Louis on the Air, band members John Harrington and James Coleman joined host Sarah Fenske to talk about the band’s musical journey and how they landed other local artists to collaborate with them on their latest album.
Technically, “Vengadores Del Medio Oeste” was released last year, but COVID-19 kept the band from performing. The title of the album is Spanish for Midwest Avengers, paying homage to the Latino/Native American members of the band.
“We just wanted to make sure we included all of our elements, because we've been represented as far as how diverse we are throughout all these years. Now we've got some new members, we want to make sure that they feel at home, and we want to also open our minds and learn more,” Coleman said.
The band has seen a lot of people come and go; more than 50 people have been part of the band at some point, and more than 150 people help make up the band’s “crew” — an assortment of band members, family, friends and fans.
Midwest Avenger’s unique musical blend has presented challenges for the group in the past.
“We’d try to do a festival or show with an R&B group or something like that and [some] Black people would be like, ‘Ah, man, we like the rap stuff with that, but that white-boy rock metal is a little too hard for us.’ So we couldn't get on any R&B, jazz, funk shows or festivals. Flip the script, we’d go and try to get on a rock radio station or get on a rock tour, and they’d be like, ‘Yo, the band is cool, we like the guitars and stuff, but we don't get down with that rap stuff,’” Harrington told St. Louis on the Air.
“There was always an excuse for people who I felt was hating because they knew we were dope but tried to give us the whole genre thing.”
“Vengadores Del Medio Oeste” continues the band’s style of making music about navigating life's good times and bad, friendships, family and building up self-esteem, but this time, it has a lineup of collaborators backing them as well.
The band's seventh album includes features by artists new and old — Maxa, Mathias James, Teresa Jenee, Frankie DoWop, Blvck Spvde, Kourtney Nicole, Pascal Beauboeuf, Mz. Vizion, DJ VThom and Cheeraz Gorman.
“We're changing and progressing in our sound as we move through 29 years. And now this is something completely different that no one has necessarily expected from us. And it's cool to know that we can reinvent ourselves and present something that's still up to date, and not sounding as if we fell off for some guys who’ve been around for almost 30 years now,” Coleman said.
What: “Vengadores Del Medio Oeste” album release show
When: 7 p.m. Nov. 24
Where: Red Flag music venue (3040 Locust St., St. Louis, MO 63103)
“St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. Jane Mather-Glass is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.