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Midnight Red: The newest kids on the stage

Intelligencer Journal
Lancaster New Era

Updated Jul 28, 2011 15:56

By JON FERGUSON
Staff Writer


The five members of Midnight Red, a boy band for the 2010s, don't know much about paying dues.

Then again, when two of your biggest backers are RedOne, the producer best known for his work with Lady Gaga, and Jimmy Iovine, the president of Interscope Records, doors that are usually closed can suddenly be opened.

Midnight Red, which released a digital EP this summer but is still working on its debut album, snared the spot as the opening act for the current tour of New Kids on the Block and the Backstreet Boys. The tour makes a stop Saturday at Hersheypark Stadium (also on the bill is Matthew Morrison of the TV show "Glee").

Thomas Augusto, a 19-year-old member of Midnight Red, says the band had just a few live performances under its belt before this tour.

"We went from a block party to Mandalay Bay Center in Las Vegas," Augusto says from a tour stop in St. Louis. "Most of our shows consisted of showcases. We were always doing shows for a record label or a producer. That's where we got a lot of our performance experience."

Midnight Red -- whose members include Augusto; Joey Diggs Jr., 21; Anthony Ladao, 18; Colton Rudloff, 22; and Eric Secharia, 19 -- doesn't get a lot of time to make an impression as its set consists of three songs performed in 12 minutes.

"We have to work really hard to get everyone's attention, because I think the only people in the crowd who know who we are are our family and friends," Augusto says. "Every night we go out there and give it our all."

The singer and dancer says Midnight Red has been together for about two years.

Augusto, who grew up in Arlington, Texas, and now lives in Los Angeles, says he first met Secharia about five years ago when both were trying out for a spot in the group Menudo.

Neither got the gig, but they stayed in touch. When Secharia, with the help of his parents, decided to put together a boy band, he called Augusto, who auditioned in Los Angeles and won a spot. The other three members were added later.

Not long after the band formed, it caught the attention of RedOne and its members were soon auditioning for Iovine. The audition happened in a parking lot because the room that had been set aside was too small for the group to execute its dance moves.

"He (Iovine) put the music in his car and we performed outside with the music playing from a car," Augusto says. "We did our whole set full-out. It was three songs. By the end we had caught stragglers that were walking back and forth in the parking lot, and we built up a little audience."

Iovine signed the band. Augusto says the band hopes to have the album, which doesn't have a release date, completed soon.

Augusto, who says he has always dreamed of being an entertainer and grew up listening to the Backstreet Boys, 'N Sync, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and Gavin DeGraw, says the tour has exceeded all his expectations.

Before the first show, Augusto says Brian Littrell of the Backstreet Boys visited their dressing room.

"He came in and gave us a pep talk, which was very nice of him," Augusto says. "He didn't have to do that. He came in and gave us some advice. He told us how, when the Backstreet Boys first started touring, they were opening for the Temptations and how the Temptations passed down knowledge and advice to them.

"And he did the same for us. It was very encouraging and uplifting."

New Kids on the Block and Backstreet Boys

With Midnight Red and Matthew Morrison

Sat. 7:30 p.m. $34.50-$94.50

Hersheypark Stadium, 534-3911
www.hersheyparkstadium.com