A stereotypical assumption for ‘the middle child’: forgettable. However, despite what their moniker might suggest, this premise doesn’t fit the Australian indie-rock trio Middle Kids.
“That’s the irony,” the trio laughed. “We’re forgettable on our own, but unforgettable as a band. We were all working on solo projects for a long time and no one cared about them. Our mom liked them, but when we came together, something special happened.”
It’s only been roughly a year since that special something happened. Middle Kids – comprised of Hannah Joy, Tim Fitz and Harry Day joined forces in 2016 and before the threesome ever stepped on stage together, they had begun recording their lively debut single “Edge of Town.”
Middle Kids’ profile underwent an immediate boost once Elton John proclaimed he was fan and aired the single on his Beats 1 radio show. The recognition shifted the band’s trajectory and launched the trio on an “exciting” journey that has thus far included a performance on Conan and at the Iceland Airwaves Music Festival in Reykjavik.
To celebrate the band’s booming success before they hit the road with Cold War Kids this Spring, we spoke with Hannah, Tim and Harry about transitioning from solo acts to a band, their creative process and when exactly it hits them that they’ve penned an international hit.
You performed on Conan! That must’ve been pretty special!
Hannah: “It was awesome. We were there for the whole day. It was such a good experience. We like him in a big way. He’s one of the legends. We don’t have our own late night TV in Australia. We pretty much just watch what you guys are doing.”
Hannah, is it correct that you play the guitar upside down?
Hannah: “When I was young I just picked it up. I’m very left-handed in a lot that I do, so I just naturally picked it up that way. When I realized it was the wrong way, I tried to turn it back, but it was just too late. I find my way around, upside down.”
Both Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain played the guitar left-handed. You’re in pretty good company.
Hannah: “They’re much better than me, but I am in their crew I guess.”
Going from solo acts to a band, was the dynamic ever difficult or was it a struggle to adjust to compromising?
Hannah: “It wasn’t that difficult. There was a lot of positive energy. Even in the tension and working out creative ideas produced something that’s better than what we could’ve created on our own. I think it’s something we’ve all been looking for. We all wanted to be a part of a group and crew, so I feel the positive is so strong that we move through the disagreements with ease.”
What’s your recipe for success when it comes to working together?
Harry: “Hannah writes the songs in another room and then brings them to Tim in the other room. I’m down the hall and then they’ll call me over. We’ll jam it out and then arrive somewhere together. We don’t all write in a room together and jam it out like the Red Hot Chili Peppers.”
Do you typically all agree on what you release? For example – “Edge of Town”. Did everyone feel the same way about the song initially?
Harry: “We definitely all agree on what we put out, but we can have discussions that get pretty heated.
Hannah: “Even in the creative process, for example – “Edge of Town” started as an electric pop song. So, that definitely changed with the group which was good.”
When putting together a song, do you ever get the hint that it could be the next major hit?
Tim: “I often hear a song that Hannah has written and think this is a big song. When [Harry and I] hear it, we’re the first fans of the song because Hannah will write it. There’s the feeling that a song has a special message or emotion. I also think there’s a pressure of thinking every song needs to better than the last. That can be both helpful and unhelpful. I think we’re trying to make good music.”
How do you decide on which songs are keepers?
Hannah: “So many songs go in the trash. There’s a lot that get chucked out. When a song resonates with all of us, it’s indicative that’s it’s a good song. There’s a lot of shitty songs that we’ve tossed.”
Middle Kids, along with Cold War Kids, perform at The Fillmore in Charlotte, NC on Sunday, March 5 at 8 p.m. Tickets for the show can be purchased HERE. For more information on Middle Kids, their debut EP and additional tour dates, click HERE.