Live On The Bridge

S4 E7 | FULL EPISODE

Middle Kids

Coming all the way from Sydney, Australia indie rock band Middle Kids, comprised of middle kids, performs songs off its new album Lost Friends and is interviewed by Jon Hart here at KCPT.

AIRED: February 16, 2019 | 0:26:46
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TRANSCRIPT

(calm instrumental music)

("Bought It" by Middle Kids)

♪ My friend

♪ I need a little help to fend

♪ The darkness at the end of all this ♪

♪ I thought that I had fought it ♪

♪ But like clockwork it seems to keep on coming ♪

♪ Oh dear, you saw me on a night when I was pissed ♪

♪ And I tried to act all right, smooth talking ♪

♪ I'm not sure you bought it

♪ I'm crawling to the nearest taxi ♪

♪ Shout, let it out

♪ I need a little something and I can't seem to get it ♪

♪ Oh, now, help me now

♪ I've got a lotta questions

♪ And I can't seem to get them out ♪

♪ Let's pretend that we had never met ♪

♪ So then it's fair when we are getting it ♪

♪ On Sunday I know that that's a fun day ♪

♪ To remember 'til I see you next year ♪

♪ Shout, let it out

♪ I need a little something and I can't seem to get it ♪

♪ Oh, now, help me now

♪ I've got a lotta questions

♪ And I can't seem to get them out ♪

♪ And this must be the memory

♪ Where you took that photograph of me ♪

♪ Don't act so embarrassed

♪ We all do dumb things when we're lonely ♪

♪ And you know my heart deeply

♪ But we don't talk about that, do we ♪

♪ And hold your white flag of silence ♪

♪ Oh, yeah

♪ Shout, let it out

♪ I need a little something and I can't seem to get it ♪

♪ Oh, now, help me now

♪ I've got a lotta questions

♪ And I can't seem to get them out ♪

♪ Shout, let it out

♪ I need a little something and I can't seem to get it ♪

♪ Oh, now, help me now

♪ I've got a lotta questions

♪ And I can't seem to get them

♪ I can't seem to get them

♪ I can't seem to get them out

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- Hannah, this is you.

Couldn't they find a more recent picture?

- (laughing) That, I don't know, I just, that is me.

I think I'm like eight there.

- Yeah. - Yeah, it's an oldie.

- [Jon] Yeah, you were a flower girl

in this picture. - Yep.

I was a flower girl five times in my career.

That was my third time there.

- It that, have you checked with

the Guinness Book of World Records?

That's-- - I should.

I need another auntie to get married

so I can be another one.

- Yeah, there you go. - Yeah.

- So Australia, one of the seemingly never-ending wave

of great Australian acts coming in lately.

Something in the water down there?

- (laughs) Maybe, yeah, there's some awesome

bands and artists coming out of Australia.

- So you and Tim are both middle kids.

- Yep. - And you must feel

strongly about it to name your band after it.

- (laughs) Tim?

- Well, actually, I wanted it to be called Middle School,

but then they didn't like it,

so I said Middle Kids as a compromise, and they liked it.

- Well, you know there's that whole psychological theory

that the second kid, the middle kid,

comes along and tries to emulate the first kid,

but the first kid's already done it,

so it's not as exciting, and the first kid is older,

so you can never do it as well,

and so the second kid struggles.

And then if there's a third kid,

the third kid looks at the second kid

and sees the struggle and says, oh, no,

I'm gonna go that way, right? - Yeah, yeah, yeah.

- So middle kid is a thing.

- It is a total thing. - Oh, that's absolutely true

what you just described. - You're telling our story.

We're gonna cry soon. (laughs)

- (laughing) Wow, that's the first time

I've ever blown an in-studio in the first few minutes,

right? (Hannah and Tim laughing)

Bring the band to tears.

You know, I think that one of the things

that surprises me so much about the band

is that Tim and Harry had been playing in bands together,

but like five years ago, you all didn't know Hannah.

And five years ago, there was no Middle Kids,

and you know, spill the beans, Tim and Hannah,

you're married now, you've got a full-length album.

It's like that amount of change in that period of time

has got to be just head-spinning.

- Yeah, it's pretty intense, especially because

we got married and then basically that week after,

we like started the band, so it's been pretty

like roly-poly from that moment.

It was about 2 1/2 years ago now.

So yeah, it's been pretty wild, but like the best ever.

We have so much fun.

- Yeah. - Yeah.

- There is a promo picture with not only you and Tim

but also Harry under the comforter,

and like I'm not even gonna ask that question.

(Jon laughing) - Oh, with the flowers.

- [Tim] That one we took at mother's.

- We're very close, it's just undeniable.

(Jon laughing) - On our first tour

of the States, Harry shared our hotel room

for the whole two months, so--

- Us three in the same room for three months.

It was weird. - It was a terrible time

for all of us. (Jon laughing)

It was a great lesson in monogamy for me.

(all laughing) - That's right.

- You know, the first song that we got involved with

was Edge of Town, which was the first song

where you really felt like you discovered

the sound of you all operating together as a collective.

- Definitely, I think that was like,

yeah, definitely, like the catalyst of Middle Kids

because I actually wrote that originally

as an electro-pop song, and I couldn't get it

to go anywhere, and then Tim was like,

"You should play guitar on that."

And then once we started kind of like working with that,

we just realized it was a really special sound.

And it really lended itself to like a band,

it's like a band vibe, you know.

We've always wanted to be in bands,

so it's like pretty fun to do it.

- So y'all had been working on solo projects

for quite some time, and so to have the level

of success that you had with that song

as quickly as you had it had to be a little bit shocking.

- Yeah, I think it was shocking.

I think in Australia, like we'd all done

sort of little things, but for instance,

some of the radio stations there

were aware of what we'd been doing,

so I think we got a lot of support

very quickly from them because it sort of,

I guess, made sense, like they were already interested

in some of our separate projects,

and they were like, oh, they're all doing a band together.

So but it was very, it was disorienting

to have people listen to our music for once.

- You know, not all fans are created equal,

and having Elton John as a fan had to be

a little bit mind-blowing.

- [Hanna] Yeah, that was cool. (laughs)

- How did you, how did that even happen?

- We honestly have no idea.

It's like people ask us about it,

and we've never like talked to him or met him

or anything, but I don't know, he's into it.

- Yeah, you know, I have only the vaguest of memories

from when I'm like three years old or four years old,

and so like, I can't imagine that you probably

remember much about this, but like if I'm your parent

and you're three years old and you go up

and start playing the piano, like what did you do at three?

- Yeah, I was like, my parents were just in the house,

and my dad listens to a lotta classical music,

and I apparently just started playing

Pachelbel's Canon on the piano.

But just like the simple

♪ Bah bah bah bahm bahm

But they were like, what on earth?

I mean, yeah, I have no memory of this.

- Yeah, I can't, you know, having been around

three-year-olds, this is like a little shocking, right?

- Yeah, so Mum as like, "Get her to lessons!"

And then I just played for a long, long time after that.

- Right, so you know, it's funny.

It's like, so you have that home life,

and Tim, your parents were doctors in Papua New Guinea,

and so that's not really where you,

you know, your country of origin or anything,

but you were there for the first 10 years of your life.

- That's right, and my older sister is a doctor

and I'm a musician, so there's that middle kids theory,

right there. (Jon laughing)

- And he tried to be a doctor, too.

- I did try, but then I joined a band and stopped.

(Hannah laughing) - Yeah.

- Yeah, there was a lot of music in the area

where we lived in Papua New Guinea,

but it was definitely, it was like tribal music,

a lot of it, and very percussive.

But then there were influences of,

there would be like cheap Yamaha keyboards around,

so you could play like little drumbeats

and experiment with whatever synth sounds

were on cheap keyboards in the '90s.

So I don't know, that was probably the main,

oh, and like Nashville gospel music

that people would send my parents. (laughs)

- [Jon] Isn't that funny.

- So they're not very legit influences,

but they're my influences from being a kid.

- It's a good melting pot, though, you know?

- Yeah, there's some weird stuff there,

which I think is good. - Yeah.

You know, and then, Hannah, later on you had an experience

of leaving home, and you spent time in Maryland.

And there's a song on the album,

and you know, just such a strong sense

of like what is home in a way.

- Yeah, I think so, I feel like I moved there

when I was 17, and I was pretty lost.

And I had this incredible experience of moving

to a place and really feeling at home there

even though it didn't have like the markers of home

or the familiarity, but I just like was really embraced

by the school and community I was in,

and it just really like taught me

of like how people really are how you build home

as opposed to like more so the places themselves.

So that's been like, yeah, and I go back there

all the time now. - Yeah.

- It really feels like home.

- So you started on piano at three,

and really, you've continued classical training,

and I'd really a little bit of clarification.

Is the symphony something that you're going to do later on,

or are you actually working on one now?

- Well, I mean, I have worked on it,

but I've like, I can see it being like a thing

probably when I'm older.

Like, I've done some movements of it,

and they're probably just like definitely

a work in progress, but I think as I get older,

that'll be something, I'm talking like decades.

- Right. - I'm gonna work on it

for a long time, yeah. - Yeah, so that classical

sort of rock, like how did you balance that?

- Well, I think actually, I went to a music college

in Sydney, and I was doing a lot of orchestral stuff,

mainly wanting to get into film,

but I think it was then when I started

really missing the collaborative element of music.

And I think that's why bands are so fun

because it's real like person to person,

whereas I was realizing like film scoring

is actually a lot just you and your computer

which was kind of sad for me. (Jon laughing)

But I think that like, yeah, sometimes I feel like

I wish I was lending my hand more to that creative process

in the classical realm, but like this is just so fun,

and like doing it with best friends is just like,

it's definitely the thing I wanna be doing. (laughs)

- Right, absolutely, well, I don't necessarily think

that we should be listening for, you know,

Pink Floyd, Neil Young, Radiohead,

Sigur Ros, National, classical music,

cheap Yamaha keyboards, Nashville gospel influences

in this next song, but we would love to hear one.

- [Hannah] Cool.

("Mistake" by Middle Kids)

(upbeat rock music)

♪ Oh, my darling

♪ I pick you up just to let you drop ♪

♪ When we got started, I was guarded ♪

♪ I almost forgot about ya

♪ It was charming

♪ The way we danced around the truth ♪

♪ We were smiling but always hiding ♪

♪ And then I feel we're somehow quickly slowing ♪

♪ Thought I was healthy but I'm chokin' ♪

♪ It must be catching up my smokin' ♪

♪ I wish that I never played

♪ Yeah, standing out in the rain tonight ♪

♪ Like you got something to say to God ♪

♪ You got a debt to pay back

♪ For something you did way back ♪

♪ Standing out in the rain tonight ♪

♪ Like you got something to say to God ♪

♪ Have you got a debt to pay back ♪

♪ For something you did way back ♪

♪ You wanna make it okay

♪ What's the problem

♪ Spilling up some of my guts

♪ One day you're fine, the next you're crying ♪

♪ And suddenly your engine just stops going ♪

♪ Thought you were healthy but you're choking ♪

♪ It must be catching up your smoking ♪

♪ Yeah, I wish that you never played ♪

♪ Yeah, you're standing out in the rain tonight ♪

♪ Like you got something to say to God ♪

♪ Have you got a debt to pay back ♪

♪ For something you did way back ♪

♪ You're standing out in the rain tonight ♪

♪ Like you got something to say to God ♪

♪ Have you got a debt to pay back ♪

♪ For something you did way back ♪

♪ You wanna make it okay

♪ Ooh, he's standing out in the rain tonight ♪

♪ Something to say to God

♪ 'Cause he got a debt to pay back ♪

♪ For something he did way back ♪

♪ You're standing out in the rain tonight ♪

♪ Like you got something to say to God ♪

♪ Have you got a debt to pay back ♪

♪ For something you did way back ♪

♪ You wanna make it okay

- So when you got that first song

and all of a sudden it exploded, well, here comes an EP,

let's get that together real quick,

you know, and capitalize on the success,

and then when you have that kinda success,

everybody wants the full-length record.

So all of a sudden, you know, you had done it

sort of a do-it-yourself kind of project, a DIY,

and now all of a sudden people start

giving you resources, producers, studios.

How did that work out for you?

- Well, it's actually really funny because we were,

when we started to make the album,

we were like, we should do this probably in a studio

because we made the EP at home.

And we actually started off trying in a studio

in New South Wales in Australia,

and we just like could not get a vibe we liked.

So we ended up just like scrapping that plan

and then going back home and starting again

and making it a home.

And then it was kind of like a patchwork quilt

because we started at home with like guitars

and bass and a lot of like the peripheral instruments,

and then we went and got a house in the middle of nowhere

and did a week of drums, and then we went to the studio

in Sydney and did the vocals, so we kind of like built it

in like a, almost a backwards way. (laughs)

- So were the drums and the vocals

going at different studios 'cause you couldn't

get the right sound at home, or?

- Well, Harry wanted to be in like a nice space,

so we got this like cool country house,

so that's why we got that one.

- Okay. - Yeah, I'm very fussy

about the environment that I work in.

(Jon laughing) - (laughs) No, no, no.

It was like this beautiful country house

with like all this land, and it was so nice.

- And percussion of the guitar pick tapping the table.

- That's Tim, because he could do

a lotta that stuff at home.

I would like come home at night,

and he's be in his undies just like in this

like mixing world doing like these really wild things,

wrapped up in like 1,000 cords.

(Jon laughing) But we got him

back out alive, which is nice.

- So eventually, you get this record together,

but then you did seek out some help in mixing it.

- Yes, we did.

- [Jon] I sense enthusiasm. (laughs)

- Yeah, well, we got Peter Katis to mix it.

We went to his house in Bridgeport, Connecticut,

and we love so much of the stuff he's worked on

like Interpol and The National and did Jonsi's,

like there's just so much there.

- Yeah, the Jonsi record-- - Yeah.

- Is amazing. - So that was like

a really special time just to kind of like

be around him, too.

- You know, it's really funny, and I don't know

that it really needs to be said,

but sometimes when you hear a DIY,

you know, you think about like your cousin

who decided that he could build his own deck,

and you don't really feel safe standing on it, you know?

(all laughing) (Hannah vocalizing)

And so, and I took me awhile to figure out,

like, I don't have a cousin that did that,

I had to find something to say

that wouldn't offend a family member.

- Nice.

- But this album is really good,

and it's so varied in the styles and the types of music.

Was that something that you set out to do

to get all these different elements in?

- Well, I think, thank you for saying that, firstly.

- Yeah. - I think like after

making the EP, which was like quite condensed,

and we were trying to get as much in a possible,

I think making an LP was exciting because it meant

that we could put more moments,

have more like dynamic variation.

So I think we were quite thoughtful

in how we wanted to use that 40 minutes

in terms of like having tracks with more intensity

and then having songs we can breathe a little bit more.

- You know, we take videos and we put 'em up online

and we put 'em on television, and I think if I didn't

ask this question, somebody would question me later,

why didn't you ask her about her playing

the guitar upside down?

- Well, it just, I mean, my dad had a guitar

and I picked it up when I was little

and I'm very left-handed.

I'm not very strong in my right hand at all.

And so I just, this was the way that I thought

it was played until someone told me,

it was much too late to change.

I mean, I probably could, but I've tried, and I'm just,

it's no good. (Jon laughing)

Yeah, it's, I got the basics. - You're not the first

person to do that.

- Mm-hmm, well, you know Steve Earle,

he started like this but backwards

'cause his uncle had a left-hand guitar

and he's right-handed, and so but then about a year in,

he ended up flipping.

'Cause we went on tour with him, and he told me,

he was like, "You should try and go back to normal.

"It will open up your world."

- Yeah. - But I'm too scared

at this point. - So you cut some demos,

and in one of the demos, you played the bass in the demo.

And then Tim, when you went to try and replicate it,

it didn't sound the same 'cause she'd flipped the bass,

so you had to, did you flip the bass?

- I flipped it, yeah, so I was playing on my weak side.

- Flip it, baby! - Flip it!

- But yeah, it's cool, there's this,

it was the same with Edge of Town

when Hannah played the guitar on it.

It's, because she sort of strums upwards

and she's not resting her wrist on the guitar

or something, it like, it has a certain feeling to it,

and you can't really get it without either her playing it,

but in the bass, I sort of would like play

like really, she sort of-- - Badly, I think he's saying.

(Jon and Hannah laughing) - No, not badly.

But she plays it, so she plucks it really hard

and it sort of slaps in a strange way,

and I was just trying to do what she was doing.

But it's got a total vibe.

Whenever Hannah has it-- - Just a big slap bass.

- She'll record a whole song by herself,

and then I'll come and like change a few things,

but a lot of it just remains because it's just got

a great atmosphere and emotion to it, the way she plays.

- Well, we've absolutely loved having you all in today,

and we'd love to get one more song

if we could. - Sure.

We're gonna play On My Knees.

("On My Knees" by Middle Kids)

(upbeat rock music)

♪ Give me a sign

♪ I said, give me a sign

♪ I got the big green eyes

♪ And they're looking everywhere ♪

♪ Give me a hand

♪ I said, give me a hand

♪ 'Cause mine are open wide

♪ I'm just hoping that you're there ♪

♪ You were never far from my mind ♪

♪ I swear, when I am on my knees it's different ♪

♪ I swear, when I've fallen off my feet ♪

♪ I stare at everything a little different ♪

♪ There's something there that I have never seen ♪

♪ What is the plan

♪ I said, what is the plan

♪ I am the second hand

♪ I am a roadside distraction

♪ And they're looking at me

♪ As if I got what they need

♪ But I don't got it, don't got it, don't got it ♪

♪ And you think I know it

♪ But I don't know, I don't know ♪

♪ I swear, when I am on my knees it's different ♪

♪ I swear, when I've fallen off my feet ♪

♪ I stare at everything a little different ♪

♪ There's something there that I have never seen ♪

♪ Hah, I swear, when I am on my knees it's different ♪

♪ I swear, when I've fallen off my feet ♪

♪ I stare at everything a little different ♪

♪ There's something there that I have never seen ♪

♪ There is something there that I have never seen ♪

♪ Yeah

♪ I swear, when I am on my knees it's different ♪

♪ I swear, when I've fallen off my feet ♪

♪ I stare at everything a little different ♪

♪ There's something there that I have never seen ♪

♪ There is something there that I have never seen ♪

- That was great.

That one's about being part of something

bigger than just yourself.

- Yeah, which is probably something

we've all really learnt even from being in a band, you know?

It's like submitting part of yourself

to be a part of something bigger,

and then when we can do that as people in communities,

it's like a really beautiful unity happens.

- [Jon] Joined today in the studio by the Middle Kids.

Hannah, Tim, Harry, Cameron, thanks again.

- [Hannah] Thank you.

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- Thanks, guys. (audience applauding)

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