Middle Kids’ manager Kurt Bailey talks new mini-album and the road to success
Sometimes, middle kids get it good. Sydney’s on-the-way-up indie rock outfit Middle Kids, comprising lead singer and guitarist Hannah Joy, her husband Tim Fitz. and drummer Harry Day, are having it great right now.
From a solid but unspectacular base, the trio launched into the next level in 2018. They took out triple j’s prestigious Australian album of the year award for their debut Lost Friends, earned an ARIA Award nomination for best rock album (losing out to Courtney Barnett) and critical praise for music writers around the planet.
There were U.S. late-night TV slots (Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Late Late Show with James Corden) and the band spent much of the years showing off their stuff on stages around the globe.
These Middle Kids are growing up before our eyes. A new, six-track EP New Songs For Old Problems will drop on May 24, TIO can exclusively reveal.
The mini-album features new single ‘Real Thing,’ the music video for which arrives today. Directed by Marie Pangaud (Violent Soho, Bad//Dreems, The Teskey Brothers), the clip can be seen in full below. Australian fans can see the band in their element when they embark on the national ‘Real Thing’ tour, kicking off April 3 at Brisbane’s Triffid.
Check out Middle Kids’ ‘Real Thing’:
TIO caught up with Middle Kids’ manager Kurt Bailey for a look at their road to success.
Middle Kids seem to have touched critics around the globe, earning great reviews in the music press and, of course, there was that big win at the J Awards.
Can you identify a breakthrough moment?
It all started with an incredible song, ‘Edge Of Town’. It went through a few different stages but ultimately that was what cut through. The band had a burning passion and incredible work ethic from day one.
Watch Middle Kids’ clip for ‘Edge of Town’:
The early support from key radio stations locally and around the world, including triple j, FBi, 2SER, KCRW, KEXP, and Radio 1 definitely helped move the needle.
The combination of the band’s work ethic, the early adopters, and our amazing partners around the world have all been a part of this wonderful journey which is only just getting started.
You booked the band for a handful of late-night shows in the U.S. For many Aussie bands, that seems like a dream, and certainly out of their reach.
How did you make that happen? Were there any risks (financial or otherwise), and what outcomes did you see?
The very first TV show was Conan. It started at BIGSOUND at a speed meeting with the Booker at the time, Jim Pitt. It was a great 10 minutes of me sweating and being extremely nervous but telling Jim about the band. He came to the show and loved it.
From there, our amazing publicist Grace Jones took the reins and made it happen. It snowballed from that one performance into The Late Late Show with James Corden and Jimmy Kimmel, which again all stemmed from a great live band, a great song, and the great team around the band.
When we last chatted, it struck me that you’re very much an internationalist. You’ve spent time overseas and you’ve encouraged members of Gang of Youths to do so. Is this part of the DNA of Middle Kids?
Yes, it’s a big part of the DNA of Middle Kids. We got on a plane to the US after only playing one show in Australia. In hindsight, it was probably too early for us (laughs).
But ultimately that trip is what lead us to find our US partners and our dream label, Domino! Being present in the markets overseas is critical to overseas success.
It’s a sacrifice; a huge investment; but extremely worth it if you want proper global success. I still don’t feel like we’re where we want to be but it’s definitely moving in the right direction.
I understand you co-manage the band with (Laneway‘s) Danny Rogers. How do you divide those tasks and what do you both bring to the table for Middle Kids?
Yes, Danny and I partnered about 18 months ago now. He has a wealth of knowledge, experience and relationships, which have been a huge part of the growth of the band.
He also happens to own one of the best festivals in the country that is recognised around the world. That has been very instrumental for the band, with those connections. He’s also a great human being that I’ve learned a lot from.
The band has just released a new track and video, and a six-track EP will arrive in May. In years gone by, a band might have taken a year out and regrouped.
Was it a “strike while the iron’s hot” situation, was the band overflowing with creativity or do we live in a non-stop record/release environment?
The band are extremely prolific and always have new music and ideas at any point in time. They sent these ‘demos’ not long after the album came out and myself and the whole team were blown away and decided to just keep going.
The songs were too good and too strong to just let simmer for six-twelve months. The band has already started on album two and this EP hasn’t even come out!
And finally, what advice do you have for bands who want to emulate Middle Kids and their recent border-hopping success?
Have a vision, a big vision; a strong work ethic, and stay humble. Be collaborative and be the best possible human being you can be through the good and the bad.
New Songs For Old Problems will be released on May 24 via EMI Music Australia.
This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.