INTERVIEW: Joel Griffith (MID CITY)
From a personal ad looking for Brandon Flowers' angrier little brother to a band whipping crowds all over the world into a frenzy, Melbourne's Mid City are not your average indie rockers. Part love child of the post punk revival mixed with the glimmering flair of homegrown icons Gang of Youths, Mid City have very swiftly found their feet in the musical world with their soaring sonic combustion and anthemic wiles garnering love at home and beyond, including a top 10 spot on triple j and an 18 date international tour just last year.
A band alarmingly capable of inciting both your dancing shoes and all of your feels, Mid City run the full gamut of modern realities and fevered daydreams coated in gleaming guitars, pop bursts and just the right amount of rock undertones to sink your teeth and/or ears into. And while 2020 has most certainly not been a year of much to celebrate, Mid City are indeed ending the year in triumphant fashion with the impending release of their sophomore EP Wishing For The Best due out on December 4 - and now poised just days from release, come grab a chat with frontman Joel Griffith talking new material, tour memories and what's next for the Mid City gents. Interview below.
TIANA SPETER: Hiya, and thanks so much for having a chat today! Life is always extra busy at this time of year at the best of times, but Mid City are also throwing in something extra special, with the release of your second EP ‘Wishing For The Best’ due out on December 4. How does it feel to be so tantalisingly close to release after the absolute insanity of 2020?
JOEL GRIFFITH: Very surreal! Mainly because we’re a live band without any live places to play. We really had a debate about whether we should release stuff when we can’t play. But then who knows when we can right! At least give people some new sounds from us for the time being. We’ve also continued to write and write so releasing this EP as a bookend to the debut is a nice little bow on this period as we hopefully move onto a fresh chapter of punishing tunes in 2021.
TIANA: On the topic of new tunes, your most recent new single ‘Good For It’ gifted some beautifully jangly vibes, and continued the energetic bliss you lot are becoming increasingly known for. Can you talk me through a bit about how this newest tune came to life? I believe ‘Liar Liar’ before it was born in a 1950s caravan, is there any grand story behind ‘Good For It’ as well?
JOEL: I wish I could say I wrote this one on a 1800’s clipper in the high arctic but the truth is this was the fastest song I’ve ever written. Fifteen minutes start to finish - chords, lyrics, tear-jerking top and tails, everything. One thing I can say is that for a band that generally takes several long, cold winters to get songs to a playable standard between the four of us, this was also the fastest we’ve ever got a song completed - literally about the same time as it took to write. They do say the best songs write themselves! (...they also say you can write anything with three chords so…who knows. I like it!)
TIANA: As a band, you guys do seem to straddle a few different areas in the indie rock genre, notably some of that tasty post punk revival with a mix of old and newer influences bubbling away.What was the idea back in the really early days of Mid City, did you all have a pretty firm idea about the band you wanted to be, sound-wise? And was there a pedestal band(s) that kind of spurred you on stylistically from the start?
JOEL: Like a lot of bands, we write the music we can’t find anywhere else. We definitely had an idea when we started to make something big, loud, fun and - most importantly - entertaining. We all really believe there’s no point paying to cross your arms and watch a band and that bands have a responsibility to punters to give them something to smile or yell or cry or dance about. In that way we’ve looked to obvious indie stuff like QOTSA and Killers and Monkeys and on and on but also Queen and AC/DC and Rammstein (much to my bandmate's embarrassment). We’re more or less looking for the anthemic, immediate pop thing put through a harder, rockier blender.
TIANA: ‘Wishing For The Best’, as I touched on briefly at the start, will mark Mid City’s sophomore EP, and obviously it’s nobody’s first rodeo by any means. Were there any significant changes in how you approached writing and bringing to life this upcoming EP compared to making ‘Die Waiting’? Is there a concrete way you guys like to work to conjure the Mid City magic?
JOEL: Ben and I write pretty much all of the tunes but we usually do most of that work individually and then share finished songs. The biggest change with this latest batch of songs is the two of us starting to write a bit more collaboratively. Like we trust each others first intention a bit more as well as the other’s input before the whole thing is realised. Whether it makes for better songs I don’t know! But it definitely makes for better buddies.
TIANA: Alongside your extremely well-received songs over the years, you guys have also cultivated an increasingly formidable reputation as a live band. And while I know, particularly being a Melbourne band, live music has been a bit of a sore spot in 2020, let’s traipse down memory lane for a moment and remember better times. Across your local and international shows in a short space of time, is there one tour memory that sticks out for you significantly, whether it was something hilarious, an amazing performance or something going utterly wrong?
JOEL: The first time we sold out a show was at the Old Bar in Fitzroy. Even though we’ve played in other parts of the world, and that’s been unbelievably rad, that first sell out was just the best. It’s not even a big room or anything, it was more playing to an over-full room there to see you and sing along that made you think all those endless, endless nights after work at rehearsal were worth it. ...until you have to go back to rehearsal after work the next week.
TIANA: And looking ahead, let’s take the pandemic out of the equation for a moment, is there a bucket list band you’d not-so-secretly love to tour with down the track when live shows are totally back in business?
JOEL: Idles would be most members’ vote. Though I wonder if we could keep up in terms of booze and full-on life stories. I’m absolutely certain that singer would stare deep into my soul and take something I can’t get back.
TIANA: To slowly close us out today, while you’re heavily linked to the indie rock world, what song or artist are you currently devouring in your down-time? Are there any hidden secrets on your playlists right now that may be somewhat unexpected? Or are you indie rock through and through?
JOEL: Oh dear god no - we actually put together a list of our individual favourites on Spotify for fans recently and were all having a laugh that if you didn’t know what we sounded like, you’d never pick it. There was stuff from all over the shop there, so much so that I think Ben had to be the sole standard bearer for indie. Personally, I’m all about pop. Not just Katy Perry pop but more good pop songs. My absolute favourite at the second is Jessie Ware. She’s written the best damn disco album this side of 1976.
TIANA: And lastly in celebration of your upcoming EP release ‘Wishing For The Best’, what’s your wish for a better 2021, whether personally or professionally?
JOEL: Well, a vaccine for one! And then for venues, bands and particularly punters to all be able to get back to what they do best. I can’t wait for people to let loose some of this pent up emotion from a very weird, very trying year.
MID CITY'S IMPENDING EP WISHING FOR THE BEST IS OFFICIALLY DUE OUT FRIDAY DECEMBER 4. FOR PRE-SAVES AND MORE, HEAD HERE.
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BY TIANA SPETER