Darren Middleton Making Waves with Third Album

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Darren Middleton Making Waves with Third Album

This week has been a big one for Darren Middleton. As Double J counted down the 50 best Australian albums of the 90’s crowning number one to ‘Internationalist’, the third studio album by Aussie rock royalty Powderfinger, the former guitarist releases his third solo album, ‘Tides’. Out tomorrow (Friday, September 21), ‘Tides’ is the reinvention and return of Middleton who has been focusing on scoring films and collaborating with fellow musicians over the last three years.
“This album has been a while coming for me. I started it about a year and half ago now. Look, it’s not like me to take this long for the process to kind of take place. I usually try to get in there and get it done and give it time and energy. It took a year and a half mostly due to me having a bunch of things on”, Middleton says. “I almost abandoned it at half way but at the end of all of that I’m totally stoked with what I’ve got so whatever that process was and as drawn out as it was it was worth it as far as I’m concerned!”
‘Tides’ sees Middleton team up with Davey Lane (You Am I), recording the album in full takes straight to tape to capture a crisp, authentic sound with final touches added by producer Steve Schram (Paul Kelly, San Cisco, Cat Empire).
“I really wanted to approach the album in that really humanistic way,” says Middleton. “We kind of did that old school thing of ‘let’s get it right at the source’ rather than putting a bunch of shit in.”
Like its preceder’s, ‘Translations’ and ‘Splinters’, the ten track collection includes a star-studded host of guest musicians including Vika and Linda Bull, Kelly Lane, Graeme Pogson (The Bamboos), Luke Hodgson (Meg Mac), Xani Kolac and Louis Macklin (JET). Sound-wise, however, ‘Tides’ steps away from the former with Middleton going back to his roots, driving tracks with guitar hooks accompanied by his angelic ‘Bon Iver’ style vocals.
“I did purposely want this record to be different to the last couple of ones. I wanted it to be a bit more energetic and a bit more jagged around the edges, and a bit more guitary I suppose.”
Singles, ‘Some People’ and ‘Just Let Me Know’ (originally written for acclaimed film ‘A Star Is Born’ but reshaped for inclusion on ‘Tides’) have been swarming playlists and radio stations since the middle of the year, and will be followed by a third single and music video for uplifting track ‘After All’.
“I think people have been really surprised. You know it’s quite difficult for someone other than the lead singer of a big band to go and make a name for themselves because people don’t know your voice and the sound of your voice, and I think kind of now in this third record I’m establishing who I am as a solo artist, starting again really.”
Starting over, change, and uncertainty, like in Middleton’s personal life, all run deep in his storytelling for the songs; a trait we are familiar with throughout Middleton’s catalogue.
“That’s a pretty common thread throughout most of my songwriting- there’s always a little uncertainty, perhaps a smidge of despair but definitely a little bit of hope. I gravitate towards a melancholy style of lyric writing I suppose,” he laughs. “I can’t help it! I guess it’s a little bit of a reflection on my life and what I observe but you know I find it very hard to write just a, you know, ‘everything’s rosy’ style of song. It wouldn’t feel real to me.”
While ‘Tides’ will further cement Middleton as a frontman in his own right, he will never truly shake the strong grips of Powderfinger. After their split 8 years ago, the five members remain good friends, often collaborating on albums or on stage, and continuing to serve their fandom.
“The band got back together a week ago actually to do some filming for this little international reissue that’s coming out so we caught up with each other and it didn’t feel like 8 years all of a sudden [laughs], felt like it had only been like 2 weeks.”
On top of the album release, third single release and the reissue of some Powderfinger gold, Middleton will be celebrating this album with an East Coast Tour playing only three shows at Factory Floor in Sydney, The Zoo in Brisbane and Northcote Social Club in Melbourne with support from Ashley Naylor (Even) and an opening act from each city.
“It’s only three for now…There will definitely be more gigs,” Middleton says. “I want to play, so we will roll all of the stuff out towards the end of the year. If people want to see me, I’ll be doing gigs!”
Release: Tides is out tomorrow (Friday 21 September 2018)
When & Where: Northcote Social Club, Melbourne – October 26.

Written by Tammy Walters