This past year saw Middle-Out burst out as they released debut EP, Bender.
Based out of Detroit, the trio formed in 2021 and dropped the pounding release in September of this year. They're no strangers to the city music scene, each bringing their own experience and coming together with the goal of bringing a harder edge to the sound of this project.
They are Matt Fisher, DJ Liden and Dan Stover, and they took some time to talk about their beginnings, their debut release Bender and their plans for the new year.
You came together last year, with all three of you already being part of the Detroit scene through other bands. When did you meet and, ultimately, make the decision to form Middle-Out in 2021?
Dan: It’s hard to say exactly when we all met, but it would’ve been within the last 10 or so years. Going in and out of numerous projects, sharing stages in Detroit together, it all seems to happen so fast. We likely even all crossed paths at points in the mid 2000s, we just can’t exactly say for sure. It wasn’t until 2018 or so when Matt and I, playing in Break Anchor and Suburban Medicine respectively, started doing regular shows together for a while. Likewise, DJ, playing in Small Stresses, had been in the orbit as well. They had been making their rounds in Detroit and Michigan for a while.
Matt: The whole thing happened pretty naturally for us. I started writing a batch of songs during the initial Covid lockdown out of sheer boredom and sent them over to DJ to get his thoughts. There were a handful that stood out and we decided that we should do something with them and caught wind that Dan was open to be a part of what is now “Middle-Out”. From there we just started hanging out, rehearsing and writing.
Tell us about the name 'Middle-Out'. Where did that come from?
It's a reference to a scene from the show Silicon Valley. If you are unfamiliar with it, the phrase ‘Middle-Out’ is basically a math equation to figure how to … ‘satisfy’ a room full of men in the shortest amount of time possible. What can we say? Dirty, childish thoughts won out in the end
With varying schedules, how do you find that balance between Middle-Out, other creative ventures and general life?
That’s really the challenge with everyone in our position isn’t it? I guess you just have to want to do it. Once things start to feel like a tired obligation, you’d rather not partake, especially when you have the weight of other things like family, kids, work, etc. You have to find the right time and balance. As far as other creative projects go, it’s really fortunate for us that our other band mates aren’t the jealous type. Hell, it’s rare to find musicians in Detroit who are limited to strictly one band. We all know each other and have known each other for so many years, I think there’s an understanding among our community that everyone has ongoing obligations.
On Bender you bring relatability, dealing with songs about the melancholy of working to the reality of getting older. Was writing these songs cathartic in expressing those sorts of very real feelings? Did writing them come naturally?
Matt: Writing music is definitely cathartic. When I find myself in a moment of reflection with whatever is happening in life, the first thing I do is start writing, so yeah it all came out pretty naturally.
You recorded the EP at Drifting Sun Sound. What was the recording process like?
Drifting Sun Sound is owned and operated by our longtime friend, Chuck Huber. Dan has done several records and EPs with him and been friends for many years. So, coming into the environment was very comfortable. We’re all friends at the end of the day, working on a project together. Chuck is very professional, knowledgeable, and courteous. It’s studios like his that make you want to come back for the comradery alone.
For the release show for Bender, you had a 'Middle-Out Coffee Stout' brewed for the occassion by Dan. I love that. What spurred that sort of thinking outside the box promotion?
Dan has been homebrewing for many years, so it seemed like a natural fit to offer free beer at our release show. Most people we know do drink, so it just seemed like a fun added incentive. We also made Middle-Out Coffee Stout with Detroit Bold Coffee, which is roasted right in the city. Cross promote and keep it local!
Bender is just the start for you guys - you teased that you had '50 or so' new demos just a few weeks after its release! Is a LP already in the works?
DJ and Matt have several dozen songs demoed. We’ve basically whittled it down to 10-12 and will be in the studio to do an LP early in 2023, ideally have it released the same year. In our live set, half of the songs weren’t even on the Bender EP, so new stuff has been in rotation for quite some time. Just keep adding over time. We’re planning to hunker down the remainder of this year and January to get this LP into studio-ready condition.
What does 2023 look like for Middle-Out? What are your goals?
- Record and release an LP
- Get label support for said LP
- Continue on our streak of good shows, get out of state, hopefully get chosen for some festivals
- Brew another beer for fan consumption
I know that doesn’t look like a lot, but for anyone who has been in our position before, you know the amount of work that goes into everything.
Bender is out now.
Check out all things Middle-Out on their website.