Today We’re the Greatest

Middle Kids

Today We’re the Greatest

As Middle Kids were recording their second full-length in late 2019, they faced a serious deadline. “I was seven months pregnant,” guitarist-vocalist Hannah Joy tells Apple Music. “I was really on the clock. And it had quite a big impact on what I wrote because I was in a place of general anticipation and thoughtfulness about the next season. There was an urgency there—I felt very impassioned because it felt so important.” On Today We’re the Greatest, the Sydney rock outfit—including drummer Harry Day and bassist Tim Fitz, who is also Joy’s husband—dive headlong into difficult questions about who we are and what it is to be alive. Earnest and anthemic, it’s music that was meant to impart wisdom if not inspire—and Joy and Fitz’s son clearly responded to it in utero. “I'll be doing the vocal takes and he'll start kicking and it would actually trip me out because it wouldn't be to the beat,” she says. “I’d say, ‘Your father is a bass player and a drummer—you should have better rhythm.’” Here, Joy guides us through a few of the album’s key songs.
Bad Neighbours “A lot of these songs are more vulnerable and more personal; and musically, they’re more dynamic and stripped back. That was something we were really excited about, but also a little bit nervous because it's something new. I think we were just like, ‘Fuck it, let's just really lean into that and have that sort of thing be the opener.’ When I'm scared of something, I lean into that thing and just expose myself to it to try and get over it.”
Cellophane (Brain) “It's dealing with my noisy brain and the things that are ticking away underneath it all. I remember when I was writing the chorus melody, I was just hitting random notes just to see how that sounded. I really ended up liking it and I didn't even think it was going to be the final melody because it really jumps around and I'm swinging it like an elastic band. It's so fun to sing because it's loopy and different to usually how I would write.”
R U 4 Me? “Tim and I wrote this one together from the ground up, which is a new thing for us. That bit where I laugh in the breakdown, that’s literally from the demo, because I'm saying something wrong, and we just left it in there because it felt like the spirit of the song was in that. It’s intense but playful. It’s talking about trust issues or people trying to find their place and feeling lonely and not knowing where they belong, but also not taking yourself too seriously.”
Questions “There's a lot of space in the music at the beginning—almost like when you're in a tense conversation it feels like there's too much space. It's painfully present and quiet except for the words. As it slowly builds and grows and then explodes: There's a great catharsis in that. I'm not sure if that's symbolic—whether it's anger exploding or if it's the resolution of something or freedom from something—but musically, I think it really takes you on a journey of like awkwardly navigating intimacy.”
Some People Stay in Our Hearts Forever “I still look back on experiences from when you were a kid and it's just crazy how they can really linger. Writing that chorus was just so from that place, almost like a wolf howling to the moon, ‘I’m sorry.’ I think part of the journey of growing up is learning how to accept who you are and what you've done, and own those things and not let those ghosts haunt you. It’s not even necessarily doing anything that bad, but you're just dumb and don't know much.”
Stacking Chairs “Tim really inspired this song. When I was growing up, I was more interested in having a good time and going to the party and then not being the person who stuck around and packed up the party after. Long-term friendship is learning how to walk with someone through life and being there in not just the fun moments, but all the messy moments. Marriage has really taught me about continually showing up every day. And that image of stacking chairs is being that person for other people who's going to be there when it's a bit shit and it's not the fun stuff, but it's part of life.”
Today We're the Greatest “This song to me is a great summation of a lot of the things that I'm singing about and wrestling with. Most of our lives, it's pretty mundane and you just do the same shit every day. In amongst that, we all have our pain and our loneliness, but we also have our moments of triumph and beauty. Sometimes they're small and sometimes they're big. And I feel like when we can hold all of that and live in that, that's when we are great—that’s living.”

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