For those new around these parts, a quick recap. London’s Middlemen are Noah Alves (vocals, guitar), Harper Maury (bass) and Lily Pym (drums). At the time of the release of Middlemen’s debut EP, Cut Out the Middleman, we suggested that they were the most exciting young act out of the U.K. in years; two months on, and nothing has shifted our opinion.
With urgent rushes of noise and a cerebral acumen beyond their years, Middleman are everything you want to hear from a new band. From the rumble and roar of blistering opening track, Train Man, to the Wipers-inspired of Entropy and the fantastic finale of One Day We Will Be Strangers, Middleman are band going places fast.
We won’t bore you anymore superlatives, just hold an ear to this glorious discord. Many have already of course, which has seen the band playing shows up and down the country; their latest tomorrow night at Manchester’s Retro Bar where they will be supporting Leeds outfit, Self-Immolation Music. There’s a debut European show in April, too, alongside Island of Love in Poland.
With what’s starting to be a bit of a whirlwind for the band (including yesterday’s release of new song, Go!, via Bandcamp), recently we caught up Alves who answered some of our questions about Middleman, their influences, and the excellent Cut Out the Middleman.
Sun 13: Firstly, how did Middleman begin?
Noah Alves: “Harper and me have been playing together for a while now. We had another drummer Owen, but he moved up to Leeds for university, and then we met Lily on New Year’s Eve 2020 and started playing with her soon after. I guess it all fell into place after that.”
S13: The EP has been out for a couple of months now. You’ve also played a raft of shows in support of it. Overall, how has the reception been?
NA: “The reaction has been really good, people seem to like it! Some of the opportunities that have come from it are insane. We just enjoy playing shows, and now that it’s out, it’s nice to see people recognise the songs when we play them live.”
S13: There are clear American ’80s punk influences that run all through these songs, which is great because I don’t think many young U.K. acts are replicating that. On that basis, do you see yourselves as outliers of sorts, particularly in a local sense?
NA: “In the London hardcore scene, bands are definitely influenced by old American hardcore bands, but I don’t think there are many others who share our influences in terms of the older U.S punk stuff, such as Mission of Burma and The Replacements, so in that sense yeah I do.”
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S13: One thing I’ve noticed these days amongst the younger generation is how music is digested. Not many people seem to be listening to albums and prefer singles, but I don’t get that feeling with Middleman. Would that be accurate?
NA: “Yeah, I always like to listen to an album, because that’s how the band created it to be heard. Sure, I think it’s nice to have a favourite song which you go back and listen to more than others, but I always like to listen to an album as a whole. Especially when discovering new bands.”
S13: Can you tell us about the writing process of Cut Out the Middleman?
NA: “Usually I have an idea for a song or a riff and then bring it to practice and show it to the others. From there we figure out what works and what doesn’t, and then can adjust the structure. There’s normally an idea of the melody of how the lyrics will be sung, but usually it’s the lyrics that come last.”
S13: Jonah Falco from Fucked Up mixed and mastered the EP. How did that collaboration come about?
NA: “Jonah’s been really supportive of us since we started and many of the other bands in the London hardcore scene. I think he was even at our first show. We messaged him about mixing and mastering the EP and we took it from there. I think he really understood our sound and what we were going for. To master it we ran it through a tape machine to give it that old, rounded sound.”
S13: I’d say that Train Man is one of the finest tracks I’ve heard from a young band out of the U.K. for quite some time. Can you tell us about this one?
NA: “Thank you! On our way to the first practice that we played the song, we had this experience with this guy on the train just running around terrorising people. Not hurting them, just acting a bit crazy. So, we named it Train Man after that. I think the opening riff almost sounds like a train bearing down the tracks. Then when writing the lyrics, I kind of re-imagined him as this outlaw figure who rides trains to try and find a place where he fits in.”
S13: Turn Away and Entropy have big Wipers vibes. Even the artwork to Cut Out the Middle Man instantly reminded of them. I’m guessing your big fans?
NA: “Yeah for sure! Wipers are one of our favourite bands. I think Greg Sage is such an underrated songwriter and his melodies are so unique. There really isn’t any other band like them.”
S13: With One Day We Will Be Strangers, lyrically I find it to be a heavy song. Did you think twice about making this song the final track?
NA: “It’s one of my favourite songs to play live, and we often end our sets with it. It feels like a natural conclusion. When we were thinking about track order, I think we always had that as the last one, and it was the others that we were more unsure about where they would fit in.”
S13: I’d imagine there are more live dates in the coming months. Are you also thinking about a debut album?
NA: “Yep lots of shows this year and hopefully a few in Europe as well. An album is definitely the next goal we’re working towards. We’ll start recording once we’re ready but hopefully that will be sooner rather than later.”
Cut Out the Middleman is out now via Brainrotter Records. Purchase from Bandcamp.
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