Words: Matt Innes
The forthcoming album from Darren Middleton sees the singer-songwriter and former Powderfinger guitarist finding his comfort-zone as a solo musician.
In the seven years since Powderfinger disbanded in 2010, Darren has undergone an intense evolution that’s seen him produce two solo records under his own name, as well as composing scores for feature films, short films and documentaries.
Currently working on his third studio album sans-The Finger, Darren says it was a long process to reconcile his illustrious past as guitarist for one of Australia’s biggest bands with the determination to create his own identity outside of the group.
“I think initially I found for me – and maybe it’s quite general for other people who have left a big organisation – you’re quite desperate to find yourself really quickly and make a mark on your own,” he says.
“That for me took a couple of solo records; it wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be, and I also realised I don’t really want to shed that skin because that’s a really big part of what got me to where I am.
“So it’s part of acknowledging that fact and then you can move on, instead of rebelling against it intensely. It’s more a matter of going ‘I’m OK with that, I’m good with that and now I’ll find my way’.”
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Darren’s first solo album ‘Translations’ was released in 2013, followed by ‘Splinters’ in 2015. With his transition from band member to independent musician seemingly complete, Darren says he wants to make the forthcoming record a more powerful statement of his own artistic intent.
“I want to make this a bit crunchier, a bit crisper and with a bit more of an edge on the sounds and not so rounded,” he says.
“The first record is quite smooth I suppose, and that was really me being a little bit hesitant to make a record I suppose. There’s a lot of guest singers involved and [it was] not to have their names on paper but because I didn’t really have a great deal of faith in myself being able to lead-sing it. I’m totally comfortable with that now and really excited.”
While Darren is making defiant strides forward as a solo artist, he recently came back together with three of his four former Powderfinger band mates for a one-off performance at Splendour In The Grass that sent social media into a frenzy about the possibility of a legitimate reunion.
“It was a lot of fun,” Darren says of the Splendour show.
“Bern [Bernard Fanning, vocalist] called us up and asked if we wanted to jump up and I said ‘hell yeah, sounds like fun’. We got together the day before the gig and we had a half-hour run-through and said ‘that’s sounds pretty good, let’s do it.’ We didn’t tell anyone about it, we never said it was a Powderfinger reunion; we just decided to get up and play a couple of songs and it was amazing.”
As to those rumours about a full-fledged reunion of the band, unfortunately Darren gives them a good dousing, saying there are no plans for such an event although he’s not ruling out any possibilities just yet.
“There are no plans I’m afraid,” he says. “We’re all friends and we’ve done this a couple of times now where members have gotten up together, and there’s no plans but you never know what the future’s going to bring.”
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