Darren Middleton knew what he was going to do as soon as Powderfinger finally took a year off. Get straight back into Drag, of course.
Drag is Darren Middleton on guitar and vocals. On drums is the band’s co-founder, Mark McElligott, an old mate of Darren’s and long-time member of the ‘Finger’s travelling party, plus a couple of buddies and excellent musos from the Brisbane scene: Sean Hartman on bass and Matt Murphy on keys.
Much of the creative core of Drag was developed in hotel rooms over the course of nearly a decade while out on the road -- Darren in his room writing songs, or with Mark putting down demos. Over the years, the pair worked up some 50 tracks.
All that work has been distilled into these 11 eclectic songs. The Way Out is, by Darren’s own description: “A jacket made of sound you can wrap yourself in. It’s got a couple of holes but it’s all part of the character. You could wear it out on a Friday night or lounge around at home on a Sunday afternoon.”
The Way Out is a songwriter’s album, the album Darren Middleton had to make. “I write a lot of songs and I want to get them out there, basically,” says Darren. Great songs played by a great band, old-school style, Darren upfront revealing the scope of his voice. On top of Drag’s rock base is a myriad of other rich sounds: electronics, brass and strings.
The first new Drag song you’re likely to hear is the first single, You and I. It’s a classic rocker, a big love song with a retro-electro groove that harks back to the early days of New Order.
But you can’t judge The Way Out on You and I alone. There are so many music styles at play on the album. As a band, Drag set out to make record that sounded like all their favourite music rolled into one. Listen close and you’ll catch the references – The Beatles, Tom Waits, Crowded House, James Bond. Yes, even James Bond.
It ranges from the folk rock of songs such as Fall in the Haze, to the outwardly theatrical tone of something much madder like The Frustrated Writer, which originally started out life as the synopsis of a short film. The band jokingly refers to The Way Out’s closer, the weird and wonderful Inside Your Words, as their “White album song”.