After unveiling a new cover song by some of its favorite artists and biggest influences each month since February, Midtown has rounded up those four tracks for an EP cheekily titled We’re Too Old To Write New Songs So Here’s Some Songs We Didn’t Write.
Alongside the project’s release came a visualizer for its final song, “Safely” by Hot Rod Circuit. The EP follows Midtown’s return to the road last year for its first shows since 2014, which ranged from headlining mid-sized amphitheaters to appearing at festivals like Riot Fest and opening arenas for My Chemical Romance.
“We just wanted to share some of our influences and also put a spotlight on some of the other acts that were from our scene around the same time,” vocalist and bassist Gabe Saporta told SPIN over lunch in Los Angeles. “Hot Rod Circuit was a band that we played with on tour, and we’re great friends with them, but I felt like they never really got their due as artists and songwriters. I just think this song is so well-written. It’s one of those songs you still want to put on 20 years later, and I think it’s worth sharing.”
In addition to the new Hot Rod Circuit track, the EP also features a song each from vintage Midtown favorites Lagwagon (“Know It All”) and two of Saporta’s biggest lyrical influences: Pavement (“Cut Your Hair”) and Elvis Costello (“Pump It Up”). Saporta admitted to borrowing a lyric or two from those acts for different Midtown songs, but that didn’t make the song selection process any easier.
“There were a lot of songs that we were excited about that did not make the cut, so the fun thing about doing this and getting a reaction is that it leaves the door open if we ever want to do it again,” Saporta said. “I don’t even like calling it ‘covers.’ I think of them as tributes. It’s not like we’re covering the new Miley Cyrus song on Punk Goes Pop. That’s not what this is. We wanted to hit something from every bucket that inspired us.”
With Saporta having built a life for himself in Southern California, the 43-year-old recorded the EP’s vocals across the country while guitarists Tyler Rann and Heath Saraceno and drummer Rob Hitt recorded in New York. The division is a perfect representation of the compromises Midtown is keen to make to keep the band in existence, while still maintaining its members’ home lives as fathers. In other words, Midtown is likely never going to be back full-time or put out another major album, but its also hoping to not take nearly a decade off between shows anymore.
“We’re not re-launching Midtown, so it was almost like going to a high school reunion and getting to see your friends who you haven’t seen in 10 years,” Saporta said. “We also got to play some arenas, but honestly, the headline shows were more fun to me than the arenas — being there with people we haven’t seen in forever and they’re singing every word. It’s just a celebration, and I’d like to be able to do reunions once a year or every couple of years, if possible.”