Q&A with The Middle Ground

by Clayton Bowers, Staff Reporter

After performing a show at Simpson College on last Friday, The Simpsonian sat down with Nashville-based alternative band The Middle Ground.

Q: Where did you guys start?

Joe Nearny (Vocals/Guitar): We started in Milwaukee, and we all love Milwaukee, but we had done about all we could do in terms of music up there. So we moved to Nashville, where the No. 1 business is music, so you could be playing a show and some big-name producer could come walking in. It’s a great motivator to just give it our all in every show.

Q: How much music have you guys released so far?

Nearny: We have one full album out now that’s under my name. As The Middle Ground, however, we have an EP out right now. We are about to release a six- or seven-track EP in November, so keep a look out for that.

Q: What are your influences on this upcoming EP?

Jordan Burmeister (Bass/Vocals): Wu Tang Clan

Nearny: For me, it’s bands like Young the Giant or Coldplay. I also really like hip-hop, so I try and throw in quick lyrics and stuff like that. Andy Grammer has also been a huge influence for me.

Burmeister: Andy Grammer is all he talks about.

Q: How does Andy Grammer play such a large role?

Nearny: When we were in Milwaukee, a friend showed me his music on iTunes when he was incredibly unknown. I went to one of his shows when he was touring with Natasha Bedingfield and we got to meet him after the show. So he gave us his email, and we sent him some of our music and the next time he came through town (opening up for Colbie Caillat) he invited us backstage and let us play some songs for him and he gave us some tremendous songwriting advice. Honestly, when someone like that takes the time to listen to your stuff and gives you advice on how you can improve is so valuable. So I don’t care what he puts out. I’ll always say he’s the nicest guy of all time.

Q: How do you guys go about making a song?

Burmeister: Joe is the main songwriter for the band and once he has made something the rest of the band comes in and puts their music around the lyrics.

Nearny: You can definitely hear styles from the Red Hot Chili Peppers in his bass playing though, like he’s a huge Flea fan. And Zach is much more into blues, so if you listen to some stuff from our first EP you can hear a lot more grit in our live shows.

Chris Halbauer (Drums): Everything is my genre of choice, so I pull from all over the board with my playing.

Q: So how much touring have you guys done so far?

Burmeister: We are doing a lot of college touring right now, and we are getting better at booking club dates and stuff in between.

Nearny: Using the college dates as our anchor shows, we will try and squeeze in some club dates along the way and do living room shows and stuff like that. Basically, if you want us to play there, and we can afford to come, we will show up.

Q: Any crazy tour stories?

Halbauer: We are really boring when we are on the road. We travel during the day, play our show, and then go back to our hotel rooms at night because we are exhausted.

Burmeister: We once drove from Nashville to Milwaukee without brakes.

Q: How did you guys meet?

Zach Grusznski (Lead Guitar): Jail

Burmeister: Match.com

Halbauer: PrisonersMeet.com

Nearny: Chris and I went to high school together. We met Jordan about four years ago, and we used to swap shows with Zach’s old band. They were from Minneapolis and then he moved down to Nashville right before we did, so we all connected down there. And the rest is history.