The Milk Interview
Thanks to The Milk for taking some time to talk to us on the day of the release of their brand-new and very fine album Favourite Worry. Thanks too to Adam Scrimshire from WahWah 45s for the studio photos.
There’s a lot of IOW in this recording, from location to producer to artwork. What drew you to to the Island to record and how did it affect the process?
It was Paul Butler that brought us to the Island, more for logistical reasons at the beginning to be honest but the more time we spent there with Paul the more the music we were making seemed to sound like our surroundings, which is exactly what music should do shouldn’t it. We were pretty unanimous in our decision to work with Paul, there was no short list of producers we wanted him. He invited down for the session and we liked the idea of getting away to record the album anyway, away from the obvious distractions etc and in Chale Abbey we found a home away from home. It was pretty perfect for us.
Paul Butler is a one of our most talented and successful musicians. Where you Bees fans?
Yes he is and yes we are very much. The Bees have to be one of the most underrated bands of recent years and I mean that in terms of their popularity because if you know The Bees you love The Bees there’s no two ways about it. They’re one of the few commercial bands in the last 20-30 years to really pull off that authentic old rootsy style of playing and recording and a lot of that is obviously down to our Paul. There was one particular late night in the studio towards the end of the session where we were sharing music and none of us were fit to operate any machinery if you know what i mean, and ‘I Love You’ by The Bees came on and we got a private live rendition of vocals and trumpet from the man himself. Needless to say we lost our shit. There’s actually a video of it floating about somewhere but I think now our relationship hinges on that video never seeing the light of day. If you were there, you were there basically.
Paul’s sitar is noticeable on the album, what else did he bring to your sound?
Working with Paul is quite a daunting experience in many ways because he is so talented. In the months leading up to the session I think as a band and individually we were putting in double rehearsal times because we wanted to make sure that we could at least joust with him musically and creatively. This was not a bad thing at all as the bi-product of this was that we all became better players for it. The key with working with Paul we found is that you’ve got to let him loose. There’s no use inviting a guy like him into the band for the duration of the album to keep him stifled. Some of the best moments of Favourite Worry came from when he was running around the live room for hours on end shaking percussion, hitting keys, playing guitars and blowing horns. It got the point where we would encourage it, we’d say ‘why don’t you go for a wander mate?’
The artwork is based around a series of photographs from Island photographer Julian Winslow, did you have a set idea or a series of location that you wanted for them? Did you do some serious Island exploring or did Paul take you to some secret spots?
We did do a fair bit of island trekking yeah but it was purely for pleasure. Paul also took us to all of his favourite haunts during our time there but to true recording lock-down protocol we would often go days without stepping outside the studio, bar the occasional cigarette of coarse. Artwork came some months later when we were able to reflect on how important the IOW had been in the whole project. Of all the the ideas that were flying around at that time we all seemed to gravitated towards the one that suggested some kind of artistic photography from the Island. Once we got the test sheet back we were unanimous in its approval.
Three years is a substantial time between albums. Has it been too long for you all or has it been a relaxed process to get to this point?
Far from relaxed I must say. We were tasked to obviously write a new record which for us has always been a process of over writing and editing. We wrote 40+ songs in order to get the 15 that we recorded and the 10 that made the album. We set the bar quite high with our songwriting and this busy period was only made more challenging by the fact that we were reassessing what we wanted from the band and thus realligning our sound and intentions. Throw in a change in management and record label and some particularly ill-timed personal struggle and you’ll start to imagine the task with which we were faced. I’ll say this though as any songwriter will tell you it is through the most challenging times that you find the most potent material with which to write and it was this depiction of the times that acted as a personal atonement.
Pretty much straight after the release you are off on tour, hitting quite a spread of locations around the country. How does touring effect you as a band? Is it a good time for creativity?
Touring is important to us because at the end of the day we are a live band and performing our music to people is what we’ve always done and what we always should do. It is a good time for being creative but not necessarliy sitting writing songs creative, more honing the live show with new ideas and performing spontaniously to different audiences creative. Also if this one is anything like the others it’ll be another week of stories that are worthy of being depicted in some new material further down the road I’m sure.
WahWah 45s are synonymous with high-quality vinyl releases and top-notch artist signings. Was it an easy decision to sign with them?
What attracted us to Wah Wah 45s more than anything else id say was the people that run things down there. Dom and Adam came to our studio (Woods Lodge Studios) in Essex and we spoke for hours about our vision and our intentions and what we wanted to say with the record and they seemed to believe in us straight away. Since being with them we have always had their unwavering support and dedication which is a diamond encrusted platinum gold commodity from a record label.
Finally, what do you hope people enjoy most about the record?
I hope people can hear the honesty in the record. I hope people hear a little bit about themselves in the songs. This album was so very close to never happening that I hope people enjoy it as the project that we have loved, loathed, laughed over, sacrificed for and also intrinsically given a part of ourselves to.
Favourite Worry is out now on WahWah 45s as a download, CD or beautiful vinyl.