Interview: The Milk

The Milk are praised for their unique take on Motown and soul music and their debut album, Tales From The Thames Delta, was released in August this year to a positive reception. Selma Rezgui caught up with the Essex quartet ahead of their headline show at the O2 Academy Oxford last Friday.

Hello, The Milk! You probably get this a lot, but why the name?

Dan LeGresley (Guitar): We sort of got caught with it. It was a standby name when we first started doing this thing. We thought we’d change it, but then we got a fanbase and the label were like “you can’t change it”. So it kind of stuck.

Rick Nunn (Vocals): We wish there was a better reason.

DL: We wish we had a better name.

The music you make is a mash-up of loads of different styles. Most notably Motown, Stax and Trojan influences. Who would you say are your biggest influences?

RN: Well all of the major artists from the labels you just mentioned.

DL: They were more about the label than the individual artist…

True, but is there anyone you feel is a big inspiration to you, who motivates you to do what you’re doing?

RN: I’m a big Jim Morrison fan, a big Bruce Springsteen fan.

DL: You know, all the classic bands, Rolling Stones…

Mitch Ayling (Drums): Amy Winehouse, more recently.

OMB: You released your debut album, Tales From The Thames Delta, earlier this year to a positive response pretty much all round. How much would you say your Essex background has affected your sound?

DL: Massively, yeah. We always say that music should be a time and a place and we were hoping that Tales From The Thames Delta sounds like Essex. The title of the record is a testament to what it’s about. The songs that we had, they were just little stories about walking around in our county so it’s very much to do with Essex and our attitude towards it.

This is your last tour date. How tired are you?

DL: We’re all knackered.

MA: We’ll perk up for the gig, but yeah.

Do you ever get tired of each other?

Luke Ayling (Bass): Yep.

RN: We played the Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London last night so it was a bit of a big show, so we’ll be fine by the time of the gig but we’re a little bit tired now.

You’ve all known each other for a really long time haven’t you? How and why did you first decide to start a band?

RN: Well we were the only people in our school who showed any kind of open interest in guitar-based music. It was a very heavy, urban scene where we grew up, especially in school. I’m always jealous of people when they describe their school, you know, “Oh, there were ten bands in my year. Everyone played fucking five instruments and the music teacher was amazing.” We didn’t have any of that, we really didn’t. It was all dance music, very urban. Fashion as well as music

DL: We had a music teacher that hated music.

RN: Yeah, we had an evil sadistic bitch of a music teacher.

DL: She was a bitch.

RN: So yeah, the odds were against you trying to form a band in our school.

MA: We scraped the barrel when the four of us got together. There was no choice.

DL: The best of a bad bunch.

Have you started writing any new material for the future?

RN: Yeah, we’ll be playing some new material this evening.

DL: When we get back tomorrow we’ll have a couple of days away from each other and then crack on.

Can you see your sound taking a different direction?

DL: I think we’re going to try to be a bit more concise with the sound. At the moment, it’s quite broad in terms of genres and we want to try and really hone it down.

So, what are your plans for 2013?

RN: Tour America, write and record a whole album, do loads of touring, festivals. Enjoy the festival season.

Busy schedule. What bands are you listening to at the moment in any spare time that you have?

RN: In the last couple of days I’ve been listening to John Legend and The Roots’ Wake Up! album. That’s been on my iPod.

MA: The Black Keys are a favourite of ours, and I like Of Monsters and Men. Alabama Shakes is one of my favourites.

Who would you say is going to get big in 2013?

MA: Jake Bugg

DL: We met him last summer and he was below us on the bill! Nice chap. Now everyone’s crazy about him. Yeah, he’s doing really, really well.

I know you haven’t been here long, but what do you think of Oxford?

RN: We arrived in the dark, and we’ll leave in the dark.

DL: Yeah, we were here last year tough, cracking tour, that. So we’ve been before, good town.

RN: We played in a nice venue, above a pub.

Oh, the Jericho. What do you think of the music scene here?

DL: It’s hard to tell really. We only come here to play our gigs. I’m sure it has got a vibrant one, it being a student town. Generally where there are students there’s a live music scene.

Do you have any favourite Oxford bands?

MA: Radiohead, innit, they’re the ones. We were – still are – massive Radiohead fans.

DL: They’re a really important band for us.

You played a lot of festivals last summer. Do you have any good stories?

RN: T in the Park was literally knee deep in mud. It was revolting. One of the sound engineers told us that the weather was so bad that a lot of the young ladies of Scotland who had lost their tents were offering their services for the evening to anyone who would let them in return for a tent to sleep in.

What an utter delight. Which was your favourite festival that you went to?

LA: That one.

DL: Isle of Wight Festival was amazing. It’s one of those great, historical, prestigious festivals, like Glastonbury, that you wish you could play and to go there was amazing. Yeah, that was a very special gig.

LA: And Noel Gallagher was there, Bruce Springsteen. That was good.

Tales From The Thames Delta is out now on Sony Music.