Last night, Milk Teeth announced their debut album ‘Vile Child’, as well as dropped an Officially Certified Awesome new track ‘Brickhouse’. What better time, then, to catch up with our In The Studio track from November’s Upset? There isn’t one, in case you were wondering.
The last time we caught up with Milk Teeth, they were lending a hand in battering our ears (and livers) at the London launch party of this very magazine in June. While we’ve only just recovered, the Gloucestershire punks’ debut London headline show was just another notch in their now-lengthy belts, capping off an extremely eventful six months for the band.
Their second EP, ‘Sad Sack’, was released to underground acclaim, while their live schedule saw them heading out on tours with three of the hottest names on the punk rock scene: frnkiero andthe cellabration, Title Fight, and Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes.
“It was the next step up for us as a band,” says bassist and co-vocalist Becky Blomfield on their relentless road trips. “It was a massive learning curve but a great experience at the same time.”
Considering the diversity between the acts that Milk Teeth warmed the stage up for, they were met with the challenge of pleasing three equally different audiences, especially in mainland Europe, a territory previously unvisited by the band. “With the music that we make, we’ve been really lucky that we haven’t been pigeonholed too much,” says Becky. “To meet kids over there [in Europe] and see people reacting to your music was crazy but incredible. I’d say we got a lot tighter as a band, and we bonded through being away for so long.”
After a whirlwind summer spent predominantly on stage, Milk Teeth decamped last month to The Ranch Production House in Southampton to record their debut full-length album, ‘Vile Child’. Becky claims that reaching this particular milestone was “a long time coming”: “I feel like we’d covered all our bases and found our sound. We’ve all improved as musicians, and the writing and lyrics have also improved. Everything’s just coming together.”
Teaming up with producer Neil Kennedy (who also helmed the desk for ‘Sad Sack’), Milk Teeth are part of an uprising of UK punk bands gaining global appeal, having inked a deal earlier this year with Hopeless Records: not only home to the legendary likes of Taking Back Sunday and The Used, but also a platform for the UK’s new breed of punk (Trash Boat, ROAM and, of course, Neck Deep) to blossom.
“[Neil] knows our sound really well, and he’s been around to see the original bands with a similar sound to what we’re inspired by,” says Becky. As for joining Hopeless’ roster, she teases of “the start of something new and potentially bigger” for Milk Teeth: “What [Hopeless Records are] doing right now is taking the next crop of bands that they want to develop, and possibly have the longevity of the previous bands that they’ve worked with. We’ll just see what happens, but it’s an incredibly opportunity.”
“There’s obviously a 90s revival scene at the moment, but Milk Teeth feel a bit more authentic than a bunch of bands that have just come in with Pixies riffs,” says Neil. “There’s something a bit dirty, like genuinely greasy, nasty and a little bit edgy to them, and they’re really good fun to work with.”
With an abrasive punk sound that also transcends grunge, shoegaze and pop, ‘Sad Sack’ allowed Milk Teeth to establish an intoxicating identity, accented by soaring riffs and the unnerving marriage of Becky’s honey-smooth drawl and co-vocalist Josh Bannister’s anguished snarls. But has this vital period of transition had a lasting effect on the band’s artistic processes?
“I think their songcraft’s refined quite a lot; the songs are a lot more neat and tidy, and they’ve got really good hooks,” observes Neil. “They’re probably going to hiss at me for this, but it feels a bit poppier in places and that stuff is exceptionally catchy, but then the nastier bits feel a bit nastier, so it’s a bit of a schizophrenic record!”
“When you come from a tiny little place in the countryside with not a massive amount happening, suddenly being thrown into this massive world is obviously going to inspire you in some way,” admits Becky. “I’d say the songs are still very personal but obviously there are new influences because you’re travelling so much.”
“I feel like this record is a continuation of ‘Sad Sack’ and a combination of everything we do well,” Becky continues. “With a full-length, you got more tracks to play around with and you’ve got more options, so I’d say it’s almost like ‘Sad Sack’ 2.0.”
“There’s a lot more confidence and performance to everything,” adds Neil, “but this is what happens when you spend a year touring. [They’ve become] a well-oiled machine.”
The development of this burgeoning British scene is a subject close to Neil’s heart, having also recently worked with the likes of Creeper, Polar and Press To MECO. “I definitely see myself as someone who does well at a grassroots level. I love the idea of being involved in a kind of scene. Will [Gould, Creeper frontman] recently made the observation that, for the first time in a long time, it feels like there’s a genuine movement within the underground punk scene, and I think he’s right.”
Looking ahead to the release of ‘Vile Child’, Becky is adamant that Milk Teeth fans have something worth waiting for: “I’m so proud of what we’ve come up with for this album, and I just can’t wait to get it out…”
Taken from November’s edition of Upset. Milk Teeth’s debut album ‘Vile Child’ will be released on January 29th 2016.
Photos: Martyna Wisniewska.