“I can’t contain myself,” starts Becky. “I’m like a child on Smarties.” Milk Teeth are excited about releasing new material, but they’re not the only ones. “So much has happened since the last record come out. We’ve done so many more tours; it feels like we’ve put the work in and now we’re back on track. Everything is settled again.” But the boat isn’t going to rock itself. The band are gearing up to release two EPs this year on their new home of Roadrunner Records, with ‘Be Nice’ part one of their double hit.
Initially written as an album before being cut in half, streamlined and refocused, “the two eps that we’ve put together are the best representation of what we do now. It almost feels like day one again. Not to discredit the previous releases, but it feels like starting over. In a good way. ‘Vile Child’ was a personal reflection record for me, explains Becky. “These are still personal songs, but I’ve been through different things since. ‘Vile Child’ was about stuff I went through as a teenager and my early twenties, these songs are the 24-25 chapter. Who knows what’ll come next,” she teases.
‘Be Nice’ has become a mantra for the band, a tagline, a message to live by. “It’s just always something we stuck by. We’ll always stick up for ourselves if we disagree with something or think something is wrong, but being nice gets you a lot further than being an arsehole. It’s just simple, isn’t it? It’s a simple thing, and if people stick to that, life is pretty easy.”
Between the title and the first track (“It’s bloody catchy. It gets in my own head, and I feel like a right dick with my own song stuck in my head”) ‘Owning Your Okayness’, Milk Teeth aren’t wasting time. They’ve got something to say, and they’re going to say it.
“The relationship I was in at the time, I was torn. I was really in love with this person, and everything about us, the friendship part of the relationship and the fun part was all amazing, but the guy always had a wandering eye. I stuck it out for three years on and off, putting up with this guy looking at other people and talking to other girls. That’s something a lot of people will be able to relate to. It’s quite a common scenario.
“I’m not with him now, and it took me a long time to end things because all the other parts of the relationship were so happy. The chorus represents the frustration I had inside, that I couldn’t keep this person from shopping around. I’d rather lay all my cards out than beat around the bush. That person heard the song at the time, they knew it was about them and it was a fingers to you. They knew it was about them, while we were still in a relationship and they knew they’d cocked up, that was my ‘I’ve had enough’ point, and that’s what that song represents to me. Don’t be a dick and be nice. Play nice, and I’ll play nice too.”
There’s also “empowerment at play,” she says. “‘No, I’m not going to put up with this shit’. Yes, we’re happy in other ways, but nobody should have to put up with being treated like less than they’re worth.”
The rest of ‘Be Nice’ follows the same raging path of ‘Owning Your Okayness’. “It’s edgy, but it’s got a lot of pop elements to it. It’s very melody heavy. We don’t want people to think we’ve suddenly turned into a full-on pop band, everything is still us, and the EP represents that, but ‘Okayness’ as the first single is a no brainer. That song encompasses everything that is the band now, pop hooks, fuzzy guitars, dual vocals; it’s got attitude, and it’s pissed off. It made perfect sense. I like that there’s a lot of space to not be confined to one kind of style, I love being able to write for a band like that. The stuff that inspired us, yeah Smashing Pumpkins but also the old school girl punk bands like Bikini Kill and the riot grrrl era, I still wanted that to be represented.”
Milk Teeth have always been a band who knew what they were doing. ‘Swear Jaw’ is one of the first songs the band ever wrote and it still demands a shiver down the back of the neck. ‘Vile Child’ is a record of confidence and conflict, but that steely-eyed determination never wavered. Milk Teeth remain unblinking, but this time it’s with a dreamers eye.
“If your goal is to play 300 cap rooms forever, and that’s what you’re happy doing, that’s great. That makes me happy too but it’s grown further than that so I’ve had to move the goal posts. We all have.” Now Milkies are looking up. “‘Maybe it’s not crazy to think that we can do this?’ Everyone who knows us, knows we’re self-deprecating to the point where it’s annoying just because we’re so doubtful of our abilities, individually and as a unit. People tell us we’ve got this, we’ve got potential and we’re starting to believe in what we’re doing a little more.
“I do take a step back a bit now and look back on everything we’ve done so far and say, ‘You know B; you’re doing alright. If it all ended tomorrow, you should be super proud of everything you’ve done’. And I am. Coming from where we do, we never flirted with the idea that it could be anything more. We thought it would get to a certain level, not that we couldn’t take it any further but we hadn’t even considered the option, then it started to grow bigger than we anticipated. Shit. You actually have a shot at making the thing you wanted to do become your life.
“That still is my dream scenario, but it’s still early days, and we’ll never get complacent. You know me, I worry about everything. I don’t ever want to get complacent. My pet hate is how disposable everything is, disposable music and one hit wonders. I don’t want to be the person who writes one song and lives off that; I’d like to have a lengthy career. Put out a good, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 records, and do this for the long haul, because this is what I love to do. It’s not about a quick cash fix for us or a quick dip the pool of fame, it’s what we love to do.
“Now that we have more opportunities, we’re starting to entertain the notion that maybe it’s not out of the question for us to do things. I’ve always been very determined but now I’ve become more ambitious, we’ve become more ambitious as a band and I think that’s only a positive thing. I think people do shoot themselves down, they care so much about being cool or staying underground, they limit themselves. Why wouldn’t you want to take things as far as you physically can, if you’ve got the opportunity to?”
Milk Teeth’s EP ‘Be Nice’ is out 28th July. Taken from the June issue of Upset, out now.