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September 2019
Feature

It's all going on for Hot Milk: "We'll do a full-length next year, which is already half-written"

Hannah Mee and James Shaw fill us in.
Published: 12:53 pm, August 02, 2019Words: Ali Shutler. Photos: Sarah Louise Bennett.
It's all going on for Hot Milk: "We'll do a full-length next year, which is already half-written"

Buzzy newsters Hot Milk have been causing absolute scenes wherever they go. We stepped inside the whirlwind for a few minutes post-Slam Dunk to find out how the ride's been so far, and where it's heading next.

Hey Hot Milk, it's festival season! You've just released your very good debut EP ‘Are You Feeling Alive?'. How's that changed things for the band?
Hannah:
You only really figure it out when you play it in front of people. You're at home, and you're feeding the cat, or you're in bed and watching Netflix, and you only discover how things are going when you come and do something like this. It's a litmus test.
James:
Two and a half weeks ago, our EP dropped, and people in the front row today knew every word.
Hannah: How can you not be happy at that? It's sick.

Is that live reaction what you expected?
James:
We take every show as it comes.
Hannah:
We don't think about the whole summer ahead, we just think about each thing. Also, me and James have been around this world for so long, with our friends being in bands and us being involved in the local music scene, so we've always said we've been in the wings waiting.
James:
I was here with four bands last year, just working. It's nice to come here and do the thing we wanted to do all along. Our jobs were just a b-side. It wasn't what we really wanted to do. It wasn't what we were built for. We just want to run around being idiots.
Hannah:
And we're massive idiots. It's good to finally be on the right path.

Is it different actually doing it though?
Hannah:
It is different. It's funny; my anxiety is way less than it used to be in this scenario. You used to feel like you don't belong because you're always stepping on other people's toes if you're working or if you're here with friends, or in the guest area, you're very aware of other people.
James:
It's nice to have your own little slot. Your own little space.
Hannah:
Now I feel so comfortable in my own skin. I feel more confident now, and actually, I feel like it's the right fit. I feel like we're coming home in a way. It feels like where we're supposed to be.

“We just want to run around being idiots”
James Shaw

After the runaway reaction to ‘Awful Ever After', did it feel like you had something to prove?
James:
Yes. The whole thing behind that release was, we'd been writing music together for like, two years. We took our names off, took our faces off, and sent the music out anonymously because we didn't want people to know it was us sending the music out.
Hannah:
That first single did go really well, so when it comes to having something to prove, we felt like ok, we've got to put on a live show that's going to match that hype. We are so live show orientated. My whole life has been spent at shows, and I want to be the best live band in the world. You look around, and you see so many bands that are lacking or have got part of their sets where it feels like it could be better. I don't want to be in one of those bands. I want people to walk away from our set thinking ‘fuck me, that was so fun'. A show should be a release. You go to a show, and you should be able to lose your shit for half an hour and then feel better, because it's about exercising cathartic release. It's a safe space to have fun.
James:
So after every single show, we'll come back to the practice room and go 'this bit isn't quite working, let's work on it'. We've only been a band for a few months.
Hannah:
But we were practising for six months before we released the first single. It's a constant work in progress to make it the best set it can be. We're very conscious that we have to play this set in front of 80000 people in a couple of months when we support the Foo Fighters, so I'm very aware that I need to be on par and that I can share that stage with whoever the headliner is and compete with that and have that standard. I want to make sure our set is stadium ready, basically.

And what about the rest of the year?
James:
Hopefully, loads of touring. Truck, that mini-tour with Foo Fighters, Leeds, Reading and then writing.
Hannah:
We're going to go back out to LA to write some things. We like going somewhere different to write. At home, there are so many distractions. We'll play with the cat; we'll start playing Xbox, we'll start fighting with each other because we still live together. He's my best friend, so I want to live with him, but we end up getting distracted a lot.
James:
It's good to have a focus, and it's good to take yourself out of your natural comfort zone.
Hannah:
We work well under pressure. We've already got 25 songs, so yeah.

25 songs? That feels like you're planning an album next.
Hannah:
We will do two more singles after this, they're not really going to sit on a record, then we'll do a full-length next year, which is already half-written.
James:
We've got a concept, an idea for it.
Hannah:
I could tell you the concept, but that might be spoilers. It's not about love. It's my ‘American Idiot', put it that way. We both have a vision, and that's really important to have. We've known each other for so many years; we're basically the same person. It's why we argue so much, but it's always through love.

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