Milo Greene are a five-piece from California. They released their debut self-titled album on Fierce Panda in January and Dave Brown from Louder Than War met Robbie, Marlana and Curtis before their show at Camden Barfly to find out a little bit more about them.
Having seen them play three sold-out shows in just over a week, it’s easy to see how they’ve been captivating audiences back home for almost two years before their first trip to the UK. There’s no front-person in the band, but four singers who swap instruments between songs and exchange lead vocal parts, with the others providing harmonies and backing vocals. They pull off the magic trick of sounding familiar in many ways, but you can’t pin them down to a specific label or band because of those interchanges. And the basis of having a set of fantastic songs.
Robbie explains that their set-up is a direct result of how they came together and how they write their songs. ”We were all singers in different bands and Curtis was drummer in my band. We’re four songwriters. It (songwriting) happens all sorts of ways. One person might bring a song, or a couple of us might be writing together on a song, there’s no formula.”
Their name has an interesting background as well.
“It comes from a monicker that we used when we were all in separate bands. We wanted to sound more professional when we were booking gigs and I didn’t want to just call up the venue and say “Hi, I’m Robbie, I play in a band” so we created this booking agent, this façade, and he would email venues. And when we got together as a band and wrote some songs we had to decide what to call ourselves and that was meaningful.”
It’s not just the first time they’ve toured the UK, it’s also the first visit for some of them and they’ve noticed a few differences from back home, even finding time to praise our much-maligned service stations.
Marlana tells us “The hospitality is a lot nicer, they take care of us. There’s pretty much little to no graffiti in the green rooms. I’m used to seeing like 500 different penis drawings on the walls. And the rest-stops on the motorways are so much better than anything.”
They opened their UK tour at St Pancras Old Church in London, where they sold out two shows within a few days of them going on sale. “We played two nights at a church gig, one of the coolest things I’ve done. I’ve never played in a place like that, I was very happy with that.”
Not content with just recording an album, they have made a film that is sound-tracked by the songs of the album. The film can be watched on their website and youtube.
Robbie explains the story behind it.
“We released a movie Moddison. We have always been into cinema. Initially we wanted to just write for scores and that’s how we started the band, as if we were going to write soundtracks. Between finishing the recording and starting touring the record, we got a friend of ours and a very small crew, no budget and made a film.”
If you’ve missed them this time round, the album was released in January on Fierce Panda and they’re releasing 1957 as a digital only single in February and you’ll get plenty of opportunity to see them later in the year.
“We’re going back to the States and doing a bit of touring. Hopefully in May or
around Summer we’ll be back here. For the next year we’ll be pretty much touring and when we’re not touring we’ll be writing, so it’s pretty full on. We’ve demoed things around the house, but nothing quite serious yet.”
Pushed to describe their music, Robbie and Marlana explain “I would say it’s a bit dreamy and melancholic. Kind of like a mellow pop.” They tell gorgeous love stories such as on standout album track “Cutty Love” – “I slip softly through, all I’ve waited for is you, I slip softly through, settling, my dear, until I found you. Even if your heart stops, I’ll be there to hold you up” and the whole album is imbued with a feel-good vibe that reflects the personalities involved in the making of it
Live, there’s a heavier edge to the sound without losing the beauty of the harmonies. They add in covers of Sufjan Stevens’ “Chicago” and Wilco’s “Shot In The Arm” to fill out the set to an hour.
Milo Greene are the equivalent of a musical cuddle; their debut album a timeless piece that feels as at home today as it would have done in the Sixties or Seventies, evoking visions of sun-drenched Californian beaches and once it’s got hold of you, you don’t want it to let go.
All words by Dave Brown. More writing by Dave on Louder Than War can be found here.