Interview: Milk Teeth [October 2014]

By Glen Bushell

Milk Teeth are fast becoming one of the UK’s hottest new bands with their grunge-infused brand of punk rock. You will probably have seen their name on a lot of flyers for shows, and there will probably be a lot more before the year is out. The band have had a string of well received tours so far, sharing a stage with bands such as Moose Blood, Jaws, and most recently, they have been the opening band on the UK leg of the Balance and Composure and Seahaven tour. As the aforementioned tour draws to a close, and the band prepare to hit the road again at the end of November with Philadelphia shoegaze heroes Nothing, we caught up with Josh, Becky, Chris and Olly for a chat about their forthcoming EP, why you should listen to them, and questionable tour tattoos.

First off, can you give us a bit of background as to how the band came together?

Chris (guitar): We’ve been a band just under a year and a half, and we all came together because we are friends basically. Josh, Becky and Olly knew each other at college and I knew Josh at school, and he just asked us all if we wanted to be in a band.

How did it come about working with Venn Records?

Olly (drums): Our manager is good friends with the Gallows boys. He sent over our stuff to them and they really liked it, and it kind of just went from there. We have built up a good relationship with Venn, we love those guys, and Gallows have been a major influence on me becoming a musician.

You’ve done the UK leg of the Balance and Composure/Seahaven tour, how has it been? Any particular highlights?

Olly: Our van breaking down…
Josh (guitar/vocals): That wasn’t the highlight, it was the van we had after that!
Olly: Reclining seats, leg room…
Josh: It had as many plug sockets in it as I do in my bedroom.
Chris: My favourite show was the London show at Dingwalls because kids went off.
Becky (bass/vocals): And we got to go to Cyberdog…
Josh: The kids came down early so it was great for us.
Chris: Also it was our first time in Ireland, in Dublin, which was great. The kids went off there too.

So you are doing the UK part of the Nothing tour at the end of November, and they apparently play at an ear-shattering volume. Are you looking forward to competing with them and seeing who can play the loudest?

Josh: That’s what we like to do, but they always tell us to turn it down!
Chris: We are definitely going to try and out-noise them.
Josh: It’s going to be two very loud bands. Bring earplugs if you are coming to any of the shows.

Your EP ‘Smiling Politely’ and the ‘Vitamins’ single were both really well received. What’s next for you guys? Perhaps a full length?

Josh: No, we have just recorded a six-track EP. Keep your eyes peeled for when that’s coming out.

Is that going to be with Venn as well?

Josh: Yeah.
Olly: We are constantly writing though so I’m sure it will be a quick turnaround to get something else out after.
Chris: When we recorded ‘Smiling Politely’ we already had ‘Vitamins’ written.
Olly: And we have been sitting on these songs since ‘Vitamins’.
Josh: It will be a full length after this EP. We have been riding off ‘Smiling Politely’ as it was so well received, so we thought we would put another small record out, and hell yeah if people like that then we will commit and do a full length.
Becky: We did this EP properly though. We did ‘Smiling Politely’ in college, and it was recorded at college.
Olly: We were just having fun writing music that we wanted to do. We didn’t expect anyone to actually listen.
Josh: Now we hate writing music. Just give us some money…
Olly: Yeah, we have actually written a pop record, so look out for us on tour with Katy Perry…

As you share vocals between Josh and Becky what is the writing process like? Is there one sole songwriter or do you each bring your own parts?

Josh: No, Becky and I work in the same way. If she has a riff she will write lyrics to go with it and I will do the same. Now when we write we work out where the vocals are going to split, and we have written songs for each other in a sense. Sometimes it will be Becky’s words and I’ll be singing it and vice versa. We are lucky that we have two different types of vocal, so if it’s a really angsty song then I’ll do some shouting etc, it all depends what we want to do.
Chris: We always have constant ideas.
Olly: The thing I love about writing, because I don’t know how to play guitar, and they don’t know drums, the communicating is fucking hilarious, they are like “Hit that one!”

Grunge seems to play quite an influence in both the sound and the dynamic of the band. Are there any particular bands from that era that influence you guys?

Chris: Sonic Youth.
Josh: We didn’t set out to be a grunge band, it just comes out in the way we write, the way we are and the aesthetic of the band. We are not saying we are bringing it back, and it’s all us and we are doing it. I mean some songs on the new record and ‘Smiling Politely’ you wouldn’t hear on a 90s grunge record but they have the same dirty and gritty feel.
Chris: I think it’s down to our guitar tone as well. If we had a cleaner tone they may come out as indie-pop songs, but because we have the noise people might say “ Oh that’s noisy, that reminds me of Nirvana” or something.
Olly: At the same time, we never set out to be anything in particular.
Josh: We never sat down and went, “Hey, let’s write a song that sounds like ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’” because we could have done that.
Chris: We never say, “ Oh don’t play that, that’s not grunge” or anything.
Olly: We just want it to be groovy, catchy, and what we want before anything else.
Becky: It was bound to happen in a way because I listen to Smashing Pumpkins and Sonic Youth, and that’s what I’m influenced by.
Olly: And I like Slipknot too.
Josh: We are all influenced by different artists and our music is there for people to interpret what they hear for themselves, and if they see us a certain way then that’s fine.

It’s also good for the older generation as it reminds them of a time when they were first getting into grunge and alternative rock when they were younger too.

Chris: We have a wide range of fans as far as age goes. We played a tour with Jaws, and their fanbase is quite young, and we got dads coming up to us at shows and saying: “I really like that, it reminds me of when I was young”.
Becky: A lot of the younger kids maybe weren’t around the first time this kind of music was around so it’s exciting for them.
Josh: We weren’t around the first time either, but when you are 13 years old watching music television that’s what comes on and what gets stuck in your brain.
Olly: The Jaws tour was really good for us to reach out to a different demographic, and experience where we could and couldn’t play. We set out on that tour to go as hard as we could and people fed off that vibe I think.
Chris: We probably don’t really fit on this tour?
Josh: I think the best fitting tour for us maybe will be the Nothing tour, as people seem to feel the same vibe from them that they do from us.
Chris: People even said to us after the shows with Jaws that they don’t usually like the sort of thing we do but they enjoyed our set, which is cool.
Josh: We just do what we like to do and we are glad that people are into it.

You guys do tour quite extensively. Was it part of the plan to make a go of it while you are young before any serious life commitments get in the way?

Josh: Olly, Becky and myself all quit uni.
Chris: I have to make up all the hours I’ve had off from work, so I’m not having any holiday other than tour.
Becky: We are all doing shit jobs and almost getting fired because we are never there.
Olly: I’ve only just turned 18, so it’s amazing.
Josh: Yeah, we played at Download Festival before Olly was 18.
Olly: For me, being able to do what I am doing at my age and while I’m young is great.
Chris: My aunt said to me that you only get one chance to do this sort of thing, so I’ll just get a shitty job when I’m older.
Josh: We do all work these jobs, but in the back of your mind you think: “Hey, we are playing a show on Thursday so who gives a shit?” We are getting to do what we love, and that’s what it’s all for.
Becky: Since we had two weeks off while Balance and Composure went to the mainland, we’ve all been shit. Although we were going back to work for the last two weeks and doing nothing, coming back out to play the last two dates kept us going.
Olly: Dishwashing duty sucks.

Have any new bands caught your eye recently? Any favourite records this year?

Olly: Hindsights, Richa and Bad News.
Josh: Our mates’ bands!
Olly: Drake’s new album.
Becky: Weak Nerves.
Josh: We always do our best to watch the bands we play with, and it’s great that we get to do this with our mates’ bands. Also when you go on tour and play with other bands you don’t know if you are going to make friends with them, and then when you do it’s amazing, and it shows that everyone is in this for the same reason and to have a good time with your friends.
Olly: Also, shout out to Moose Blood for having us on their release shows. Those dudes are really nice.
Chris: And yeah Hindsights, they have a new record coming out.

Has Billy (Hindsights guitarist/Milk Teeth merch guy) been behaving himself on tour?

Chris: No. He tattooed his name on Olly’s arse.
Olly: Mum, don’t kill me…

Finally, for any of our readers who may not know you guys already, how would you describe your sound, and why should they listen to you?

Chris: Noisy pop?
Olly: If you want to see something other than just live music, and four kids losing their shit, come see us.
Josh: If you are angry and you have had enough of working your shitty jobs just like we have, then listen to us. If it doesn’t do it for you then that’s cool, but it might be that thing you have been waiting for and you needed.

Milk Teeth’s latest single ‘Vitamins’ is available now via Venn Records.


Try these three interviews

Interview: Greywind [Reading 2016]

Interview: Arcane Roots [Reading 2016]

Interview: Trash Boat [Reading 2016]