Los Angeles, California
Location / Boyer Heights
“We want to make great records and we want to play great music in great rooms. Maybe we’re just hoping to be a part of those moments where you’re in awe of everything that’s around you...”
"It's absolutely fitting that Milo Greene isn't actually a real person, because the reality of the situation is much denser, much more interesting, and speaks volumes to the ambitions of the band. In reality, Milo Greene is an idea, an emergence of the sum total of the efforts and writing and performing of five incredibly talented individuals, who each could have their own solo projects healthily humming along. Yet, as evidenced in the first verse of the first song they tracked with us, they have clearly laid down their own names and fully committed to Milo Greene as the personification of their collective music. They switch instruments, they switch lead vocals, they do absolutely whatever it takes to make the song really, truly connect with the listener. It's a beautiful thing to see that kind of emergence, to see such a clear example of the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. It takes courage and commitment: something the members of Milo Greene seem to have more than once over.
After a rainy Saturday morning session in downtown Los Angeles, Andrew Heringer and I sat down to talk about protecting a kernel of a good song, building songs around drum beats, and not wasting people's time…"
- Ryan Booth, Creator/Director
RB: Could you could give me a run down of how you guys ended up as the Milo Greene that exists today?
AH: Robbie and I met each other about ten years ago. We were in the dorms together in college and so the friendships go back quite a while, but we didn’t really started playing music together until about 2009. Robbie was playing with our drummer Curtis, and I was playing in my own band around that time. Graham was in his own band too. We just started doing some demos together, for no particular reason. We got together just to create, to have fun with music, and to have a no stress situation where we could just experiment a bit. Over a series of a couple demo sessions, we started to realize that the music we were making really struck a chord with us. We decided to leave all the other bands and make Milo a real thing.
There’s so much music out there in the world that if you put out something that you don’t start out believing in, that you don’t love, then what are you doing? What’s the point? Why would you waste people’s time?
RB: What was it that struck a chord? What felt different about that than the other bands you had been in up to that point?
AH: You know that feeling when you hear and song, and it just resonates, it just grabs you? There’s an undeniable factor about it that just hits in an emotional place. We’ve all heard songs that don’t do that, don’t provide that connection, that emotion…so when a song really grabs you it grabs you and you can’t really help it, even if you can’t really explain it. The songs that came together for us just felt like they were on another level than things that we had each been doing previously.
RB: Do you feel like that’s a prerequisite, for a song to grab you guys before you feel like its worth working on to push out to other people?
AH: Yeah. Absolutely, absolutely -- I mean there’s so much music out there in the world that if you put out something that you don’t start out believing in, that you don’t love, then what are you doing? What’s the point? Why would you waste people’s time?
RB: Are there any songs for you guys that required a bit more of a discovery process? Have you guys had to work on some of these songs to unlock what was hidden somewhere in there?
AH: Definitely. Autumn Tree is actually one from our first recording session together just using a bunch of our own personal mobile recording equipment. That song had to develop. We actually did Perfectly Aligned during that same session, but it just didn’t quite land. It wasn't until we recorded it up near Seattle at a studio called Bear Creek, that we finally got the version for that one. There are some times when a song will land the first time you record it, but then there are other times where it takes a little demoing to figure it out. But either way, the core of the song has to move you.
There are some times when a song will land the first time you record it, but then there are other times where it takes a little demoing to figure it out. But either way, the core of the song has to move you.
RB: Talk about the process of moving these songs out away from studio mode, where you guys are kind of wrestling with the songs privately, so-to-speak. Do you enjoy that process of taking those songs out onto the road, actually playing them for people?
RB: Is that a pretty seamless process for you guys? Or does it take a little while to discover the differences between the live version of that song and the recorded version?
AH: We wrote a lot of this record without ever thinking about how we would play it live. We just recorded things until it felt like those were all the instruments that needed to be in the recording. A majority of the songs were actually written and recorded before we even rehearsed together as a band. We knew we could play live, but we were just focused on figuring out how to create a great vibe on the recording. And then, once that was done, we moved to trying to figure out how to morph these songs to work in a live setting. We went into a practice space and spent a good amount of time fleshing out the songs. One of the things that people ask us all the time is about the fact that we switch instruments a lot during the show. The interesting thing is we may write ourselves a bass part or a guitar part for a recording, but when go out to play it live, we might not be feeling the song. I may have started out on bass, but I’ll give the bass to Graham. He’ll play the exact same line, but for some reason, it may just lock in better that way. Passing around instruments was never meant to be a gimmick, it was born out of us trying to make these songs feel right in a live setting.
RB: Have you guys started to write new songs together? Has that process of translating songs in a live setting informed the way you’re writing as a band now?
AH: We’ve started a little bit of work on the next record, though most of what we’re focused on right now is drum beats actually. A lot of times we like to lay down drum grooves and then write over the top of that. I just feel like, for the music we’re trying to make, there’s something about laying down a really solid foundation with the drum groove and then complementing that groove with instruments and melodies.
I think this generation of songwriters is really inspired by what our parents were listening to. I think there are a lot of pieces of different genres coming back around. There is a 70’s thing of a lot of singers and harmonies coming back around. That and a lot of 80’s synth tones. I think people are finding a lot of cool ways to incorporate all these different tones.
RB: That’s a very interesting way to write. Where did that come from?
AH: I don’t know, actually. In the beginning, there were a number of songs where we would put down a form for a kick drum, and then write around it. But we found that some songs needed to be fleshed out with full drum grooves. So, I think that’s why with this second record, we’re starting with more fleshed out drum grooves. That way we don’t have to go through the pain and agony of ever having a whole song written but with a very basic drum groove that we then have to go fill in. We’re making the drums a focal point.
RB: It’s interesting to hear you talk about that because I feel like there are some really interesting things happening in the rhythm sections of a lot of LA bands right now. I think a lot of times, you look back and realize that there was a particular sound in a particular place at a particular time, but nobody knows it while its happening. I definitely feel like there’s this very loose LA kind of vibe happening right now that you guys are definitely a part of. How has LA influenced who you guys are as a band? Or, maybe it’s the other way around and you guys are part of helping define the LA sound?
AH: (laughter) When we started making music, I wasn’t even living in LA -- I was living in Northern California. But, I definitely agree with you that there is a sound coming out of LA, and moving down to LA and going out and seeing shows all the time, you can’t help but be inspired by everything that’s happening around you. I mean there’s so much good stuff happening here right now and you can’t help but kind of analyze what some of these more successful bands are doing. But, more than that even, I think this generation of songwriters is really inspired by what our parents were listening to. I think there are a lot of pieces of different genres coming back around. There is a 70’s thing of a lot of singers and harmonies coming back around. That and a lot of 80’s synth tones. I think people are finding a lot of cool ways to incorporate all these different tones.
RB: It seems like, from afar at least, that you guys have had an awesome year. Can you feel the momentum? How do you know that things are really clicking, that you’re connecting with fans, connecting with the press? How do you sense it?
AH: For me, the biggest example was our recent trip to the UK. We did about 8 dates over there. I had never been to England before, and our record had just come out the monday before we got there. But, every single night, there were people packing these clubs singing all the words to our songs. When you’re on tour, you can get caught up in this “oh, its another show, and, oh okay there are people here” cycle. But here we were, a third of the way around the world and there were a whole bunch of people who were excited to see us, excited to hear our music, and who actually know our music. Those are the moments where the momentum feels real.
When I’m writing a song by myself, it can be hard to disconnect yourself and simply be objective. But when there are multiple people adding to the song, it becomes this kind of communal process of creation.
RB: Do you feel like you guys have an overarching goal? Is there something that you are really wanting to accomplish, or are you more just seeing what happens and riding the wave?
AH: I think we all want to make a career out of music, and out of this band. We want to make great records and we want to play great music in great rooms. One of our first tours was with the Civil Wars and they were playing the most gorgeous rooms every night. They’d be going to the old theaters in town, the kind where you just stand on the stage and look out because it’s so incredible. I think it’s those kind of moments that I’m looking to accomplish with music. We’re hoping to be a part of those moments where you’re kind of in awe of everything that’s around you.
RB: When you make a record or even write a song do you feel like you guys are able to objectively decide if something is good, is worth pursuing? Can you be self-critical?
AH: I think it’s just a feeling. I think what’s really cool about this group is that there are so many heads involved in the writing process. When I’m writing a song by myself, it can be hard to disconnect yourself and simply be objective. But when there are multiple people adding to the song, it becomes this kind of communal process of creation. It would feel weird, when it’s your own song, to fall in love with something you make. But, when it’s a group of people working on something together, there’s just a layer of emotion that you can really drop into. I always come back to the word love. I just think you have to love what you’re making and love what you’re doing. And there’s something about working on a project with a group of people who you trust and whose opinions you appreciate that when those pieces all come together, it’s a very special feeling that just hits you.
RB: It seems like you guys have a pretty non-traditional band structure. It seems like any one of you guys could be like the lead singer of a different band. Well, I guess a lot of you were lead singers of different bands at some point (laughter).
AH: (laughter) Exactly...
RB: Has that structure been a very natural process or did you guys have to sit down and define some roles?
AH: There are a lot of heads involved and I do think that the roles have somewhat organically worked themselves out. We started making music together not trying to be a band, we were just trying to come together as friends to make music for fun. The music landed in such a way where we all felt like we needed to form this band. Obviously that’s extremely organic and everything has flowed from there.
RB: That’s an interesting thesis to start with, for sure. It’s not dramatically different, but it’s different enough that years from now the trajectory may be very different than if you’d started it a different way.
AH: Yeah, exactly. When most people start a band and they say, “Okay let’s write music now.” We did it completely backwards.
RB: Is touring a process that you really enjoy, or is it a hurdle to jump to get back into the studio?
AH: Uh, personally, I’m the adventurous type and I’ve never really been in one place for too long. It just makes sense for me. I mean, with that said, of course I love being in the studio, writing music, creating music. There is a sense of frustration when you’re out on the road and it’s taking time away from the writing process, but it’s a great situation when you have these two distinct sides of the coin. Once you’re sick of one thing you get to go back and do the other. So once we get sick of recording, then we’ll go back to touring. I’m very lucky to be in a profession where you get to enjoy that juxtaposition.
Robbie Arnett · Vocals, Guitar
Graham Fink · Bass, Vocals
Andrew Heringer · Vocals, Electric Guitar
Curtis Marrero · Drums
Marlana Sheetz · Vocals, Percussion
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