New Single – ‘Every Time We Fight’ – out June 24
Date at Shepherds Bush Empire also confirmed for November 29
“Pure fire and skill…an immersive experience you don’t want to end” Guardian
“Flawless” Neon Gold
“This is the next band you all should be paying attention to” NME
“Straitjacket-tight…influenced by classic soul, punk and reggae, but defiantly un-retro” Time Out
“Irresistibly infectious” The Sun
The Milk will release their much-anticipated debut album, ‘Tales from the Thames Delta’, on September 3 (Sign Of The Times / Sony). This will follow an extensive period of activity across the summer, including a sell-out date at London’s Scala (Shepherds Bush Empire is now on sale), a host of UK festivals, and a 27-date headline tour. A single, ‘Every Time We Fight’, was released on June 24, following radio support across the likes of Fearne Cotton, Annie Mac, Rob Da Bank, Huw Stephens, Mistajam, Huey Morgan and XFM.
The Milk are lead vocalist Rick Nunn, brothers Mitch and Luke Ayling, and Dan Le Gresley. Together, their sound is obviously heavily soul-influenced, but it’s a modern, muscular take on the classics, which has assimilated the passion of rock ‘n’ roll and the fluidity of hip hop. The end result, ‘Tales from the Thames Delta’, is an infectious and eclectic debut album, as inspired by the taut go-to rhythm sections of The Roots as it is the seamless flow of Beastie Boys’ ‘Paul’s Boutique’ (the band’s favourite record).
Having gigged since school, The Milk were raised and presently still live in Wickford: an anonymous small town in Essex, where whole days and nights can be spent on the Southend sea-front, and the neighbouring, wealthier areas still house the cast of TOWIE. The band formed simply because, as Mitch puts it, “there was just nothing else to do in our town.” Rather than the sound they have since honed, the boys spent two years at school as a somewhat reckless Punk outfit – but as the prospect of university and day-jobs entered the horizon, so The Milk split up, and went to work. The turning point came when their mutual mate (and now manager) opened a soul night in Southend’s Pink Toothbrush. Wigan Casino this was not, but knowing that The Milk members all had record collections bursting with Stax, Chess and Motown, the boys were recruited to DJ. Here, The Milk hit an artistic breakthrough: they had to get the band back together.
And so The Milk gave up their formative jobs in November 2010, went on the dole, and moved back in with their parents. “We really had to go for it,” describes singer Rick. “Fuck work, fuck everything else.” Holed up in the shed at the bottom of their garden – where they still write and record – all new songs and sounds were experimented with. It’s these hometown frustrations that can be felt in the thrilling, Vandellas-meets-Springsteen escapism of ‘(All I Wanted Was) Danger’, or the lyrically-resilient, dance-infused ‘Every Time We Fight’. Driven by Rick’s powerhouse vocals, the boys also formed a crucial creative partnership with Brad Baloo (of celebrated DJs The Nextmen), who turbo-injected their understanding of the lineage of hip hop: see the beat-heavy, kitchen-sink drama of ‘Picking Up The Pieces’. And as The Milk’s live reputation began to build them an impassioned following, others started to take notice too. A climactic headline show at London’s Jazz Cafe some eight months later finally clinched them a record deal.
Belying the traditional period of incubation, co-writes and development, ‘Tales From The Thames Delta’ was completed in just a month. Mixed together seamlessly, it paints a vibrant, visual picture of a day and night in Essex (from the ramblings of a pirate radio DJ to the jangling of arcades, via well-known local characters in ‘Kimmi’ and ‘Mr Motivator’). Yet if the record wrestles with this idea breaking out of your hometown, quite where The Milk go next remains ambiguous. The album closes on the brooding, bar-room blues of ‘Lay The Pain’: a candid ode to the band’s persisting friendship, penned in the period between going on the dole and signing a deal. This is set against the somewhat cinematic sound of a train departing Southend Victoria station, on its way into the unknown – a fitting image for a band who’ve worked hard to get this far, but aren’t prepared to rest up.