‘Not Me‘ By Milk Maid.
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We have often banged the drum with regard to the fact that you don’t neccesarily need a huge budget and fancy production techniques to produce great music. Milk Maid’s debut album ‘Yucca’ once again adds weight to our argument. Recorded in songwriter Martin Cohen’s flat during the indefinite hiatus of Nine Black Alps, [bands never simply split-up these days] it reveals Cohen’s keen ear for a pop hook, juxtaposed with dark lyrics and visceral guitars. It’s an album that conjures up the ghosts of early Creation record bands such as The House Of Love and the Jesus and Mary Chain and there will doubtless be comaprisons made to current slacker poet laurete Kurt Vile’s oeuvre.
Lovers of turd polished, vacuum packed pop will no doubt find the lo-fi nature of this album something of an aural quagmire but in many ways it’s the uncontrived insouciance and couldn’t give a fuck slacker attitude of ‘Yucca’ that’s part of it’s easy charm. As with any collection of songs it’s ultimately the quality of the songwriting that an album will stand or fall by and there is no question that ‘Yucca‘ contains a wealth of great songs. ‘Dead Wrong’ channels the spirit of the Velvets whilst recent single, the stomping ‘Not Me’ contains echoes of The House Of Love’s anthemic ‘Christine’. ‘Girl’ could be a Slacker Springsteen and the forty five second ‘Kill Me Again’ sounds like the Mary Chain meets Jackson Browne. Cohen can certainly pen great pop tunes and in many ways ‘Yucca’ feels like something of an experiment, of a songwriter finding his feet and indeed delighting in the freedom that the D.I.Y. ethic affords, free of big label meddeling. For lovers of lo-fi, fuzzed up, hook laden garage pop with explosive guitar riffs ‘Yucca’ certainly delivers the goods and you sense there’s plenty more in Cohen’s arsenal, if of course he can be bothered .
We had a chat with Martin about Milk Maid and his own musical influences.
VP:For those who are new to Milk Maid’s music , who are you and how did the band get together?
MARTIN: I’m Martin. I sing and play guitar in milk maid. Rick Entezari plays guitar,Luke Towart plays bass and Ian Hodson drums. We met through friends, or friends of friends or brothers of friends. This line up has been around for about 3 weeks.
VP: Your debut album Yucca is just about to be released and was recorded in your flat? How long did it take to get all the songs written and recorded? Was it enjoyable to be able to do it at your own pace without say a big label/suits giving you deadlines?
MARTIN: I recorded the drums at a practice room then recorded everything else at home one song at a time as they were written. Even though the songs are really simple it takes me ages to write but I manage to finish recording the songs within a day and then mixing can take anywhere from an hour to a couple of days. All in all it took about a year to write and record. When I first started recording it was pretty much an experiment in writing so playing live or even having enough songs to fill a record couldn’t have been further from my mind.
I’m fairly good at working toward deadlines!! it just the other stuff that comes along with some labels can become distracting when you’re trying to record.
VP: A number of tracks conjure up the sonic fuzz of bands like The Jesus And Mary Chain and the melodies of Spector style pop. Which sort of music would you say has had an influence on your song writing?
MARTIN : it’s really weird, I’ve never been into the Mary Chain, [ VP: GASPS!] people have mentioned them a lot though. Most of the time I just try and write really simple songs, like nursery rhymes, very basic melodies and chords. Big Star and Come are 2 bands that I really like at the moment.
VP: Would you say you’re becoming a prolific songwriter? I’m sure I’ve read that you’re already writing album number two?
MARTIN : I basically work on the law of averages so i try and write as much as possible so i never really had a cut off after finishing ‘Yucca’ which means there’s a bunch of new stuff already written….there are 5 songs that we’re intended for a split lp that never happened and there’s another pile of 6 songs…it had crossed my mind to put them together to make the next LP but they’ve both got fairly different feels to them so I’m not sure what’s going to happen. I want to have the next album recorded out pretty soon though
VP: Lyrically beneath the rich melodies, there sometimes emerges a slightly sinister edge, was this something you particularly were keen to draw out, or did it just kind of evolve in an unplanned way as the songs took shape.?
MARTIN : I’m always drawn to the darker stuff that comes out of my mouth. Sadness is more interesting.
VP: How did you hook up with Suffering Juke box records?
MARTIN: I’ve know Jack Cooper for a while and he just heard some songs I’d put on myspace. fairly simple!
VP: After being a member of Nine Black Alps rhythm section have now you become acclimatised to being at the forefront of a band, having to make decisions which maybe you took for granted in the past? Have you been surprised by anything you’ve had to do?
MARTIN: There’s just a shit load more to think about cos I’m managing myself too. I like knowing what’s going on with everything and overseeing it all but there are some days where I just want to play guitar but I can’t cos I’ve got other things to sort out. It’s not a bad thing cos it means I’m busy doing band stuff but there’s loads more organising to do which was a little surprising.
VP: And you’re responsible for the album art work? Does the image for the ‘ Yucca’ cover have any special significance in the context of the album or was it a case you thinking ‘that’d make a good album cover’
MARTIN: Afraid it’s nothing more than seeing it and liking it! It’s a photo of my grandmas head I took on holiday last year.
VP: What’s been your weirdest gig experience, either with NBA or Milk Maid ?
MARTIN: Any show from the tour we did with Social Distortion in America. Major culture clash!
VP: Do you take much notice of the current music scene? Any new bands you’ve been particularly impressed with?
MARTIN: I don’t really keep up. He’s not a new one the radar but ‘Smoke Ring For My Halo by Kurt Vile is so good. There’s a band from Bolton called the Kiss Off who I think are amazing but they don’t play that often.
VP: And finally…. If you could sum up ‘Yucca’ in five words….
MARTIN: Up down up down down.