Before their show supporting Scotland’s Yeah Detroit at The Vic last Wednesday, we had a chat with Matt Clarke and Andy Makin of Manchester’s pop punkers, Milestones. Have a read of what they had to say about their EP, their release to follow it, their journey so far.
Tell us what sort of music you make.
Matt: [We’re a] kind of pop-punk, alternative rock type band.
That’s music in a very over-populated scene; what do you do to make yourselves stand out from the rest?
Matt: I think the main thing did when we were writing the EP that we’re about to release is, we didn’t go out and think we were a pop-punk band, we just let it happen and bounced off each other. I think when people set out to be a pop-punk band, they turn out to be a generic pop-punk band, but most people don’t think we’re a generic pop-punk band.
Andy: It’s cool that the scene’s doing well, but there’s just a bit more substance to what we write than… insert name [of a] pop punk band.
You’ve got your EP coming out in early April, tell us about what’s influenced it musically and lyrically.
Andy: Musically it’s just about taking lots more modern influences, like bands that we’re listening to at the moment and at the time we were writing the songs. Structurally, we’ve been writing them with really classic influences, like bands that’ve done well in our kind of music before, like Fall Out Boy and Paramore, that kind of influence that’s already more established, and then add in a more modern and bit of a raw edge on it, because what we were doing at the time had a really professional finish to it.
Matt: Lyrically, it is literally about losing loved ones, losing family, losing love and stuff like that, and learning how to not hold onto things the day before you held so securely, like the things I thought were everything tomorrow would promise, it doesn’t, so it’s kind of like-
Matt: Yeah, uncertainty’s a big one on it. I think that’s a massive influence for all of us, we’ve all gone through weird times, and that band’s held us together.
You’ve now released two singles off the record; how do you feel they represent the other ones for people who haven’t heard them?
Matt: Equal Measures, which is the title track, that’s taken a massive melodic hardcore influence, so that opening track’s got a really heavy melodic lead, so you don’t know what’s going to come afterwards, whether it’s going to be screams, whether it’s going to be shouts, or nice just singing or whatever. Then Sleepless Nights Are Put To Bed, that’s a bit more pop punk, but more kind of fierce and aggressive and then the acoustic one is just kind of nice and laid back. They’re all very different, but they all carry the same emotions.
Andy: You could hear four songs separately and still think it was a collective effort and not just four songs by the same band put together, it all ties in. It’s like a journey to listen to, especially with the acoustic one, it splits it up. We were talking before about the concept of uncertainty, how everything isn’t set in stone for us, and we wanted to capture that musically.
Matt: We put the acoustic track in because we felt it was too good to be a bonus track, as another song on the EP, not just a bonus, so we really like the acoustic one so we wanted to put it fourth rather than fifth.
Do you have a favourite song off the EP?
Andy: The title track, Equal Measures, because it was the one that really came together nicely.
Matt: We’ve got better at writing; my favourite’s Nothing Left.
What’s your writing method?
Matt: Drew, because he’s a really good guitarist, he’ll bring a rough demo to practise, then we’ll listen to it and say, “let’s build on it in a different way than you have”. He comes up with the foundations, then me and Andy have to work together to know where the song’s going, because drums and vocals really do have to work together, then the rest just kind of falls into place.
Andy: We’ve got a rule where everyone has to be happy with everything.
Matt: That includes Phil as well, our producer. He’s very blunt; we trust in Phil a lot, he’s a great guy, he’s really helped us a lot.
Andy: We write songs with a specific scenario in mind, so we imagine we’re playing them every night.
You’ve already started working on your next EP – can you tell us what to expect from that?
Matt: Well it’s not going to be an EP, you’re hearing it here first – we’re working on an album. We’re looking at booking time with studios with Phil, so Phil’s going to be doing that with us. We don’t want to be the band who releases seven EPs and finally gets signed to a rubbish label, and gets to do an album that just flops, so we’d rather spend some time and get it right. We’ve already wrote two songs.
Andy: I think it’s such an oversaturated scene because people release EP upon EP, and people can relate to an album more.
Matt: Press and people really appreciate people who take their time to make an album, especially if it’s well produced, and especially if you’re not on a label, like we funded the EP and everything behind it. We put so many hours into work and stuff, and even though we’re not even out as a band yet, we already feel like we’re a bit weathered by it all, we’re all just skint, all the time.
You’ve only been a band since last November; where do you see yourselves once the full year’s completed?
Matt: We can’t tell you about some of the stuff that’s happening, we’ve just been announced for Fury Fest and Empire Fest which will see us play with ROAM like four times, which is cool ’cause we played with them on our first show. We’ve got a lot going on behind the scenes with people we’ve met along the road. We were offered a pretty cool tour a week back but we couldn’t take it, we’re hoping those kind of opportunities will come back again. We’re very grateful for all the bigger names who’ve put a lot of time and effort into us. We hope to be in Europe by summer; Europe or bust. We’re not stubborn in the fact that we think we know what we’re doing, we have absolutely no idea what we’re doing, we’re learning every step of the way.
What’s been the biggest “pinch me” moment so far?
Andy: Phil Garnell. There’s mine. The people he’s worked with is just a who’s who in the UK music industry, so it speaks for itself.
Matt: We kind of see he as half as a friend and obviously as a producer, but he’s taken us under his wing and we see him as a mentor. We really, really appreciate everything Phil’s done because we would not be where we are without him. We played our first show with ROAM, and we played our first hometown show last night to 100, 120 people, and we’re not expecting big crowds, I mean we’ll play to anyone, we won’t be pissed off if 10 people come, but playing with ROAM was nice.
Check out the band’s new video for Nothing Left below.