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A Psych Marriage Maid In Heaven
The sweeping, lo-fi, psychedelic and frankly just interesting melodies and instrumentals that make up the two self-recorded albums of Manchester’s MILK MAID have made the band not only a firm favourite with the likes of their home city’s BBC Introducing team, but also a swathe of new fans. Their second album, Mostly No, was deemed worthy of 4/5 star-praise from the NME due to its fuzz-drenched charms, drawing comparisons as far and wide as The War On Drugs and Big Star.
The band take to stage this Saturday as part of Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia, and so we thought it was only right to have a quick chat with former Nine Black Alps member and Milk Maid frontman Martin Cohen ahead of their slot. Matt Healy asked the questions, here are the answers…
Bido Lito!: I was looking on your blog and you mention the likes of Nicki Minaj and Snow Patrol’s presence at this year’s festivals. I’m guessing you weren’t too impressed with the line-ups this year?
Martin Cohen: I basically ignore the big festivals. I mean, I remember enjoying them when I was younger but they were very different then. Even ten years ago, Reading and Leeds was a different experience to what it is now. I don’t like big outdoor festivals at all because people don’t go to watch the bands, that’s the impression I get. I much prefer playing day festivals because people come to the venue to watch the bands, rather than eat burgers. That’s what I think the Psych Fest will be like.
BL!: I’ve heard that you write most of your material in your flat – do you think that DIY aesthetic is essential to your sound?
MC: I dunno - I’ve not tried to do it any other way, really. I work part-time so in the past a lot of my time has just been spent in my flat writing songs and strumming along on my guitar and recording. I mean that’s how the first album [Yucca] came along - just recording the songs as they were written, with no real plan to release them at all. I just experimented really - I taught myself how to record and sort of drew these songs together. With the second album [Mostly No] though, I wanted to do it a different way – with a band and record it quickly. But that didn’t really work out so it was done in a similar way to the first one. I mean we’re a song-based band so it’s important to get that right before taking it into a band situation.
BL!: Do you admire bands who still maintain that DIY ethic? The XX for example?
MC: I don’t really know The XX but I certainly think it’s important for bands to maintain control of their music: the less people involved, the less people to rely on. For me and for Milk Maid, that is always a bonus because writing songs just to please people is the last thing I want to do.
BL!: You’ve been releasing with Fat Cat Records; do you have a lot of freedom with what you record and release?
MC: Yeah, the first single we released with them was recorded before they approached us. It was the same with the second one as well, that was also released without any sort of tampering. Recording yourself means that you also don’t have to worry about money and you’re not dependent on a label to put you in a studio. I’m pretty interested in recording techniques so instead of going into a studio and spending money, I’d rather spend some money buying some new toys to record with.
BL!: You’ve had several changes in terms of the line up of the band, how has that impacted upon the material you’re working on now?
MC: There have been eleven people in the band over two years so we always seem to be looking for a new something or another. I mean, at the moment (I know I’ve said this in the past) but it feels like the most solid line up and everyone seems to be into it.
Knowing people are into the band takes a lot of pressure off because, in the past when people have been lending their time to help us out on tour, I’ve felt really guilty about taking them away from their girlfriends and things like that. Everyone seems to be enjoying it now, so it’s really nice. We’ve not really had chance to write in this line up yet because before we started recording, our dummer left and we had to find somebody else to play on the album. So I’m not sure how new stuff is going to turn out but we’ve practised loads and we’ve got little bits of songs that we’re going to start on.
BL!: So, it’s going to be quite interesting in terms of the sound that’s produced next?
MC: Yeah, I don’t know what’s going to happen. I knew what I wanted the second album to be and it’s the same with the third. I’d like it to be faster, more spontaneous, record it live maybe but I dunno… it might all fall apart next week and be back to asking anybody whether they know a bass player.
BL!: Well for the sake of the Psych Fest and yourself we hope that’s not the case! So what are your plans for the rest of the year?
MC: We’ve got a few indoor festivals coming up, alongside Liverpool Psych Fest, and we’re playing four shows with The Cribs in November as part of their tour and I think we’re going to try and release a single and tour that at the end of November.
Liverpool International Festival Of Psychedelia, featuring Dead Skeletons, The Time And Space Machine, Wolf People and lots more, takes place at Camp And Furnace this Saturday, with doors open at 2pm. Milk Maid are on The Blade Factory stage at 10pm.