For 20 years, Manchester’s Star and Garter pub has been home to The Morrissey Smiths Disco on the first Friday of every month. People from all over the land and beyond congregate for a right royal knees up, the soundtrack being provided by Messrs Morrissey, Marr, Joyce and Rourke. The rest of the calendar month is gig central, with punk and hardcore shows taking place every other week. Network Rail might be trying their hardest to get rid of The Star And Garter and local business in the area with their “improvement works” (RIP Whim Wham Café!), but attendance for these shows remains stronger than ever.
On June 6th, former Gallows front man Frank Carter took to the stage with his new band The Rattlesnakes and tore Manchester a new one. The upstairs was rammed with punters, and the bar area downstairs was doing alright too. Earlier in the day though, the scene was a little quieter as I entered the pub to interview main support Milk Teeth.
Whilst staff worked away in the background, getting everything set up in the bar area for the evening, I sat down with bassist Becky, drummer Olly and guitarists Chris and Josh as they entered their sixth day of touring with Frank and The Rattlesnakes. First question – How have they been finding the tour?
Chris “It’s been really good – high energy fans”
Olly “It’s been good to watch Frank every night and all, ‘cus he just brings the fucking next level game to every show – we have to go harder than we probably would to even compare. It’s been fun”
Becky “It’s a different crowd for us as well, like slightly older fans, maybe not like we’d normally play to, which is cool. It’s always nice to play to new people”
I caught Milk Teeth a couple of months back when they were supporting Frank Iero on his UK Tour, and it was certainly a different crowd. Even though the show was at the Academy 3, loads of fans (mainly kids) had gathered outside the venue and were queuing well before doors. Getting there early to see first support Axis Of, I was the tallest (and oldest) person in the crowd for the first hour… But it was good to see these kids so into it, especially turning up to see the support. So does the age of the crowd impact much on the playing?
Josh “We’ve just done exactly the same thing that we always do. Every time you go on tour, you get what you do and you change what you do, ‘cus otherwise you – you don’t want to pre-plan what you do every single time. But we haven’t changed anything that we do due to the tour that we’ve been on; that stands for all the tours that we do anyway. Everyone’s been really receptive of what we’ve done; it’s been going really well, we’ve had nice comments and things. There’s also gonna be people that don’t like it but that’s the same with anything you do – even at your own shows, people might go ‘this isn’t what I thought it was gonna be’ But everyone’s been really receptive, they’ve been super kind as well and all the shows have been fun”
Chris “I think because it is an older-ish crowd – we’ve done tours where under-15s usually was the crowd – so they’re a bit more open to different sorts of music. We’ve had a lot of nice feedback, which is good.”
Prior to sitting down with the band, drummer Olly had to be pulled away from freshening up in the bathroom, coming downstairs with mouthwash bottle in hand, whilst Chris restrung his guitar. Showing no signs of fatigue, they’re a well-oiled touring machine. It shouldn’t come as a surprise though, as they’ve seemingly been on back-to-back tours for the past few months.
Chris “We booked this tour when we were on the one with Frank Iero – Got a phone call for this one…”
Becky “Literally had a few hours in bed and then went out again, which was amazing. Then came back for a week after that tour and then started this one. So we haven’t really been home properly since April”
Following the Frank Iero tour and prior to this Frank Carter tour, Milk Teeth were out in Europe with American buddies Title Fight. Taking in beautiful sights across the continent, their social media accounts were flooded with brilliant tour photos, the kind of which wouldn’t be out of place in one of those huge coffee table books down the line (courtesy of their on board photographer ‘Gingerdope’)
Chris “It was our first time in Europe, so it was really good. Met loads of new people and got to see some amazing sights, rather than just flat countryside (laughs)”
Olly “We all wanna move to either Germany or Switzerland at some point now (laughs) It was wicked”
Though Italy would prove to be a touch warm for drummer Olly…
Olly “You play hot venues in England, but it’s nothing like – stupid amount of degree weather and playing a show. You just dehydrate within seconds, it’s crazy – Threw up a lot (laughs)”
Going back to social media, that’s one of the great things about Milk Teeth – their strong social media presence. A lot of bands just don’t know how to get it right when it comes to how they portray themselves online, and even though the idea behind it is lame as fuck and corporate as you like, it’s a good tool in connecting with fans and showcasing what you do best. Take this video for example – There’s usually one of these posted after every show they play and they give a great idea of what a Milk Teeth live show is like.
In Manchester, it’s not just the four of them in a van – There are a few other guys and gals on board. They seem pretty chummy with every band they meet and seem like they’re having a killer time on the road, and their posts on Facebook and the like give off a real sense of community between them.
Olly “I think it’s very rare we have a moment where we don’t get on with anyone. I think ever since this band started, we’ve pretty much got on with most bands we’ve ever toured with. The first two days it’s like, everyone is doing their sort of really shy “Hello, how’s it going?” but you get three or four days in and it’s just like a big family”
With a number of big tours under their belts this year alone, they’re venturing off around Europe again later in the year, with Pianos Become The Teeth acting as tour buddies this time around. Before that, this summer will see Milk Teeth making numerous festival appearances, with Hevy Fest and 2000trees announced so far, the latter of which the band are pretty stoked about, having attended themselves on numerous occasions.
Olly “Yeah, I’m usually the drunken mess every year at 2000trees. This will be my seventh year going, so…”
Becky “We all went last year, just to go – not like as a band, just to hang out”
Olly “I moshed in a bin last year…That was me, being an idiot (laughs)”
That moment where the bin was pushed into the pit during Baby Godzilla’s set at last year’s 2000trees was easily the highlight of the festival – just utter chaos from start to finish. Whilst it might not be bin-pushed-into-a-pit crazy, I can see Milk Teeth making a big impact at this year’s 2000trees, with people coming away from the festival citing them as highlights (they’re down as one of my top picks already).
People are really taking note of the four-piece. Perhaps a telling sign that their stock is growing, a copycat account recently joined Twitter (with the genius idea of replacing the I with a lower case L…) spouting gibberish and confusing fans of the band. That, one might say, is almost as big a confirmation of status as that little blue tick (which they also have.) With the way they’re carrying on, I envision it won’t be too long before Milk Teeth are massive. Certainly something to look forward to?
Olly “It’s been crazy, ‘cus we expected nothing from this band when we first started, then we got booked our first show outside of Gloucestershire, which was in Manchester”
Becky “We used to come up to Manchester quite a lot”
Olly “We played a house party show here as well which was sick. We did a few shows outside of where we lived and then we made friends with a lot of bands and it just kind of all went from there. We’re just seeing what happens now…”
Chris “It’d be nice to do it as a job. Wouldn’t say no to it (laughs)”
Josh “As long as we can keep playing shows, you make ends meet. It doesn’t particularly matter – if we get to keep doing that bit, then that’s the bit you do it for. As long as we’re still out playing shows…None of us particularly eat very well anyway so it’s not like we need money to eat. Greggs and stuff, you know, we’re fine. I think next year we just want to play as much and tour as much as possible. What we’ve done now, but all year round.”
Becky “We don’t give a shit about being poor, ‘cus we’ve seen so many places and so many people where money is not a big thing. Just to be doing what we’re doing is amazing”
Olly “We’re not starving, so…”
The Simpsons is so engrained in my everyday life that I find myself quoting it on a daily basis, and it’s constantly a hot topic in my current household. It seems to be the case with the band too, with Otto (who loves to get blotto) being one of their favourite characters and the episode where The Simpsons go to Australia being their favourite (Josh “…That’s the best episode – we decided. That’s the greatest episode of all time”) I first became aware of Milk Teeth after the release of ‘Smiling Politely’; seeing Poochie on the cover and subsequently on one of their shirts. They’ve also got top lad Ralph Wiggum on a shirt and some other sweet designs too (this Casper T-Shirt is incredible.) It’s a scientific fact that if a band puts something Simpsons related on their merch, it makes it heaps better (unless the band is dog shit)
Much like their presence online, Milk Teeth have got their heads screwed on when it comes to their merch game, and it’s good to note that it’s not just one person taking over duties.
Becky “It’s collaborative, but I’d say The Simpsons ones – Josh and Chris”
Josh “Anything we come up with – we don’t say no to anything we come up with. If one comes up with an idea, we always get it mocked up ‘cus it could look good. We’re not just like – no, let’s not do that because of this. We do it ’cus we like it and we wanna do it. We have like the most disgusting T-shirt hidden away on Chris’s computer right now – a Kid Rock T-shirt that we just made up. If we wanted to do it we just would, we just print the merch that we wanna print.”
Chris “Forgot about that shirt, it’s fucking horrible”
Olly “Seriously, no one’s gonna fucking buy that”
As it turns out, their merch game is a little too strong, as all physical copies of the brilliant ‘Sad Sack‘ EP have pretty much sold out. Thankfully, American indie label Hopeless Records has answered the prayers of many, signing on for a full vinyl reissue of Sad Sack, with pre-orders available now.
Josh “It was pretty wild to be fair, ‘cus you never think that you’d be able to sell as many as you do. You sit and think about how much physical music we’ve actually sold for the time we’ve been around, it’s pretty impressive”
Chris “I thought my Mum would buy a copy and that’d be it”
Becky “We’re still like a fresh band. We’ve only got two EPs out, that’s it. This is just the beginning. The first one wasn’t even professionally recorded, it was just done at college”
Olly “I think initially, when we did Sad Sack and the tour we did with it, we expected no one to come out to the shows, no one to buy the frickin’ record, no one to care and it just gave us a bit more…I dunno, an ego? (Laughs)”
Josh “We sold crazy records and there was loads of people at those shows. That’s the nerve wracking thing – you do a tour with another band, essentially you may bring a few people yourself, but they blend in with the crowd that could be for anybody on that whole tour. Whereas your headline tour you feel a responsibility for the people that are gonna be there. When you turn up to shows and there’s people there from the beginning watching all your bands that are on the show, that’s cool”
So with their merch game on point, storming live shows and tours up and down the country and across Europe, Milk Teeth really seem to have their shit together. With the reissue of their Sad Sack EP looming, as well as upcoming tours and festival appearances on the horizon, there’s no slowing down. So in a bit of exciting news, it should come as no surprise what’s coming next.
Becky “We’ve written a whole album”
Josh “There’s an album ready. Album is up next, that’s what’s coming, and it’s been written because we had two months off. We just got to it – it’s not completely finished yet, but the next thing in the plan will be an album from us, when we stop touring to be able to sort it out really…There won’t be any new music for a while. There’ll be some cool stuff coming along with the re-issue, but there won’t be any new music for a while”
Becky “We’re really excited to do the album, ‘cus it feels like the stuff we have written and demoed so far feels like another step up again”
Chris “We wrote Sad Sack in like February last year, and then we recorded it in August and it didn’t come out till like January. It seems so old to us, even though it’s new to everyone else”
Olly “It feels like a pretty aged record. Even playing the first EP – that’s not even that old yet. That feels like a fucking lifetime ago. I still had my Justin Bieber haircut back then; it seems like fuckin’ years and years ago. So much has happened in the last six/seven months. It’s put us in the place we’ve always dreamt of being in”
Becky “Can’t complain”
You can check out the interview in its entirety below. When you’re finished, why not stick around and check out the other articles and interviews!