"The new album’s a lot clearer..."

Manchester’s Milk Maid quickly gained attention last year upon releasing their debut album ‘Yucca’. We say ‘their’ but this band largely revolves around ex Nine Black Alps man Martin Cohen, who admits to having worked with eleven band-mates in the last two years. He’s no Mark E Smith though, instead members have left him. So what’s wrong with him? We have a chat to find out, and get the latest on Milk Maid’s second album ‘Mostly No’, due out on 9th July.

Tell me about the new album and how it differs from the last one.
Martin: I’ve absolutely no idea.

Was it recorded quite quickly in your flat again?
M: It wasn’t done that dissimilar to the first one in the end. To start with I wanted it to be quite different process-wise but it ended up being the same, just with more stress.

What did you want to do differently?
With the first one some of the songs were recorded as I wrote them, some were done with drummers that were in the band at different times, and some were done with drummers who weren’t even in the band. With this one I wanted to record over a month and get it done in that time. The songs have been piling up for over a year or so and then when it came round to recording them our bass-player decided to move to New Zealand, and our guitarist decided to move to London, so we started recording just with a drummer in a small studio and that didn’t really work out so I had to find a new drummer.

What about the drummer you toured the last album with is he the one you let go?
No he’s playing bass now. I’ve had eleven members in less than two years.

You’re going through them like Mark E Smith.
In terms of the time-frame I’d say I’m probably beating him… Not that it’s a competition or anything. I’m on to the fourth drummer. There’s been about eight line-ups. We’ve just got a new guitarist. I’ve always wanted a band. I never wanted it to be a solo thing. I wanted things to be permanent but they always seem to change. I ended up being left without a band, in the same position I was with the first album. I think this is just a weird age for people – mid to late ‘20s. People start deciding what to do with their lives…

Do you think the recording process reflects on the album?
I’ve not really listened to it in a while. I’ve not gotten over it yet. I just had to finish it and start writing new songs.

You seem to have a constant need to keep writing and releasing new material quickly.
Yeah I think so. I enjoy it. Now the band feels permanent as well – I always say this though – but it’s great to not have to worry about that side of it. I see this album more as a transitional album. Some of the songs were written before ‘Yucca’ came out and are more in that sort of vein and then some of the newer ones are different to that. I got a new tape machine and figured out how to record in a more high-fidelity sort of way. I’m trying to figure out how to be an engineer as well as how I like to write songs.

So things are still evolving.
Yep. We wanted to get it out fast. We hadn’t released anything else before Yucca. Most bands bring out an EP but we just started with an album.

'Mostly No' trailer

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There seems to be a lot more varied sound on the new album.
Maybe that’s because it’s clearer sonically. There’s two acoustic tracks on the first record, and two with no drums, but because it’s so fuzzy it might flatten out a little bit. The new album’s a lot clearer. There’s more emotion, different moods which would’ve been there on the first one if it’d been recorded differently.

You say it’s a transitional album – what are you transitioning into?
That’s what I’m excited about. Certain songs on the new one are slightly longer and there are instrumental sections. The second to last track has got this long, psychedelic, looping ending. There’s more music, maybe less songs and more music.

Do you labour over lyrics or are they less important than the music?
I think about them. Most of the time when they come easily they’re at their best. I don’t feel I need to put pain on paper. I like lyrics that sound like they could be about something but I don’t have to believe what they’re about. I just have to believe they sound good. Phonetically some words have a nice flow to them and that’s almost as important as what they say.

There’s a strong American influence to your sound. Where does that come from?
Most of the bands I listen to are American. It’s hard to put English names into songs and have it sound the same. You can’t put Doncaster in the song. It doesn’t have the same romance about it. In America, the Beach Boys and that sound, there’s a dreamy almost make-believe aspect to that sound which gives the illusion of the perfect song.

What American bands do you favour?
A couple of bands I listened to when I was younger that I haven’t listened to in a while are two Swedish bands, which are really influenced by American music. One of them was called The Hellacopters, and the other one was Backyard Babies. I’ve always listened to Big Star, The Byrds…

A lot of the stuff I’ve been listening to recently has been slightly more psychedelic and I think generally this album has a more psychedelic feel to it.

What’s your aim with the project?
I don’t think it’s healthy to have expectations. There’s only one thing you should be worrying about in a band and that’s the music.

Words by Simon Butcher

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'Mostly No' is out now.

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