December 18, 2011
Milo Greene. Reading that name, you think it’s going to be an older guy on acoustic guitar playing folk ballads with lyrics that will haunt your social consciousness. Well, maybe just me. I am a little odd. I sure thought that though when I read they would be opening for The Civil Wars at The NorVa in Norfolk, VA. So I was a bit surprised when a quintet of Bohemian-looking musicians took the stage. I was even more surprised as they started their first song, “Don’t You Give Up On Me.” Such fiery energy, natural harmonies, inventive drum parts, & mesmerizing melodies. If you had to describe it, you could fit in the same vein as music like Local Natives, The Head And The Heart, Mumford & Sons, et cetera . That style has sure exploded on the scene in the past two years and after seeing Milo Greene live, there’s no doubt why. Hell, there’s no doubt that they belong in the exact same breath as those great bands. Actually, they may have one up on them with their Chinese fire drill of a live show where they trade off instruments on practically every song. Sure makes tuning a lot more fun in between shows…
So yeah, you could say I’ve become a pretty big fan of their music. Recently, I was privileged enough to be able to speak with guitarist & singer Robbie Arnett. Talking about his self-described “cinematic pop” music (hopefully for a Terrance Malick film), you can see just where the band gets their massive presence, creative spark, and overflowing enthusiasm. As you’ll read below, the band has no proper release, but has already been getting acclaim from critics & fans alike. With a release scheduled for 2012, who knows what Best Of 2012 lists will look like in twelve months’ time?
So how did the band came together?
Well, Andrew and I met at university. We were friends involved in separate projects. Post university, we stayed in touch via email, snail mail, and visits. We started sharing music, art, and anything that inspired us. The two of us invited Marlana on a five day house sitting vacation in Placerville, Ca. We recorded three songs, had a wonderful time, and decided to start writing full time. When the three of us arrived in Los Angles, both Graham and Curtis became involved thus turning our living room vibe into full band. Basically, Robbie met Andrew. Andrew knew Marlana. Andrew introduced Marlana to Robbie. Robbie, Marlana, and Andrew became buddies. Robbie knew Graham and introduced him to Andrew and Marlana. We all became buddies. Robbie and Andrew both knew Curtis and introduced him to Graham and Marlana; we became Milo Greene.
Wow, I think I need a Tylenol. Anyway, how did the name Milo Greene come about?
Well, we create characters. Every day someone new actually. When Andrew and I were at university, both of us were in separate bands. In an attempt to sound more professional, I created a booking agent under the name Milo Greene and we set up an e-mail address that both bands could use to get gigs. It was only fitting when the two of us got together that we honor our first booking agent.
Your debut release was the aptly named “Hello Sessions.” What was the process like putting that together?
Still confused about this misconception. We actually haven’t officially released any material therefore we have no debut release. We have some demos on our site. When we uploaded them to Bandcamp, we used “The Hello Sessions” as an album title just for the purpose of having something in that spot. People started assuming that was the EP. We are currently working on our debut release which is an album we hope to have out in Spring 2012.
Well for not being actually released, “1957” seemed to pop up on some of End Of 2011 lists for various music blogs.
It’s wonderful that people have responded to 1957. Officially the song will be released in 2012 so if it’s on blogs for 2011, we have some definite futuristic friends. Far out!
So you’re gearing up for that album release. How much work has been done on it so far?
Spent the month of September in Bear Creek and we will finish in the month of January at Bear Creek.
What’s the recording process like versus The Hello Sessions?
Bear Creek is a proper studio. Our houses in Shaver Lake and Placerville are sadly just houses.
What’s the songwriting process look like especially considering all of you practically play everything and can sing as well?
Each song happens differently. Usually we find a groove and a tempo that we like and then put chords to it. If we find melodies that we love, and words that give it life we call it a song.
Any stories, songs, or whatever you can share from the studio work so far?
Josh, the intern in Bear Creek, became our motivational speaker at every show on tour. We’d call him ten minutes before we went on stage and he say things like: “Aim big!” Such a motivator. Oh yeah, read that quote in a British accent too. For others, tune into our blog which Marlana writes on our website (link below). That will keep you up to speed on all the “special” situations. [Winks]
You ended up opening a lot of shows for a band with a big year in 2011, The Civil Wars. How did that gig come about?
Fate, good fortune, friends helping friends, et cetera. From what I understand, they saw a live video for “1957,” heard some of the demos, and asked us to support them. Such gracious and supportive people.
What was your experience like touring with Joy Williams & John Paul White? Did you pick anything up from their sound or stage presence?
They’re an amazing pair; so honest and pure. I think some of their professionalism rubbed off on all of us. It was an honor to be surrounded by people that have had years in the business guide us on our first tour.
Fans have commented on your immense stage presence. How long did it take for you all to get a good routine going for your live performances?
As long as we don’t trip over our cables when we are swapping instruments, we’re happy. The routine is different every night.
Yeah, you all seem to go all over the place during your live shows & play everyone’s instrument. Antsy much?
A.D.D. and egomaniacs for sure!
You guys went all over the place on this tour it seemed. What was your favorite stop?
Spent a day off in Montreal back in October and it changed all of our lives. A bike tour of the city, Crepes, Irish coffees, and the fuzzy necklaces will always create weird circumstances.
Sounds pretty good. With your tour with The Civil Wars over, it seems like you have some free time before you hit the road next. What do you plan to do with your downtime?
Celebrate the holidays with family, sleep in our own beds, and then back to work in two weeks. Oh and probably eat some cereal.
Reading various reviews, it seems like you guys have been compared very frequently with fellow LA band Local Natives and Seattle’s The Head And The Heart. What’s your take on the comparisons and are you fans of the two’s work?
People find comfort in comparisons. Living in LA for the past few years, we love to see music at the Henry Fonda, the Bootleg, and Spaceland so we know the Local Natives crew. They’re fine gents. I’m not familiar with The Head and the Heart’s music though. I just know they have a pretty gal in the band. There’s been so much music over the past year though. We really loved Other Lives, Bon Iver, Feist, & so many others.
You’ve been known to cover Sufjan Stevens from time to time. Are there any artists you guys like to cover either on stage or just goofing around?
We are all such fans of his. For covers, any time we hear something we enjoy, we just re-create in one form or another. Usually vocally with a lot of beat boxing.
Random question number one. If you had to pick one random instrument to incorporate into your live show, what would it be & who would play it?
Rain stick. All of us. Rain sticks galore. Just a tranquil number.
Random question number two and I think the finale for today. I think the world needs to know the answer on this one. Who was your favorite Backstreet Boy?
Lance Bass…wait a minute!
I’ll let that one slide. Thanks so much for your time, Robbie!