Milk Music have been often compared to the cream of legendary label SST, probably more because of its urgent, non-regulated expressivity, than because of its sound, as far as that sound seems to have deeper roots (sucking sap from the Meat Puppets, but also wrapping the ghost of Neil Young, gently rocking the twilight lament of late Big Star) and branches of its own that grow with unusual electric lush. I tried to explain their impact over me in a RECENT REVIEW of its magnificent “Cruise your illusion”. Expansive, aching but defiant and celebratory at the same time, it was one of these glorious, unexpected records of pure Rock&Roll, opened like a vein from which initial blood, pure creative magma was flowing. Seems like they’ve already had to pay their toll for that sincerity and for that sacred childish drive. Alex Coxen tells us about it. ¿What comes after defeat? Euphoria, he says. And life itself, we guess. With its true dance of darkness and light.
(you folks can check the spanish versión of the interview HERE)
KAPUT- When writing about your work, critics often speak about Hüsker Dü or Dinosaur Jr. Having listened just to your last album, I can´t really see that. The bands that come to my mind are early Giant Sand and Meat Puppets… maybe also a bit of Neil Young and a bit of Johnny Thunders (in the voice in “Lacey’s secret”, particularly)… Did any of this artists play an important role in your evolution as musicians? Why and how?
MILK MUSIC- Yes. The meat puppets were true masters at blending the musical themes of punk and psychedelia in their work, along with a great sense of songwriting. All major themes we strive for in our work. and Neil Young is as close to a Jesus Christ figure in my life as anything I’ve found. Musical or otherwise. Almost beyond influence, yet he certainly guides us. I've never heard Giant Sand.
K- Lyrically, one of your main matters seems to be freedom. There seems to be a feeling of spiritual hunger crossing all the album. Seems like the problem of freedom -how to get it and how to keep it and how to cope with the lack of it- is there all the time. Am I right?
M.M- You are right.
K- “I’m not in the mirror/I’m not in the flat I rent/I’m just like the dog the wind sent/I’m on that road outside/The road outside is trough/The inside of you/So when they call you away/I hope you runaway…”. That one seems to deal with the dissolving of identity and the fact that the road to freedom is sometimes more inside than outside. Could you please tell me something about it?
M.M- Well, the real lyric is "when they call you by name, i hope you runaway". What more can I say? The great romantic Exit scene we all play in our minds. "My life's a mess, I need to split", the ‘where to’ is not important, probably doesn't exist. Imagine the car you'll take, imagine what song is scoring this fantastic movie in your head.
K- “Your face is an age, baby/eyes like a child/when you were young/I bet you were wild”. When you say “wild” it seems to me that it means “free”. Are you concerned about the possibility and the difficulties of keeping that “wild” feeling trough an entire life?
M.M- Wild means wild. Dancing the true dance of life. Light and dark, both sides of the blade, the angel and the serpent, locked in a trance dance. I'm getting to know this "wild" feeling more every day and I look forward to a long life of madness.
K- Do you think that the classical images of freedom still work, the ones used in Rock&Roll so often, open roads, etc… Should it be redefined somehow? Most of the open roads people take nowadays are either metaphorical or digital…
M.M- Open roads are representative of movement, change, the unknown, etc. Those are timeless human themes. Besides, only an artist's personality and choice of phrasing can determine how tired something sounds.
K- How did you make your record this time? Alex said in an interview he is a perfectionist, but the record sounds so natural it seems like it’s been done in some state of grace, and fast…
M.M- Recording is mostly guess and check, guided and edited by our musical instincts.
K- He also said: “There’s a big lack of sincerity in music now and we’re fighting that”. There is many people that consider music and rock&roll particularly, like a way of entertaining themselves and nothing more. They even refuse the possibility of that music trying to answer complex questions or dealing with serious matters. What do you think about that?
M.M- I think we have a little problem here.
K- “The final scene” reminds me of late Big Star work. It conveys this feeling of defeat and despair mixed with classical music forms that were somehow meant to invoke a happier feeling . Was that contrast intentional?
M.M- I wouldn't say the contrast was intentional. Certainly the feelings of defeat and despair were. What you might call the "happier feeling" I call euphoria, a feeling which follows defeat.
K- I love that sound, and the images are powerful, like entering the afterlife dressed in a white tuxedo. Zodiac signs and death, kind of spiritual, somehow, but fun also. Also in other songs you put up some images that seem somehow religious (“Dancing naked in a state of bliss/With a cobra in your fist”) or speak directly about that (“but I prefer the church that I’ve made mine”). Is death a main theme in your work? Do you believe there is an afterlife?
M.M- I’m not quite sure what I believe, honestly. I believe negativity stems from fear, and that the root of fear in this world as we know it, so far, ends with death. It's an ever present theme by default.
K- How does your composing method works? What’s the importance of each member of the band in that process?
M.M- secret recipe
K- Can you live out of your music now? Here in Spain that’s almost impossible, even for really good bands.
M.M- No, we recently tried and failed. Im struggling to find any job right now. I feel like Milk Music has fucked us over. The amount of touring and compramising and, for lack of a better term, whoring you have to do as a pop group to survive today is far more than we as creative persons are willing to accept. Its a dark time. maybe it always has been for people like us and were just learning it.
K-What can we expect from Milk Music live? Is it really different from the record?
M.M- Don’t expect too much since we have no plans for future live performances. As stated in the previous question, live performance got in the way of our full creative potential. Instead we've been experimenting with video and visual art to promote our records and we're all very tickled to follow in the Beatles footsteps. That being said, a classic Milk Music show could be a religious experience. In the early days, the emphasis was on high volume, and sonic blanketing. By our last performances we were exploring the deepest depths of jamming. We were really riding the edges there for a beautiful moment. Tempos and arrangement thrown out the window to pursue the belief that if we all concentrated on our current emotion and each others, to the absolute fullest, then it would be impossible to play any wrong notes. This concept that nothing is good or bad musically. It was quite a ride. Stream of conscience guitar play, vocals, rythms. In the end I prefer recording.
K- How would you define what you do in three words?