THINK of old-school R & B – not the raunchy music video variety, the proper bluesy stuff – and instantly you think of smoky 1960s clubs.
But one band has rehashed the gritty sound of the 60s and given it a new, fresh twist.
The Milk – four Essex life-long mates – have turned heads in the industry with (All I Wanted) Was Danger – a fast-paced pop ditty, catchy, short and sweet.
Guitarist Dan Le Gresley explains the inspiration behind the band: “We all grew up with our parents’ record collections. I was brought up listening to the blues of Robert Johnson and Chicago blues and then there was the fact we were all growing up in Essex. There was a lot of jungle around and we also liked punk, so we started a punk band.”
The punk band didn’t last, but the band’s ever-expanding musical melting pot still beckoned.
“We sat in the rehearsal room and we started writing soul music - this was what we wanted. It all started to come together around then”
They formed The Milk, got signed on one Friday morning and by the Monday they were in the studio recording their album.
“We were raring to go and get some tracks down. It was fantastic - the studio was beautiful, it was exactly the stuff you dream about before you get signed.”
It took them three weeks to record the album and the result is Tales from the Thames Delta, an appropriately-entitled album given the band’s south east origins and soul and blues leanings.
But the album’s not just soul and blues.
“It was produced by Brad Baloo,” says Dan, “He helped us make it more contemporary and gave it a hip hop feel. We’ve been listening to a lot of hip hop lately and lots of old soul records.”
And while sampled-beats certainly play a part in The Milk’s, the band is keen to make it sound as organic as possible.
“We wanted to make sure the drums were still ‘popping’ out so we kept the samples simple.”
The band met at a trampoline class at the age of 12 and 13. Now 26 and 27 year-olds, they are still as close as they ever were.
“We were all into Blur and Oasis at the time and we wanted to do something where we played guitar.”
Later, they formed the punk band Blank Faced Babies. “We used to go anywhere where we could play.”
Even then, the band’s musical taste was a melting pot of styles and cultures. “We were playing punk but listening to Nick Drake at home.”
The band went their separate ways after the punk venture, but reunited to form The Milk barely two years ago. The Milk’s material is fast, punchy and bold. Lyrics are upbeat and guitar is rhythmic and, much like its influences, song writing is also thanks to an inclusive approach.
“We’re not reliant on one person in this band. We all write parts of the music. Any one of us could walk in and say ‘I’ve got an idea’. There’s no set way of doing it.”
In terms of a sound, the band likes to retain its integrity - albeit in the face of record label demands.
“We try to do stuff that we really like rather than trying to second-guess what people want. Music is escapism to us. You go and see the Rolling Stones and you have a good time. That’s what we want people our audience to do – just to have a good time.”
The Milk play at the Leadmill on Saturday November 17. Their album, Tales from the Thames Delta, is out now.