I had the chance to catch Milo Greene at a Logitech event at the Bowery Ballroom just about two months ago, and I was really, REALLY impressed by their performance. Fast-forward about a month and you’ll find me chatting to Andrew Heringer (1/5th of the band members) about the band’s dynamic, its cinematic roots, and (of course) who of the five we ought to vote for as our write-in candidate in the upcoming election. (For the record, you should all remember the name Graham Fink…) You can see them live in DC tonight at RNR Hotel, or on Thursday in NYC at Bowery Ballroom, which I highly recommend you take advantage of. OR, at the very least, give their eponymous album Milo Greene a listen. In the meantime, please take a gander at the inside of Andrew’s brain and the inside of Robbie’s mouth:
So where are you guys right now?
We’re in Los Angeles; we’re home for about two or three days here before we head out on the road again, so we’re just trying to get everything squared away.
Cool. So I guess to start, I wasn’t planning on asking you anything about the band name since that seems to be something people really harp on, but I came across an interview where someone asked you about it and you guys said that the “Milo” part of it comes from Milo and Otis. Were you totally making that up?
I don’t know which interview that was. That was probably Robbie being a smart ass after being asked that question too many times! (laughs)
See, that’s the thing; if I were asked these questions over and over (and hopefully having said this I won’t do too many repeats here) I would totally just make things up all the time.
(Laughs) No, we just thought it was a very classy-sounding name. Milo Greene was a fake booking agent Robbie and I and a couple of our friends created when we were all in college. We were just kind of starting out in music, and we wanted to seem legitimate, so we created this fake booking agent in order to get some gig responses. That’s the truth of it.
Yeah, well clearly it’s worked out pretty well for you guys, and it DOES sound pretty classy if I do say so! Now, I actually saw you guys when you were at Bowery Ballroom last, and you were great, by the way!
Oh, okay! Thank you!
So obviously that was a private event, and maybe it even comes with the territory, but I was getting kind of annoyed with the people around me for talking, especially because a lot of the songs are just kind of quiet and delicate. I mean, can you pick up on that when you’re on stage?
Yeah, I mean, you’ve got to play to your audience a bit, and I think that one…you know, I think it’s hard when it’s a private event and people are just sort of there to drink and hang. We were just out with The Walkmen for a couple of weeks, and we kind of had to change up our set a little bit to kind of cater towards their audience, just because it’s one of those things; you’ve got to know who you’re playing to and what they want to hear, and you’ve got to be a smart entertainer. That’s why we’re there; we’re there to perform for other people and to keep their attention.
Well hopefully people will be a little quieter this time…
(Laughs) Yeah. It’s a cool venue, though! It’s really cool!
Yeah, it’s really pretty inside!
I think my favorite part of this next tour is that…we’re going to be playing some rooms that, you know, a lot of them are kind of like a bar slash venue, sometimes maybe more just a bar than a stage, and with a room like Bowery that’s not the case. So we’re really excited to take a little step up there.
And you all seem pretty comfortable on stage, but do any of you ever get super nervous before shows?
Not really at this point for myself, but I know a couple of band members who did Letterman and Conan, and Conan was a little nerve-racking for them.
Right. Well I mean, I can totally understand that being a nerve-racking experience. And so you clearly work well together, but being that there are five of you, does it ever get dicey in the decision-making process, like either creatively or business-wise? Or does it actually help to have that odd number of people?
A band’s a funny thing, because it’s a small business, but it doesn’t have the roles or the job descriptions. You know, you don’t get hired and then say, “Oh, I’m the head of marketing,” or “I’m the secretary,” or whatever. So you need to establish this careful balance, and then slowly over time you’ll figure out who’s in charge of what and who takes care of what. Robbie, Graham and I came from all being lead singers in our past bands, and all taking care of all these different things, and now to add onto that we’ve got five people in the band, we’ve got the manager, the publicist, the booking agent…so, you know, there’s a team of people around this band, and that’s really what makes it run well. You know, there’s people in charge of things that I don’t want to be in charge of anymore. I had my own band, and I was doing everything; I was literally booking, tour managing doing publicity, editing each email and the website…I wasn’t even doing music anymore! So this band was rooted on a trust, and we all really thought a lot of each other.
We had been working in music for years, and it got to the point where the steam kind of runs out a little bit, and you’ve one all you can do. All of our last projects were kind of like a significant other; they were all really meaningful relationships, but at some point you kind of have to move on into your adult life and have more relationships. And for all of us in our first bands, we made a lot of mistakes, we had a lot of learning experiences, and for us Milo Greene was about coming together and starting a business and doing it right.
We did a couple demo sessions just for fun, and by the end of those demo sessions we said, “Alright, this is something we really believe in, so let’s all quit our other projects and do this now.” And over the course of probably six months we just wrote songs and recorded and rehearsed. We never even played a show; we just knew the songs were really important, the recordings were really important, and we wanted to be a really clean, tight band. And we did all those things before we played a show, and I think that’s really made a difference.
I mean yeah, it really seems to show. And just in light of the presidential debates, which are starting up tonight, I was wondering which of the five of you would make the best president? Like if we need inspiration for the write-in section of the ballot, who should we put?
I would write in Graham. He’s a great leader, and he’s a very balanced and civil human being. He did psychology in college, and he always jokes that he did that so he could be the band’s therapist and keep us all in line.
That’s amazing. Okay, so come November we’ll write in Graham Fink.
Yeah, Graham for President!
Also, I know everyone asks you about the whole cinematic approach to your album that sort of comes off in the music, so I was wondering which movies or soundtracks you’re particularly inspired by, and then are there any that you’ve seen recently that’ve served as inspiration?
Oh, goodness. We all went to school for theater together, and a lot of us come from a background of just loving movies. Robbie actually moved to LA originally to be an actor, and he realized at some point that it was the music in the movies that made him fall in love with them. Oh, man, there are just so many. What have we been watching lately…I feel like this is one of those moments where you’re in a CD store and you know that there are a hundred CDs that you want to pick in that moment, but you can’t think of a single one! (laughs) I’m honestly totally blanking right now.
That’s cool! Well, how about if someone were to make Milo Greene: the Movie…do you have any ideas about who would play who on screen, or what genre it would be?
(Laughs) Are we talking about like a docudrama?
Maybe. Like dramatic reenactments or whatever?
Let’s see…who would play each person…again, I’m kind of at a loss.
Yeah, it’s a pretty big question.
Yeah, so many choices.
Well how about the genre, then? Like would it be a rom-com or a horror film?
Definitely rom-com. I think you hit it on the head there.
Awesome. And what do you think the tagline would be for that? Like what is the Milo Greene mission statement?
Work hard, party later?
That’s a good one. So what do you think we can expect from this upcoming show as audience members?
Well we all come from a kind of theatrical background, and we all understand the importance of putting on a bigger show, you know? So we’re working on some lights, we’ve been working on the stage setup and the set list and some new songs, and also some new clothing…we like to keep it fresh.
Well we’re super excited for it! Now, do you have any parting words you’d like to share with us?
We’ve always seen this record as a whole piece; you know, we live in a world where people play one song here and one song there from different artists in a mix, and that’s awesome, but we wanted to push ourselves to make something that you could sit down and listen to from beginning to end, and it had a journey and it was compelling and interesting. So I think the idea behind the short movie we made was just that this is one piece of work, and that it would push people to look through it from start to finish.
I mean it really does flow so well together. Obviously that was the goal, but you succeeded!
I think you would laugh at us for how long we spent going over how long the transitions were from each song, but it’s little details like that that make an album flow.