Jessica Fleming

SOUND CITY 2017: An Interview with Milburn

Milburn will always been a household name band for me, one I grew up with and associated with the likes of The Pigeon Detectives and Maximo Park. So you can probably understand how surreal it felt as I found myself sat across from frontman Joe Carnall over a decade after their debut album was released.


Jess & Chloe for Ellipsis: Are you excited to play Sound City?

Joe: Yeah! I think we played it years ago; we do like Liverpool because we made a record here earlier in the year, and it’s nice to see people. We know the Cabbage lads who are on at the moment and a couple of others. It’s just nice when you get to know people who are on the same bills, it’s a bit of a laugh really.

Jess: Who are you looking forward to seeing?

 Joe: Cabbage, The Cribs, who are here next door. Some of us are big Cribs fans so we might try at catch them if we’ve not fallen asleep by that point!

Jess: Do you have a favourite song to perform live? 

Joe: It’s normally, if you ask most bands, the most recent one, especially for us because, it sounds weird but I wrote [the older songs] when I was about 15, 15 years ago. It’s nice every now and again, you get a good crowd and it’s quite nostalgic but so is the new stuff. It’s like wearing the same shirt for 15 years, it’s a good shirt but…

Chloe: You get a bit sick of it

Jess: It starts to get a bit smelly

Joe: Well yeah there is that, so it’s probably one of the new ones. We play the new single for the first time ever today.

Jess: Oh really? We gave it a listen, I really like it.

Chloe: Yeah it’s good!

Joe: Nice one, you’ll see how we get on.

Jess: What would you say is the best and worst thing about playing festivals then?

Joe: The best thing is loads of people hanging around. If you’re on a good bill, it’s good because you just get to chat to people you might be into, or even if you’re not into them you might have 10-15 minutes watching and think ‘I might go have a listen to that after’. But then the worst thing here is portacabins – if you’ve just got back from Spain and not had any sleep [which Joe had], there’s nowhere to lie down! At least in venues there’s a nice sofa somewhere.

Jess: There’s just these hard chairs

Chloe: Not very comfy

Jess: I saw you’ve got an upcoming show in Sheffield; have you got anything else planned for the summer?

 Joe: We’ve got about five or six things including this. We’re doing Sheffield on Friday [2nd June], Camden Rocks on Saturday [3rd June]. To be fair we’re not doing loads but the ones we’re doing are pretty good. Then maybe when the record’s out, next summer might be a bit busier for us because you kind of need something to sell unfortunately, like when you see people on chat shows they always have something new.

Jess: When is the new record out?

Joe: September

Chloe: That’s exciting!

Joe: Well we tried to get it out for about now but a label came in that wanted to do it which is great because they want to put money behind it but they said we need more time.

Jess: What’s it like releasing new music now, considering it has been quite a while?

Joe: You know what, it’s fun. There’s a lot less pressure than there used to be. When we were kids it used to be all about getting in top 40, getting in top 20, but now I couldn’t give a flying f*ck.

Jess: Because you’ve got people who like your music, as long as you’ve got a following it’s fine.

Joe: Yeah, it’s quite relaxing. You can just put it out and enjoy it. And the industry’s changed so much that it’s almost impossible for bands to get in the top 40.

Jess: We know what you mean, it’s just the same people all the time.

Joe: Well, it’s just popworld innit. So yeah the best thing is it being so relaxed and you can feel a bit more free to do what you want with songs. You don’t have to write radio songs because they won’t get played anyway, write what you want.

Chloe: So if you could tour with anyone who would you tour with?

Joe: We’ve been told our new stuff sounds a lot like The Strokes.

Chloe: I thought that actually!

Joe: Which is not a bad thing, massive Julian Casablancas fan so on that basis it would be nice to maybe do a couple of gigs with them, and they’re absolutely massive as well. We toured with Cabbage last year and they were hilarious so I like them.

Jess: Yeah they’re quite crazy aren’t they?

Joe: That was fun but maybe for the music The Strokes would be a nice match.

Jess: If you had a festival what would you call it and who would you put on it?

Joe: Alive or dead, or just alive?

Jess: Anyone, dead or alive.

Joe: What would I call it? I can’t call it Milburn Fest. I don’t know, you’ve really put me on the spot there. Yeah I really don’t know; I don’t think about this sh*t, it’s too hard. We’ll go line up. I’d start from about 4pm and have Bill Withers starting, a bit of soul.

Chloe: Oh that’s a good shout, with the sun going down.

Joe: And then maybe have The Coral on next, because they’re always great at festivals – I love all the records but they’ve also got 5 or 6 singles so you get the best of both worlds. I need a headliner don’t I? It would be Prince, because I was lucky enough to see him before he died.

Jess: How was it?

Joe: Incredible, like a 50-year-old man. It was one of the best things I’ve ever seen. Just to see that in person, someone so talented on every instrument; his voice was still great. So Prince, everyone likes Prince, apart from our guitarist who f*cking hates Prince.

Jess: If you could swap places with anyone else in the band who would it be?

Joe: Green the drummer I think, because I have to sing all the time and I don’t really get the chance to play drums, and I’m sh*t at them. It would just be nice to be sat down and watching it all. Even though he’s nonstop, he’s manic but he gets a sit down. And I feel like I’m constantly talking or singing I don’t really get to have a drink and that. It would just be nice not to be the singer because I have to talk all the time, I just want a drink. Yeah, maybe the drummer, that might be interesting.

Jess: Who are you listening to at the moment?

Joe: The last thing I listened to was The Lemon Twigs; they kind of sound like White Album Beatles, it’s interesting. The single’s really good, I’ve not really got round to getting into the album properly. A bird called Findlay, she’s from around here, think she might be Scouse or Manc? [she’s from Stockport!] Her record’s quite good, I saw something on Spotify so clicked on it and that’s how I found her. Other than that, I’ve got a 5-month year old daughter so I don’t get to listen to much music.

Chloe: This is my fave question now, but it’s ridiculous. If you could be an animal, what animal would you be?

 Joe: I like to think about these questions. I think it’s got to be some sort of bird because you’ve got to be able to fly. So a falcon or an eagle, not a little one; if you’re gonna do it, do it good. Big wing span to glide everywhere. In Spain we saw loads of eagles, their wing spans were ridiculous so I’m gonna go the biggest eagle you can get.

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