Interview with Milk Teeth, the not so Vile Children of the UK rock/grunge scene
The Stroud 4 piece are currently taking over the airwaves
According to Wikipedia, Stroud, nestled in the county of Gloucestershire, has a population of just over 13,000 people and the picturesque town “is noted for its steep streets, independent spirit and cafe culture”. The aerial view of the town is reminiscent of something American tourists might see in a brochure of England, relaxing and quiet. The sound coming out of Stroud, however, is far from relaxing and quiet.
Living within its borders are the four musicians who make up Milk Teeth – one of the hardest working and hardest playing bands in the country.
At first listen, you’d be forgiven if you thought Milk Teeth sounded like they were straight out of Seattle, rather than Stroud. Their hard-edged guitars, penchant for raucous gigs and admirable dedication to their fans and touring schedules has seen 4 high school friends go from strength to strength, releasing a variety of EP’s and as of January 2016 – their much awaited debut LP. We spoke to guitarist Chris just before they were about to release their new album ‘Vile Child’ about their plans for future world domination and geeked out over their equipment.
You’re just about to release your debut full length album Vile Child, how does it feel?
So excited! We’ve had these songs recorded so long, and written almost a year ago so I can’t wait to get them out for people to hear, real proud of all the songs
Who did you record with?
Neil “White Shirt” Kennedy at The Ranch Production in Southampton.
How was that experience?
We love everything about recording there and Neil really knows our sound, almost better than we do, and he puts up with how messy we are. From a guitar players point of view, The Ranch is heaven, with so many pedals and vintage amps which is always fun. Plus, we saved a kitten who now lives there and is named after one of our songs.
How have the new tracks been going down live?
We haven’t been playing that many yet to be honest, although we love the new stuff we don’t wanna be that band only plays new stuff no one’s heard yet. We’ve been playing ‘Brickwork’ recently and we played ‘Burger Drop’ over summer and they’ve got excellent reactions. Just looking forward to playing the rest now.
The band have been together just over 2 years, and you’ve gone from strength to strength. Do you feel like the hard work is starting to really pay off?
Yeah definitely, we’ve been seeing bigger crowds and more people into us which is so cool. After years of driving up and down the country for no money, sleeping in cars and washing in service stations it’s dope to see it paying off. We do it because we love it but it’s definitely a plus when you see kids singing back to you.
What’s the best guitar/amp/pedal you’ve ever owned?
I may be a little biased but the best guitar I’ve ever owned is my Gibson Les Paul Junior, I recently upgraded the pickups to a Bareknuckle Stockholm P90 and it sounds huge. I keep buying other guitars but always come back to it.
I’ve never had much lucks with amps, a few of them have decided to die and even catch fire on me but I got to use this lush Marshall Plexi when we recorded and it sounded so good, I need to save my penny’s.
I recently picked up a Strymon Blue Sky Reverb and f**k it’s amazing. I know we ain’t really about reverb but it works so well for making lead lines stand out all the way to making me feel like I’m playing in a cave on mars ha.
What was the first song you learned to play on guitar?
It was ‘Sweet Child Of Mine’ by Gun’s ‘n’ Roses, which is a pretty standard for a 13 year old kid to learn. When I first started playing I was mad into all those bands that had huge guitar solos like, ACDC and Black Sabbath and would spend hours learning them. Now I can’t remember any of them and I really don’t like playing solo’s, I’ve gotta be bullied into them.
If you had to describe your sound using 1 pedal, what would it be? I.e. U2 might be a delay, Dinosaur Jr might be a fuzz pedal etc.
This is a tricky one, I know a lot of people may hear us and think it’s gotta be some fuzz pedal but I think it would have to be an Electro Harmonix Small Clone chorus pedal. I don’t think I’ve ever recorded anything without it on and when we play without chorus it just sounds strange to me. Although it may be the reason we get called a grunge band all the time.
What is your go-to sound? Amp settings, pedal settings, humbuckers etc
I always prefer to use a clean tone on my amp and add the distortion with a pedal. Amp wise it’s quite a trebley sound with my settings on BASS: 4 MID: 5 and TREBLE: 6/7 and PRESENCE:4ish. Now with the pedals are where I really added the noise with Distortion about ¾ of the way up and tone to just over half way. I prefer a really fat sounding p90 but I also use really aggressive humbuckers, Invaders sorta thing!
What’s your live set up looking like these days?
My live set up is getting bigger with every tour we do, our tour manager hates me! Amp wise I use a Sound City Mark 4 from 1974, and I run it into two Marshall 1960 cabs. It’s so loud and unnecessary but I love it.
As I mentioned before my main guitar is my Gibson Les Paul Junior with an upgraded P90, I think it’s a 2010 reissue model. For my backup guitar I use an Epiphone Wilshire Phant-o-Matic which is Frank Lero’s signature model, but it wasn’t awkward when we toured with him.
My pedal board is also becoming a bit ridiculous but here goes, I use a Korg Pitchblack tuner into a Boss Compressor/Sustainer > Boss Super Shifter > Ibanez Tube Screamer > Electro Harmonix Small Clone > Fuzzrocious Demon King > MXR Phase 90 > Electro Harmonix Big Muff Pi > TC Electronics Mini Shaker > Boss Digital Delay 3 > Strymon Blue Sky Reverb > Electro Harmonix Freeze. I know it’s not a usual running order but I’ve been playing with it for years and this sounds best for me for sure!
Are there any particular items in your rig that are really special to you? If so, what and why?
Probably my Boss DD3, it was the first pedal I ever got and it’s still going strong. I don’t use it all the much but my rig wouldn’t look right without it.
Some guitars feel like they have more songs in them than others. What’s your go-to guitar when you need some inspiration?
Again its gotta be my Les Paul, every song I’ve ever written has come from playing that in my bedroom and p*ssing off my neighbours.
Who inspired you as a guitarist?
When I first started playing it was the standard Slash, Angus Young, Toni Iommi sorta thing as I grew up and got more into punk I appreciate song writing more than I do a face melting solo. Simple and catchy. So people like Billie Joe Armstrong and Kurt Cobain are my biggest influences. But Kurt Ballou of Converge is the fucking King.
Are there any brands you’re particularly loyal to?
I’ve always been more of Gibson/Epiphone man myself. I’m not sure if that’s because I love the Les Paul shape or whatever but gotta love em. Reckon I could pull of a Flying V. And Ernie Ball when it comes to strings. Ever since I first started playing I used them and now we are endorsed by them so I’m so stoked.
In today’s current musical climate with downloading etc. are you noticing that it’s getting harder for bands to make a living? How do you cope with that?
Oh yeah definitely. We tour constantly, we get radio play and press, the whole band works and we all still work sh*tty jobs. I even had to move back in with my parents so I could afford to be on the road so much. But home cooking is great too so can’t complain.
The punk scene seems to be quite vicious to bands when they feel bands have “sold out” – when you released Kabuki, you faced some backlash. Was that hard to deal with or is it something you don’t really care about?
To be honest that made me laugh! “You’re not punk because you don’t follow our rules of punk” type sh*t. There’s such a fine line keeping those type of people that I’d rather not bother. If anyone things doing an acoustic track is selling out, then their grasp on music is so thin. Kabuki is a heartfelt and emotionally brave song. If that upsets punk, then I don’t wanna be it. And besides if I’m selling out why am I so broke?
What would you say to kids who want to be in a band now?
Play as many shows as you can. We play constantly and with anyone. Even if we play and only gain one new fan it’s still the best feeling there is. And also remember to be nice and don’t get an ego. No one likes a bighead.
What’s the next step for Milk Teeth?
Tours and tours. Which I love. All of February we are on tour in Europe and the U.K. with Tonight Alive and then a week later we fly over to US. Can’t stop the rock!
Your first gig in the States is coming up with So What Music Festival, how does that feel?
It’s crazy. So much to take in. Playing in the states is like the dream and to be in our position is amazing. We are all so excited. I can’t wait!
Is there talk of touring over there?
Oh yes. We are touring for 6 weeks over there and Canada with Citizen, Turnover, and Sorority Noise. The longest tour we’ve ever done in a whole new country. It’s gonna be a banger.
Finally, if you could own any guitar and any amp what would they be?
Oh man. Such a hard choice. I saw this Gibson Les Paul Custom shop that had just one humbucker in the bridge and it was the prettiest thing I ever did see. And amp wise I’d love a Marshall JCM800. The classic combo. Maybe a wall of cabs wouldn’t go a miss either.
For more information on Milk Teeth visit milkteethpunx.bandcamp.com