The Milk - Time of their lives
T he Milk aren't a band you could ever accuse of being complacent.
The Essex four-piece have worked their socks off to get where they are now and they're determined not only to make the most of it but enjoy it while they're at it.
Singer and guitarist Rick is in buoyant mood when I talk to him ahead of their UK tour which includes a date at Chinnery's, Southend, this Saturday, June 2.
The band are busy rehearsing while the sun is blazing outside so Rick is glad to get out while we chat, saying they feel like a "gang of albino moles" being stuck inside on a day like this.
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These are good times for The Milk. Their first ever headline tour of the UK in April went extremely well, selling out pretty much wherever they went. But they're hungry for more and can't wait to get back on the road again. You get the impression with some bands that touring can be a bit of a drag. Not so with The Milk.
"Touring is the most adrenaline-fuelled thing I've ever done," says Rick. "I loved everything about it, the travelling, the gigging, the hotels, visiting different towns... if that's a hardship, you shouldn't be in a band.
"If you can't enjoy doing that you really should be in a different job."
That The Milk are so determined and single-minded shouldn't come as a surprise. They've not only worked hard to get where they are but they've given up a lot too.
The band all know each other from growing up together in Wickford. They'd been in bands over the years but had gone their separate ways for a while. In that time, they rediscovered the music they loved – Motown, Stax and Trojan – and got back together with a new direction for the band and a determination to really go for it.
"We had a eureka moment. We wanted to be a bunch of Peter Pans and never grow up," says Rick.
"We all moved back home, gave up our jobs and decided to give music our best shot. We decided it was a 'no regrets' thing. We didn't want to have that thing of looking back and wishing we'd done things differently. We had to go for it, otherwise we'd always be wondering what might have been.
"It wasn't easy. We were at home, we were on the dole, we were struggling at times."
But the times of struggling have paid off handsomely now with The Milk about to release their second single, Every Time We Fight with a video directed by and starring James Buckley of The Inbetweeners. That's out on June 24 and has already been getting airplay on BBC 6Music and XFM. After that they've got festival dates in the summer, including the Isle of Wight, Lounge on the Farm, T In The Park and V Festival, and then the release of their debut album, Tales From The Thames Delta, due out on September 3.
It sounds like it's going to be a pretty full-on summer.
"Our mantra is we want to be busy," says Rick. "We've spent years trying to get to this point, so we always want to make the most of it. We were all brought up with a strong work ethic and we've still got that.
"We've seen how many good bands are out there that people don't even know about that want to be in the same position we are in now."
Rick says the band are all especially looking forward to the homecoming gig at Chinnery's this Saturday.
"We're super-excited about the gig. They'll be a lot of familiar faces there, it becomes a bit of a family occasion. We're really going to go for it. We'll take the hit of the hangover the next day. It's not the biggest venue on the tour but we know it'll be a big night."
Rick is also looking forward to playing the V Festival again this year, having gone down a storm at the Hylands Park event last year.
"That was crazy. We were in the Strongbow Arena and it was at capacity. It was full of familiar faces. I didn't know I had so many friends!
"To be honest, just to be on the same poster as the Stone Roses is a bit of kick."
After the festival season is over, it'll be full steam ahead with the album and Rick can't wait for people to hear it.
"It was all ready to go when we were signed up," he says. "I think we signed to our label on the Friday and were recording a few days later. We're a very autonomous band and the label are pretty happy with us being that way.
"We had 18 months to write the songs, so it's everything we wanted to do. We'll live or die by the record, but we know it's the best we could do. It could bomb but at least we'll know we did the record we wanted."
Rick says the band wanted the album to have the energy and uplifting feel of their live shows.
"We wanted to use the things that inspired us. We love the Ibiza scene and the way that DJs keep the music going. We always wonder why bands have these gaps between songs when they play live. When we play live, we don't have any breaks between songs, we like the music to be continuous.
"We've done the same thing with the album, so it's like a mix tape, it's continuous. We've got some live jams on there, some bits of audio and movie clips. We want people to listen to it the way we conceived it."
Tales From The Thames Delta brings together the band's love of soul, funk and ska music but there's also a thematic thread running through it, though Rick is quick to point out that it's not a concept album.
"It's no Tubular Bells or Dark Side of the Moon," he laughs. "There's a loose narrative thread there, the album tells a story and it's quite cinematic in parts.
"A lot of thought has gone into it and how the songs work together.
"We just think we can bring something new to the scene, to make people's ears prick up a bit.
"We didn't set out to do a biographical album but after 18 months of hard times, the songs we wrote were really heartfelt.
"Another one of our mantras is that people know when you're faking it or when you're lying and we never want to do that.
"We just want to enjoy what we're doing and make the most of it"
The Milk play Chinnery's, Southend, on Saturday, June 2. The single Every Time We Fight is out on June 24. They play the V Festival at Hylands Park, Chelmsford, over the weekend of August 18-19. Find out more about the band at www.thisisthemilk.com