Milo Greene are a bit spoiled in the vocal department; so much so that when asked about their rousing leads and rich harmonies, all the LA outfit could do was crack up. It's either a joke or they've just become used to being showered in such compliments. The thing about it though is that there's no power struggle at play here. Milo Greene distributes four voices beautifully across a driving, folky surface, as witnessed in our capture of the band's "Americana Dream Pop". Sounds like something you'd slurp down during a Williamsburg BK, artisanal heat wave, right? Right... So we decided to take the band to that very locale, setting up shop in one of The Wythe Hotel's very snazzy band rooms, overlooking the East River and Manhattan's majestic, Midtown sweep of buildings. It's a gorgeous setting for a gorgeous band. Have a look.
Whoa Whoa And the years go by, And the years go by Close your eyes, Close your eyes 'Cause everything is...perfectly aligned Perfectly aligned Don't fail me now, Don't fail me now Ask me how Ask me how, Everything is... Perfectly aligned Perfectly aligned - When Robert and I were living together about 2006, we were both in separate bands and we were kind of just starting out in the music industry and so, we wanted to come off as very professional and we created a character named Milo Greene and he was our booking agent. And we would email places and he got us lots of gigs over the years and so, when we started collaborating together, we just always titled it Milo Greene and it's stuck and here we are. He was British. - Sure. Sure, John. He has chops for side burns. - That kind of clashes with the whole three piece suit, monacle, refined British gentlemen but... - We've given him this British kind of, British sophisticated... - Well, it depends on the verocity of the chop. - Does he have a hipster thing going on now, with the chops? - I don't know, the monacle. - He's very fashion forward, so he's always on top. - He's a man of mystery. We're never quite sure what Milo is. I'll go, I'll go, I'll go wherever you go And I will never leave without letting you know Don't you give up on me , Don't you give up on me We're told, we're told, we're told we'll never get old So don't you ever show us, show us your bones I'll dig, I'll dig, I'll dig our own little hole, Then put our walls around us and call it our home Don't you give up on me, Don't you give up on me 'Cause you're all I got This time won't stop. I'll go wherever go. Don't you give up on me. Don't you give up on me. Don't you give up on me. Don't you give up on me. - Well, recently we did a show for, now a friend for of ours. He's a, he plays for the Orlando Magics. His name is JJ Reddick. He invited us to play at a charity event that he puts on. Shout out to JJ. - JJ! - And his brother was very involved in putting on the event and... Shoutout to David. - David! - I believe it was David or friend over... - It was the lighting guy. - Okay, it was neither David nor a friend, it was a lighting guy. Shout out to... - Lighting guy! - Preston, my man, Preston. He came up to us after the show and said, "You know you guys have the, a sound that is like Americana dream pop, " and so, I think that's the tag line that we're gonna use from now on. Americana dream pop, that's kind of the vibe that we go for. We all came from bands where we were different persons, so it was just our voice. So, it's nice to step back and hear other people sing and sing with you in harmonies. That's kind of the the basis of the band. - I think there's just this wave of kids that grew up with some of their parents music. You know the stuff, you know Crosby Stills Nash, Young, Fleetwood Mac and Beatles, like great pop song writing but also, you there's, kind of an indie movement in the last 10 years, kind of. All that stuff is kind of combining and everybody is kind of on the same wavelength. When we started writing, like none of these bands have gotten big. It's in the last, six to 10 months and all these bands have blown up and so, it's just like a similar wavelength that everybody's on. - We don't really know about it, those bands when we were making music, so it was... I mean, trends come and go. We just kind of focus on writing like good songs. Your house that sits behind me Is covered in ivy green The windows that we watch from Are old and chipping at the beam It takes me away Takes me away, Takes me away Takes me away, Takes me away Takes me away The scent you wear moves in lines From your apartment into mine You act like you don't know me My god, you tempt my anxious mind It takes me away Takes me away, Takes me away It takes me away Takes me away, Takes me away Would it be much better if I knew nothing about you Would it be much better if I knew nothing about you Would it be much better if I knew nothing about you Would it be much better if I knew nothing about you I'll go, I'll go, I'll go I... , I'll go, I'll go, I'll go I... I'll go, I'll go, I'll go I... , I'll go, I'll go, I'll go I... I'll go, I'll go, I'll go I... , I'll go, I'll go, I'll go I... I'll go, I'll go, I'll go I... , I'll go, I'll go, I'll go I... It takes me away Takes me away, Takes me away I'll go, I'll go, I'll go I... , I'll go, I'll go, I'll go I... I'll go, I'll go, I'll go I... , I'll go, I'll go, I'll go I... I'll go, I'll go, I'll go I... , I'll go, I'll go, I'll go I... - I'd loved to go overseas, yeah. - Sure, answer it. It's a sincere question. Like, really, what are your dreams? Uh, piza, I guess would be a really good start. I could go for some pizza. - I've always wanted a bike. - Like, a bicycle? - Yeah, a bicycle. - I want a motorcycle. - When we started writing together, we had no idea we were a band yet, and so, the recording for this record started about two and a half years ago with demos and the last track on the album is Autumn Tree and it's actually from the original session. We did that session six months later and by the end of that second session, we realized that this was gonna be something we all, you know, left our other bands and started to focus on. Under the autumn tree The chair where you would swing A yard so full of leaves, Comfort me A man that resembles me Watching his young lady sleep Now I'm off to dream, Comfort me Is this my old shape, my mind is away, How long have you been gone The cold winter's aged the soft of your face And I can't move on Market morning sun Fish from an early hunt I wait but you're gone Linger on Is this my old shape, my mind is away, How long have you been gone The cold winter's aged the soft of your face And I can't move on Linger on, Linger on Linger on, Linger on And I can't move on Linger on, Linger on And I can't move on, Linger on Linger on, Linger on And I can't move on, Linger on Linger on, Linger on No I can't move on - I think a lot of bands don't really get out of their garage or their local communities, so being out on the road and playing and having people watch and listen is pretty awesome.
Milo Greene is not real. However, the fictitious character that is Milo Greene is very much alive.
His makers perceive him as an intellectual entrepreneur. In his poised and dignified manner, he keeps things close to the vest and lets everyone know who's boss. He is exactly the type of man you would want to represent you in any business ventureand that is exactly why he was created.
In the DIY music world, having proper representation is key. Lacking an actual manager, college classmates Andrew Heringer, Robbie Arnett, and Marlana Sheetz concocted a virtual one Milo Greene to promote their individual musical efforts. It wasn't until 2009 that the three began creating music together. While house sitting in the isolated Northern California foothills, the trio wrote and recorded a handful of songs. Seeking a name for their new venture, they thought it only natural to pay tribute to the fake manager/booking agent that had represented them throughout their college years: Milo Greene.
Eventually Heringer and Sheetz moved to Southern California, where Arnett was living. There, they added Graham Fink (formerly of 'The Outline') and Curtis Marrero (formerly of Arnett's band 'Links'). The five-piece made a habit of escaping periodically to desolate West Coast locations to continue the story they had started.
"We had no TV, no Internet, we had a fire going, and we had to hush the dogs," Arnett says, acknowledging that the environment probably accounted for their music's pastoral feel, as well as its meticulous attention to detail. Sheetz concurs: "Every place we've made music has been isolated, and it has certainly helped us focus."
Milo Greene's formal recording sessions for their self-titled debut with co-producer Ryan Hadlock (Ra Ra Riot, Blonde Redhead, The Gossip, The Lumineers) followed suit; they took place at Bear Creek Studio, a converted circa-1900 barn in the country near Seattle.
"We set out to make the album a cohesive piece, something that takes you from Point A to Point B," Arnett says, "which is maybe not the brightest thing to do in a singles world, but " Heringer finishes the thought: "Every song does stand on its own, so you never know what to expect sonically or emotionally."
Milo Greene is a collection of voices that live and breathe simultaneously with the breadth of an omniscient, collective consciousness. The melodies invoke long drives down the California coast and the feeling of leaving home. There is something meditative about it, as though it asks to be listened to alone and given one's full attention. Guitar lines swell and recede as ocean waves would. A slight dissonance can be sensed underneath a seemingly passive exterior; a tension can be found in passing tones that evoke jazz harmony and the sense of waiting for something really big to happen, a sense of growing inevitably older while grasping at the threads of youth.
The themes explored on Milo Greene's Chop Shop/Atlantic Records debut are timeless: a quest for permanence, a longing for virtue, a need for reciprocity in all that is good. "When, when, when we're older / Can I still come over?" the band asks in "Silent Way," looking hopefully into the future. It's a future less daunting when faced with the strong bond imagined in the song "Don't You Give Up on Me," with its solemn vow "I'll go wherever you go."
Those songs, along with the embraceable "Autumn Tree" and "Cutty Love" embody the simple notion that, not unlike the way the quintet makes music, we are all in this together. "We all long to be comforted and secure," Arnett says. "If our music sounds nostalgic, it's for the times in our lives we felt that way. If we sound hopeful, it's because we want to feel that way again."
Says Fink: "We're all in our 20s, but we've all had past lives. We're coming to this band from a place where we lived out other dreams. And especially at the age we had them, we didn't really see an endpoint. We saw the sky as being the limit."
Wielding four-part harmonies and indelible melodies over sprawling, percussive arrangements, there is no lead singer of Milo Greene. They work powerfully as a team, yet each member is unique and can stand on their own.
"Four of us were lead singers in our previous projects," Arnett says, "so we really have no focal point, no lead melody writer or lyricist. Everything is Milo."
Their fictitious character, Milo Greene, is British, they muse, and well versed in art and history, with eclectic tastes in music. The kind of guy who wears a three-piece suit even when it's hot, and has a record player in every room.
"I think he would be a big fan of our music " Arnett says.
Fink interjects: "But only because he's very vain."