“When it comes to how to market the band, I haven’t got a fucking clue, but when it comes to how I want it to sound – I’m the world’s expert.” Rick Nunn, the lead singer of 4-piece rock’n’soul outfit The Milk, certainly has a way with words. Either he has a very good ear for sound bites or, as I suspect, his exuberant and boisterous manner may be the product of growing up in Essex.
The Milk made quite a splash when they landed their record deal in November, having been the first act to sign with Simon Fuller’s new label Sign of the Times, an imprint of Sony. When I asked if that means we can expect some Spice Girls style mega-hits, Rick seemed eager to distance the band from the label’s business-magnate leader. “You know what? Simon doesn’t get involved. Obviously its his label but part of the appeal of the label was Sony. They gave us pretty much autonomous, creative-control. We’re very specific in what we want our music to sound like and the sound of the band to be.” That wasn’t really my question, but you can understand why a talented and fairly unique band compared to the current crop would be worried about issues of authenticity, not only because of signing with a major, but one with a boss who’s famous for his commercial prowess and extensive fortune.
Perhaps they’re not as worried as that answer might suggest. They certainly shouldn’t be. The Milk’s soul/funk vibes with a good dash of old school rock’n’roll casts them above a lot of their peers who still squabble for the last bit of air in the landfill indie-sphere. When it comes to talking about the album, it seems despite any pressure, they’ve made something they’re very proud of. “Part of the manifesto for the album, we very much wanted it to be an album rather than just a collection of songs. A lot of people these days forget an album isn’t just choosing some songs in a particular order. It’s actually a body of work, bigger than the some of its parts, y’know?”
He talks with a lot of passion and enthuses about how the album is all linked with no breaks to recreate the live experiences of old soul bands and rhythm sections like Booker T. & the M.G.’s, The Dap Kings and Funk Brothers, who rarely stopped between songs to keep people dancing. Rick makes a fitting comparison to modern music. He confesses that the band “love nothing more than a summer in Ibiza” and it was from watching DJ’s ‘smash it’, not stopping between records for applause that “we thought that would be interesting for a band to do live and on record”.
It should make for a refreshing listen. With the album coming out (hopefully) in June, a further tour in the Spring, not to mention the 28 date marathon they are doing as I type and a “you name it, we’re playing it” festival schedule, it’s going to be a busy year for The Milk. Not that Rick is fully contented “It’s a bit of a choker that the year we get signed, Glastonbury is not on…but hopefully next year we’ll be far more established and we’ll have a really good slot”. With Sony behind them, some impressive songs floating online, a mammoth touring schedule and a rapidly expanding fan base, you certainly wouldn’t want to bet against them.