Friday, 2 May 2008

interview: elle milano

Following on from yesterday's review of Acres of Dead Space Cadets, here is an interview with Adam, lead singer of Elle Milano, from a month or so ago. He's quite the sarcast, so the fact that the interview was carried out over MSN of all things made it interesting. Adam reveals what the future holds for the band as well as casting a glance over all that's passed over the last couple of years. So click on the 'play' button below to stream the opening track of their album, Laughing All The Way To The Plank, and strap yourself in for the ride ahead.

Elle Milano - Laughing All The Way To The Plank

J: When I interviewed you at the Buffalo Bar in Sept 06, you said you were still in a very developmental stage, do you think you’ve found your sound now? Or are you still constantly evolving?

A: I think we will probably keep evolving, but I think the more recent stuff we've been doing has a specific sound for sure. Not that any of it’s on the album! The album is just a whole load of ideas, loosely tied together, by pop magic.

J: You say loosely tied together? It seems pretty well blended if you ask me, in terms of production and all the interludes.

A: Well I guess we tried.

J: Is it fair to say that you don't really want to big yourselves up too much, in terms of the effort you've put in?

A: of course, that wouldn't be our style haha.

J: So what’s planned in terms of future releases? Future singles etc?

A: Well I guess that all depends on how the next 6 months unfolds. There is no rigid schedule or plan. I’m not really too bothered what happens with singles, its all just promo for the album.

J: Have you got any plans to release new material not on the album? B-sides, an EP perhaps? There’s various songs floating about like Modern Man, Oh Society, Look What You’ve Done – will these get a release?

Elle Milano – Modern Man (demo)

None of those songs will be released, and it’s a bit a mystery how they have entered the public domain! Anyways there’s a couple of other songs floating around from the album sessions that'll be b-sides, there also a song we were trying to get on the album at the last minute but it didn’t come together in time, so that'll be a b-side...
We're seriously thinking about an E.P, maybe in 6 months time or something. Just to keep things moving.

Sure. Are you happy with continuing as a 3 piece for now? or is it just a case of not having found someone who fits?

A: This is it yeah, we love it, and have no plans of changing. We were gonna look for someone new, but kinda grew to enjoy just being a three piece and the newer songs sound bigger than anything we did as a 4-piece.

J: I haven’t seen the 3 piece live show yet, but do you think it packs a significant punch live? I mean how are you managing to trigger all the samples and play keyboard?

A: We were worried about not sounding big enough and everything as a three piece, but by stripping stuff down the songs breathe a bit more, and probably have more punch than the big mess of guitars we've probably had in the past...The new stuff sounds like the demolition of a galaxy millions of light-years away. Poppy yes...but in a Megadeth kind of way.
And yeah I trigger a few samples here and there to fill stuff out...

Elle Milano - Juliette's Dead (new, new song off the myspace...some indication of the direction the band are now heading)

One of the reasons Alex cited for leaving was that it had become too much of a compromise. Have you or the others ever felt similarly, or have you guys always been quite committed to seeing this through?

Well for a 'commercial rock' band, we've actually made very few compromises, which is nice. The three of us are very dedicated to taking this band as far as it will go... the dark times have probably brought the three of us closer together or something mushy like that.

Does it feel now like you're all pushing in the same direction? Not carrying anybody who didn't want to be there anymore.

Yes exactly, its been very liberating. We're writing quicker now, with much more vision.

Are you doing this full time now then? Do you have a job or are you riding high off the cash from pre-sale orders?

Haha, yeah full time, and yeah the pre-sale orders are insane…
Umm i actually have no idea how pre-orders are doing at all!

What would you say has been the highlight of what you've done with Elle Milano?

Just having a finished album for better or worse in my hands a couple of months ago, with a bar code on it…Was probably the highlight.

and the lowlight? (if that’s even a word!)

Don’t have one, because I’m a ball of positive energy

What would be your nightmare job?

Probably behind a bar at a nightclub

Is that because you'd have to be friendly to people you couldn't really give a shit about?

I dunno, I just don’t have very good people skills, and soberness around drunk mobs is a nightmare, and I have my fair share of loud music with the band. Having drink orders screamed in your ear all night must be horrible.

Fair enough. Could you ever see yourself living abroad? (given some of the criticism of British culture in your lyrics – notably Amphetamine Skyrocket.)

A:Yeah maybe, I'd like to live in a Chicago suburb and pretend I’m in Wayne's World on a daily basis. I don’t have any major problem with this country, it’s what you make of it and I wouldn’t take any notice of the lyrics, they’re just meant to sound clever when they’re not.

Sure I get the whole thing you have with not wanting to attribute any significances to what you say, because that would be arrogant to a certain extent. But what if they are intricate? and a bit clever? Or are you just that disconnected from them that you don't really care?

Take for example...Showroom Furniture. The phrase crops up again in Laughing All The Way To The Plank. Perhaps I'm just reading into this far too much (blame my philosophy degree), but I like the contrast between flat-packed and showroom furniture possibly as a metaphor for being honest / putting on a front (Sartrean difference between good and bad faith if you wanna get deep)?

Yeah, that’s kind of it I guess...I find lyric writing really strange…I don’t really like doing it most of the time, but I like pop tunes so you gotta write some words...and when I do finally get round to it I like to make an effort for sure...
But I can never tell if it’s good or if I’ve just written it by ticking loads of Morrisey-like-cliche boxes that sound clever but don’t actually have much substance.

It’s a big head fuck to be honest... sometimes I write things that I know don’t make much sense, but then I'll look back at them a few weeks or months later and they make perfect sense, like it was something sub-conscious getting out at the time...there wasn't supposed to be a direct metaphoric comparison with showroom/flat-packed furniture, 'flat-packed' is just supposed to refer to people who just aspire to live in an Ikea showroom.

Showroom Furniture, is how I feel onstage sometimes. Everyone’s kinda showroom furniture the moment you leave the house, you're on display for people to judge.

Elle Milano - Showroom Furniture

J: Favourite disney character?

Oooh That’s tough...let me think for a moment.


I can relate to dumbo

In what sense?

Being an elephant

That can fly

: Were you pissed off that the album leaked?

It seems pretty unstoppable these days.

No haha, we knew it would be inevitable, you can barely call it a leak, cause it was released in Japan. If it means more people get into the songs and come to gigs its only a good thing.

J: I
'm guessing you aren't really fans of marketing, have you met whoever does your PR and do you have any idea what it is they actually do?

Yeah we made the effort to make sure we met everyone that was supposed to be 'working' for us. It just feels like you should know who’s doing stuff on your behalf, although it makes me feel a bit weird knowing there are people employed just to help shift 'Elle Milano units'. Really hits home how much of a commodity music is...

Last question.

J: What is the television ban about?

I have no idea. It was songs like that that made me realise I needed to make more of an effort with my lyric writing!

I see what you mean. I guess pop songs don’t really have to mean anything though.

Well exactly, as long as it sticks in your head

visit elle milano website
//album review//feature

So there you go, if you're not converted to Elle Milano by now then it's not for want of trying on my part. I can't think of a band that currently demonstrate as much variety - lyrically speaking and also in terms of vocal style and instrumentation. The album is out now in record shops everywhere, and whilst it isn't as viciously biting lyrically as the early stuff, it still rocks my socks and should rock yours.

Back to non-Elle Milano stuff tomorrow.


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