Milburn are barely school leavers and within five minutes theyâ€™re making Gigwise feel like they should consider retirement. With an average age of 18, the energetic Sheffield quartet rightly deserve all the plaudits being flung their way at the moment. Along with fellow Sheffielderâ€™s and best mates, Arctic Monkeys, theyâ€™re seemingly another great reason to claim Yorkshire as one of Britainâ€™s hot spots for new music. Their name might not inspire the kind of rapture beloved of many overrated acts around at the moment â€“ theyâ€™re named after singer Joe Carnallâ€™s dadâ€™s mate â€“ but thereâ€™s a feeling thereâ€™s a whole lot more to come from the fresh faced foursome.
Now with a nationwide tour in support of The Arctic Monkeys underway, their unusual name may start to become more familiar. Joe, Louis and fellow band mates Greeny (drums) and Tom Rowley (guitar) have all known each other since the age of six from playing football in the street. Despite Sheffield already having a great reputation for producing bands â€“ Pulp, Longpigs, Moloko, All Seeing I â€“ it wasnâ€™t enough to deter the lads from giving things a try.
â€œWe thought things in Sheffield were a bit dead to be honest,â€ says Joe. â€œThereâ€™s not been a band to come out of the city and take a lot of press for a while. Pulp did it but it took them a long time to get big.â€ Now the city has two acts showing great promise on the scene. But despite being the best of friends with Arctic Monkeys, and the obvious camaraderie between the two â€“ during soundcheck both acts are on stage charging through covers of Oasisâ€™ Supersonic and The Coralâ€™s Dreaming Of You â€“ thereâ€™s no favours.
â€œThereâ€™s no rivalry between us and the Monkeys,â€ explains Joe. â€œWeâ€™re not being arrogant but weâ€™re not in awe of them at all.â€ Thereâ€™s a disarmingly mischievous grin before he adds in a broad Yorkshire drawl, â€œIf we could start a feud with anybody itâ€™d be The Kaiser Chiefs. I fucking hate them lot.â€ Louis, concerned that his kid brother is about to take on one of the biggest bands of 2005 wades in with, â€œThatâ€™s a contentious statement to make.â€ But Gigwise are spared further brotherly squabbles. â€œWe get asked about it a lot,â€ says Joe, â€œbut itâ€™s a dull story really â€˜cause having Louis here is just like having another member of the band yâ€™know. Weâ€™ve got nothing else to compare it with.â€
Milburn formed two years ago. It was their first serious attempt at a band and they had only a handful of gigs under their belt before labels started showing interest. Louis remembers the exact moment when it seemed to all come together. â€œThat were weird the first time we heard ourselves on the radio. Zane Lowe were playing us,â€ he says. The track in question was Mayâ€™s Lipstick Lickinâ€™, a psychedelic romp of a debut single that, as the title suggests, reeks of pubescence and teenage desire. â€œBefore then we didnâ€™t have any recognition but you get some and your expectations and aspirations go higher,â€ Louis adds.
â€œWe were on Zane Loweâ€™s radio competition but we didnâ€™t know we were gonna be on there,â€ Louis says. â€œEveryone was sat in the studio rehearsing and we put radio on and chilled out for five minutes and Lipstick Lickinâ€™ came on. We were bouncing around the room, we couldnâ€™t believe it.â€ Milburn then got a call from Arctic Monkeys telling them to switch the radio on.
But ask Milburn how it felt to play the Apollo in London two nights previous and itâ€™s all taken in their stride. â€œIt was definitely a stepping stone for us,â€ says Joe. â€œIt was one of the first times we felt like we were a real band. All this Yorkshire and Sheffield stuff is quite humble, nobodyâ€™s shouting their mouths off. Itâ€™s a big tour and weâ€™re getting to see a lot of people and starting to think yeah, weâ€™re alright.â€ Said with what is probably characteristic understatement, Milburn can afford to be more generous and say theyâ€™re a damn sight better than most bands tipped to be The Next Big Thing in the more idiotic quarters of the music press.
Milburn prefer to wear their influences on their sleeves rather than their hearts. But seemingly every young English band with a modicum of attitude gets saddled with â€˜The New Libertinesâ€™ status. Milburn donâ€™t sound like The Libertines, but their charisma and style has rubbed off on them. â€œYou canâ€™t deny it,â€ says Joe. â€œA lot of lazy journalists have been saying every four-piece band thatâ€™s English is the new Libertines. Itâ€™s a load of bollocks but then again we canâ€™t deny that us and Arctic Monkeys or whoever else you wanna pick on has been inspired by them.â€
â€œWeâ€™re not too young to be cynical about stuff,â€ says Joe. His eighteen years on the planet have prepared him for the worst case scenarios of a career in music. â€œMaybe weâ€™re more cynical in the north anyway,â€ he adds. â€œIt might be a bad thing â€˜cause I can sense with us lot and Arctic Monkeys that itâ€™s not about massive ambitions. Maybe itâ€™s a cultural thing, we do this â€˜cause we wanna make a living out of it. Southerners think bigger, which is good, but weâ€™ve never been naÃ¯ve.â€
The tour manager is standing at the door. Milburn have misplaced the keys to the van. Louis turns to Gigwise and whispers, â€œWeâ€™ve lost the van keys and now weâ€™re gonna get a fookin bollocking.â€ With Milburn now assembled in the dressing room, nobodyâ€™s accepting responsibility for being locked out and the conversation drifts to other bands. â€œRicky Wilson of The Kaiser Chiefs is a fucking prickâ€ someone says from behind a sofa, before adding, â€œThe Gigwise readerâ€™s need to know that.â€ With an NME club tour coming up in November, Milburn should probably keep such opinions to themselves for a little while yet.
Joe says that we can expect a Milburn album some time next year but adds that their sound is changing all the time and theyâ€™re still finding their way. â€œAll you wanna do is release the best album you can. I wouldnâ€™t want to release an album just so I could better it. I want it to be the best we can do and if we top it then thatâ€™s fantastic. You gotta aim high I suppose,â€ he says taking a swig from a beer can. He neednâ€™t worry, right now Milburn are absolutely flying.
Fibbers, York - November 1
Warehouse, Leeds - 2
Stealth, Nottingham - 3
Academy 2, Liverpool - 4
School Of Art, Glasgow - 5
The Empire, Middlesbrough - 7
The Medicine Bar, Birmingham - 8
Barfly, Camden - 11
The Underground, Stoke - 12
Cub Academy, Manchester - 14