When a band’s merchandise game comprise of bright orange yo-yos that risk pushing the boundaries within their record label, you know you’ve clearly got an outfit that’s confident, thrilling and unpredictable.
“We all have ideas and know our identity as a band well. We wouldn’t want to put something out that we didn’t like or wasn’t a good representation of us,” said Becky Blomfield, frontwoman and bassist of Gloucestershire punk band Milk Teeth, in an exclusive interview with Bandwagon.
With already two releases under their belt, a full-length was not far from reach for the esteemed UK act – and Vile Child is living proof that the buzz the group has garnered to date is absolutely deserved.
While the road towards the release of Vile Child wasn’t the rosiest, with vocalist/guitarist and founding member Josh Bannister stepping down just a couple of months ago, Blomfield added the parting is certainly not an obstacle. “Everything is a lot more positive for us since his departure. We were all (including Josh) very unhappy for a long time. It’s an exciting time for us as a band moving forward.”
Plumbing a wide scope of influences from records by bands like Sum 41, Green Day, Pixies and Nothing, Blomfield noted that the Stroud punk mavericks’ debut paints tunes of what she would coin as “self reflections of where I have been at certain points in my life and a way of moving forward from the illnesses in my past."
Meanwhile, for a band that has a sizeable social media following – evident from a copycat Twitter account – Milk Teeth stands for so much more when it comes to connecting with their fans.
“Social media has been a huge part of our way of communicating with fans since we formed Milk Teeth. I think fans like the intimacy of knowing the posts come from the source and not an assigned social media team. We don’t go out and set up photo-shoots or have any plan with what we post — it’s more of a fly on the wall type of thing so people can be involved with us through what we are getting up to as a band,“ said Blomfield.
However, such access has also presented its detriments. She added, “People have told me before some of the nasty stuff people have posted about myself and the band, as well as the slanderous accusations that have been thrown around. You have to roll with the punches a lot but the positive aspects of social media and fan connection outweigh the negatives by far.”
With Vile Child, the precise follow-up to their EPs Smiling Politely and Sad Sack, Blomfield and gang are no longer in their infancy but ready to serve the world with their dynamic and compelling blend of garage-punk sounds.
Stream the new album below and read Blomfield’s take on the entire album, track-by-track.
This was the first peek fans had into the Vile Child record through a music video. The video's concept had been planned for a while — we knew we wanted to do something fun with a green screen and planned it out while we were recording the album at the Ranch.
We are really comfortable working with Michael Dickinson who does all our music videos now which made the shoot easy and quick to do. The song has a big hooky chorus and dual vocals which has been a key feature of our songs since the band started. It wasn’t initially our first choice of song to be released off the record but ended up making sense before we went in with something "poppier" like 'Brain Food'.
I wrote the lyrics surrounding my own battles with eating disorders and struggling to find a release and break from that mind set. It’s a song about being controlled by something in your head which is masking the real you.
"I’m in debt to obsession, a chemical bore" reflects upon me being on my knees with tiredness of my daily life being focused on obsessive thoughts which I just wanted to let go of and ‘clear my debts’ so to speak.
The chemical bore line reflects the catch 22 of taking medication for mental health issues and it working but not knowing if you’re ever really yourself on it or just a watered down version, a bore.
As with all our songs, that’s what it meant to be. But if someone else interprets it in a way that’s relatable to them, then I am all for that adaptation to fit into something they feel, or are going through in their own life.
Chris came to me with the chord sequence and I immediately had a melody in mind. There was a set of lyrics I’d written a while back sat in my book which I felt would fit the soft and heavy aspects of the verse and chorus structure.
I was pretty pissed off and feeling frustrated with how women get a bad representation of themselves when acting in ways that we accept as "normal" behavior when acted out by the male gender.
I’m not pissed off at men, to me it’s just a song to vent how this person wasn’t going to hold me back because they were getting away with something that I consequently took some shit for. It’s about sex, lust and empowerment.
This song came to me when I was walking home after a coffee date with a friend. I was tired and slightly embarrassed that my friends were having to buy me a drink just so I wasn’t sat in my home bored with my lack of shifts and lack of shows at that point in time.
I’ve definitely seen a lot of people close to me struggling with holding down jobs and paying bills — consequently facing judgment from older generations and the mass media for not being able to move out and achieve independence so easily within the current financial climate.
Chris co-wrote the chorus with me and worked through the guitar parts until we had a finished song, I love writing with him as we are always on the same page. It’s a fun song — I was heavily inspired by Dookie-era green day and the lack of that sound in the current music scene, so this is my homage to Billie Joe, Mike and Tre in my own little way.
‘Swear Jar (again)’
So do the folks of Milk Teeth each have a swear jar of their own? Haha no, not in my own home. Don’t think the boys do either, our parents are pretty liberal but we all know our manners. Don’t be a jerk!
This song has been around as long as we have been a band. Josh wrote the words and presented it to me with more of a swing rhythm, which I didn’t hear in my head — to me, the melody and rhythm was slower and steadier. And between the two of us, we came up with the version on 'Smiling Politely'.
We wanted to re-record this for the album as it’s a really popular song with our fans and we wanted to do it justice by recording it in facilities of a higher spec than our college where we laid down the original.
‘Get a Clue’
Josh read a book called The Human Zoo which inspired the lyric set here. He wrote the riff as a joke in practice when we were jamming some heavier stuff. He didn’t like it but we told him it was cool and pursued it.
This song really highlights what a great drummer Oli is — those fills are so clean and tight!
Moon Wanderer was a collaborative effort between me and Josh. We wrote this when we wrote 'Sad Sack' so it had been knocking around for a while and we knew we wanted to save it for the album.
Josh had the verses already penned and I wrote the chorus lines. We fused the two together — his guitar riff alongside my vocal melody, and the song was born.
The last instrumental section was a lot of fun to write as it builds in sonic layers. Each of us got to write our own parts and draw together and vibe off each other as a band. That’s one of the best parts about being a musician.
'Kabuki' was written in my bedroom. It was initially a diary type entry I had turned into a song, written when I was heavily depressed and having thoughts in my head I couldn’t really cope with, so I wrote them out.
To me, the song is a milestone. At the time it was written I never thought I’d pull out of that place — I wanted everything to end. I just wanted the world to stop turning and now I’m out of it, I know that I’m a much stronger person.
I recorded a shitty phone recording on my acoustic and sent it over to the boys and asked them what they thought, but I hid a bunch of the lyrics from them. They really liked the vibe and told me to keep it as an acoustic interlude on Vile Child.
It was the last song we recorded and probably one of the most candid and honest things I’ve ever written. I was definitely reserved and unsure in it being released as a single, but I feel so much freer now that it is out in a public space. It’s dealt with — I can separate myself from that time and forgive myself in some ways for letting myself slip that far down.
I really hope that this song helps people in a similar situation, to know they aren’t alone and deter some of the stigma associated with mental health.
I wrote a bass riff in practice which isn’t actually the one on the record. It was really fast and jumpy on the same note structure, and we free jammed it until we had a song. Everyone was vibing and it became a collective piece.
Oli and myself really locked in on the verses with the bass and drum parts – I love when we do something with some groove. Lyrically it was a collaborative effort. Josh had a clear idea for the verses and I’d already written the chorus and my own verses but preferred his take. In the demos, he wanted it to be shouted over the verses, but with it being such a poppy and melody-driven song we decided against it and ended up with the version on the album.
Chris had written the riff for the chorus and verses we all really liked it – it was dark sounding and fluid with the sliding nature of the verse parts. We knew that we wanted the track to be harsh and soft, but where in the past we've had heavier choruses and softer verses, we would turn that on its head.
Josh and I penned lyrics for our parts and both wrote a part each for the end of the song. We liked both in the studio and they worked well together, being layered over each other. There is slide guitar on this track, which was something different for the album, and the tone is heavily reverberated.
Lyrically the song is about lost love and being taken advantage of in a romantic relationship — how that breaks you when someone is feeding off of your love, and how it makes you weaker in both their eyes and your own.
‘Cut You Up’
This was a song Oli and Josh wrote together and came to practice with, me and Chris loved the fast punk vibe. It’s such a fun song to play and gets us instantly excited. Oli gets to smash the shit out of his drum kit and it’s a song which I guess is similar to older tracks like 'Leanne' and 'Grease' – where we started out.
Josh came to us in practice with a guitar riff. I fleshed it out with bass harmony type parts around what he had written, this track really shows how versatile a drummer Oli is, and his capability to play and write softer drum parts.
We knew we wanted to end the record with something that sounded huge in a similar way to the ending we penned on ‘Trampoline’. We were inspired by the last track on Paramore’s most recent album and put our own spin on this influence.