ABOVE: MILO GREENE. PHOTO COURTESY OF HARTMANN HARRIS
The Milo Greene you used to know no longer exists. In its place is a sensual, darker, and dreamier version of the California pop quartet. Andrew Heringer, Robbie Arnett, Marlana Sheetz, and Graham Fink are approaching the release of their sophomore record Control, a record that showcases each of the band members’ talents for singing and songwriting. Control is the first release since Milo’s debut record back in 2012, which was best known for its folk-y melodies and ethereal vocals. The new LP is danceable and based in synth-pop—a moodier vibe might that be in part due to working with producer Jesse Shatkin (Sia, Foster The People, Ellie Goulding).
Milo Greene recently released their first single “White Lies,” a catchy, rhythmic gem that flaunts new grooves, and we’re excited to premiere the EXROYALE remix of “White Lies,” which adds a little more funk and flair to the original version.
We also spoke with Milo Greene about lost love, the return of Twin Peaks, and their departure from folk-pop.
IANA KAPLAN: It’s been a little while since your first record came out. Your sound this time around is pretty different. How do you think people will react to the more synth-pop driven sound?
GRAHAM FINK: I think positively. I think when you make a change to your sound, you anticipate that people will have varying reactions. So far, it’s been overwhelmingly positive. We’re doing something different while harnessing a lot of what makes us unique, which is the four of us as singers and writers. We’re just utilizing new soundscapes and new percussive bases for the new album.
KAPLAN: Why did you guys go in this direction as opposed to the folkier way you guys went with your debut?
MARLANA SHEETZ: I think the songwriting is still the same. We’ve always written pop songs—it’s the production around it has changed a little bit. If you listen to our old songs, the structures, the melodies, and everything is pop-formulaic. That hasn’t changed much. It’s more up-tempo.
KAPLAN: What I’ve been hearing is, “who is Milo Greene?” Who is he? What’s the story behind the name?
ANDREW HERINGER: When we started off playing some gigs, we created a soulful persona for ourselves to make us seem more professional. It started off as a joke, but we actually did get gigs under this name. When we started writing music together, it was a joke from back in college that we kind of kept running. It just always stuck.
KAPLAN: Is there a theme that goes throughout Control?
SHEETZ: We spent a lot of time working on the record as individuals and then coming together and working on them after the fact. It was more individually at our homes and personal studios with our ideas. Then bringing those ideas to everybody. Then we’d come together and flesh them out. That was the theme of the record. I don’t know. What do you guys think?
ROBBIE ARNETT: Lyrically, there’s a theme of this underlying, bittersweet, and lost-love relationship. We transposed that—as Marlana was saying—over more danceable pop music. That juxtaposition is something that is a little bit similar to our first record in a way where we used the contrast between lyrical themes and the music itself to play off one another.
KAPLAN: Did those relationships happen to you in-between records?
ARNETT: Yeah, definitely. It’s something a lot of us have been processing and dealing with. We were touring on our first record for two-and-a-half years. We finally came home we had a year to write, record, and get back to our regular routines. This record came out of that year; as well as coming out of where we were after a solid three years full-steam ahead on the road. We were figuring out where we were in our twenties after three years went by.
KAPLAN: Your first single off of the record is “White Lies.” Can you tell me about how you conceptualized the track?
SHEETZ: We started it—like most of the songs on this new record—with a groove and drumbeats. I started the song using a super cheesy drumbeat from an old keyboard I had, and wrote on top of it. We all helped flesh it out and made it into the banger that it is.
KAPLAN: Which bands and musicians influenced your new sound the most?
FINK: We answered this last night and Robbie said something like Nine Inch Nails and Trent Reznor, I said David Bowie, and Marlana said Gloria Estefan.
HERINGER: I think I would change mine today and would say David Byrne from Talking Heads.
FINK: There you go.
ARNETT: I might also change mine to Prince.
FINK: I feel like we’re a little bit less eclectic now, but that’s okay. [laughs] I think that sums up this record pretty well: Prince, Talking Heads, David Bowie and Gloria Estefan. I think those four bands’ influences went into this record.
ARNETT: I would also love to hang out with David Lynch. It would depend on what kind of food we would be eating and where we would be going.
SHEETZ: That wasn’t the question. [laughs]
ARNETT: Oh my god! I’m so sorry.
KAPLAN: Well, on that note, what do you guys think about the return of Twin Peaks?
ARNETT: I’m so excited about that. My cousins are the biggest Twin Peaks fans. My cousinsjust told me that Twin Peaks coming back is more exciting than the birth of his son. That will tell you how much of a fan he is. I’m really excited. I share his excitement.
KAPLAN: Do you guys have a song from the new record that would be fitting for a Twin Peaks soundtrack?
ARNETT: We have a song called “Royal Blue” or maybe “Parents’ House” that I think could be fitting. There’s some moody stuff that could be David Lynch-esque. He’s so bizarre with his music—sometime it’s so moody and so cheesy that it’s really fitting. I would absolutely die if David Lynch used a song from us.
KAPLAN: Do you guys have personal favorite songs from the new record?
ARNETT: I really love “Parents’ House” because of the mood, lyric content, and the overall emotional depth it provides for the record. I like “Lonely Eyes” because it has a very lush vocal arrangement, but also very rhythmic and keeps you moving. It’s the lush groove, which I love. I love the whole album.
KAPLAN: Now that your sound has developed in a different direction, who would you ideally like to tour with?
ARNETT: I don’t know. I’d have to think about that.
HERINGER: I think any of the bands we talked about earlier: David Bowie, Prince, or Talking Heads. That would be pretty epic.
FINK: Those are probably going to be easy tours for us to get too, so we’ll be in good shape. [laughs]
HERINGER: Hey, I’m dreaming here.
MILO GREENE’S SOPHOMORE RECORD CONTROL IS DUE JANUARY 27, 2015. THE BAND WILL PLAY ALONGSIDE BOMBAY BICYCLE CLUB AT TERMINAL 5 ON OCTOBER 22.