Swooning guitar licks, groovy rhythms, mesmerizing vocals and five cool-looking front(wo)men is all you need to describe Milo Greene.
Last Friday, Milo Greene, a cinematic indie-pop band comprising of four show-stealing singers and a driving percussionist reunited at UC Irvine for its first-annual Summerlands Festival.
“It’s cool to kind of step back in time and reflect on the journey,” Andrew Heringer, one of four vocalists and instrumentalists of the band reflects.
As four of the five members’ alma mater, Andrew, Robbie Arnett and Marlana Sheetz all studied theater here.
“I had some theater classes that were pretty incredible,” Andrew says. One of his professors “really knew how to sculpt art that was interesting to people. I think no matter what you’re doing, whether it’s music or theater or whatever, [it’s about] making something that gets people’s attention.”
He continues, “That was what that class in particular taught me.”
Curtis Marrero, drummer and percussionist for the band, also studied music here.
Marlana Sheetz, as the only girl in the band, jokes, “[Theater] is why I’m so obnoxious and I apologize.”
As one of the few bands that has really caught my attention and held it in the past years, I’m always in awe of their cinematic, atmospheric, driving and tension-filled performances. Interchangeably using egg-shakers, tambourines, drums and the constant bass and guitar, it’s hard to not have fun while watching these individuals.
When asked of how it feels being the only girl in the band, Marlana replies:
“Some days it’s awesome and some days it’s terrifying. It’s like a marriage with five people and you absolutely hate everybody to their core, but you love them at the same time.” She continues, “You share everything. You’re not just sharing your creativity and you’re not only compromising all the time with this person, but you also have to deal with their natural traits and behaviors.”
“The hygiene,” I mention.
“And hygiene’s huge!”
Andrew laughs and adds, “Imagine nine hours in a car together.”
As we go on to talk about old-memories at UCI and how their time was here, I go on to ask what made these NorCal natives decide they wanted to pursue music and if it was influenced by their time at UCI.
Marlana replies, “I left [UCI] after only going to this school for a year. I left so I could do music ’cause I felt like that was just what I needed to do.” She goes on, “It’s not for everybody … But I think for Andrew and Robbie, doing theater here all four years was incredible for them because, being a musician, you’re not just playing music up there. You’re putting on a show.”
“I could be doing [music] all the time, every day, and it’s something I knew since I was probably eleven years old,” Andrew adds. “I have a very clear memory of a moment where I was like, ‘I’m gonna do this my entire life.’ It’s like a relationship in my life, you know. It’s like a first love.”
When meeting each other, Andrew mentions that he and Robbie graduated in the same year, linking up with Curtis, Marlana and other vocalist and instrumentalist Graham Fink later on.
“Everybody was in their own bands [and] we all kind of did our own things and eventually linked up,” Marlana says.
As the band has continually been making a name for themselves since their start in 2010, Andrew mentions, “We had a pretty good little network of people who had followed us from before which was really nice–from our other bands. And I think that first tour with The Civil Wars was pretty incredible.”
“We didn’t even have an album out and it was just a crazy response,” adds Marlana.
Randomly side-chatting about music, Andrew having lived in Prado in Mesa Court (freshman dorms at UCI) while his girlfriend in Otero at the time (my hall), and Marlana mentioning, “You should be a P.R. You’re a friendly person,” the uncanny quirkiness and normalcy of the band was widely felt.
They had mentioned Graham was out parking the van while Robbie and Curtis had just left to spend some time at the school pub for beers.
“I think with our record we’re working on right now, we’re kind of hoping to find this middle-ground where it can still be us and a little bit weird and a little just like music we’re really proud of and could get to a lot more people,” Andrew mentions. “We’ve kind of found a bigger sonic landscape. Something that’s a bit more modern–”
“We’re not that weird though,” Marlana adds.
Having started writing for their new record in September of last year, the band is currently at the end-stages of production and are hoping for a Fall release as they tour alongside Bombay Bicycle Club. They worked with Chop Shop on their debut album and have currently moved to Atlantic Records.
“There’s definitely different sounds, it’s really uptempo,” Marlana says of the new record. “Hopefully danceable–that’s all I care about.”
She continues: “The vocals are similar and different at the same time. There’s a lot more clarity to them and everybody gets their turn when they’re singing instead of everybody singing at the same time. So you get to hear like Graham and then you get to hear Andrew and then you get to hear me and then you get to hear Robbie–and then you also get to hear all of us together at a time. So it’s a little bit different in that regard. And it’s just really rhythmic–we just wanted to make something that was kind of moving and rhythmic and I think that’s what we did and I’m really into it.”
Having been almost a year since last playing together as a band, Andrew mentions that it’s nice to be back together.
“It’s fun,” Marlana adds. “Ask me that after like ten more of these and I’ll be like, ‘Mommy! Mommy! I want to go home!'”
When asked if they have any pre-show rituals, Marlana mentions that they usually sing a “really dirty song” (in which they feel they need to retire).
As eclectic performers who really feel and often go into a trance-like possession, I ask them what their favorite thing about performing live is.
“I think it’s easy to forget that we released a CD that a lot of people are out there listening to, and you forget people have developed their own relationships with it and shared it with friends,” Andrew says. “When you get to go out and play shows you see that people have that relationship with your music and now it’s just this thing where it all comes together.”
“Every concert is so different [and] there’s just an energy to the whole thing,” he continues. “That I get a kick out of.”
Marlana mentions that she would have a totally different answer.
“I’ve always had this feeling that when I’m an audience member and I’m watching somebody else perform, I have this feeling like I need to do that. I need to get up there and do that.”
Guiltily agreeing that I often feel the same way–that being in the audience watching isn’t as nearly satisfying as being up there and playing–she adds, “It’s a totally natural feeling and [if] I’m not having the greatest day, I still know that what I’m doing is what I should be doing just because of that feeling I’m always assured of every time I’m an audience member.”
They mention the last time they were at UCI was at Wayzgoose a couple of years ago.
“It was actually just Marlana and Robbie and I and we did just a stripped-down Milo thing,” Andrew adds.
“It was bizarre. It was so weird,” Marlana says and laughs.
But, Andrew feels rather sentimental being back.
“It’s a trip to be here ’cause there was one year where Robbie and Curtis’ band won the Battle of the Bands and they got to play this kind of thing … We were back here and tripping out on all these rock stars,” he says. “It’s just funny to have it circle around.”
As they performed songs from their last album for the UCI-crowd, positive responses were all around.
“I was so glad everybody loved them,” Vivian Cheong, ASUCI Concerts Commissioner reflects. “Even the staff was like, ‘Oh my God, Milo Greene was great.'”
As the band’s quirky don’t-have-a-care-in-the-world sound engineer comes by asking if he had given them their money yet, Andrew and Marlana joke, “Gimme my money! Gimme my money, Daddy! Papi!”
Marlana says she needs a beer and asks me, “What are you gonna do? Wanna come grab a beer?”
As Robbie was oft seen grooving to his own beat and tossing Marlana’s shoe to the other corner, perhaps the one most important piece of information from this band was found prior to the interview even starting.
Having told Robbie to get her an Allagash and “don’t sip on it,” Marlana tells me, “He’s not gonna get me one of course. That’s the first thing you should know.”
These guys really have fun playing their instruments. And it shows. View my video compilation of their performance here:
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