Michael Sims sat down with Milo’s Planes, one of Bristol's most consistently interesting bands, having just launched Individual Development Plan, a blistering post-hardcore record. On this, the band’s third album, the songs are more complex and move gracefully, aggressively kicking down any door they feel like. Drawing on their influences, bands like Fugazi and Gang of Four, they play with confidence. The record was made with a refreshingly simple attitude. No overblown ideas or ego-fuelled pretensions. Doing it just because.
The band formed by brothers Joe (Guitar and Vocals) & Harry Sherrin (Drums and Vocals), with Sam Green (Drums), and Charlie Horne (Bass) sat down to discuss the new record...
What’s the punk scene like in Bristol?
Joe: There is a scene in Bristol, it’s not necessarily punk though. Lot’s of our friends are in bands in Bristol. We’ve played literally anywhere. We’ve played the Stag & Hound a lot, it’s where we did our last album launch. It’s closing down now. We haven’t got one booked but loads of people are doing a last minute farewell gig to the Stag & Hound…but most of the time these guys [the rest of the band] are away.
How does your rehearsal schedule work with most of the band being away?
Joe: Quite often we don’t rehearse before a gig. If it’s a good gig we’ll book it and then they’ll all come down and we’ll just do it, without a practice, which is usually fine.
Harry: We’re doing them relatively often, so we know the songs.
Joe: Cause we’ve been doing the same set for a while, the same songs, we know them quite well.
What’s does the songwriting process look like?
Joe: Usually I write them before, bring them to practice, then we work on them. It was a bit more collaborative, I think, this last one. We’d have ideas or have little jams and work out stuff from there.
Harry: The big section was just a jam wasn’t it.
Joe: Yeah, but prior to that I would write them.
Harry: Normally it’s Joe and sometimes things just come out of it when we’re playing.
Joe: I think for the next one I’d rather do more of a collaborative thing.
Do you have an idea of what you want your sound to develop into?
Joe: Quite dubby I think. I’ve just got a baritone guitar so I’d like to do a sort of double bass kind of thing. Double bass, double drums. Intertwining drums and intertwining bass lines. We’ve started incorporating more dub sections into the songs off the new album as we’re playing live to keep them interesting, and also to make them flow between each other.
What influences are you drawing on?
Joe: Fugazi mainly. Maybe too obviously Fugazi. And lots of the post-hardcore stuff like Drive Like Jehu.
Harry: There’s a little bit of Gang of Four.
Joe: And also lots of emo, Cap’n Jazz and lots of stuff like Pavement, Modest Mouse.
Where does the name Milo’s Planes come from?
Joe: It’s from Catch 22 by Joseph Heller. There’s a guy called Milo and he’s got a fleet of planes.
You can keep it enigmatic if you want?
Joe: I wrote a song called Milo’s Planes while I was reading Catch 22 which was when I was trying to come up with a name for the project. At the time it was just me recording stuff on my own, and I used that because I couldn’t think of anything else.
Since then you have brought in the rest of the band, how has adding new members changed the band and the way you play live?
Joe: We’re a bit more intense. A bit louder. A bit heavier now. And it looks quite impressive, I think, with the double drums going.
Harry: We are quite impressive [Laughs]. Yeah I mean Charlie’s legs are quite a spectacle in themselves. He’s got an excellent power stance.
Do you focus on the performance, is that a thing that you think of, putting on a show?
Joe: No, probably not.
Sam: We’re not kiss.
Harry: That could work though. Go on stick out your tongue a bit and then we’re as good as gold.
Joe: I think I’ve got the tongue thing down already.
Harry: Yeah you have been doing this a bit. [Sticks tongue out as if concentrating on playing]
Joe: Do I do that?
Charlie: I’ve got a photo, it’s on my phone.
Joe: Do I do that?
Charlie: You kind of go? [Sticks tongue out again]
Joe: I mean that does look good. Yeah? No? Better than your fucking legs. [Laughter]
Individual Development Plan is finished, when is it being released and what was the inspiration behind it?
Joe: Next month, not sure when, but next month [It’s out now]. The title Individual Development Plan comes from when I used to work in a bank, in a big office bank, and you have to do these performance reviews every year and they’re called individual development plans. We’d have to fill them out to mark our progress and say I wanna be here in so many years or these are my goals and this is what I can improve. Just ridiculous little forms to fill out. I wrote the rest of the lyrics while I was working at that job, so it was really sort of mundane and bureaucratic and boring. Lots of the lyrics are about that. It’s about mundane stuff.
How long did it take to make the record?
Harry: Not long really. We had been playing them for a while before we recorded them.
Joe: I think Delivering Business Success came out in August, but as it was being released we were already recording this one. I think because it took ages from recording Delivering Business Success to releasing it, by the time it was released we had already recorded this new album. I think that some of them are like old songs in a way that we’ve redone. It probably took about a year.
How important is it to capture the sound you have when playing live?
Joe: Yeah, I think he’s done quite well [Matt Sampson of Bink Bonk studios Bristol] capturing our live sound. It is representative of our live show. We recorded it live with the vocals over the top.
How would you describe the band dynamic? How do you work together on and off stage?
Joe: Pretty well.
Harry: We all hate each other.
Charlie: Spots of fury.
Joe: Me and Harry know each other quite well. Since birth I guess.
Harry: 20 years.
Joe: Since your birth.
Sam: Yeah, before then it wasn’t quite as easy.
Joe: You were just a sperm.
Harry: I probably wasn’t.
Joe: You were just an inkling. Just a thought.
Sam: Just some carbon.
Joe: God, you piece of carbon. You pathetic piece of carbon.
Harry: Yeah, we do alright.
Joe: Largely we don’t see each other, which is good, I think. We don’t practice very much, if ever, because Charlie is in Falmouth, Harry is in Manchester and Sam is in Brighton. I live in Bristol still, but we only really get together when we have a gig or if during the holidays like this, when we can actually practice, but it keeps the songs interesting. When we were all still here and doing Delivering Business Success we were playing the songs every week and we were sick of them.
Did you find that it grew harder to recreate that initial spark?
Harry: We started playing the new songs at that point.
Joe: Yeah definitely, and then we just played them. Our last album launch for our second album we only played, I think, two songs from the other album and then all the new songs. We quite frequently just play new songs. This is the first time we’ve released one when we haven’t already written or recorded the next album. I haven’t started writing it yet. I’ve got a couple of ideas.
Do you plan to move back to Bristol or be in the same place?
Sam: Yeah, I think after Uni. It just depends where we end up.
Joe: It works well though with them being away. In the summer holidays we will work on some new stuff.
Have you got any upcoming shows? What’s next for you guys?
Joe: Dot to Dot, we’re playing, on the 27th May at the Gryphon in Bristol.
Sam: And we’ve got a show in Brighton, I think.
What would you like to accomplish?
Joe: I don’t know.
Sam: Somebody to actually like us.
Joe: I’m quite happy just doing it.
Harry: It’s fun.
Joe: Yeah we’re not trying to do anything massive. I mean, obviously if someone wants to give us loads of money, we’ll take it.
Where can people find you online?
Joe: It’s coming out on Gravy Train Records. You can get it on our Bandcamp page but also you can buy it from Rough Trade and Rise have got it.
Check out Individual Development Plan wherever you get your music from, and check these guys out when they come to a town near you. Their raucous post-hardcore show is not to be missed.