Beck Song Reader Interviews: Milktooth

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Milktooth has got a bit of a leg up on the other bands performing at our Anniversary Show. First, they’ve already arranged and performed a song from Beck’s Song Reader as part of their “Stay Home America” cover series. Second, their arrangement was solid enough to get re-tweeted by the B-man himself. We got a chance to talk with Milktooth bassist Zac Stred, who confirmed that it’s “Volvo-safe” to say that “Eyes That Say I Love You” will be making an appearance at our Beck’s Song Reader 2-Year Anniversary Show, so if you simply can’t get enough of it (like me) be sure to join us at The Basement this Saturday at 9 PM.

1. Your website currently offers a free download for “Eyes That Say I Love You” from Beck’s song reader. Is it safe to say we can expect this to make an appearance at the Two-Year Anniversary Show?

Very safe… Volvo safe.

2. Covers seem to play a big part in what you guys do. Your ongoing video-series “Stay Home America” features covers ranging from French house artist Kavinsky to Mumford and Sons, and your cover of “Billie Jean” is your second most popular song on Spotify. Creatively, how do you approach covering songs?

I would actually take exception to saying its a big part of what we do.  What we do most is write, get on the road and play shows for people.  But it is fair to say that Stay Home America is a big part of our web content.  Each song has been a little bit different. Most of our cover arrangements, like our newest cover of Mumford & Sons, really deconstruct the originals.  We really love getting to play around with the arrangements and take them to unexpected places.  We have to like the bones of the song, and from there it’s just about how we decide to flesh it out.  

3. Your most recent EP “Wild Before Our Eyes” has drawn comparisons to such names as Arcade Fire, The Walkmen, and even Joshua Tree-era U2. How do you guys feel about these comparisons?

We definitely respect those bands.  As with all music-related comparisons, I’m not sure if that’s extremely flattering or just kinda, ya know, not. I don’t see us as a “genre” band in the way that some people are “garage” or “revival of such and such era.”  But neither are the bands you mentioned, so maybe that’s fair.  It would definitely be nice to play more stadiums though.

4. What was on your mind when recording the EP?

Thematically, a lot of the album does revolve around being apart from the one you love and maintaining those bonds when you’re apart. Between the initial writing and final master of Wild, each of us got married, so that probably shaped the album’s lyrics more than anything.

5. You guys are currently touring in support of “Wild Before Our Eyes.” What have been your favorite stops on the tour?

One place where we’ve been really well received this year is Milwaukee. The first show we played up there supporting Wild was a house show in a basement, and the mic stands were gerry-rigged on parking cones.  Needless to say, there wasn’t a brilliant PA, but all “professional gear, professional attitude” stuff really has nothing to do with playing shows and entertaining people.  So we just did our thing.  The next trip up we played a traditional venue, and the local paper gave us a glowing critic’s pick. Basically the options they were promoting for that weekend were to see us or go see Nick Offerman (aka Ron Swanson) do stand-up. For a band without much in the way of a business team (i.e. management, lawyer, publicist), it’s really satisfying to know that just playing good shows can still create some resonance. 

6. What can we expect to hear from Milktooth in the near future?

This band is about three years old now.  We have two EPs out and we’re just starting to feel the wheels grip the road a little bit.  We’ve been getting the writing bug of late, and so this seems like a good time to start writing for a full-length. In an ideal world, that album will be exceptionally well received, people will call us an overnight success, and someone will start a “Who the fuck is Milktooth?” tumblr.

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