It’s been a wild year for Milo Greene. Since hitting the road with The Civil Wars in 2011, the Los Angeles folk collective has blossomed from relative unknown to one of the music industry’s most promising young acts. Formed in 2010 by Robbie Arnett, Graham Fink, Marlana Sheetz, Andrew Heringer, and Curtis Marrero, Milo Greene has made a name for themselves by way of their stunning four-part harmonies and relative lack of a lead singer. In addition to sharing vocal duties, the band’s songwriting and live shows benefit from the ambidextrous nature of its players. When I caught the act last year at the Lobero Theatre, they were jockeying between instruments and stage positions at an almost unfathomable rate, each member just as capable of holding down a note as wielding a guitar.
This summer, following loads of touring — and a substantial amount of hype —the band released their self-titled debut. Like their live show, Milo Greene the album is a bittersweet mix of pretty harmonies and heartstring-tugging tales about love, life, and growing up. This Friday, November 30, Milo Greene returns to Santa Barbara for a headlining show at Velvet Jones. The appearance marks one of the band’s last shows of 2012. As such, I caught up with Fink to reflect on Milo Greene’s whirlwind year.
I feel like the album was a long time coming for you guys. How was it to finally put it out there for the world? It was amazing, and it was a relief. We’d been working on it for so long, and there was so much waiting time after we had finished it to allow for marketing to take place. It’s especially gratifying now that we’re touring behind it. The longer it’s out, the more people know the words. And we can feel more of a crowd response when the audience starts singing along and being familiar with these moments from the album. It makes the shows a lot more special.
The band presents a very united front onstage. Does that level of collaboration transfer to the songwriting? Yeah. The four of us [all except Marrero] are all songwriters. All the songs come from different places and any combination of us, but at the end of the day, we’re all putting our individual stamps on things. The songs get put through the wringer of all of us for quality control, to make sure that we love it and feel strongly about everything that we’re putting out. We acknowledged early on in the band that it was going to be a collective effort and that all of us had unique goals and things to offer. We try to remember that every time we spend six weeks in a van together. [Laughs.]
Are there places that the group looks to for inspiration? I think film is a big thing for all of us. We’re all movie people, and when we’re writing, that’s something that’s always in the front or back of our minds, the visual relationship that music can have.
After a year on the road, do you have any horror stories? Well, we almost drove off the Grand Canyon. Marlana tried to shake this giant dinosaur bug off of her hat. She tried to shake it out the window next to Curtis, who was driving, which was a very bad idea. It flew into his face, and the trailer was swerving back and forth. Luckily he leveled it out before we went completely off the road, but it was a terrifying minute.
Is touring still a romantic experience? Oh, absolutely. It’s draining for sure, and there’s a lot of it that’s not very luxurious, but there’s also the time when you get to go onstage and play for however many people. When you look out, and some girl is singing to the point where you can hear her voice over your own, it’s a pretty cool feeling. And I’m pretty sure that part never gets old.
Milo Greene plays Velvet Jones (423 State St.) with opener White Arrows on Friday, November 30, at 8 p.m. Call 965-8676 or visit clubmercy.com for info.