Averaging an age of just 18 (17 when they wrote and recorded Equal Measures in 2014, with former Bring Me The Horizon / now All Time Low sound guy Phil Gornell), Milestones have meticulously constructed five songs that positively belie their young age and relative inexperience; Equal Measures is the glorious, compelling sound of raw, natural talent put to the test, tracks such as the title track and anthemic single ‘Nothing Left’ offering up simple but soaring melodies that tingle the nape of your neck and leave you totally hooked. Here the band describe the process of recording the offering…
What was special about the recording process?
Drew (Guitar): Watching riffs and ideas I had recorded on a demo at home become fully finished tracks in the studio, also writing this EP has been a massive learning curve for me personally, understanding how to work with the rest of the band and Phil Gornell.
Matt (Vocals): Phil has an amazing track record in working with bands. He’s worked with the likes of Bring Me The Horizon, Me VS Hero, While She Sleeps etc and is the current sound guy for All Time Low. I recall especially that we loved the drums in his mixes, the power that seemed to come out, really appealed to us.
Mark (Bass): The time we spent in the studio as a band meant a hell of a lot to me. I feel like it brought us closer as a unit and taught us a lot about each other, in terms of each other’s personalities. It was a break for us all, to go and do something that we love doing.
How did the writing process work?
Drew: I will write the skeletal structure and initial ideas for the track, deciding the vibe, influence and general sound that I want the song to have. Once I have a demo that I’m happy with, the rest of the band get to hear it and give their opinions and suggest improvements for how they may want certain parts of the track changing. Some songs stayed very similar to how I originally wrote them, others completely changed based on the input and ideas of the band. After everyone in the band was happy with all of the songs we entered the recording process with Phil.
Andy (Drums): I worked closely with Drew in the pre-production/demo stage for this record. We have been writing together for a few years now and we had always wanted to write an EP like this. So when it came down to having the opportunity to do it, we already had a mutual agreement of the approach we both wanted to take and especially for the overall sound and direction of the band. I think a trust starts to develop in the band during the writing process and this was no different, the band really flourished during the months it took to write.
What made the EP sound the way it does?
Drew: The fact that we didn’t just take obvious influences from our genre for writing the music, we wanted something that appealed to the alternative scene but had some variety about it to make it a signature Milestones record.
Mark: The EP turned so much better than I ever could have expected, it was such a surreal experience listening to it in full for the first time, it’s something that myself and the rest of the guys are extremely proud of.
What effect did being in the studio have on you and the EP?
Drew: We were able to execute our songs to their full potential in a professional environment and as I mentioned earlier, I learnt so much through the recording process of this EP for writing music. For example knowing to add and take certain elements away from songs to improve how they sound.
Andy: I think being in session at Steel City Studios is one of the best things I’ve ever done. Not only because of the people involved in the project, but I felt like the whole approach and philosophy behind the recording process, especially the drums, was a very open one. We experimented with some different drum sounds and different microphone placements. I personally love how focused the drum sound is on the EP and this was something we were all going for and we consciously chose to go with some ideas which are a little left of centre, which definitely added to the finished product.
How did tracking the EP go?
Matt: Some days in particular were very enjoyable but being in the studio is both exhausting and exciting at the same time. I have some brilliant memories of Steel City Studios and we really cannot wait to be back with Phil. I remember when I went to vocal track – the back end of December after Christmas – it was 6 inch snow and me and Phil agreed to meet at around 1. I arrived in Sheffield that morning and went to get my first tattoo, Phil was driving back from spending time with family so was miles away. I decided to go back to the studio after the tattoo at around 12. Take into account I just had my first tattoo, it was -1 degrees outside, I was ill and I didn’t have that many layers, Phil got stuck in horrible traffic and I ended up waiting in the cold until around 4/4:30. I remember I thought I was dying! Phil finally arriving and it felt like a horrible trick of my mind (like the opposite of a heat mirage). Either way he found me with my gloves on my feet, my hands wrapped in my scarf, my leg covered in blood, my coat round my legs and my entire body shaking. Ah, and then I tracked some more vocals for the EP.
What did you learn about everyone during the recording process?
Mark: I learnt how determined and driven to succeed we all were in the recording process of Equal Measures, we all smashed through our parts and wouldn’t stop until they were perfected and done. I feel like the recording process brought us a lot closer together as a band.
Andy: We all learnt how each one of us reacted when things weren’t going as well as they could. You can always tell what a person is like when they’re up against it and naturally being in a band you can encounter a lot of adversity, but for the most part we tracked it in a relatively stress free state. I think as well as learning things about the guys, I learned a lot about myself as a musician and picked up little things which I think are going to serve me well in the future.