Interview: Hot Milk

Words by Maddy Howell

Born as an escape from the drizzly Manchester monotony, Hot Milk fuse lamenting, but honest, words with joyous chords in a refreshingly energising way. Taking the scene by storm with their vibrantly fun brand of emo power-pop, this Manchester quartet have been unstoppable from the word go. Formed in late 2018, the four-piece already have an impressive run of tours in their diaries, having supported the likes of You Me At Six, Enter Shikari and Deaf Havana.

With their latest single, Take Your Jacket, propelling them to success and a debut EP quickly on the way, we sat down with Jim and Han to talk about the band's swift rise to success, wine-fuelled moments of genius, and being hand-picked by Dave Grohl.

Burn After Writing: What sparked the decision to form Hot Milk at the time you did?

Jim Shaw: We were at a point in our lives where we needed something else to live for and an outlet for the frustration we were feeling towards our current situation. Hot Milk formed because of our need to write songs to keep going, we find it super cathartic. I guess you can say Hot Milk is our therapy.

BAW: Your first tour as a band was supporting You Me At Six in Europe, at a time when you had no music released. How were those shows as a live debut?

Han Mee: By this point, we’d been a band for over a year behind closed doors. We were so raring to go and show the world what we could do. The shows for us were an amazing creative release and justification that quitting our jobs and chasing our dreams was the right decision.

BAW: Your latest single Take Your Jacket has taken the alternative scene by storm since it was released in March. Can you tell us a little bit about the story of that track and the writing process?

JS: This was the song that created Hot Milk. I think we’d both had a shitty day at work so decided to buy a couple of bottles of wine on the way home. After the first bottle, I picked up the guitar and started messing around with some chords. Han showed me some lyrics she’d been working on and within 25 minutes we’d fleshed out the entire song. The overall story behind the track is more based around a feeling rather than an explicit narrative. Essentially it’s telling someone to fuck off, but with a smile.

BAW: Your debut EP, ‘Are You Feeling Alive?’, is released next week. What can you tell us about the themes you explore through the other tracks?

HM: For us, this whole EP is almost like a diary entry. Each song signifies a step by step process about a realisation of our lives at the time it was written. We touch upon mental health, feeling both distant and present from reality, unkind people in positions of power and self-betterment. 'Are You Feeling Alive?' is a modern frustration about being on the wrong path and realising your full potential.

BAW: Judging from your first two singles, you seem to have a pretty eclectic range of influences. Are there any artists who people may be surprised to know you are influenced by?

JS: Yeah totally, we listen to absolutely everything. Awful Ever After was heavily influenced by Architects and The 1975. Jon Hopkins, Sigrid, Tom Misch, The Chainsmokers, Rise Against to name but a few all get thrown into the mix!

BAW: This EP is being self-released. Was this a conscious decision and is there a reason why you haven’t opted to go down the label route?

HM: We always wanted to self release our first record as it’s a lot more intimate and personal. We also have a strong sense of how we want to grow our band at this stage and we didn’t want labels getting involved and pushing their ethos on our music.

BAW: You’re going to be appearing at this year’s Reading and Leeds Festivals over the summer, a real bucket list item for every band. What can fans expect from your sets?

JS: We always try to put as much energy into our sets as possible. You can expect profuse sweating from me, Han jumping off everything and big smiles. We want our tent to be the funnest place in the whole festival in that moment.

BAW: You’re also going to be on the road with Foo Fighters later this summer, which is a momentous achievement, especially for an upcoming band. How did those shows come about?

HM: Davey boy heard our tunes and asked if we wanted to play, which we obviously had to think long and hard about… We are so unbelievably excited to prance about a big stage with our mates.

BAW: Coming from Manchester, a city rich with musical history, what local bands are you enjoying at the moment?

JS: The latest Boston Manor album rips. That’s been on repeat for a while. Big fans of Pale Waves and Blossoms too.

BAW: Once the EP is released and these massive shows are wrapped up, what comes next for Hot Milk?

HM: We want to stay as busy as possible, play loads of shows, maybe a cheeky headliner at the end of the year, write more songs and make more friends.