Matt Jacobson interviews Ollie Hawes and Nico Hercules from Milo Seabird about their new Ep, I Lie Low, their influences and recording with Si Jones from The Verve.
What was the initial connection between you all, similar influences, or a desire to form a band?
Ollie – I was looking for a collaborator, I saw Nico’s previous band , Lumin Bells, sometime around 2015 and I was impressed. I contacted Nico on Facebook in 2018 to see if he was up for working together and he responded straight away.
The name, Milo Seabird, where does it stem from.?
Ollie – Nico came up with it and I couldn’t think of anything better. It doesn’t have a meaning, it just sounds good!
How do you write songs, is it a combined approach, or worked on separately and merged together in the studio?
Ollie – Nico’s had a lot of songs from before we met plus we’ve co-written a few. I’ll usually start with a chord progression and a vague melody and I’ll play it over and over. While Nico ad libs some words which then inspires me to come up with lines.
Your influences include; Sparklehorse, Johnny Marr and Teenage Fanclub. What is it about them that influence you?
Melody and melancholy feel…. I think our influences are more songwriters than performers, or rock stars.
Are you constantly thinking about writing songs, or is it more mechanical and you think, it’s now time to write a song?
Nico – I think you get bursts of really wanting to write. Sometimes you’re completely obsessed with writing and you sort of get the bug for it and all you want to do is write. It can be all you think about. Other times it feels like the tank’s empty and you can’t even muster the energy to pick up a guitar!
How would you describe your music, or sound?
Uplifting melodic music with moody undertones. That’s how Wez describes us on our instagram page anyway!
The Ep, I Lie Low is collaboration between songwriters, `could you expand on the song itself and the EP?
Nico – For I Lie Low , Ollie had this great riff that we were sort of jamming over in my front room. He was plugged into the amp and I just started singing the melody over it. I Lie Low just came out. I went off to work on the lyrics and he went off to work on the arrangement. I was going through a rough time around then, so I was writing about that. I don’t think I could write anything like that now, I’m not so miserable these days!
Tides & Time , was another song we worked on together. Ollie was playing this lovely little tune on my acoustic at mine and I remember asking him what it was?. I think he kind of shrugged and said it was just something he had. Anyway, after he left, it stuck in my head and I wasn’t sure whether he had any melody or lyrics, but I loved it so much that I wanted to get involved. So, I just started writing a song around it. I think I had a couple verses before asking if he’d mind if I tried to come up with something for it. Thankfully he didn’t. We finished it off a couple of weeks later, working on the chorus together between takes while recording it at the Motor Museum. That’s one of my favourites.
Somehow the Same, was written quickly. I had this little picking riff and then the lyric came as I sang over it. I went over it a couple of times and it was done. A stream of consciousness I think they call it…
Can’t Blame Me, was written like this too. Sometimes songs come quickly and it’s a bit of a mystery how that happens, but other times they’re a bit like trying to solve a puzzle and you must persevere to make them work.
Gone Too Soon, was written after a bottle of wine or two. I wouldn’t have ever remembered it if I hadn’t recorded it on my phone. I was going through my recordings a couple of days later and was surprised to find it. I changed a couple of the words but it’s pretty close to the drunken original.
I believe you recorded with Si Jones from the Verve, how did that come about, and did you learn anything from his experience?
Ollie – I discovered he was working at a studio near Chester. We’re all big Verve fans so I contacted the studio owner and a short while later I got a call from Si. He liked the songs I sent over to him so he agreed to record us. He’s dead enthusiastic and seemed into what we were doing.
Nico – We recorded it at Faktory – this great recording studio out in the sticks somewhere in Cheshire. It was this big old house with gear and equipment all over the place, cables and amps everywhere. We were all set up in different rooms. I was in the back room on my own with the acoustic and a mic. Wez was in the front room on the drums opposite Jamie and Ollie across the hall. And I think Dave was in the toilet as it was the only place left with any room for the bass amp. We got a great sound in there though, we played a few live takes and we got it on take 5, I think. There was a great vibe in there. We were all on it that day – it was ace.
And what is next for Milo Seabird?
Milo Seabird EP Launch
Ollie – And hopefully another EP. Nico go’s some new tunes and we’ve co-written another one. Classics all of them…!