“That bird did get me,” sighs Milk Teeth guitarist Chris Webb just hours before a show supporting his childhood heroes Refused. “I’ve got shit on my arm.”
It’s indicative of the calamity that surrounds everything Milk Teeth do. A bunch of self-proclaimed “kids” from the small market town of Stroud let loose on the big wide world, they’re never far from the next daft incident. From vocalist and bassist Becky Blomfield getting “zinged” by a dodgily wired-up microphone to Chris falling down a flight of stairs mid-set, right into the waiting arms of tour buddy Frank Iero, it’s a wonder any of them have made it this far.
Of the whole bunch, it’s drummer Oli Holbrook who’s undoubtedly the most patched-together. He gleefully points to various places on his head where he’s inflicted self-injury: “I smashed my face in Brighton on the Frank Carter tour, that was funny.” On another occasion, he managed to bust his own nose open while trying to carry a hi-hat stand off stage. Pointing between his eyes to the exact point the cymbals left a lasting scar, he quickly remembers accident number three. “We found out the other day that I hit myself too hard in Austria and I had a tiny little fracture on the top of my jaw, there,” he says, poking the side of his face with a grin. Only a slight one, mind – as a result of his over-excited punching of his own head during shows (don’t ask), he can’t fully close his mouth anymore. “We’re going to make him wear a helmet!” Chris laughs.
“If only one person likes it at a show, then you’re still winning.”
Amidst all this blood-soaked chaos, they’ve racked up some serious road miles. Barely off the tarmac for nearing a year, Milk Teeth have relished the challenge of the selection box of bands they’ve shared stages with. From the aforementioned Franks Iero and Carter, through Jaws, Title Fight, and their swiftly approaching “massive” dates with shiny pop-rockers Tonight Alive, no two billings have been the same. “We kind of like that,” Chris admits. “I think if you just play to the same people, you’re never gonna grow, y’know? If only one person likes it at a show, then you’re still winning.”
“We’re like Marmite on those tours,” says Oli. “Some people get really into it and some people just despise us.” Not that he pays any notice to the detractors: “Its funny watching people cringe when you play really loudly – I take a lot of pleasure in that.”
“It’s cool,” Becky agrees. “‘Cause we’re not really niche, as such. I’d say we’ve got a lot of influences that are brought together in our music, but it crosses over into a lot of different fanbases. I like playing to different people.” With that Refused show just hours away, they’re approaching their biggest crowd yet. “No pressure!” she laughs.
“You need to get out of your mum’s basement and do some stuff.”
For ex-vocalist Josh Bannister though, the pressure point had been reached - just a couple of days after the show, he revealed to the band that he’d be leaving. “We weren’t surprised when he told us,” Chris admits a few weeks later. “The whole atmosphere felt a bit weird and you could tell that he wasn’t into it as much. It is like a fresh start, and it’s weird but good timing. It’s a new year, the album comes out, we’re doing a lot more tours. In a weird way, this is a good place to start fresh again.”
One listen to Milk Teeth’s debut album ‘Vile Child’ should be evidence enough of their staying power. An intoxicating, swirling mix of the 90s grunge the band grew up on and a soul-baring lyrical honesty, it’s a first full-length that’s already taking them to pastures new. “It was really exciting when we first went over to Europe, so to finally go even further afield, to America, is insane,” Becky marvels. “That’s a long flight,” Chris suddenly realises, “…gonna watch The Avengers like four times!” Oli’s not quite so keen, mind: “I haven’t flown without my mum and I’m pretty scared.” Chris cracks up – “Your mum’s not the pilot!”
“I’m not very good at travelling,” Oli admits. “Which sounds really stupid, being in a band. I get travel-sick really easily so I have to lie down a lot of the time.”
“One guy said to drink bleach and then jump in a wood-chipper. If you comment on a YouTube video, you’re probably a weirdo.”
Despite that, they’re all keen to get back on the road – if only to stop themselves checking the YouTube comments that their ‘Brickwork’ video’s amassing. As it turns out, the mostly pop-punk fans that their label Hopeless attracts weren’t quite ready for the scuzzier side of life. “One was like, ‘I want to drown you in acid’ or something…” shrugs Oli. “One guy said to drink bleach and then jump in a wood-chipper,” recalls Chris, cracking up once more. “If you comment on a YouTube video, you’re probably a weirdo.”
“You need to get out of your mum’s basement and do some stuff,” Oli says with a smile, before Chris sums up the whole debacle – and, indeed, Milk Teeth’s every batshit move to date - with an ethos the three of them could carve in stone: “Standing out’s not necessarily a bad thing.”
Photos: Emma Swann. Milk Teeth’s debut album ‘Vile Child’ is out now via Hopeless Records.
Taken from the February 2016 issue of DIY, out now. Grab a copy below.