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Day Jobs - Milk Music

We talked to the grungy Olympians about good old-fashioned weed farming.
August 1, 2012, 9:00pm

L-R: Joe (drums), Alex (vox/guitar), Charles (guitar), David (bass)

Milk Music is an Olympia-based band made up of four long-haired fellows who seemingly enjoy annihilating ear drums and pretty much destroying anything and everything in sight. Despite this facade, the members of Milk Music are actually really nice guys who are very in touch with nature (possibly because they are very in touch with drugs). In appropriate nature-loving, rock n' roll fashion, we had our conversation outside, under a steady downpour of rain—sans umbrellas, mind you—which didn't seem to bother these Washington natives at all. Unlike some Olympians I have encountered in the past, these guys really love their hometown, including all the crazies and freaks that live there. During our chat, we also talked about their day jobs, brotherly relationships, and why they feel like they belong in the wrong era of culture—which, after hearing their music, I totally get. Just listen to their album Beyond Living and you will understand, as the insane waves of nostalgia knock you out, that these guys have a knack for creating sounds that emulate long-forgotten cassette tapes from decades back.

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NOISEY: Tell me—what is Milk Music about?
Alex: We're about street, style, personality…
David: Making classic rock for the future.
Alex: Yeah, good songwriting. Being contemporary but, you know…

Do you feel like you're living in the wrong era of music?
David: I feel like we're in the wrong era, culturally, period.
Joe: I agree.
David: Like, there are so few good films and bands compared to, say, the 70s. People have short attention spans now and can't appreciate high art. It's a fucking mess out there.
Joe: Less people care about what they're doing.
Alex: It's just too easy for people. It's like a depression. They can't be interesting.
Charles: Uh, I'm happy to be here. I'm having a good time.

Oh, good!
We get to do what we want to do, whenever we want to do it.
Alex: Yeah, it just gets lonely, you know? Outsiders, artists.

What does the band name mean?
Not a whole lot [laughs].

Ha, OK. What are you guys doing besides music?
I'm still washing dishes and prep cooking just a couple days a week.
David: I'm a migrant farm laborer. I work in northern California on the marijuana harvest every year.

Do you like it? I interviewed a weed farmer for this column once and he absolutely hated it.
No, it's great. It's some of the last honest work you can get in America without filling out a job application.
Alex: And it's really pretty up there too. I was there last year and I'm going back this year.
David: You see the sun come up and go down every day. You get to be around beautiful plants.
Alex: And you don't look in the mirror for like two months.
Charles: That's pretty cool.
David: Yeah, it's pretty amazing.
Alex: It's good for the soul.

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Do you come back and not recognize yourself?
David: Not really. You lose a lot of your personality just being up there because it's so work-focused and you kind of do one thing most of the time, so it's weird getting to know yourself again when you get back.

It must be nice to disconnect from the world though.
Oh, totally.

What do the rest of you guys do?
Charles: I do what they do too, but I've been a cook before this and all sorts of stuff. I was a fish monger for a while, too.
Alex: I've built houses and have worked in record stores.
David: Yeah, I was a cabinet maker before the economy crashed. We did residential remodeling, so when everybody lost their jobs, they didn't have the money to remodel their shit.

What are the worst jobs you guys have had?
Charles: Every fucking job.
Joe: I've done restaurant work 'cause my mom was a waitress and my dad was a cook. Right now, I'm at my worst because I live in Olympia but work in Seattle. It's annoying as hell. I can't wait to quit that.
Alex: I kind of like work. I've never been fired from a job. I worked at the YMCA desk for a while and that was pretty boring.
Joe: We worked together on that.
Alex: I like to move at work, so that was the worst. Kids were great, though.

Alex, you and Joe are brothers, right?
Yup.

Do these two ever fight?
David: Very rarely.
Joe: It's more getting on each other's nerves and bickering. Total bullshit, nothing serious.
Alex: We arch our backs for a second.

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What's the dumbest sibling fight you guys have gotten into?
Joe: [Laughs]
Alex: When Joe bullied me when we were younger, he was a really abstract bully.

What does that mean?
He just had a lot of creativity, like the way his face would look when he would give you a slap, or he would put his mouth around your nose and breathe into it.

Do the rest of you guys get bullied by Joe?
Alex: By Joe?! I've met maybe like three people in this world who are as nice as Joe.
David: He's the closest thing we have to Christ on earth.
Charles: He's like the nicest guy and good things happen to him and it's great. Joesus Christ.

[Laughs] Is that what they call you? Joesus Christ?
Joe: No, that's the first time I heard it. Ever. Period. [Laughs]

Ha! It sticks. Anyway, tell me a little bit about Olympia in terms of the music there and whatnot.
David: There are a lot of good bands.
Alex: Yeah, I think it's been the best spot in the country for music for years now.
Joe: It's constantly changing, too.
Alex: There's a good mix of hardcore and psychedelic, shoegazey stuff. Plus, it's really cheap and the place has a lot of freaks.
Charles: Not just creative freaks but, like, psychos.
Alex: Yeah, they even freak me out. That's good.

Are your hometown freaks good for your artistic endeavors?
Well, it's the opposite of Williamsburg in that it's real. And that's the best part.

"It's real." Hmm [Laughs]
Well, what I mean is you get the whole petri dish and it's not just a place with a certain type of people. It's a lot shittier, but it's great.

What are some musical things and nonmusical things you take inspiration from when writing songs?
Generally, really good songwriting is the first. Even when there's a boogie to them, there's an underlying melancholy. Heavy things, things with feeling, personality…
Joe: Whenever I go running, I think of stuff.
David: I bring inspiration from the natural world.
Charles: I feel the same way.
Alex: Psychedelics are big, LSD is really big. You know, the counterculture, which is—as you were saying—why we feel like we're in the wrong era. There's no counterculture, so that's a really sacred thing.

Rad. Thanks for the chat, guys!

@kristenyoonsoo

Previously - Violens