Interview with Milwalkie – the road from Aberdeen to Berlin

by | indieBerlin

Two brothers from Aberdeen Scotland. Steve likes the sound of the word ‘Milwakee’, even though he’s never been there. Whilst Matt liked taking their first and oldest dog Millie for walks. Both Steve and Matt decide to name their band Milwaulkie of course. Based in Berlin and gearing up for the next gig at Monarch on the 6th of June, indieberlin caught up with the boys after their Berlin Sessions concert.

indieberlinIt seems when you started making music, you were not honest enough with your songwriting. But really and truly why did you even bother to give a toss about what people think?

Milwalkie: Matt (who writes the lyrics) was 15 when we started making music together. Not only was this our first band, but it was our first experience with making any sort of music. I think that, to cut a long story short, he/we were a little terrified as we had no idea what we were supposed to do. All we knew was that we had this new found obsession with guitars and that we had to become involved in making music.

Being in Berlin has had a huge impact on our self confidence as songwriters and musicians

It was extremely exciting but incredibly scary exposing ourselves through our music to our family and friends. Until this point, we’d been pretty shy kids and were often found dwelling in the shadows! Being in Berlin has had a huge impact on our self confidence as songwriters and musicians. We’ve lived here for almost 5 years now and when I look back over them I can see how the city has manipulated our music and encouraged us to let all kinds of influences in and open up our sound.

We’ve spent so much time watching bands around Revalerstr, Kottbusser Tor, in Friedrichshain etc. that it’s impossible to not absorb the electricity that makes this place so special. I think our next album has a sense of grit and depth that came right out of Berlin’s underground heart!

We were struggling to write songs that we didn’t actually want to write

indieberlinDid the pop media at the time affect you that badly, that you had to write pop-songs?

Milwalkie: After making very alternative music for around 3/4 years we decided to begin writing pop songs. We’d become involved with a manager (a good friend of ours) amongst several other industry-involved persons which definitely led to us focusing on crafting a more radio friendly sound. Things got a little out of hand and, before we realised it, we were struggling to write songs that we didn’t actually want to write. For a short amount of time, chasing the dream became more important that making ‘real’ music. It’s good to be back, now. We’re just having a great time experimenting with different sounds!

indieberlinAberdeen – how is it as a music city compared to Glasgow and Edinburgh?

Milwalkie: Hard to say, If you grow up in Aberdeen and you’re too young to move away, then it’s a fine place to begin making music. There are around 4-6 decent small venues and a handful of friendly indie promoters. If your band is good, then you can definitely get a crowd. If you weren’t born in Aberdeen, then I don’t see any reason to move there. Glasgow is definitely a better place for being in a band.

indieberlinYou guys were on the verge on moving to Leeds from Aberdeen. But why not London, Manchester or even Glasgow?

Milwalkie: Our manager was from Leeds but was based in Aberdeen for a few years. We toyed with the idea of moving there as it’s a really cool student town. Then one day, whilst driving there to see him, Matt turned to me in the back of the car and whispered in my ear: “Hey, Steve, why don’t we just move to Berlin?”.

But for the most part we just seem to always want the same things

indieberlinYou are brothers and you are in a band together. Fights and arguments must get pretty intense right?

Milwalkie: Sometimes we disagree, yeah. But for the most part we just seem to always want the same things. We’re often compared to Frasier and Niles Crane. Make of that what you will.

indieberlinAny intriguing stories from your last tour?

Milwalkie: Many ‘amazing’ stories. Ask Sam (guitar) and Carlo (drums) about that, though. I had nothing to do with it!

indieberlin Your track – Go Back – to what?

Milwalkie: Go Back is about love and loss. It’s very personal and I don’t really want to write about it yet.

indieberlinHaving had a number of gigs in Berlin, do you consider yourselves now in the group of the cool kids?


Milwalkie: Hmm. I spend my evening with cups of tea watching twin peaks and action films. Geek or hipster? I’m not sure anymore. You decide!

Irn Bru for the kicks and a plate of mince and tatties

indieberlinDeep fried Mars-bar, haggis, would these be on your list of artist requests?

Milwalkie: Not quite…but if we’re on a Scottish theme here then I’d say Irn Bru for the kicks (sorry friends back home, but let’s be honest, it’s f*cking vile!) and a plate of mince and tatties.

I’d probably trip over my guitar cable, buckle my ankle and collapse to the floor in a very unheroic fashion

indieberlinYou’re playing at Monarch on Monday 6th June, will your guitarist/keyboardist jump off stage? Anything the attendees should know about?

Milwalkie: Sam might jump off stage, yeah. Are you advising that he should? I’ve often thought about trying something like that before contemplating the harsh reality that I’d probably trip over my guitar cable, disconnect my bass guitar, buckle my ankle and collapse to the floor in a very unheroic fashion.

indieberlinSum up Berlin in one word.

Milwalkie: Sals.

Thanks guys.

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