The Newcastle post-hardcore pioneers released the highly influential Steve Albini-produced ‘All Roads To Fault’ and two acclaimed follow-up albums before they went on an “indefinite hiatus” in 2007 – with frontman Paul Mullen going on to join The Automatic as well as forming Young Legionnaire and Losers, and guitarist Justin Lockey launching a range of projects as well as becoming a full-time member of Editors and Frightened Rabbit side-project Mastersystem.
This weekend, Yourcodenameis:milo mark their return by playing two intimate reunion gigs at The Cluny in their hometown. Mullen explained how a lack of activity during the COVID lockdown and a loyalty to the venue brought them back from the dead.
“The main reason is that The Cluny was our home for the entire time that we were in operation,” he told NME. “At that point during the pandemic, there was no real funding for venues and things were closing left, right and centre. That place just meant so much to us, so we wanted to do a show to make some money and help them out.”
Lockey agreed: “The Cluny was our home. As a band, we were constantly writing and recording in our studio which was about 100 metres away under the Byker Bridge. We were a seven-days-a-week band. The amount of tunes that we wrote but never put out dwarves what we released. That was because we had a really mad work ethic of constantly being between the studio and The Cluny.
“We did all our meetings there, we made labels come up there from London, that’s where bands would meet – it was a massive part of our identity.”
Since they announced the gigs, The Cluny has received funding and is bouncing back and so won’t accept the money – with all proceeds now going to The Bobby Robson Foundation for cancer research and treatment. Still, the band are keen to celebrate their legacy and reward the fans who have stuck by them or discovered them in the years since they split.
“Since playing with Editors, there’s always this secret society of people in music around the world who come up to you and say, ‘Oh, you know that band you were in, right?’,” said Lockey. “It’s mainly people in bands. Even back in the day, we were strangely a band’s band. That’s probably because we didn’t have any [charting] singles, we didn’t get radioplay and we just made mad records with mad producers.”
He continued: “We were a word-of-mouth band from a time just on the cusp of screens and being lost in a phone. We were done by the time that iPhones became rife. Thinking about that now is bizarre. It’s like the difference between the time of Britpop and the time of The Beatles – it’s a completely different world.”
Mullen said that the ‘mystery’ of the time was all of their DNA. “In our first photo shoots and music videos you never saw our faces,” he said. “Our statement was that it was about the music and not us. We just tried to keep it as mysterious as possible. It’s impossible to do that now.”
“People are somehow discovering us. Now again we get messages from people in big bands telling us that they were into us. It’s nice to know that we reached people and that they remember us.”
Among their famous fans is The 1975 frontman Matty Healy, who recently shared a clip of their single ‘All Roads To Fault’ on social media citing its influence. Few may realise the connection between Healy and Milo.
“I recorded Matty Healy’s very first band in that very same studio that we used,” recalled Lockey. “They were called Drive Like I Do and so young – like, still in sixth form. They’re all still the same dudes. I’ve seen Matty a few times over the years and he always talks about our band. If he ever comes back and wants to make his emo epic, then he should record with me. Next time I see him, I’ll tell him.”
He added: “I’d be in an airport in Sweden and this little scruffy kid would come up and ask for cigarettes. I’d be like, ‘Fucking hell, Matty – you’re in The 1975, mate! You’ve probably got someone to carry cigarettes for you! And no I don’t smoke anymore, Matty!
Mullen agreed: “They’re a proper band with proper songs. Let’s get on the fucking road with them!”
Healy is still planning on releasing an EP of unheard music from his past emo project Drive Like I Do, which may feed into YCNI:M being paid their dues having brought about their break long before their influence on rock music would be fully appreciated.
“‘Indefinite hiatus’ was our MySpace status,” said Mullen. “It just felt like we should go out on a high. The management and label were all trying to keep us together, but we just felt like we’d done what we needed to do. We were all pretty gutted. We had so many firsts and good things attached to it, but we’d just done so much that it felt right to stop then.”
Lockey continued: “Oh man, we had a great time. We couldn’t believe our luck, to be honest. We were on the last wave of guitar bands that got signed en masse in this country, before the music industry shift where people stopped buying records and everything went digital. Labels would see you through to your second album just to say how it went. Now, I don’t know how you’d do it from scratch.
“We never hated each other or anything; we just thought that if we were going to do something else with our lives then that was the time to do it. If we’d have carried on, it would have to turn into more of a label and an industry thing than just a band that recorded.”
He added: “We didn’t just want to be a band and never saw ourselves as that. We were a studio project band that happened to tour now and again. Out of everything, that’s the thing I miss: Kraftwerk levels of work. Get to the studio, clock in, learn the craft.”
That laborious spirit in the writing room and the studio is what led to their collaborative album ‘Print Is Dead Vol.1’. Recorded between their debut album proper ‘Ignoto’ and final release ‘They Came From The Sun’, the record featured songs written with members of Bloc Party, Tom Vek, Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly, The Futureheads, Reuben, Martin Grech, Maxïmo Park and more.
Today, the band are still hungry for a sequel.
“That’s another thing that we should have just carried on doing,” said Lockey. “We could have been doing that for the last 20 years, to be honest. As a concept and the people that we kept on bumping into that were into it, it had legs. We moved labels from Universal to V2 and they were more interested in us carrying that on than us making these weird nine minute epic tracks. That should have carried on, and probably could do. Collaborations are everything these days.
“I’d do another ‘Print Is Dead’, for sure.”
Beyond and emptying their vaults of countless unreleased songs, Yourcodenameis:milo are also keen to pen another full album.
“I’ve got a whole folder on my hard drive of possible Milo songs from over the years,” said Mullen. “It’s just full of riffs. Fuck it, why not? Let’s get these shows out of the way and then we’ll see. It just fills me with joy.”
On meeting their own high standards for new material, Lockey said: “We’ve got to do something in a way that would honour what we did before – which is just don’t fucking care about anything else and make the heaviest thing we can.
“I’ve got a studio and work in there all the time and now that everyone would be keen. It would have to better than the last thing we did because that’s all we ever tried to do. I totally want to make another album.”
He added: “There’s also an extensive amount of tracks that we worked on that we never put out. I’d also like to put the original Albini version of ‘All Roads To Fault’ out because I’ve got that whole record.”
— YOURCODENAMEIS:MILO (@YCNIMblog) April 6, 2023
Aside from these two homecoming shows, the band have also announced an appearance at Bristol’s Arctangent festival in August. From the upcoming live shows, Yourcodename:milo have promised their usual “primal and guttural force of noise with a bit of melody thrown in”.
“It’s great to be back. We always just believed in what we were doing,” added Mullen. “It didn’t matter if it was 10 people or 20,000 people there – we’d play the same show. We were like five bands in one, all pulling each other in different directions and it just worked. You can’t plan that; it either happens or it doesn’t.”
Yourcodename:milo perform at The Cluny in Newcastle on Friday April 7 and Saturday April 8. Visit here for tickets and more information.