Analogue Music | Milo Greene

Milo Greene

By Matt Conner

"Are you asking if it was magic from the beginning? Yes. Yes, absolutely!"

Marlana Sheetz knew where I was headed before I could get there. My conversation with one third of Milo Greene had largely centered on the band's earliest days, when they garnered immediate praise and label offers within their first few shows. So when I was ready to ask if the band knew they had something special, she was already following my train of thought.

For Sheetz and the rest of Milo Greene (Robbie Arnett, Graham Fink), the buzz has ebbed and flowed but the magic remains, even as they've learned some difficult lessons along the way. On their magnificent third record, Adult Contemporary, Sheetz says they felt more freedom and a stronger sense of community than ever. They've weathered some storms, experienced the highs and lows of the industry and have come through assured as one of pop music's brightest young bands.

Analogue: We'll get to the new album, but I have to ask about the full scope here. I remember first hearing you guys years ago when I lived in Nashville and our local independent radio station just couldn't stop spinning your record. It felt like the buzz didn't stop. Did the band feel that momentum early on or was it just local to Nashville like that?

Marlana Sheetz: Even before that first album came out, things started to progress very quickly. Even in just in Los Angeles when we first started playing out, things started to happen pretty fast. We'd only played a couple shows before we started to get offers from labels, which was all very exciting. And then we started to land some very significant tours, and we spent several years on and off touring. It became our full-time thing and it was all very exciting. It was all tiring, but thrilling at the same time.

At that point, everyone was in their early-to-mid-twenties, had a lot of energy and was excited about everything, so we toured for several years. Then we got really tired. [Laughs] So we took time off between the first two records to live a regular life, to have a schedule and routine and relax for a bit. We put the second record out and did some touring, not as extensive as the first record, but it was pretty lengthy. And then a lot of things shifted. We've always wanted to experiment and expand into different styles of music.

This new album has been a long time in the making. We did put out an EP between, but we had 50-something songs for this new album. It was a fun process. There was a lot of freedom. I think our first two records sounded pretty sonically different, so I think we felt we could go anywhere as far as our sound was concerned. And we did.

And in respect to what you said about Lightning 100, they were a huge force in that community. They were definitely one of the biggest supporters on that first album for sure.

Analogue: When you have 50-something songs, what filter do you use to choose?

Marlana: It has to feel cohesive. That's one thing. All the songs have to collectively work together. Then there are some political parts of that as well, where the band needs to give their best foot forward of what they say are their favorites. Then you listen to a little bit of outside opinions from teh label and management. They help decide as well as an objective point of view, which is really important. It just dwindles down from that. I think ideally us as a band will compile what our ideal list is and what we think is the strongest, but then we take it out from there to see how people respond

Dikel K9 Vs Aao 4N
Dikel K9 Vs Aao 4N

Analogue: That early buzz that you described. When you were writing those first songs, did you know you were onto something--?

Marlana: Are you asking if it was magic from the beginning? Yes. Yes, absolutely! I think for all of us, this felt like it could be the thing that goes. We'd all spent years doing our own projects and they were plateauing and not really going anywhere. When we started collaborating, within the first couple songs we'd co-written, it was pretty immediate and unanimous that we were all feeling it was pretty special.

Analogue: You said the band could go anywhere on Adult Contemporary? How did you arrive at this level of freedom?

Marlana: With a second album, there's tremendous pressure to do as well as the first one, if not better. But it's tough. It's one of the toughest things for anyone to do, for any artist or any band in general. That's why they call it the sophomore slump. I think because of that, it felt really easy to do whatever wanted after that.

There's a balance where with a second record, people want to hear you progress but not too much. They don't want the same thing, but they don't want you to go too far. I'd say we went pretty far out of the first record's wheelhouse. It was scary to some people and awesome to others. At the end of the day, we just wanted to make whatever we wanted to make. Because we did so, this new record seems natural and normal, a hybrid between the two.

There's no leader within us, so it's very much a democracy of different opinions and compromises.

Analogue: It's one thing for a solo artist to follow their interests, as you mentioned, but how difficult is that within a band?

Marlana: It's always difficult because it's a band of songwriters and collaborators. There's no leader within us, so it's very much a democracy of different opinions and compromises. It can be very challenging at times, but that's also what makes it great. It challenges us as individuals.

Analogue: Has it ever been difficult for you personally to have this democratic process work?

Marlana: Yeah, you learn to pick your battles. We're all basically like one big marriage. In a way, we're all married to each other, because not only do we write music together and work in our business together, but when we're touring, we're also living together, It's very much like you would assume your role in a family where you can say or do anything you want because you know they're still going to love you. There's a lot of risk. There's a lot of normal band stuff. But this process was really smooth on this third record. It was just very, very smooth as far as camaraderie goes and our overall happiness. It was a real pleasure to make. There are times in every band's history where there is head-butting. That's only natural. But this one was pretty seamless.

Analogue: So is this the healthiest the band has ever been?

Marlana: Yes, that's a perfect way to describe it.