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interviews - april 2005

  • Milky Wimpshake

Milky Wimpshake
Lovers, not fighters for over a decade now, Milky Wimpshake remain the champions of the pop underground. As they release another classic album in ‘Pop-Shaped’, tasty talked to front man Pete Dale. We haven’t washed these answers since…. 

What's happened to MW since 'Lovers Not Fighters'? Anything exciting?
We toured the UK for a week and Europe for two weeks to promote the album, which was pretty good - varying turn-outs, but at least a smattering of "fans" in each town. Since then we haven't been playing much other the odd gig in Newcastle, Leeds or London, although we did play a festival in Sweden last summer which was good fun - we seem to have a genuine "know-all-the-words" type following in Sweden, which is pleasing! Oh, and we recorded the new album too, of course. Not exactly a lot in 4 years, but  we work at our own pace because this is for fun, not a job, and we answer to no-one except ourselves.

Is 'Popshaped' different in any radical way from other MW records? What is the main theme this time?
Not intentionally so - indeed the alternative title is "Tried and Tested Formula"! However, it has been pointed out to me that there are fewer overtly political songs on it than on its predecessor. This was not intentional. Milky Wimpshake is not really trying to be radically different from anything - our field has been well-trodden by bands with better songwriters, better musicians and better singers. However, I think what we do is valid in the sense that we get pleasure from making this music, and so do enough other people to justify releasing the music on albums.

Do you think you're more disgusted with the Labour government than you were before the Iraq invasion?
Yes I am. Don't vote for these war-mongers is my advice.

What's your take on the global political situation at the moment? Do you think we're entering a phase of, for want of a better phrase, 'hyper-imperialism', or do you think that what happened over the last ten years is just a natural progression in the crisis of capitalism and the inevitable rise of imperialism?
I haven't got time to answer this properly, and I don't think I'm all that well-equipped to do so anyway. I don't think the global political machinations of the last ten years are "natural" or "inevitable". The world is the way it is at the moment because of a minority of decision makers. We, the seemingly voiceless citizens of the west who benefit so enormously from our leader's imperialistic tendencies, need to find ways to combat this tendency. One method which I encourage is non-violent direct action, such as mass demonstrations against, for example, the G8 summit which is going to be happening in Scotland in the near future. Another method is being conscientious about what you buy, ie. Boycotting products from Shell, Esso, McDonalds, Nestle, Nike, etc.

What's the best way out of the malaise we find ourselves in?
See above.

Do you hold any illusions in any of the leftish groupings in the UK, or indeed, overseas?
Rather a loaded question - I'm hardly going to say, "yes, I hold illusions that..." I don't like most left-wing groups, as most of them (ie.SWP, CP, etc.) are more interested in leading the workers than helping them to emancipate themselves. However, multinational companies and their subservient governments, such as New Labour in the UK and the Bush administration in the US, are run by people. These people are in a  numerical minority. It must, therefore, be possible for the majority to assert itself, perhaps by attempting to instigate democracy of some kind in the UK and the US. I am not sure how this could be done - perhaps by closing down the BBC, all the schools, the government and encouraging ludic revolution. Another method might be to have unbiased, intelligent public debate regarding, for example, the death toll in Iraq. I'm not very optimistic about the near future as regards fundamental changes to the social structure. However, climate change, "terrorism" and the disease of poverty may bring the problems of globalisation home to roost sooner than some commentators are predicting. As a father of two small children, I certainly hope a big change is going to come, and soon, for all our sakes.

Does the whole of the band share you political views? Do any problems occur when you're writing the songs because of the political content?
Never heard any complaints from Grant and Christine regarding the political content of my songs. I'd be amazed if they share all my views to the letter, but I think they are comfortable with the sentiments. They are great people, and they never complain about the vegetarian food which I routinely request for the whole band before gigs, even they are both meat-eaters. I love these two people.

How do you feel about being compared to Buzzcocks and The Undertones? Who do you see as your peers?
I feel great about those two comparisons! Peers? God knows. There's not many contemporary bands I like. That guy Alex from Franz Ferdinand is a canny lad, I used to knock about with him a bit when he would book Slampt bands at the 13th Note in Glasgow. FF have some great songs, miles better than his old bands the Blisters and the Karelia. Futureheads are a great band who have supported Milky Wimpshake tons at their early gigs (they were the support act on our Euro-tour in 2002), we have a mutual-appreciation-society thing going on with them. In generaly, Wimpshake's peers are the underground bands in the Newcastle-Sunderland music scene - This Aint Vegas, The Unit Ama, et al.

The band has no website - is this a conscious decision?
Actually there is a website, which has been up for something like 10 years. It's run by an American chap and has downloads of rare songs, transcribed lyrics (complete with hilarious errors), etc. Don't know the address off hand, however.

Do you think that MW can step confidently into the gaping hole left by the departure of Busted?
Who? Actually, I am aware of Busted because my 4 year old daughter Willow is well into watching Top of the Pops. However, Milky Wimpshake is not really a children's band, so no, I don't have any aspirations in that direction.

Sam Metcalf