Milestones makes U.S. tour debut

Category:  The Arts
Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017 at 6:45 PM
Milestones makes U.S. tour debut by Kimberly Firestine
Photo: Kimberly Firestine

Hailing from the U.K., Manchester natives Milestones signed with Fearless Records in July of 2016.

Less than a year later, they’re traveling the U.S. for the first time, including appearances at the So What?! Music Festival and Spring Fling in Cleveland.

While currently on tour with Mayday Parade, Real Friends and Knuckle Puck to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of Mayday’s album “A Lesson In Romantics,” Eden Leviston (guitar), Drew Procter (guitar), Matt Clarke (vocals) and Mark Threlfall (bass) joined Spectator Music to discuss the tour, their debut release and the music they listened to growing up.

Just a day before their set at So What?!, Milestones played their first ever show in the U.S. in New Orleans. Since then, it’s been a whirlwind of a couple of weeks for the new kids in America.

“There’s loads of kids coming out early to see us, which is quite different to the U.K.,” said Leviston about one of the differences between playing back home and playing in the U.S.

“Doors are pretty early before our set so it gives people the chance to file in. It’s really cool.”

Having played only played 28 shows in the U.S. between their first date and Cleveland’s Spring Fling, Threlfall noted that the band has had no issue meeting and making new fans.

“People are really into checking out new bands, especially people over here,” he said. “We go outside and sell CDs every night and people are really into it; they’re super easy to speak to, really into checking out new music.”

Clarke has found one of the biggest differences between shows in the U.K. and shows in the U.S. is the amount of traveling involved between shows, on both the fan and band sides. He feels that there’s a sense of mutual respect between the two when it comes to how far bands will travel to play shows and how far fans will travel to see those shows.

“In the U.K., unless you’re playing like on someone’s doorstep, they will not come to the show and they moan if you play an hour away,” said Clarke.

“There’s kids on this tour that have traveled nine hours for one show and in the U.K. that’s not as much of a thing,” said Threlfall. “People aren’t as interested in driving or jumping on trains to go to shows; they want it to be on top of where they live.”

Finding out they had landed the Mayday Parade tour spot came as a surprise, and as a 2 a.m. message from their U.S. management.

“It was on a Friday night and I was out; I had just got back to where I was staying,” explained Threlfall. “It was in the early hours of the morning and I checked my phone — everything was blurred and I couldn’t really see properly — but it was our manager, and he was like, ‘you got the Mayday tour.’”

While Threlfall had been out for the night, Procter and the rest of the band were staying at Clarke’s house when they received the news and celebrated enough to pull Procter’s parents out of bed.

“I think it’s just obviously such a big thing for (British) bands to just generally come to America, so we were stoked,” said Leviston.

Describing their time playing for crowds in the U.S. so far, Clarke called it “surreal.”

“I think the biggest thing for us is on every single tour we try to make the best impression possible,” he said. “We don’t like to play like we’re an opener, we like to play like we’re Derek’s (from Mayday Parade) support or whatever just so that it’s not awkward; it’s an enjoyable experience.”

Clarke continued: “We’re there to warm the crowd up. I feel like we’ve done better than what we hoped to do in merch, reception and gaining fans. Every single night we’ve done better than what we thought we were going to do or what’s normal for an opener to do.”

Thelfall explained that being able to put as much energy as they do into their performance and getting crowd reception comes down to acting and treating every performance as if you’re main support or a headliner. “You want to give people something to watch as well as to listen to so we try,” he said. “Even when people are kind of not 100% sold on the music but think we put one hell of a show on live, I think that’s one thing we always try to pride ourselves on.”

“I think that speaks volumes as well in the way that people have said to us, ‘oh, I was actually surprised that the first band was actually good,’” added Leviston. “We were just like, why? What’s the deal with support bands that normally come through?”

“People sort of assume that when you’re an opener you’re not going to be that good,” said Thelfall “They kind of expect to just bear the set while they’re waiting for their favorite band to come on, but we have a lot of people come over and say ‘no, I was pleasantly surprised, I loved it,’ and that’s obviously always cool for us to hear.”

Bill placement aside, it seems as though the states have already started making their marks on Milestones, with crowds across the country giving them some already memorable show moments. “Portland (Or.) has just got this really hardcore vibe about it,” said Procter. “A majority of the night people were quite tame, there were a few people moshing. I’m pretty sure we had our first crowd surfer that night and there was no barrier, it was definitely the wildest show we’ve played on this tour.”

Leviston’s favorite shows so far have been Salt Lake City and Anaheim, while Clarke throws Houston into the ring as well.  “Salt Lake City was like 2,500 people, it was sold out, the stage was huge, the vibe was great and everyone was getting into it even though they had never heard our music,” said Leviston. “It was great.”

The band also played a few shows in Canada, where Thelfall says everyone is “ridiculously friendly.”

“It was very easy to go there and win over a crowd because they were so willing to check us out,” he said.

While on tour, Milestones are playing songs from their debut EP “Equal Measures,” released last summer with Fearless Records. The album is five tracks of brutal self-awareness, honesty and self-acceptance.

“I think for anybody to put how they feel on a piece of paper and justify it is difficult in any way. That one (“Equal Measures”) is legitimately about ‘it’s okay not to be okay,’” said Clarke. “It’s about accepting yourself for who you are and what you are in that present moment.” Clarke also stated that when he writes songs about topics as difficult as mental health, he thinks back to how his mother may react. “When my mom listens to this, what is she going to think? She’s going to worry about me,” he said. “That occurred quite a lot inside when I was writing that EP because I know I was really putting myself out there more than I have done in previous bands.” 

As for musical influences, Clarke mentions Mayday Parade, All Time Low and The Hotelier. “He (Cam Boucher of The Hotelier) is amazing; one of the most beautiful lyricists I’ve ever heard in my life,” said Clarke. “He’s so poetic in the way he writes his lyrics. I’m hoping in future releases I can work with something more like that.

Because the U.S. has such a grasp on the music industry, Procter found it hard not to look up to American bands while trying to discover who he wanted to be as a musician. “There’s always this appeal about touring in America and a lot of the bands you listen to,” he said. “When you grow up you want to be like them, you want to play music like them. I think to a high degree it does effect what kind of music you want to write, how you want to be as a person and what kind of band you want to be.”

Clarke added that it was difficult to look up to British bands, because a majority of them were Americanized to some degree because of the artists those bands looked up to. “It’s hard to be British-sounding because British-sounding is American,” he said “If you want to listen to British music, you need to listen to like The Streaks, The King Blues, just like ridiculously British music.”

Thelfall tips his cap to Mallory Knox, a British band that he says is very aware that they’re British. Leviston says the band even puts Union Jacks (the U.K. national flag) on stage. “They’re very British but all the same – they pull it off extremely well,” said Thelfall. “They’re a really good band.”

Of course, a career of touring in the U.S. can’t be complete without playing at the mecca of music venues: Madison Square Garden. Milestones has high hopes of getting to play the MSG stage someday. “When you see a band going through that sort of venue you’re like ‘Jesus Christ,’” said Thelfall. “that’s the indication that they’ve it as a band and they’ve cracked America.”

Back in Cleveland, Milestones took the stage at the Agora in front of a patient but receptive crowd – most of which were waiting for that night’s headliner Mayday Parade – at Spring Fling on April 29. With a few fans of their own in the Agora Theater crowd, Milestones took the stage as if they were about to play to a hometown crowd of thousands. Exuding energy and excitement, the band played through their EP and won over quite a few fans in the process.

If you need any more convincing to invest time and money into a band, Milestones believes that their live show will not disappoint anyone looking to get into some new music. “See us live and see how much energy we put into our music because we believe in it more than we ever expected to,” said Leviston. “It’s just something we’re really passionate about.”

“If you want to listen to a record that’s got a bit of riot about it – some stuff’s pretty happy, some stuff’s pretty sad – check it out,” added Procter. “Come see us live, because it’s way more energetic.”

Touching on the more recent problematic side of today’s pop-punk and alternative scenes, Clarke stated: “I suppose in the scene nowadays there’s a lot of people that are here for the wrong reasons or are crooks and I feel like one thing we can say about this band is that we’re good people and we believe in nothing but music.”

Throwing his own ring into the hat, Thelfall said, “If you want to listen to a record that gives you a full portfolio of what a band can actually do, come to a show. If you want to see us pour as much energy into that and just throw ourselves into a performance and actually be into it, then we’re your band.”

Milestones will be on the entire rest of the tour with Mayday Parade, Real Friends and Knuckle Puck and then head to Switzerland to kick off their summer touring. The band released a lyric video for their song “Shot in the Dark” in February, and “Equal Measures” is available for purchase online and for streaming on Spotify and Apple Music. 

 Kimberly Firestine is the arts editor for The Spectator. She can be reached at ae.spectator@gmail.com.

Additional Photos:

Photo: Kimberly FirestinePhoto: Kimberly FirestinePhoto: Kimberly Firestine
 

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