R13 hopped in the back of Million Dead's van for a chat with Frank (F), Julia (J), Ben (B) and Tom (T) to get the lowdown on playing at Leeds and many splendid tales of European misadventure!

R13: What's it like playing Leeds Festival then? Just another gig or something special?
J: Oh no it was special, well for me anyway. It was really good, it was also special because we got to play Reading yesterday as well, so to be officially part of The Carling Festival is really great.
F: The thing is, of the two shows Reading is the one that you put on your CV, because it has the history, but then in fairness in my experience Leeds is less industry, it's more people who are interested in music. I thought we played better today and the atmosphere was better, that's not to knock the atmosphere yesterday but it was great, really good to do.
R13: What were the crowds like yesterday? I've never seen you play to as many people as today before!
J: The crowd yesterday was great actually.
B: It was actually bigger than today, it was spilling out of the tent.
F:That's true but both days have been great basically, we've played to a lot of people and had a good time.

R13: Last time we spoke you were just putting the finishing touches to 'Harmony No Harmony', did the finished product live up to your expectations?
F:Yes, I think song wise we were all happy with it. There were certain mixing issues maybe but at the same time unless you gave us four years to mix it there's always going to be issues with it! It was an album made within limitations both time wise and financial and if you take those limitations into consideration I think we're all pretty satisfied with what we did. I think we did a pretty good job!
J: It's good because especially production wise and songs I suppose, we feel like it's better than the first and that's what you aim for so as long as you feel like the quality of the whole package is better.
R13: As long as you've moved forward and haven't stayed in the same place?
J: Yeah exactly.

R13: So were you pleased with the reaction to it?
J: Yeah, we were actually.
T: I haven't really heard much of a reaction to it!
F:With us we got a lot of interviews asking us around the time it was released, is this going to be the one that breaks you, the big special album? For us we're just putting out an album and if people like it that's great, if they don't then who gives a fuck?! We put out an album, it's our album, so get fucked basically!
J: To be honest I think the reaction has been good because we're being realistic about things. If it equals sales of the first one in the first week then cool but actually it doubled so for us I think that was a success.
F:We're not U2 but then we never thought we would be.
R13: Well I gave it a good review!
F:Yes, I think I enjoyed your review.
J: Yes, I read that as well. In fact all reviews were pretty good apart from Q.
T: The guy from Q really tore it apart.
F: But an opinion's an opinion.
B: There were a couple of weird reviews on the internet as well, someone got a promo copy of it and then complained that she hates it when albums don't have the words in and so on! It's a promo copy, it's like a CDR with a little printed sheet with it!
F:I think my favourite review was PlayLouder, their review said 'if you're looking for a band that still has the fire that early Idlewild had then check this out' to me that's a gigantic compliment, I was pretty pleased with that.
R13: I think that's right, although the sound has changed a little bit, it still has that edge to it
J: And those wailing vocals!
F:Yes the yodling has stayed put!

R13: Prolific tourers that you are, have you noticed a steady increase in your fan base?
B: It's interesting that the first tour we did this year, and it wasn't just us, every band on our general level who we spoke to, there just weren't that many people turning up at shows. Every band we spoke to were coming back to places that they used to ram out and there were half the people there.
R13: Is there a reason behind that?
B: Well we did have stupidly high ticket prices.
F: I do honestly think though that another part of it is there are more bands at our level now, you know the sort of medium underground level than there ever has been, there certainly weren't this many bands when I was a kid. I do think that in the past it would have been a smaller selection for kids to go and check out, these days kids aren't made of money, they've got to make their choices.
T: There's so many bands to choose from.
F: There's so many bands playing and only so many shows they can afford to go to.
T: I think they go for the bigger American bands
F: That is the other thing, for any English band it is frustrating that the UK still labours under this idiotic preconception that if it's American, ooh I should go and see that it'll be better, which is bollocks.
B: Fuck controversy or whatever, most of the American bands that are playing on the same stage as us today all sound within the same ball park, bar The Dwarves and Bad Religion although Bad Religion are the blueprint for a lot of the other bands. You get so many of these American bands talking about how they're doing something different and it's just the same chords, the same riffs and the same vocals and it's the same shit all the fucking time! All these kids are going to see these bands and they're loving them and they don't seem to realise that they're listening to the same album every fucking time!
J: I think what these kids are doing as well is taking a lot of the British bands for granted cos they think they'll play again and they'll play again etc but with the Americans they think when will they be back next? There's that whole mentality that they just get complacent with the British bands.
R13: When the best bands I've seen over the weekend were yourselves and Capdown!
F: Well it really doesn't matter where you come from, kids think it does but it shouldn't.
B: Having said that we have somewhat over toured the UK this year, we really wanted to spread our wings out to Europe and possibly the States. I really want to go to Europe.

R13: I was going to ask you about that because you did a few dates in Italy.
B: Yeah it was great, playing with Sick of It All.
T: Oh it was disastrous.
F: The van broke down!
R13: The van broke down again?! Last time I spoke to you the van had just broken down!
F: Yeah the same bloody van.
B: Our plan was to drive to Italy, play three shows with Sick of It All and then after the last show, pack up and drive as fast as possible to get to Reading to play the Bucket and Skit Festival, which was gonna be an incredibly hard thing to do to make it in time anyway. We played the first two gigs which was amazing, especially for Frank, Tom and I, we grew up and cut our teeth playing and listening to hardcore and Sick of It All are a classic band. It's the first time I've danced at a show since I was about fifteen!
F: We came off after the first night and Lou Koller was sat by the side of the stage.
J: Just to have Lou Koller come up and say 'I think you guys are amazing'.
B: That was fucking great and the Italian crowds were really cool as well, but what happened on the way to the second show was that the pipe from the fuel pump to the engine bust and the cab was filling up with smoke. We stopped on the side of the road and did a temporary fix and got to the gig, did the gig and finally managed to find a garage that we could get some pipe at to get a makeshift pipe together, so it looked like it was going to be alright. We did the gig and started driving to this hotel, we had no idea where it was and we were about an hour outside Milan when it just fucked up again and we realised it was the fucking pump and not the pipe that had bust!
F: And we were totally fucking lost!
J: It was Friday night about midnight, don't know anyone, can't really speak Italian.
B: We ended up paying a fortune to get towed to this layby where Frank and Jamie stayed in the van that night, with no shade so in the morning you just get baked! The next two nights after that Jamie and I slept in the van, we tried to bake pizzas on the top of the van!
J: The nearest town where we stayed, they had literally one bank
F: I don't want to be rude but 'butt fuck little town' would be appropriate!
B: It was a really, really, pretty little town though, when we came to it we were sitting in a square by a church going 'this is fucking nice'
F: We had to cancel the last Sick Of It All and the Bucket and Skit.
B: Because we broke down on a Friday night, we couldn't the pieces until Monday morning.
F:we cancelled two shows and lost a bunch of money but in retrospect it's a story! Now this is a story, me and Collum, our sound guy, ran out of weed and we're like 'where the fuck do you buy weed?', this is on a Sunday night at about ten pm. There were a bunch of prostitutes hanging around so obviously we thought 'they'll know!', so we headed out with a phrasebook in order to buy drugs off whores!
(cue highly amusing attempts at faux Italian accents!)
F: Actually we went to the cash point on the way and sitting next to the cash point were a bunch of alternative like 18 year old kids skinning up, so we just asked them and it turned out one or two of them were Million Dead fans and they'd seen us play before!
T:In the middle of nowhere as well that was a bit bizarre.
F:Their first question was 'what on earth are two English guys who don't speak Italian doing in our tiny little town at 11pm on a Sunday night trying to buy weed?!' They took us to a bar and we had fun and the punch line to the story is that we bought some weed off them and went to this bar for a couple of hours, then they dropped us back at the hotel at about 3am in the morning and we got back and didn't have any skins!! It was all just a horrific disaster.
B: Well that and driving back when we finally got the piece (for the van), back to England and we're driving through a toll gate and Collum was asleep, who was the one who had the weed with him and we got called over for a fucking drugs search! They're going through the van, the fucking van that broke down, and they were in a cigarette packet on the little metal rim at the top.
F: Collum was standing outside the van asking me 'Should I own up now?'
B: They were saying to us 'Have you any drugs on you? Is there any in the van?' it was just like, well I don't have any!
F:They were reaching across the top of the rim and they just missed it, meanwhile Collum's 'look, shall I own up now?' and I'm saying just give it a minute or two, let's see what happens and we got away with it but my God by the skin of our teeth! That was our Italian adventure!
R13: Well it was a good story!

R13: You've been back to Latvia as well, was it as good as before?
B: That was wicked, we took advantage of the Latvians, it was a fucking great show, we had a great time. I don't know if you know the phrase 'village'? Like 'village football' as in shit! So Frank and I went round with a camcorder.
F: I should interject at this point that we were pissed out of our faces!
B: I wasn't that pissed, which makes it worse! But went round telling Latvians that 'Million Dead are fucking village' means they're really good, so we've got lots of footage of Latvians.
F: It culminates in us running on stage after one of the bands had finished and getting the crowd to shout it in unison 'Million dead are well fucking village!'
B: To be able to headline a festival in Latvia though.
J: Yeah that was cool.
T: What about the fact that Latvians can't pronounce 'V'?
B: haha yeah 'Million Dead are well fucking willage!'
F: As you know we'd been out to Latvia once before and we still have yet to release anything over there. Time we went out before some people knew the words to some of the songs that had been on MTV and we sold about four copies of the album but I guess they're all friends or are burning CDs like crazy but we went back there and we came on and loads of people knew all the words to all the songs! Much as we can get a bit annoyed with people in the UK downloading shit when they can buy our albums, the fact that people in Latvia can download all our songs.
F: Well it's different because in Latvia we don't have a release, in the UK though people should buy CDs!

R13: Still on Europe! Last time we spoke you were looking to get into playing European festivals a lot more, I had a quick scan of your tour dates and there don't seem to be many on there?
F: Utterly failed.
J: The problem is that basically we don't have any releases in Europe
F: But it gets really chicken and egg, all the promoters won't put us on unless we've got a release and all the record labels are like, well we're not going to put a record out unless you've got a tour!
R13: So did 'Harmony No Harmony' not get a general release over there?
J: It's all label management, we're doing as much as we can.
B: It's the same with Japan as well, we've got the first record out and the second record is coming out soon but basically promoters will not take us out there to tour, because it's so expensive, unless we've got a certain amount of record sales.
T: And we can't boost the record sales unless we actually get out there!
B: If we get out there and play then more people will buy the record
J: To get labels out there interested to release your stuff they want to feel like there's some kind of demand for it and to do that you need to try and get out there and play but what comes first?
R13: That must be really frustrating?
B: It is, it's not like there's a psychic record buying public out there who know 'oh there's this band in England, we must buy their records'.

R13: Checking anyone else out today?
F:Did we all watch Dinosaur Junior today? I'm not as into them as some people in this van but they are a classic band, I first heard them 5 or 6 years ago and put them on the list of bands that are great but I'll never see them live and then to see them twice in two days is just great! I'd written off ever getting a chance to see them play so to watch them was a privilege in a way because they're a classic and very important influential band. Watched a bit of Capdown yesterday, not massively into ska but my God, they're good at what they do! Especially live they're just a party band, they come on and they've got the crowd in the palm of their hands.
J: Fuck yeah.
B: Watched the Foo Fighters yesterday and I managed to crowd surf!
F: He was pissed out of his face!
B: I was remarkably drunk and managed to brutally force my way to about the fifth row back from the barrier and after being there for about ten minutes I started to fall back, I thought well if I'm going back ...
J: Let's crowd surf!
B: So I got up and I'm a pretty fucking big person you know, and I just heard these people behind me going 'Man that guy's heavy!' as I broke people's backs.
J: I checked out Sleater Kinney and they were fucking good.
B: They just had a lot of extended jams but really good ones.
F: they're another kind of classic band that are worth checking out. It's a bit frustrating because we're really on the wrong day at this festival. So the Friday or the Sunday we've completely missed.
J: Iggy and the Stooges, QOTSA.
F: And Iron fucking Maiden! My all time favourite band. If I knew that tonight I was going to be watching Iron Maiden I'd just be grinning from ear to ear!

Currently out on tour (as always!) if you haven't caught Million Dead live yet, do yourself a favour, you really are missing out on something special!