So Million Dead are breaking up after their current tour, after four years, countless gigs, two storming albums and enough sweat to water a large desert! R13 jumped into the van with Frank (F) and Ben (B) one last time to talk about the split and the highs and lows of the last four years.

R13: Well, I don't expect you're going to answer this but I have to ask!
F: I need to get this printed out on business cards or something, the reasons why we decided to go our separate ways are not to do with business and it's not to do with music, we're not complaining because we're not making enough money and we're not complaining because we all think different things about music. It's a personal thing and with that in mind I think we all think it's not particularly dignified to have your arguments in public. Without wanting to sound offensive it isn't anybody else's business and we've had our arguments and discussions and it seems the sensible thing to do to walk away from this at this point, with a solid body of work and with us all vaguely talking to each other. Rather than let it get to a point where it gets really silly and it's horrible, so that's basically the party line!

R13: On the website it says there'll be more news on this in the future and 'the' future, is there any more to add now?
F: There's stuff like the DVD that we were putting together before all this blew up, which we are hoping to still do as a kind of career retrospective and it's looking reasonably good. I wouldn't blame our label if they were a bit funny about putting out a DVD for a band that didn't exist anymore but it's looking pretty good.
B: Hopefully it'll happen but it might not!
F:In terms of that comment on the website it's partly to keep people informed about whatever any one of us is doing in the future
B: Plus details that usually come out in the wash!

R13: So without going into details! Was it a long time coming or was it a relatively quick decision? I saw no evidence of it when we spoke at Leeds Festival.
B: Basically there were various reasons, which we can't talk about, that both Frank and I weren't happy for about the last year, I think we were both on the verge of quitting for quite a while. I certainly knew that you (Frank) wanted to quit, I don't know what you thought about me but either way neither of us wanted to leave the other one in that situation.
F: The other thing to be said is that we're a band who are very good at covering things up or you could say I think we're quite professional in the sense that we could all stand around, scream and shout and throw things at each other but it doesn't achieve anything and we might as well get on with it. As a case in point the decision had actually been taken the last time that we spoke, about a week beforehand!
R13: You sly devils!
F: Haha well exactly, we kept it under wraps quite well. There are two reasons why we didn't announce it straight away when the decision was made, one of which was just in case we turned round and decided it was all a bad plan although given that it was a long time coming I don't think that was going to happen. Also there were certain politics involved.
B: Not so much legal as much as personal
F: There were legal reasons but there were personal ones as well, there were just people who, like you can't make it public before you've told the label boss, he wouldn't take it too well bearing in mind he's the guy that made sure we put our first single out and has been with us for a very long time
B: Yeah if he suddenly found out in an interview that we'd split up I don't think that would go down too well!
F: It was just a question of making sure our house was in order before we went public.

R13: Since the news of the split the reaction on the message board has been pretty remarkable I'd say
F: Yeah.
R13: Bearing in mind that you've always had a very accessible relationship with your fans ...
F:I'm glad you say that because that's something in particular I've always been very big on, I don't like the idea of a massive separation between the band and the audience. That doesn't mean we're best friends with everyone who comes to our shows or anything like that but I don't like the idea of putting people on a pedestal. After I posted on the website, cos we'd agreed to do it on Monday but it was ten to midnight on Sunday night and I just thought fuck it I'll put it up and went to bed. The message board went completely nuts overnight and I had hundreds and hundreds, our email account's crashed because of the amount of email we were getting from people going 'oh no' or being sad or upset about it or just saying thank you for the music. I was taken aback by the scale of it a little to be honest, it was like fucking hell there are lots of people who care! So it's been really nice and the atmosphere on this tour was bitter sweet, it's been really nice just to see everyone coming down you know? Giving it one last ... (punches fist in air)

R13: After reading all that though and seeing the amount of people who've come down, does it make you think 'shit, what are we doing here?'
F: A little
B: Erm ... no!
F:There are parts of me that did but I was kind of ready for that you know?
B: To be honest there was before we made it public, there were a few shows where I'd be sitting there thinking 'fuck! This is just so good' like Reading, you know this is just so good I can't believe it but then occasionally something would happen and you just kind of go hmm yeah.
F:This is the thing, you know it does suck, I'm not over the moon about this state of affairs, I quite like being in Million Dead, it's good fun, I think we're alright. Like you say though sometimes in life, god I sound like my dad, there are times when it's the more mature and sensible thing to do. It's been kind of touching and a little sad but I'm not sure it's really fundamentally changed our minds.

R13: Alright, retrospective time, looking back on it now, bearing in mind the sort of press you've had over the years, has it been frustrating that you've never really achieved the success that everyone thought you would? You know everyone's always saying surely this is Million Dead's year?
B: I think there's a certain amount to which, there was the press but also people who we work with who were saying 'oh you're going to be doing this and you're going to be here, you're going to be there and you're going to be enormous' and whilst that was never a reason why we ever started bands and why now, when we go back to doing bands again it's going to be a bit of a shock having gone from being at this kind of level to go back to doing what we've always kind of done. There was a certain amount of 'wow, cool' and when you're supporting bigger bands who are doing what these people say you're going to be doing, you're thinking wow this is going to be us! I think there's a certain amount where every now and again you think 'hmm ok back to reality' but then that doesn't take away from the fact that what we do and the level we're at is amazing.
F:It's fucking great yeah, there's a lot of people that would kill to be here. I think we've always done our best to maintain a healthy cynicism about anything either the press or anyone around you tells you, I mean you have to because the fact of the matter is that a hundred bands try and one succeeds. Despite that you can't help but get caught up in it a little but in essence, you know everyone was going 'Hundred Reasons' when we came out, 'sell a hundred thousand records, play Brixton Academy' and all that kind of shit. When you really trace it back to where we started out as a band, before our first press, before all these people got involved, our reasons for doing it had nothing to do with that anyway and the fact of the matter is that we've done an awful lot of shit that I never thought I'd get to do when we started. Like we've played the Astoria, we've played with Sick of It All, we've played Donington, Reading and Leeds and I'd be a twat if I didn't look at all that and go 'fuck me! I'm lucky enough as it is'. To sit here and go we've got all that but we didn't do this that and the other would be a bit fucking up your own arse if you ask me.
R13: Yeah, fair point.
F:I want to be grateful for what I've had.

R13: How do you look back on your recorded work with Million Dead? Are you proud of it or do you look back and think 'oh I wish we'd done something different'?
B: I think we're proud of it, I think on the first album there's a couple of songs which I think are a bit gash basically but I don't think when we did that album we really thought we were putting in filler there. I think that's important, whilst I think those songs aren't that good now we didn't go in thinking well we've got these but we'll have to do these ones to bump it up. We really did select the songs, we dropped a lot of songs, we had about an album and a half of songs before any of those songs on that album. We had so much stuff that we just ditched.
F: I think that at the end we always went into the studio to do the best that we could in that circumstance and that means with the time you have to write, the skills you have as musicians and the budget you have to record and therefore the time you have to record, taking those things into account and just doing the best you can. I think that in March 2003 that was the best record we could have made at that point and I think 'Harmony No Harmony' was the best record we could have made.
B: If we'd done what we did making 'Song To Ruin' and then done it again a week later it would have been an infinitely better album, the same songs but we just could have done it a lot better just from that experience. For me personally and it's something I think I've said to Frank a couple of times, is that I don't think I've made my mark as a drummer as I would have liked to have done on either of the records, I was hoping for a third record to do that but now I'm going to do a drum course for a year and learn how to become a proper drummer because I never really learnt how to do it!
R13: Really?
B: Yeah, I had lessons when I was a kid, didn't go to any of them, Frank took drum lessons and then would come into band practice and go 'look I got taught this' and kind of show me but not really.
F: I was better than him once! Long time ago now, I remember when you got better than me, I wasn't best pleased!
F: I suppose that's kind of appropriate though seeing as you were the drummer! Anyway, all of our recorded stuff, I'm not unhappy with any of it.
B: There were b sides that could have been better and there were b sides that shouldn't have existed but that was all down to time and money and at the end of the day, whilst it's really nice to be able to put out a b side that we think is worth it for people to have, if it's a b side it's not something we wanted to put on an album and the album is the most important thing.
F:I can't recall either creatively or in the recording process just going 'fuck it, whatever, that'll do'. With that in mind there were a few songs on the first album and there are a couple of moments on the second album where I'm a bit hmm.
B: There's a few things on the second album, you know we wrote that album incredibly fast I think. We went in with one and a half songs written to write and we came out a month later with a full album worth of stuff and then went in to record a week after that. There were things we discovered for the first time playing live, I'd be drumming and I'd realise 'I should have done that! Of course.
F: And then vocally there'll be little kind of tune changes and you go 'oh yeah! It's no longer boring'. But at the same time it was a product of the fact that Cam left the band. Cam left the band after we'd started writing for the second album with him and although we hadn't got any solid songs we had ideas for about four or five. Then he left and we got Tom in and we had to teach him the songs and I personally, well I don't think any of us really wanted to be then just doing 'STR' again for ages and Tom certainly didn't want to be, so the fact that we found a month to quit our jobs and just go in and write was fantastic for us. We came out of it really well, obviously if we'd been given a year to write, well we'd probably still have split up (laughter) but given a longer time we could have probably come up with something better but I think it's a great album and I think it's better than the first album even though we wrote it in such a short time.

R13: So is there anything left in the can that's going to resurface at some point?
F: Nothing finished. There were a couple of tunes here and there that we'd started work on but nothing had been finished.
B: It's always a shame when something like that gets lost in the mists of time but there's no way we're going to go back and work on it.
F: I mean beyond that there are a couple of people, fans of ours, who probably do have everything we've recorded. There's hundreds of radio things and covers that we played once and those people are welcome to try and track them down if they want but we don't have any plans for releasing a rarities record just yet.
B: I don't think we really warrant it, the DVD is a bit of a stretch as it is so to be able to get that out will be fantastic.
F: The idea of getting together a rarities album just so we can get together all the shit songs that we never gave a toss about anyway, I'm not sure how much effort I can be arsed to put into doing that.

R13: I don't think I've ever seen you give less than 100% when you play live, how hard is it to stay motivated to do that gig after gig after gig?
F: Not at all for me, the thing about is that's how I think about doing a gig. It's not even something I really think about particularly, you just get up there and do it. That's how you do a gig, you go up and you put everything in. Just recently I've been doing some shows on my own, which is what I want to do next but just playing with indie bands, I played with Deus the other day, quite like Deus but it's just weird watching them and like they just stand there and I'm like 'that's not playing a gig! You're not doing it properly! Come on!!'. I want to get a pole and poke him and say c'mon put more energy in you twat, you foppish indie git!
R13: You won't be playing with them again then!
B: The only times that maybe we haven't put it all in is, well there's personal reasons why we're breaking up and that can lead to being on stage and because I'm behind everyone else I can see how everyone else is acting on stage. That has occasionally led to me sitting there kinda going 'fucking c*nt' to er ... whoever it would involve!
B: But usually you just get taken away by what you're doing anyway.
F: Yeah, that's just how it's done and for me it never involves any conscious thought, that's just what playing a gig involves.
B: We are somewhat pacing ourselves on this tour, I don't think we're really slackening off that much but just because we're playing 18 songs you know?
F:But even with the pacing thing I find myself standing on stage thinking just chill out for a minute, you've still got 17 songs to go and I think 'but no! You're doing it wrong! You must do the hop!!'
B: There's a bit of hopping on the Reading footage
F: Oh god yeah, we watched back the footage of us playing at Reading the other day and they're all taking the mickey out of me hopping around the stage, a two footed hop!
B: Yeah, brilliant.
F: Shut up!

R13: Ok some quick ones, more retrospective.
F:You say quick but we'll probably talk about each one for ages!
R13: That's alright I've got another side of tape!
R13: Best Million Dead gig ever, so far?
F: That's a good question, to be honest I might be a bit contraversial and go for something like, I thought the show in Oxford the other day was pretty fucking special. The shows in the Astoria have been great, that was cool, Donington was pretty fucking cool.
B: I think Donington really does rate up their actually, yeah.
F: Just cos it was Donington do you know what I mean?
B: That was the first time I walked out, and there was 3000 people watching us, and just walking out there and not being in the slightest bit nervous and just sitting down and going. That was just fucking awesome. I think we played to more people at Reading but nonetheless Donington was where we ...
F: Reading has it's own pedigree but Donington's Donington! Do you know what I mean? We're metal kids come on!
R13: It's Monsters of Rock!
F: It is! We might be playing pansy rock in this band but we have metal in our souls!

R13: Worst gig then?
F: oh there's a number of contenders...
B: Dublin Castle, that's one.
R13: Any particular reason?
B: There were about three people there! Dublin Castle is a shit hole, it's just fucking crap and it really annoys me when indie schmindy kids harbour it as a great venue when anyone playing there comes out of it going 'that was bollocks!', it's just awful.
F:Pitchshifter, the first time we played the Astoria we were supporting Pitchshifter.
B: That was awful...
F:We were awful!
B: Started with Julz coming in a beat behind everyone else and continuing to play a beat behind everyone else.
F: It went downhill from there....
B: Surprisingly we still got kids coming up to us up to a year ago saying the first time they saw us was at the Astoria with Pitchshifter and it was amazing!
F:We're like, we have that show on video, we're aware of how bad it was! There's more but there's two contenders for you!

R13: Best Million Dead moment? First single coming out? The thing you look back on and think that's when we knew something was really starting to happen.
B: I would say to be honest those sort of moments I always got from Funeral's crowd when we supported them, Funeral's crowd were the most accepting crowd of anyone else's that we've played to and you could play in front of them and just feel that it was yours and that was always great.
F:My answer to that question would be the second time we played the Exeter Cavern. Simply because the first time we played the Exeter Cavern we drove all the way down there, played to two people who didn't give a fuck and drove all the way back again! It was just a total unmitigated disaster, we learnt the hard way that no one in Exeter cared. The second time we played there was on our first ever headliner tour and it was pretty much sold out, absolutely rammed and everyone went apeshit and that was a moment for me when I stood on the stage and looked out and that difference between two people and two hundred and they were all into it and it was just fucking hell we are doing something here that people seem to give a shit about.
B: Leicester Charlotte as well, when Frank was ill and we had to do a short set. Don't get me wrong that wasn't the best show because it's a fantastic venue, it's a shit hole as well! But that crowd was just fantastic. That was the last day of the Milo tour so there were shenanigans on stage as well.
F:Which I missed because I was dying! Those kind of moments where you start to twig that it might be something that more than your circle of friends give a shit about.
B: Since when did our circle of friends ever give a fuck about this band?!
F: Fair point! Well made.
B: We used to be part of a circle of friends who were in about a million bands and everyone loved everyone else's band and something about this band, no one liked it and you couldn't say it was jealousy because of success or anything because it was before we'd done anything but apparently we were just bollocks in everyone else's eyes.
F: Cunts!
B: Tom never liked us, then he joined us.
R13: Say no more.

R13: Other than breaking up, worst moment? There must be times on the motorway when you broke down for instance?
B: I absolutely loved every single breakdown we had, because they've always been great! I remember breaking down outside Edinburgh and just pissing around, breaking down on the way to Jamie's house, we're staying there again tonight! In the Yorkshire Moors when the hardest hit blizzard area in the country was, the Yorkshire Moors! Sitting in the van and just laughing, just having a great time. If it wasn't for some grumpy people it would have been even better!
F:Italy for three days, we lost so much money and we had to cancel shows, it was a total fucking joke but that's the point. I'm not really sure I can answer that question because generally speaking, being in a band is what I like doing and all facets of it. I guess the answer to that really is when Cameron left, that was a real kick in the nuts, in retrospect a year / year and a half on I don't really hold any grudge against the guy. I understand his reasons but he didn't necessarily go about it in the best possible way.
B: I don't think we did either in terms of dealing with it.
F: No, but you know, good luck to the guy, he made his decision and that's fair enough but even so I think that was the worst moment for me when all that was blowing up. The reason it was bad was because it was jeopardising the simple fact of being in a band! As long as that part of it is stable it's kind of all a laugh.
B: Anyone who knows us, Graham our sound guy particularly tires of it, we have a tendency to go on about Black Flag, a lot! Not necessarily about Black Flag the band in its self but we kind of came up with our own kind of ethos, think Black Flag! And it's not just about Black Flag it's any situation you're in as a band, breaking down, anything happening, you've been scabbed for a grand, anything, another band's had it worse so shut the fuck up, load your gear in, play the gig, load it out again and fuck off to the next gig, don't fucking whine about it.
F: Stop fucking whining, you're still in a privileged position to be in a band at all!
B: So that's the ethos we always go with.

R13: Now you must have had some of these, craziest, or best, or maddest fan?
B: Ed from Bangor, for about a year was insane!
F: He was nuts, we've run into him a few times since and I think he realised, he grew up a bit, that he was being a bit creepy! We were playing this Club Kerrang night in Bangor University and we weren't on until midnight so we didn't get there until 6pm and we arrived to find this guy Ed, who we'd met once or twice before, outside the venue on his own. Apparently he'd been there since eleven O'clock that morning, drinking beer and he didn't get into the gig because he was too young! We tried to get him in but we couldn't, the bouncers weren't having any of it so in the end he listened from outside the doors and he was really happy! I was thinking I'd be really pissed off to be honest.
B: We'd of just gone home you know?
F: I guess we were appreciative of that. One of the things that makes me go woah more than most is tattoos. There's quite a few out there actually, somebody emailed me the other day, there's this guy who's got some of the lyrics to 'The Kids Are Gonna Love It' tattooed on his hip, I 'd quite like to know which ones cos I think that's quite a bad song lyrically! I didn't tell him that obviously but if that's what he wants to do that's fine.
B: One of the designs we had for t shirts and so on was the bomb design, I drew that and some kid's got it on his arm and that's creepy but really cool at the same time. I still think it's weird that someone has a tattoo of our band because I don't really consider us to be very important.
F: It's a weird thing but I guess that's the most long time kind of wow factor. There's a bunch of kids from Scotland that keep flying down to our shows.
B: They flew down to do our video as well!
F: That makes me go wow! You know it's only us!
B: There's no band I've ever done that for, the only band we would consider it for is if Propaghandi come over this year we'll probably go to every show and that'll be a bit creepy for them! We can go over to the other side.

R13: So what's next? Anything in the pipeline? I know you (Frank) have some solo stuff lined up.
F: My thing from now is to try and have a go at that, to be honest it's very different from what Million Dead does. I'm discovering already it's a different corner of the industry and it works in a different way. It's what I want to do, that sounds a bit like Neil Young, Billy Bragg, that kind of shit and why not? A lot of country and folk music is very simple and direct, it's a simple format, it's just this either works or it doesn't, it's just a voice and a guitar. Who knows how it will go but that's my next plan. It's very different and it doesn't sound like Million Dead at all.
R13: But then you wouldn't expect it to, otherwise you'd just start another band wouldn't you?
F:Well yeah, the other thing is that me and Ben have been playing together in bands longer than we haven't been and I'd be pretty surprised if we didn't end up doing something again at some point.
B: As I said earlier I'm starting a drum course, only until June but it gives me a chance to learn some stuff that I never learnt, learn some different styles other than hitting my drums as hard as possible. I've always tried to be an interesting drummer but I've never had a formal background to base it on so I guess in some ways I've been able to come up with some interesting things but when it gets to a stage that I'm at now, anyone with a more formal background is going to be able to whip out something a lot more interesting. Band wise my band Palehorse, who've been going longer than Million Dead actually, Tom used to be in but he actually quit. We're going to get that going again and learn some old songs. Our tour finishes in Southampton on the 23rd and on the 24th I start work in Virgin Megastore!
R13: That's a real 'back to reality isn't it?
B: Yeah it is.
F:I hope as a band though that we never got too far away from it anyway.
B: In the last year we've been getting paid for what we do, not enough, Julz has been paying rent so she got a bit more, Frank was paying rent for a bit but Tom and I, our Dads both live in London so we were getting paid less as we could live there but we've done odd jobs and like Frank says we've never been far from reality. It's pretty hard to do a gig when you've been up the scaffold all day I have to say!

R13: I suppose it has its advantages, when you tour as much as you do it must be hard to maintain relationships away from the band for instance?
B: It can be, my girlfriend is fantastic, I hope she reads this!
B: She gets pissed off and she misses me but when she met me I was 18 and we did our first tour when I was 16 or 17, I've been doing this for so long and you'd have to be a fool to be going out with someone in a band and expect them to just stop doing it. Relationships can be a problem but jobs are really hard, friendships are really hard though.
F: I've been single for ever pretty much, dear god, I remember girlfriends! I had a serious girlfriend up until this band but even without that if you're on the road the whole time people stop sending you texts saying 'are you in town tonight?' and the answers always no, I'm in fucking Dundee or somewhere but fuck it, that's part of the deal.
B: When your friends start going to your website to see when you're away it gets a bit worrying!

R13: Well that's the end of question time!
F:Probably the last Million Dead interview you'll do, so thanks.

Well that's that, by now it's all over, if you never saw the band you missed out big time! If you did, then you'll have some great memories. Surely not the last you'll see of any of them though and our best wishes to all the guys (and girl!) in their future projects. Thanks, it was fun.