Tramlines 2018: Exposed chats to Milburn

Joe Carnall of Sheffield indie darlings Milburn speaks to Tramlines Times ahead of the band’s Main Stage performance and final gig for the foreseeable future.

Ten years of Tramlines, eh Joe? How important do you feel this festival has been for Sheffield?
It’s been massive for the city. It’s had its critics, like everything which does well around here really, but that’s what happens when something becomes successful. That’s not to say I didn’t love it when Division Street felt like some cool European city in those first few years but things had to grow. The likes of Milburn, Reverend and the [Arctic] Monkeys would’ve killed for a festival like this on our doorstep when we were starting out.

You’ve played it under plenty of guises, from your solo performances to gigs with The Book Club and Milburn. Any standout memories – both as a performer and a spectator?
Loads. Headlining Devonshire Green one Friday night with Reverend and the Makers was special. My ‘not so secret Sunday solo set’ at the Bowery one year was incredible. Everyone was on a high after a great weekend and there was queue around the block which massaged my already-oversized ego. I’ve also had a few very late Sunday nights over the years – the only time I’ve ever had to buy my girlfriend (now wife) flowers by way of an apology.

How’s this summer shaped up for the Milburn chaps so far?
All quiet on the Milburn front really. We’ve done an awful lot since reforming two years ago and wanted this Tramlines slot to be special so we’re not doing much around it apart from a warm-up show in Liverpool on Thursday. After Tramlines the plan is to go underground again.

Since the lot of you are big Wednesdayites, we’d imagine playing in the shadow of Hillsborough Stadium has a certain appeal too?
Just a little bit. It’s a tough one though as although we’re certainly up for showing our colours we don’t want to alienate the other half of the city. It’s all in good taste anyway. I’ve not got time for the idiots; we’re all from the same place.

Let’s take you back to the early days of the band. The city took you into their hearts pretty quickly, and you’ve remained there for years – arguably more so than many of your peers. Why do you think that is?
I think it’s because we never truly left, both metaphorically and physically. We have a decent following in other parts of the country but we’re well aware that Sheffield ‘owns us’. It’s probably an underdog thing. We were always judged alongside the Monkeys and I think Sheffield folk understand how that wasn’t necessarily fair. It’s also because we’re fucking brilliant. Obviously.

You’ve said it’ll be the last Milburn gig for a long time. What have been your proudest moments with the band?
It’s been an amazing comeback and there have been plenty of moments: the four nights at Sheffield O2 Academy, making a record with someone who we truly admire in Bill [Ryder-Jones] and going on two European tours. However, putting on our own show at Don Valley Bowl was the icing on the cake. Musically speaking, it’s the proudest night I’ve ever been a part of.

There are always plenty of crowd favourites to try squeeze into a set list, especially at a Sheffield gig. How do you decide what to play and who gets the final say?
It’s become relatively easy really. When you’ve done plenty of shows the sets start to write themselves. There are no real arguments like there was the first-time around. If it came to it I’d probably win, simply because I’m the one who is actually bothered enough to type it out and send it to our tour manager to print.
Who’s headlining on your dream festival bill? You can pick three bands across a weekend. I’ve gone for the big-hitters, and it’s hard to represent all band members here but I’ll try: David Byrne, QOTSA and Tame Impala.

What’s the craic post-Tramlines? Can we expect some fresh solo material or is there something else in the pipeline?
The band are going to disappear again for a bit. It’s not forever but we’d hate for things to go stale again. Personally, I’ve got a solo record ready to go. I just need to make some final arrangements – so watch this space.

JC’s top Tramlines tips
1: Get a Day Saver.
2: Have a nosey at some of the new bands on the ‘smaller’ stages – just obviously not at 18:30 on Friday.
3: Go and see Craig David. What’s the worst that can happen? Proper Bo, I tell thee.

Milburn play their last gig for the foreseeable future on the Main Stage at Tramlines today at 18:30. 

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