On Oct. 21, the local Orono band Milk St. released a single from their new album “Spaced” that will be released on Nov. 18. The Maine Campus sat down with them for an incredible interview about their new album, where the band talked about their inspirations behind the songs and their dedication to expanding the local music scene into the Orono area. The band is extremely passionate about what they do, and their attitude is infectious. Milk St. is the quintessential indie band, chock full of unreal stories.
Milk St. was created in 2018, originally under the name Spaced. It began with guitarist and singer Jonah Wakefield.Wakefield has been writing music for a while, drawing inspiration from his life. Some of the tracks on the album come from this early period of the band’s history. Early on, a former member bass for the first songs, before he was replaced with current bassist Gabe Chambers on the rest of the tracks. Through mutual connections and childhood relations, drummer Joshua Whittemore joined the trio. The group has had other members join in the past, but these three have been together through it all.
Each of the members bring a different sound to Milk St.’s music. They like to call their use of emotional rhyme guitar and intricate sounds “Northeast Emo.” Wakefield likes to compare it to the skater punk band the Front Bottoms. Wakefield even said that one of the lines in “Spaced” is directly lifted from a Front Bottoms song; he feels as though he is paying respect to them for helping him through his creative depression. Whittemore has a background in drumming for both hip-hop and punk styles, bringing an edgy vibe to his playing. The hardcore sound drives the band and gives an interesting contrast to Chambers and Wakefields grunge and metal background.
The majority of the discussion revolved around their new album. They just finished recording the album two weeks ago and are almost done with mixing it. “Spaced” chronologically records the development of the band as individuals. Wakefield’s life is the main theme of the album as we follow him moving back to his old home fearing he will lose his friends and who he was, then on to a rocky relationship and concluding the album with overcoming these feelings of stagnancy. The album was set up to flow from older to newer songs to show the evolution of the band. The band members have a rich history that solidifies their creative chemistry.
“All the lyrics and themes surround Jonah’s life. Something interesting about our dynamics [is that] we’ve known each other forever [and] we’ve continued to stay friends through all of that,” Whittemore said. “[The lyrics] are words I’ve heard Jonah say.”
The writing process is a collaborative effort. For Wakefield, it’s almost like therapy for him. He enjoys the process of rambling out loud and writing lines in his notebooks.
“I’ll just start yelling when playing guitar,” Wakefield said.
Chambers and Whittemore add their thoughts to the songs after Wakefield is done, even though they don’t always know what he means by his lyrics.
“[For this album,] Jonah wrote the framework for every song and we added on,” Chambers said.
Through the album they’ve noticed how they’ve matured over time and all the work that was put into each song. They feel as though this album is the longest collaborative work they’ve done in the band’s history.
“We took what was our old identity, and we used that sense of who we were a few years ago. We thought that when we changed the name it would be the perfect theme of the album,” Whittemore said. “It’s evolved in an interesting way over time”
Milk St. have also begun playing their music in the Bangor and Orono area to their targeted demographic. Last November, Wakefield convinced the Orono House of Pizza to offer bands to perform their music live after the 2020 dry spell.
“Live music wasn’t really happening in the capacity it was happening [before], there were things here and there, but it wasn’t in a form that a university kid could get involved with,” Whittemore said.
Last year they put together DIVEST fest, a local music festival that took place in the backyard of a local house. This year they are collaborating with the University of Maine to host the monthly 207 Block Party at the IMRC stage. They hope that this will bring more college students out and support local bands.
As an anniversary tour for their first release single “The Scariest Part,” Milk St. will be performing at G-Force on Oct. 29 in the Bangor Mall. It is open to all ages, with those under 21 paying a cheap cover charge and college students with an ID get in for free.
Milk St. can be found on Spotify and YouTube. Concert dates can be found on their Instagram milkstreetband.