Milktooth

"It’s been a ton of work at times, especially when booking our tours, but it’s what we need to be doing right now to get where we want to go."

When I mentioned to someone that I was posting an interview up about Milktooth, the first thing they asked me was, “Why are you posting about a baby’s tooth?” You may be wondering the same thing, however what I’m actually talking about is the band. Nashville based Milktooth is a band that has turned many heads within the last few years. Members David Condos, Zac Stred, and Brandon Duncan have worked hard to get where they are now. Their music has been reviewed by some of the finest individuals in music including NPR’s All Things Considered, Robin Hilton. When I came across their music, I knew instantly that I wanted to share it with everyone I could and the best way for me to do that is to write about them for all of you. Here is my interview with Zac and David of Milktooth.

Q. How did the three of you meet and form?

A. David: Milktooth formed as an indie band branch off my solo project. I had been touring and recording as David Condos (usually with a backing band) for a couple years prior to that, so it was a pretty natural transition. Zac and I met through a mutual friend in another Nashville band about a year and a half ago. Brandon and I actually met during freshman orientation at college. He ended up transferring to another school here in town, but we still played together in a band for a while during our college days when I was still playing drums.

Q. You’re living in Nashville, TN where a ton of bands come from. In what ways do you feel like you stand out from the rest?

A. Zac: Nashville is full of truly talented and interesting artists. It’s rare to play a show here in town where the bill isn’t packed out with great acts or, at the very least, proficient ones. Its keeps you sharp. We try to get out on the road as often as possible so that our following goes beyond the city limits. So mainly, we spend more time reviewing barbecue and mexican restaurants than any of the other indie acts in Nashville…it’s a huge part of our tour ethos. Seriously though, we’re on Yelp. So, if you see us come into your restaurant, be on your game.

Q. Who are some of the bands you look up to that make you want to become better at what you do?

A. Zac:  There are so many bands that I love, it’s really hard to narrow it down to just a few. I, for one, was really excited (and not confused) when Arcade Fire won album of the year. They’re a really hard-working band and they’ve earned their success. Most of the bands I look up to have that same write/record/tour work ethic…BRMC, The Walkmen, Wilco. All are bands that know they’re onto something and continue to stick it out and put out fantastic records despite the fact that they’re mostly ignored by the mainstream (which of course can be worn as a badge of honour in the world of indie rock).

Q. You’re currently playing at SXSW. What has been one of the best memories from this current tour?

A. David: Our show in Laredo, TX was awesome. It’s a smaller town, but there’s this great promoter there who puts on just one or two shows a month with cool bands who are passing through… and all these people show up!  It’s great to see that it doesn’t matter how big a town is or where it is in the country… if people are able to hear music they like, they will go support it and have a great time. That’s the way it should be, so it was awesome to see it played out so well in Laredo.

Q. If you could share the stage with anyone else, who would that be?

A. Zac: Probably top of my list would Otis Redding. If you’ve ever seen the Stax/Volt revue in Oslo, it’s an incredible package show of all these amazing R&B artists of the 60’s playing for a bunch of Norwegian teenagers. The energy is incredible. All of the guys are just leaving it all out on the stage and sweating right through their suits. I would like that to be the bar to top every night on tour.

Q. As a band, what has been the best piece of advice given to you and who provided it?

A. David: That a band should go out and do the work (touring, promoting, recording, etc), as opposed to waiting around for an agent or company to swoop in and take care of all that for you. It’s been a ton of work at times, especially when booking our tours, but it’s what we need to be doing right now to get where we want to go. Hopefully it’ll lead to people wanting to work with us down the road. That’s one big piece of advice that sticks out that we’ve tried to take to heart. I know we’ve heard that from a few different people, but one of them was our producer Tom Laune.

Q. What do you feel has been your biggest success since forming?

A. David: I’d probably say the tour we did last fall. It was a nationwide, 5-week run that we booked and promoted ourselves. We got to go out to the west coast and southwest for the first time and got great responses from folks all along the way. So, it was really encouraging, not just because people liked the music, but also because we proved to ourselves that we’re able to put together a tour of that magnitude and make it happen.

Q. Other than touring, what other things do you have on your plate for 2011?

A. David: After we got back from our SXSW tour, I went back out to the west coast for an acoustic tour. I just got back from that a few days ago and it was a blast. Aside from touring, we’re planning to take some time this summer to fine-tune some new material, with the goal of getting back into the studio at the end of the summer before hitting the road again this fall. Also, I’m getting married in June, so I’m very excited about that.

Q. What album, that’s been released recently, would you recommend to others?

A. Zac: I have a major musical crush on Anna Calvi right now, definitely check her out. Also, I really like the new Adele album.

David: This one’s from last year, but I really like Stridulum by Zola Jesus. I’m also anticipating that I’ll love the new Wild Beasts album Smother which comes out in a couple weeks.

Q. If you were stranded on an island for the rest of your life and could only bring one of your songs to listen to, which one would it be and why?

A. David: Tough question. My first choice would probably be a song by someone else, but if I had to choose one of ours, I think it’d be our version of David Bowie’s “Cat People (Putting Out Fire).” I’m really happy with how that recording came out and I feel like it does a good job of capturing our live performance of that song.  And Bowie’s lyrics are, of course, wonderful.

Here is their song, “Your Arrows” from their debut EP. If you love what you hear, instead of buying that cup of coffee at Starbucks, spend it on great music.

The End.

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