Earlier this month, Is This Music? travelled down to York to catch up with Millie Manders (of Millie Manders and the Shut Up) ahead of their upcoming tour. We spoke about their year so far, from playing two festivals in one day to coping with the strains and stress that come with relentless touring, as well as their unwavering support for the queer community.
is this music?: You’ve had quite a busy few month with touring and festivals, you even, if I remember correctly, played two festivals in one day, what was that like!?
Millie Manders: We did, that was the second day of Slam Dunk, so that weekend, on the Friday night we played in Dunoon in Scotland, then straight after our set we drove down to Leeds, which was about halfway to Slam Dunk South in Hatfield, had a few hours rest, not sleep, just rest, before driving the rest of the way to Hatfield. Played our set at Slam Dunk South, hung around a few hours to check out some of the bands, drove back up to Leeds the same day to stay there overnight. Sunday we played Slam Dunk North at midday then headed off straight away to make it to Bearded Theory Festival to perform at five o’clock.
itm?: So there was no issue getting from one festival to another same day then?
MM: Oh no, we get there, if we have things to do, we get there and we get it done!
itm?: But you also nearly didn’t make it on tour at all, right? You had a few van related problems, but fans rallied and helped raise funds?
MM: We had massive problems with the van. It ended up being scrapped for £300 and I bought it for £8500 the year before, so it was like eight grand down the drain, and we’d fundraised £5000 the year before to be able to even buy the van in the first place.
We’re so lucky that our fan base and supporters are so giving, without them, there’s no way I could have carried on with the band. For example, Paul Dalton, who created some of the merch we have now, he donated to us ten mugs, fifty badges and a whole load of other stuff and he said to us, “I’m just going to print this stuff, and I want you to sell it and keep all of the money”.
Being in a small band, unless you’ve got some way of outside finance, rich parents, management, or record company backing, some way of having a finance outside of touring and merch sales, you’re literally on a knife-edge every single day.
itm?: How does that affect you mentally?
MM: It’s tough, and I would say that nine days out of ten, I sit and wonder what career I SHOULD be in, but it’s like “What the hell else would I do!?” There’s literally nothing else that I’ve ever felt that I am good at and enjoy as much as this, so I continue for the joy and the love of it, even though it’s really tough on your mental health.
itm?: You’re a huge advocate for LGBTQIA+ rights, and last month you released a Pride t-shirt, tell us a little bit about that came around and who you were raising the money for?
MM: Yeah so, essentially, I started to see, especially this year, people, like JK Rowling, who have such a huge platform, inciting so much hate with very few facts, and I’ve been seeing that spreading. People taking snippets and quotes from scientific articles, completely out of context, to support their own agenda to incite hate against another group. This Pride has been the worst I’ve ever seen the hatred, so I said to the band, “Every time we see something that’s awful on the internet, we’re going to post something positive about the Trans community. Every time we somebody being vile, we’re going to post something positive”. So from that, we released the t-shirt, and literally, we’re not earning anything from it, every single penny is going to Gendered Intelligence, and this week I should be getting a report with a spreadsheet showing how many we sold and how much we’ve raised.
itm?: You released ‘Rebound’ back on Valentines Day, is their any new music in the works? Perhaps an upcoming release?
MM: So, we’ve got ‘Shut Your Mouth’, which is our new single, which is going to be out in October, I haven’t decided when yet, but it’s been recorded and we have the artwork and merch ready to go! It’s a beast of a track, I’m so excited about the energy of it, it’s quite an angry track about fair-weather friends.
Also, this year we’ve had three writing retreats, so we’ve gone away for three weeks in total and we’ve sat together as a band, we’ve come with ideas, sometimes even just a few chords, but we’ve actually been actively writing in blocks. So we might have an album that might be on its way, some point soon, details to be released as and when we can.
itm?: I think you’ve also got another tour coming up, right?
MM: We do! We’ve got our Autumn/Winter tour from 19th October to the 19th November. (Dates and tickets are available at www.bandsintown.com)
itm?: Millie, thank you again so much for your time today, but, before you go, I have to ask you, are you on Threads yet?
MM: I am! It feels organic again, there’s so much positivity on there and there’s no adverts every five seconds, and nothing feels pushed at you, it reminds me of being on MSN or Myspace, where you can just chat shit to your mates again.
Also I’m now finding out what people are really like, compared to their Instagram accounts, where it’s obviously just photos, and you don’t really get their personalities, so now I’m seeing things and thinking “Oh, I don’t like what you’re talking about, goodbye!”
I’ll stay on Twitter, to talk to fans of the bands and people I’ve connected with over there, but I don’t want to see that feed, there’s just so much toxic hatred.
Find Millie Manders and The Shut Up online at millie-manders.com, or at twitter.com/milliemanders. Album ‘Telling Truths, Breaking Ties’ is out now.