One of my favorite British bands is back with a brand new single that left me with a lot of good impressions, and a lot of confusion. “Southend Vic” is a delightful indie-rock track with a trip-hop mood that takes you on a downward spiral of bliss … mixed with just a tad of fear.
Q&A at the bottom!
As I finished listening to The Miller Test’s new song, I was feeling very confused (read further to know why). I love the way they make music, since their first appearance in our blog with Eden Gaol and later No Venus Moves, the band has shown time after time that their music is like no other, and in fact feels as if it was taken from the golden era of British-rock / Trip-Hop.
I mean, if you like Portishead, Massive Attack, and Radiohead, The Miller Test suits right for you. Their haunting melodies mixed with their sometimes aggressive, sometimes ethereal beats is the perfect remedy for a musical craving.
“Southend Vic” is part of the band’s most recent album, Dead Blue where you can also find the single “No Venus Moves”. Charming and thought-provoking as ever, this song is led by the soft vocals of Emma/Suki, who I feel stand between angelic and haunting at the same time. Hard to explain, but I can’t tell if I’m having a nightmare or falling asleep with its lullaby. Confusing in deed!
Known to add politics and social themes to their lyrics, “Southend Vic” is surprisingly more of a romantic confessional. Its laid-back beat and soft pace seem to create an evocative atmosphere, where electric guitars, bass, and organ commune together in a dance of simplicity.
The single comes also with a music video that represents a nightmare at the beach – Brighton Rock by way of Nicholas Roeg – shot on location in Leigh-on-sea with regular DP Cody Leigh Stannard and director Kristian Fitsall. Such a nice video for such a great track.
I had a very educative Q&A with the boys (and lady) about the origin of their name and some other interesting facts about their music. You can read it here, only in Less Than 1000 Followers!
1.- I’m very curious about the band’s name, could you tell us a bit about it?
Our band name originates in the 1973 US Supreme Court ruling in Miller v. California, which held that obscene material is not protected by the First Amendment – the one that guarantees various American “freedoms”, which is obviously a pretty interesting concept right now.
Since that case, U.S. law has used “the Miller Test” to determine how far porn can go before becoming “obscene”. This seemed a fitting name, for some reason.
2.- Would you please explain to us foreigners what “Southend Vic” means?
Southend is a town on the southeast coast of England, about 40 miles east of London. Like a number of coastal towns, it was transformed by the railways from a small fishing village into a Victorian seaside resort, and like most of those places, its destination status waned with the arrival of cheap air travel in the 1960s.
It still has a load of landmarks geared for holidaymakers and day-trippers – arcades, an amusement park, and a pleasure pier that is the world’s longest. But there’s a sense of disuse, a shabbiness about the place, that is appealing to the likes of us.
The town’s main station is Southend Victoria, which is known colloquially as Southend Vic. As indeed might be anyone called Victor/Victoria coming from there.
3.- Could you tell us a bit more about the story behind the lyrics?
Mink, the band’s songwriter, was on a date with a poet in Southend, and they challenged each other to write about the experience. Mink came up with Southend Vic. So it’s in one sense a literal record of that seedily romantic episode, almost a diary entry – although at the same time, the way Mink writes means that everything is exaggerated and grotesque.
The music gets that, we think. You can hear the crashing of tall waves.
4.- How did you come up with such an idea for the music video?
Our videos seem to have lives of their own, independent of anyone’s intentions for them, and we think that’s the way it should be.
We were sure we wanted to do something in Southend, although we ended up filming in neighbouring Leigh-on-Sea. The seaside setting immediately suggested a few references we then couldn’t shake off, such as the Boulting Brothers’ film of Brighton Rock, or Bowie as Pierrot in the Ashes to Ashes video on a beach with a tractor and Steve Strange doing a funny walk. After that, the Lynchian horror thing was more or less inevitable.
The guys eating the cake – one of them is the director. We think they’re the best thing in it.
5.- You’ve been together for so long, how does a band manage to stay united for as long as you have?
That question made us laugh. The band always feels like such a fragile thing. There were moments when we weren’t sure we’d stay together until the end of this interview.
But yes, we have been making stuff together for a long, long time. It helps that there’s a lot of respect for all the very different, distinctive ingredients that each individual brings to the table. But it’s more that it’s still, even now, fun. Michael Stipe once said that, although he takes what does seriously, he does not take himself seriously at all – there’s a lot to be said for that approach.
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This coverage was created via Musosoup #sustainablecurator