2:03am

Sat July 14, 2012
Music Interviews

Milo Greene: Born Of A Music-Industry Phantom

Originally published on Sun July 15, 2012 3:49 pm

Buzz has been building. There were standing ovations when Milo Greene toured with The Civil Wars. Esquire magazine put Milo Greene on its list of artists to watch in 2012, and Milo Greene will perform songs from its debut album on David Letterman's show later this month. But this budding star is probably not who you think he is.

"I like to think that we are all Milo Greene," Robbie Arnett tells NPR's Scott Simon, jokingly. Arnett is a member of Milo Greene — which is, in fact, a band. But Milo Greene was also a fictional publicist whom Arnett invented as a struggling young musician.

"Milo Greene came to fruition when I was going to college with Andrew Heringer, who's also a part of the band," Arnett says. "We were in separate bands, and we wanted to sound a bit more professional, I guess. We wanted a booking agent, a manager, so we created a Gmail and starting sending people emails, calling people, on behalf of Milo Greene."

Arnett says the plan worked: Soon, he and Heringer were playing bigger shows more frequently.

"We got into better venues," he says. "When you're calling on behalf of your own band, they kind of disregard you, but when you have someone speaking on your behalf, it helps."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This Tuesday, a new album will be released by Milo Greene.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

SIMON: I tell you, buzz has been building. There were standing ovations when Milo Greene toured with the Civil Wars. Esquire put Milo Greene on its list of Artists to Watch in 2012, and Milo Greene will appear on David Letterman's show later this month. So from the studios of NPR West, we're happy to welcome Milo Greene. Mr. Greene, thanks very much for being with us.

(LAUGHTER)

ROBBIE ARNETT: Well, you're welcome.

SIMON: You get that joke all the time?

ARNETT: I like to think that we are all Milo Greene.

SIMON: Well, let's explain this. So I gather, and I didn't discover it for, like a quarter way through my research, there is no Milo Greene.

MARLANA SHEETZ: There is and there isn't.

SIMON: Well, we're speaking, by the way, with Robbie Arnett and Marlana Sheetz. Explain this to us, please.

ARNETT: So Milo Greene came to fruition when I was going to college with Andrew Heringer, who's also a part of the band. We were in separate bands, and we wanted to sound a bit more professional, I guess. We wanted a booking agent, a manager.

SHEETZ: Just some kind of figure who could represent you.

ARNETT: So we created a Gmail and starting sending people emails, calling people, on behalf of Milo Greene.

SIMON: And it worked?

ARNETT: It did work. We got into better venues and people were - when you're calling on behalf of your own band they kind of disregard you, but when you have somebody speaking on your behalf, it helps.

SIMON: Yeah. Let's listen to a little more of this new CD. This is a track called "Don't You Give Up On Me."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T YOU GIVE UP ON ME")

MILO GREENE: (Singing) I'll go, I'll go, I'll go wherever you go. And I would never leave without letting you know. Don't you give up on me. Don't you give up on me.

SIMON: Those are really full harmonies. How do you work on them?

SHEETZ: Yes.

ARNETT: Well, we were...

SHEETZ: Lots of practice.

ARNETT: Yeah. We were all singers of our past bands, so we knew coming off the gate that we wanted to create a band that would be focusing on vocals and we just sat around the fire and pretty much sang with each other and figured out how our voices would blend. We all have pretty distinct voices individually but it came together in a fashion that was like a three-headed monster. It just worked. It just clicked.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T YOU GIVE UP ON ME")

GREENE: (Singing) 'Cause you're all I got...

ARNETT: That was really the primary focus of this group starting out, just to get a vocal...

SHEETZ: Foundation.

ARNETT: ...foundation.

SIMON: Excuse me. You finish each other's sentences.

MARLANA SHEETZ AND ROBBIE ARNETT: We do.

(LAUGHTER)

SHEETZ: Isn't that adorable?

ARNETT: We also go to the gym together. We walk through Hollywood together. We do everything hand in hand, pretty much.

SIMON: This is adorable.

SHEETZ: Oh. You're making sick right now.

(LAUGHTER)

ARNETT: I'm embarrassing her.

SIMON: Well, I'm very happy for all seven or eight of you. And there's not a lead singer in the group, so you would all have to hold hands as you walk through Hollywood.

ARNETT: Exactly. That was another big thing coming into the band, is we didn't want one focal point. We wanted there to be variation. We wanted everybody to have a voice.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

SIMON: I'm interested in the process of recording and songwriting because what I understand is that you kind of pack yourself off to various locations.

SHEETZ: Mm-hmm.

SIMON: The liner notes, for example, say this was, quote, "recorded at the homes of our friends and family." Now, I mean, do you just say, hi, we're here to record something?

ARNETT: Pretty much.

SHEETZ: We get out. We're moving it.

ARNETT: Yeah. We took two years to record this record and we did it in various locations. The original session, we took over a living room and there's a track that made it to the album and then we went up to San Ynez in our manager's parents' house and we took it over. Then we spent a majority of time up in Seattle at a place called Bear Creek, which is a proper studio. We kind of recorded all...

SHEETZ: And don't forget Shaver.

ARNETT: Oh, yes. Shaver Lake too.

SHEETZ: We spent a lot of time in Shaver Lake up at a cabin that belongs to Andrew's grandfather or his family. It's just important for us to find a place to get away and really focus. All of the different places that we went to really allowed us to do that. A lot of times we didn't have TV or Internet distractions and, you know, we wouldn't look at our phones for hours.

I think that's part of what makes this album really interesting.

SIMON: Well, tell us how that works. How does the location affect the music you make?

ARNETT: Well, we kind of escape L.A., being so urban. We wanted to get out into the woods and kind of retreat a little bit. And the overall vibe of the record is a little bit more haunting and lonesome and melancholy and those locations really helped bring out the emotion of those states.

SIMON: Is there a song you can point us to on this CD where you it speaks very powerfully to that?

ARNETT: "What's the Matter?" That was recorded - that's the first track on the record and that was recorded in Shaver Lake, and it's a cabin literally that sits on the water and we just sat there overlooking the water one night and were just going over melodies and that just kind of came out.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHAT'S THE MATTER?")

GREENE: (Singing) All your love never hurt another. All your love is lost on me.

ARNETT: We just went throughout the night working on that night and I think by the end of the session when we sat there and listened to it, turning off all the lights, it just really felt like it was part of...

SHEETZ: You're making us sound like such hippies right now.

(LAUGHTER)

ARNETT: I said we go to the gym. Hippies don't go to the gym.

SHEETZ: That's true. But we ride bikes too.

ARNETT: That's true. But, yeah, so that's really the ideals behind the band, is escaping from the urban areas and retreating to the hippie woods.

SHEETZ: Oh, god.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHAT'S THE MATTER?")

GREENE: (Singing) What's the matter? What's the matter with you? What's the matter? What's the matter?

SIMON: What stage is Milo Greene at right now? What do you think of as being your next step professionally?

ARNETT: We are about to release this record and tour probably pretty endlessly for the next year, year and a half. Just traveling on the road.

SIMON: It's a big deal to be on "The Late Show with David Letterman," isn't it?

ARNETT: Yeah. We're pretty excited about that. I grew up watching "The Late Show." I think that parents are really excited. Parents are coming out and I couldn't be more excited to be playing that show.

SIMON: What happens if he ambles on over and says which one of you is Milo?

ARNETT: Oh, I will take the mic gladly and start talking in a British accent.

(LAUGHTER)

SIMON: I didn't know. Milo Greene is British? Really?

ARNETT: Milo Greene is British.

SHEETZ: I like to think so.

ARNETT: I think on certain days he's British.

SHEETZ: His description changes every time someone asks, but consistently I think he's British.

SIMON: Well, Mr. Greene, or Robbie Arnett and Marlana Sheetz, really nice speaking with you. Thanks very much.

ARNETT: It's been a pleasure.

SHEETZ: You, too.

ARNETT: Thank you for having us.

SHEETZ: Thank you so much for having us.

SIMON: Robbie Arnett and Marlana Sheetz. They are from the group Milo Greene, the studios of NPR West. The album "Milo Greene" comes out next Tuesday. And you can go to our website to watch Mr. Greene's live - OK. I know it's not - Milo Greene's live performance here at NPR. That's at npr.org and this is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

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