Dishing up some fantastic, high-energy, ‘90s punk-inspired tunes, UK punk rockers Millie Manders & The ShutUp are set to drop their raucous new album, Telling Truths, Breaking Lies, on October 23, 2020. Ahead of the release of this brilliant slice of punk rock, V13 had a chat with vocalist Millie about the personal nature of her lyrics, being a role model for female fans, and how it feels talking about her personal life through her lyrics.
Thanks for your time, the album is about to drop, how are things currently with the band?
Millie Manders: “The band are good. We have lots of plans bubbling for the next year or so, we’ve had some great responses to the album and our followers have been amazing at supporting us through this very scary period. We are very lucky!”
Lyrically, the album comes across as very personal; is that the case and, if so, what do you get out of writing personal lyrics?
“It’s absolutely personal. Writing from a personal perspective allows me to process things that I otherwise find hard to. It also lets me express viewpoints that I feel are important.”
As a punk band, what about political and socially inspired lyrics? Is that something you always feel inspired to write about?
“I write about things that have inspired/enraged/upset me. I don’t necessarily set out to write about social injustices and political topics, but if something grabs my attention that I think is important, I do.”
Your sound has a very ‘90s punk and ska feel. Do you remember what drew you to those genres and was there any album or band that really hooked you into the genre?
“Those genres are, of course, influences – most of us grew up in the 90s listening to it, but I think there is far more influence than that. Dom’s jazz background comes out in his horn licks and there are metal influences, hip-hop, and rock. Free HMV CDs drew me to a lot of 90s punk and ska, but I have grown up with multitudes of CDs and vinyl in the house and my instrumentation education was varied too – classical and Jazz mostly. All the band members have a varied background and, while we stick within the punk remit out of choice, I feel we honour all our backgrounds in the way we write.”
Going back to the lyrics, they’re the kind of lyrics that fans can relate to. Do you ever speak to fans about the lyrics and what they mean to them?
“Yes, absolutely! I am always so grateful that people want to reach out and talk about our music. ‘Monster’ and ‘Silent Screams’ have probably been the songs I have spoken about most, because people are struck by the fact that there are other people who genuinely know how it feels to have a panic attack or have claustrophobic, suicidal thoughts.”
Millie, you’re inevitably going to be the focal point of the band. When you’re writing lyrics does the fact that you have a platform to spread your message shape or affect what you write about?
“I never really thought about it like that with my lyrics. I write about what feels right at the time. I have occasionally put out a statement about political leanings or opinions and not everyone likes that, but I don’t mind. There are more important things to worry about than whether someone is annoyed that I am political.”
The subject of relationships come up throughout the album, how does it feel baring your life and feelings for all to see?
“I don’t see it in that way. My music is cathartic for me – I release emotions I otherwise can’t cope with through my lyricism. Hopefully, in some way, others will find a release through it too.”
Away from the lyrics, you’ve lined-up tour dates for 2021. Given the latest lockdown news, how will that affect your plans?
“Who knows? We hear different things every week, don’t we? All we can do is plan for what we hope for, and react to whatever happens.”
I was speaking to a friend about unannounced gigs, guerrilla gigs, and matinee gigs, and the way the underground punk scene has always separated itself from the mainstream. From your experience and involvement, has the punk scene been as affected by the shutdown of the music industry as much as the mainstream, more corporate side?
“Absolutely. No one is going to risk their loved ones no matter what scene we are in. Risking people’s lives isn’t anti-establishment, it’s dumb.”
And what about you? How has life changed for you and the band?
“Apart from no gigs and working from home I don’t think much has really changed for me personally. Only the things that have affected everyone – having to wear masks and adjust to new ways of working to keep everyone safe.”
The other subject at the moment is the Holy Roar Records horror story. Given that, as we’ve discussed, Millie is inevitably a focal point for the band, what is your advice to younger fans who’ve been through or are going through something similar?
“Sexual assault and rape are personal, invasive both physically and mentally, and often causes years of confidence and trust issues and more. The only advice I would give is to talk to someone. Anyone that you trust. I can’t sit here and tell people to go to the police or speak out because I would be a hypocrite and it is the journey of the person having to go through it. Yes, in an ideal world we would all go to the police and report it, but our world is far from ideal and victims are put through so much. I also feel that while I do feel that survivors need to be believed, there are mounting cases where people are lying too. I’m not saying the women speaking out against Alex are lying, but those who claim to be survivors who aren’t, are making it even harder for those who are genuine to be heard. So, if you have survived, I am with you, whatever you choose to do. But please, don’t do it alone.”
And going into 2021, what are your hopes for the band and music as a whole?
“Probably the same as all of us right now … that COVID passes or becomes better controlled, that live music resumes, that venues manage to survive and we can continue to do what we love.”