Back in 2015, from the ashes of two failed relationship and as a result of, “too much angst, too much Kirsty MacColl, and too many drunk nights of making up fake band names”, lifelong friends Lily Rae and Alex Wisgard formed Fightmilk. Lifting their name from the fictional, “alcoholic, dairy-based protein drink for bodyguards by bodyguards”, created in Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Fightmilk are just as fun, nostalgic and rowdy as their name suggests.
After a pair of well received EP’s, the band have recently released their debut album, Not With That Attitude, on the fast rising Reckless Yes label. The record was something of a moving on from their previous material; while many of their earlier tracks were written in the eye of an emotional storm, Not With That Attitude, was constructed with the benefit of distance and time. Greater objectivity allowed them to focus the anger and reflect on the saddest parts of the sadness.
The resulting record is one that flits from anger to heartbreak, and throws plenty of comedy and wit into the mix as well. There’s, How You Move On, a track that pours a deserved amount of scorn at an ex who got a tattoo for every former flame, and Get A Grip, that explores a handsome chap, who has, “all the girls answer the door in towels and wet hair” but turns out to be a bit of a muppet, with it’s belt-along chorus, “why can’t you try to be nice? It’s not an art, it’s not that hard, get a grip”.
Elsewhere, they delve into slightly more serious topics, without ever getting so bogged down they can’t find the comedy in the melancholy. Four Star Hotel is a trashy slice of DIY-punk, exploring a relationships demise, with the beautifully honest kiss-off, “how can I convince you that we’re stuck? A four star hotel we still didn’t fuck”. Elsewhere, Your Girlfriend, the only track reprised from their previous EP’s, remains one of the finest examples of mixed emotions you’ll hear put to record, as a combination of sadness, joy, resentment and lust collide into a melting pot of pure honesty, “I don’t mind the way I feel, I’m proud to say I’m your third wheel, she’s such a lucky girl, I wish that I was her”.
It’s not just lyrically, but musically too that Fightmilk are moving on. Solving Crimes In Sweden is as lush and anthemic as The National, Summer Crush is honest angsty-punk in the mould of Diet Cig, and Dream Phone is just a perfect pop-song; in the hands of Miley Cyrus or Katy Perry it would be a number one smash, but would sound nowhere near as good. Not With That Attitude, is the sound of a band coming good on all that early promise, discovering their own musical niche and making a record that finds the little moments of colour in the sometimes drab everyday: it’s frankly a triumph.
Following the album’s release, and ahead of their upcoming, ‘We Ran Out Of Annual Leave’ Tour, we spoke to Alex and Lily from the band about being more ambitious, Avril Lavigne’s break-up songs and being the support act for a screening of 10 Things I Hate About You.
FTR: For those who don’t know who are Fightmilk?
Fightmilk consists of Lily on vocals and guitar, Alex on guitar and sometimes singing, Adam on bass and sometimes keyboards, and Nick on drums and also sometimes singing. We make loud pop music, and this is our first album after two EPs and a Christmas single.
FTR: Your debut album, Not With That Attitude, is out now, what can you tell us about the recording process?
It took a really long time – almost two years – because we weren’t quite sure when it was finished! Basically, we had to stop ourselves from writing more as we went, because we kept booting stuff off once we’d come up with other things. We’re super happy with the way it’s turned out, especially once we realised we could be a bit more ambitious about the whole thing. So we roped in our friends to play some things, stacked up the harmonies and tried to make everything grown up, if not entirely adult.
FTR: The album’s coming out on Reckless Yes, how did that come about?
Our lovely mates Chorusgirl are on Reckless Yes, and we’re a big fan of their roster. They kind of saved us a bit – we were so keen to get this album out, but with people that loved it and that had the same ambition, views and goals as us. We got very lucky and they’re a pleasure to work with.
FTR: We read you recently supported a film screening for 10 Things I Hate About You, how did that come about?
Our friend Michael puts on events at the Genesis Cinema in Whitechapel (the best cinema) and asked us if we’d like to curate a night where we choose the film and do a gig. Adam was very insistent on what film we should show – a decision easily explained once the film started and he gleefully recited the entire thing back at the screen. We played a little show before the movie too, including a couple of covers of songs from the film, so it was super fun to pretend to be Letters To Cleo for half an hour.
FTR: Listening to the record, there’s a lot of failed romance going around, is it a break-up record?
Lily: It can be if you need it to be! Though it’s not really a breakup record, I don’t think. I fully endorse people using this album to soundtrack one, even though it’s only got two actual breakup songs on it and the rest are about things like eloping to Stockholm, Peanuts, and 90s board games. Though writing songs about normal healthy relationships is really hard (maybe Over?) so project away, dumpers and dumpees. If you want a proper angsty drunk-crying breakup record, I do recommend Let Go by Avril Lavigne. It stands up.
FTR: You re-recorded Your Girlfriend for the album, what made you want to revisit that track?
Alex: Well, we all got into music properly in the early to mid 00s, when it was a legal requirement for a band to rerecord an inferior version of something from their first EP on their debut album, so it was only natural that… AHEM. Nah, “Your Girlfriend” always belonged on the record – if anything it’s sort of the start of the loose story the record is trying to tell. It’s actually the same recording as the one on the EP, but we got Adrian to remix it, since he did the rest of the record, so it sounds a lot…bigger, I guess? And there’s a new extra guitar line at the end that sounds like a marauding swarm of hornets, which we always thought the original version lacked.
FTR: What makes you want to make music? Why not another form of creativity?
For at least 3/4 of the band it’s all we know how to do! Playing these songs and writing together brings us a lot of joy. There aren’t a huge amount of bands we agree on and collectively like, so it shouldn’t really work but it does. Also, making music is a lot more of an instant process than, like, making a movie or writing a novel or something. Though maybe one day someone will think to make a Monkees-style TV show about our antics. Then we’ll know we’ve made it.
FTR: Who are your influences? What were you listening to when you made this album?
Lily: I was listening to lots and lots of Mitski, Diet Cig, Robyn (I always am, to be fair), Japanese Breakfast, and pre-made Spotify playlists which are solely the dodgy side of the 1980s.
Alex: Any time we record, I think “What would Jon Brion do?”. The man’s a genius. Otherwise, if it jangled, it was R.E.M.’s fault, and i it was loud and fast, blame Superchunk. The solo at the end of Summer Crush was part dumb rock joke, part Mac McCaughan rip-off.
FTR: What can people expect from the Fightmilk live show?
Lily: Nice clean new strings and the kind of dancing Jesus would disapprove of, I hope.
Alex: Broken strings, broken hearts and extremely sweaty clothing. And that’s before showtime.
FTR: What’s next for Fightmilk?
We’re embarking on the ‘We Ran Out Of Annual Leave’ tour, which will take place solely on weekends, unless it is around the M25. We’d love to shoehorn some international dates in before the piss tornado that is Brexit, so if you’ve got a pub in Germany that’s a bit quiet let us know, promoters. Otherwise, we’re already writing album two, so that’ll probably see the light of day at…some point.
Not With That Attitude is out now via Reckless Yes Records. Click HERE for more information on Fightmilk