Millie Manders from Millie Manders and the Shut Up recently took time out from their current tour to talk to Iain McClay about a few different aspects of being in the band. If you haven’t seen Millie Manders and the Shut Up live they are probably near you soon (York this coming weekend for instance) and are well worth going to see, they put on a tremendous show, full of energy, drive and tremendous playing! Millie is a consummate frontwoman.
Millie you have a very energetic stage presence and clearly enjoy performing live but which do you prefer more, performing live or writing new music?
Writing for me is something that just happens, its like something I need to get out of me, ideas come to me and I just start to write the songs, I get to express myself which is good for my mental health. I do find performing to be cathartic, I think I prefer it but there are times when I really enjoy the process of creating a new song. I haven’t always been as confident on stage but I find now when I’m up there I enjoy myself. I love punk, rock and a number of other types of music which all tend to be high energy and I always aspire to put on a show as good as someone like Pink.
You and the band come across as a really tight unit on stage, how did you build that rapport?
I’ve always been a performer, although when I was younger I don’t think I was as confident. I’ve been preforming live with bands since the age of 25/26 and have created a stage persona for myself which is an exaggerated version of a confident me. We have built such a great rapport from spending time together, playing together and just building trust in each other on the stage. My mother used to as me to perform for people who came round to the house and I was so nervous that I used to insist on only doing it from the other side of a shut door, I’ve managed to move on a bit since then.
Who takes the lead in the creative process?
The lyrics and melody are always me, I take them to the band and we then work on them together. Sometimes the band will work something up from a jam and bring it to me for us all to work on but it’s mostly me who takes the lead.
You’ve recently toured Germany, how was it?
It was great, six shows, we really enjoyed it. The audience reaction was fantastic and just made for a great experience. The only down side was that the impact of Brexit meant we couldn’t take much merchandise with us as you have to pay tax on it, even if you don’t know you’re going to sell it. When you’re a band still on the way up like us that can have a serious impact on the amount of money you can make, touring is great but it’s costly. We had to order some merchandise over there but didn’t want to over-order as we would have had to pay tax on anything we brought back in.
You’re currently on tour, what’s the best part about being on tour?
The audience, interacting with them, getting to play live for them every night. Most parts of touring are quite boring and not much fun but getting to meet the people who enjoy our music, spend time with them, talk to them and play for them make it all worth while. We have to try to stay in the cheapest places we can and spend as little money as we can, its when we get to the venue and get to meet our audience that we enjoy touring.
Telling Truths, Breaking Ties, your first album, came out in 2020, are there plans for a follow up?
We want to try to put out a new album and we will have 3 and a half months off after this tour to work on new material but we don’t want to put out an album just for the sake of it. That’s not what we’re about, we only want to put a new album out when we have songs we are happy with and which we think are good enough. We are dropping new music all of the time and may just focus on dropping new individual songs for now until we have enough material we are proud of for a new album.
Its hard to tell from your music as it’s so diverse but who are your influences?
Rage Against the Machine, No doubt, Pink, Aretha Franklin, Enter Shikara, I could go on and on. There are so many great artists, Aretha had the most amazing vocal range!
If you could corroborate with any 3 artists in the world right now who would they be and why?
I need to give this some thought, I will come back to you but without a doubt Rage Against the Machine would need to be one of the three, I would love to work with them.
Where would you like to be in five years’ time?
That’s a very corporate question and I’m not a corporate type! I focus on being happy, I’ve never stayed in a job I’m not happy in. I know whatever I’m doing it will be right for me and I will continue to make sure I try my best to stay happy.
If you haven’t seen Millie Manders and the Shut Up live you really need to! They are a fantastic live band and their 2020 album deserves a much wider audience
Interview by Iain McClay