As cliché as it may be, getting signed a reputable label is a major goal for most bands. For some it can take years of touring and underground releases to reach that point. For others, like North West pop-rock quintet Milestones, it can happen after just one release.
We first met Milestones in early 2015 with just a song or two available to the public and unsigned. Now as we catch up with vocalist Matthew Clarke, they’ve joined Fearless Records and quickly building up the road miles having toured with the likes of Fort Hope, Area 11, and currently, Hawthorne Heights.
For those who are new to the band may see Milestones’ new found success as just another overnight industry push, yet as Matthew explains their initial growth was organic; “we put out our EP ourselves and just toured/played as much as we could. Kids reacted and the EP (‘Equal Measures’) sold over 1,000 copies.”
That small but impressionable number led to the band getting the attention of numerous labels before settling with Fearless Records. “I think the main thing we always wanted from a label was something we knew Fearless offered. They offer a very hands-on but trusting relationship with their bands. We felt they knew and understood us as people and that they genuinely believed in us. Especially at a band at our stage, that is the most important thing.”
Having built a relationship of trust with Fearless, together they have given ‘Equal Measures’ a lick of fresh paint with a trio of new songs, ‘Call Me Disaster’, ‘Hindsight’ and ‘Shot in the Dark’, showcasing the bands musical and lyrical growth. As a collective set of five songs, Milestones provide a sincere blend of hook-laden pop-rock that borders on pop-punk and alt-rock.
Of the updated version of ‘Equal Measures’, Matt said “it’s been remixed/remastered and we’ve taken a couple songs out we didn’t like anymore and added new songs that we did like. That was down to us alone because whilst the contracts were being sorted, we had time to do it. We went into the studio with Phil [Gornell] and just sent Fearless what we’d been up to. They liked it even more, so we went with that. As for the new songs, we just kept writing. We were aware of the pop-punk sound I think we naturally inherited. We took that in mind and tried our best to write what we wanted.”
Undoubtedly signing to a label as creditable as Fearless is bound to put pressure on any new band yet having abandoned other commitments in favour of the band, Milestones are ready to thrive under pressure. “It doesn’t daunt us, it motivates us. Pressure is there because somethings important and we know that,” states Clarke.
The step up to being full-time has proven to be beneficial for the quintet, allowing them to tour as much as possible to new audiences and challenges.
“Being on the road a lot really does teach you a lot personally and professionally. We’ve grown into better friends and understand each other more for sure, and our live set is being tested everyday so we can feel that we are improving there too. We’re learning how to play to fans who’ve never heard of us and how to get them interested enough to come back. I think we’ve done well, a lot of faces from the Area 11 tour only a couple weeks ago have come to the Hawthorne (Heights) tour and are singing all the words. It’s been cool to see.”
Away from the road, the band have been working on their debut full-length with Clarke describing the new songs as “catchier, stronger and just all-round better”. ‘Equal Measures’ has laid down a template and shows plenty of promise with the aforementioned newer cuts hinting at a rock-centric approach.
“In a sense they’re better. It’s going to be rockier in parts, darker in parts and poppier in parts,” says Clarke of the album songs so far, “We expect the album to be what we made of the EP but amplified and polished. We’ve learnt a lot as songwriters and I think people will hear that.”
It’s no doubt that Clarke and his band mates have their feet firmly on the ground with the direction they want to go with their first album, yet still have high targets; “We want the album to take us to that next level. We want to become a name that’s touring across the world, and play to as many people as possible.”
With their youthful confidence and growing support, Milestones are definitely a name that you’ll be seeing plenty of over the next 12 months.
‘Equal Measures’ EP by Milestones is available now on Fearless Records.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)