Yourcodenameis:milo have spoken to NME about the 20th anniversary of their cult classic debut mini album ‘All Roads To Fault’, what’s next – and working with the late, great Steve Albini.

Released on this day in 2004 (May 10), ‘All Roads To Fault’ by the Tyne and Wear post-hardcore outfit would go to inspire scores of rock acts from the UK and beyond and finding fans in the likes of The 1975 and My Chemical Romance. The release us now known asone of the most influential rock releases of the decade.

The band released two acclaimed follow-up albums before they went on an “indefinite hiatus” in 2007 – with frontman Paul Mullen going on to join The Automatic as well as forming Young Legionnaire and Losers, and guitarist Justin Lockey launching a range of projects as well as becoming a full-time member of Editors and Frightened Rabbit side-project Mastersystem. YCNI:M reunited for a string of reunion shows last year, with more hopefully on the horizon.

Speaking to NME, the band explained how the 20th anniversary of ‘All Roads To Fault’ was made all the more profound by the passing of the EP’s producer Steve Albini this week.

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“I had no idea this record was 20 years old,” Lockey told NME. “I some ways I think that’s a really good thing, as it means I’m not stuck there still in a time where I was a different person, more naive about the world, the music industry and all that comes with it. It’s from a different lifetime – but everything I have done in music since has a direct line back to that album. And I love that.”

Lockey explained how the mini album was “a very true reflection of a band who had a hunger, an insanely ordered and strong work ethic, and didn’t really fit in”.

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“Back then, we fell in between the two camps of, ‘Are you an NME band or a Kerrang band?’ Nobody had a clue. Neither did we. We didn’t really give a fuck, we just wanted to make the best stuff we could.”

Growing up while inheriting his older brothers’ “impeccable” taste in music,” the guitarist’s tastes were shaped by the likes of ‘Pod’ by The Breeders, ‘Seamonsters’ by The Wedding Present and ‘Surfer Rosa’ by Pixies – all featuring that “very familiar sound” of “the Albini drum sound” – described by Lockey as “something that can knock your face off and equally give you a comfort knowing that what you’re hearing is gonna be pretty fucking good”.

“‘In Utero’ by Nirvana was my coming of age Albini record,” he continued. “I think it’s that record that made us as a band ask the question, ‘can we go do our first album with Steve Albini in Chicago?’ Surprisingly the answer was yes. That’s a big tick off your bucketlist right there.”

Recalling when they called Albini for the first time to book the first session, Lockey said: |It was the first point at which I thought this whole ‘making a debut record’ thing was gonna be fucking ace, because it was so so fucking easy – and that encapsulated the whole session, he just got out of the way and let us do our thing.

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“We cut the whole thing as live takes, and just chose the best of each. That fucking simple.”

He added: “Obviously Bez [Paul Gamble-Beresford] the drummer had a two-storey drum room, whilst the rest of us were all lined up in a corridor in front of our amps at full whack fighting to hear what the fuck was going on, but we didn’t give a fuck – it was exhilarating. It was just like being in our rehearsal room so it felt natural, it felt just like it always did.”

Remembering their time with the punk and production legend, Lockey said: “We paid attention, saw everything he did, asked questions that he would gladly spend ages answering”.

“He once stopped the session and proceeded to give us a lecture on how the peanut built America. He schooled us in billiards, then showed us his favourite cooking shows that he’d recorded. It was all so natural and encouraging, we could do what the fuck we wanted and he’d capture it. That’s the deal, and we fucking loved it.”

Comparing their experience to other bands who had told them that recording debut albums came with “re-recording with different producers, loads of different mixers, A&R bods cutting different versions, edits – all that shit”, Lockey said that the making of ‘All Roads To Fault’ was anything but a chore.

“We had absolutely none of that, just a week in a studio with the dude who made our favourite records steering the ship in the most hands-off but confident way imaginable,” he said. “We’d had the experience we wanted and what would eventually set us up to be the best band we could be.

“We were proud of what we did, we were proud of what we sounded like. We watched, we learned and took it all onboard as we toured that record and obsessively recorded demo upon demo into our first full length album ‘Ignoto’ [2005], which is where the real art started with Flood [U2, Depeche Mode, The Smashing Pumpkins] at the helm.”

Yourcodenameis:milo, love in 2004 (Photo by Patrick Ford/Redferns)

Lockey explained how Albini provided the band with ” the most basic, honest and true version” of themselves on record, allowing them “a platform to go forward and carry on making what we wanted”.

“I’m actually really glad I’m talking about it now,” he admitted. “People still ask about that record, and what was it like making it – mostly other bands! I still have the masters of the full record of Albini’s mixes which I’d love to release if only someone who works at Polydor / Universal (our label at the time) even knew we ever existed and replied to emails so I can license it.”

Teasing new material from the band, he went on: “In fact I’d like to put that version out as a reset, as a starting pistol to see where we could go next. Hopefully heavier, hopefully more expansive – now that we’re not those fucking young Northern chancers who blagged their way over to Chicago for the fuck of it.

“Years pass so fucking quick but it never really feels like we stopped being a band. Playing those reunion shows last year confirmed that for me: the release, the absolute pleasure of it all. I think we just took a massive chunk of time off to do a bit of real life. Because everything we did back then was so fucking magical and unreal, it’s remarkable to think back on it and to know it actually happened.”

Frontman Paul Mullen meanwhile, also spoke of the deep impact that working with Albini had on him.

“Albini’s music – whether it’s through Shellac, Big Black, or his engineering work (he never wanted to be called a producer) on Pixies, PJ Harvey and especially on Nirvana’s ‘In Utero’ – completely shaped my musical landscape,” Mullen told NME.

“His outlook on the artist and the industry will be referenced forever. His work ethic was unparalleled. His output and quality of it will be never matched by any other single human person.”

He added: “It’s crazy to think ‘All Roads To Fault’ turned 20 today. Those years have flown by. With Albini’s passing, it’s a reminder that life is fleeting and we only get one chance. Albini took life and fucking went for it.”

Yourcodenameis:milo, love in 2004 (Photo by Patrick Ford/Redferns)
Yourcodenameis:milo, love in 2004 (Photo by Patrick Ford/Redferns)

Steve Albini died of a heart attack, with the news confirmed this week. His band Shellac are set to release their first album in 10 years, ‘To All Trains‘, next week (May 17).

The surviving members of NirvanaPJ HarveyJarvis Cocker, Thurston Moore, and The Cribs are among those to have paid tribute.

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