It was a hot and sweaty early Saturday afternoon at Lollapalooza in Grant Park when Los Angeles band Milo Greene performed their energizing folky set. But—as locals should’ve anticipated—Mother Nature decided she needed a break from the 100,000 plus concertgoers and cancelled several sets with a flash rainstorm.
The five-member band—made up of Robbie Arnett, 27, Andrew Heringer, 27, Graham Fink, 26, Marlana Sheetz, 22, who all switch off playing multiple instruments and vocals, and drummer Curtis Marrero, 26—was one of the lucky groups that day. The festival was evacuated and bands set to play around 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. were forced to reschedule sets for later that night or Sunday, while some didn’t get to play at all.
As the storm hit the city and covered it in an eerie green blanket that promised to pelt concertgoers with torrential rain, Milo Greene took shelter in The Blackstone Hotel, 636 S. Michigan Ave., along with throngs of others seeking safety. The lobby’s marbled walls echoed with both laughter and complaints from those who were disappointed in missing a good chunk of the fest.
The band, which formed in 2010, couldn’t be happier as they sat on a leather couch in a corner of the crowded lobby and chatted amongst friends who had managed to find them despite the chaos of the storm. Not only had they escaped the storm—they also performed their first set at Lolla to a crowd larger than they expected.
The Chronicle sat down with Arnett, Herringer, Fink to Sheetz and talk about their favorite moments at Lolla, their recently released self-titled album and what it was like playing for David Letterman.
The Chronicle: How was your performance today? With this crazy weather that we’re dealing with, how did you handle the heat?
Graham Fink: It’s amazing that we were just sweating in 100° weather, and now everyone just got evacuated because of the storm. It was a crazy swing of events.
But at least you got your set in.
GF: Yeah. Very lucky for that.
How was the crowd? Looked like a nice amount of people out there.
Andrew Heringer: It was a lot of fun. We didn’t know what to expect playing at the 12 o’clock slot—but I think a lot of people showed up.
What were some of the highlights during your set—any moments that you relished?
Marlena Sheetz: At one point, Robbie screamed out to the audience and tried to get the crowd to respond. He yelled out really loud and nobody reacted. We all just started cracking up.
GF: He was like “I wanna see everybody’s hands in the air!”
Robbie Arnett: But in my defense, I was later told that my microphone wasn’t on.
AH: But we were all on stage so we heard it.
MS: But the way the moment happened…we saw no gut reaction. We couldn’t even continue the song we were laughing so hard.
RA: I was embarrassed.
Well, I don’t think anyone in the crowd noticed.
RA: Yeah I don’t think so.
MS: But we all heard it, so it was funny for us. It helped us get through the heat.
I’m glad you got some laughs out of it. How does Chicago and the Lollapalooza set-up compare to some of your other shows?
MS: It’s very moist.
GF: You’re stealing my adjective.
RA: Chicago has a lot of energy. They bring a lot of support. Even though we played at an early time, a lot of people showed up, and the people that were entering, whether it was the moisture or the pure enjoyment of the music, they were staying there and sticking together.
Tell me about the name Milo Greene. I heard that it’s a fictitious band manager made up by a couple of you guys back in college. How did that come into play as the band name?
RA: Andrew and I went to school together, and at the time, we were all in individual bands. We started a mock booking agent/manager/publicist that would manage each band individually, and his name was Milo Greene. So he would call and email venues on behalf of us. And then we started making music together, and we thought that we should pay homage to our booking agent.
AH: For years it was kind of a joke. We were always like, “We’re going to have a band called Milo Greene,” and then, here we are playing Lollapalooza as Milo Greene.
So it all happened really fast?
MS: People always say that, but it didn’t happen fast at all. We’ve all been doing this for a really long time. We’ve all been in separate bands and have been on the road touring for years. And it’s just now starting to pay off. So maybe to outside eyes it seems like it happened fast, and that’s great, but we’ve definitely paid our dues.
AH: We spent two and a half years recording this album. Like she said, it seems fast, but we put a lot of work into it. We made sure everything was exactly how we wanted it.
So tell me about your self-titled first album, which released on July 16.
AH: We have a whole bunch of mobile recording equipment, and we would go up into isolated areas [of California] and set up and just start playing and having fun. That’s really how the band started. We weren’t really looking to start a band, we were looking to have fun and collaborate with friends. And then music happened that really affected us.
How does recording and practicing in remote areas and places full of nature influence your music?
MS: It really helps us focus on writing more than anything.
AH: I think that the fact that we don’t have any Internet, no cell phone service, no TVs, it make us get up in the morning and focus on the songs and really give them the attention that they deserve.
The album also inspired you guys to make a film called “Moddison.” Why’d you decide to dabble in film?
MS: When we started making music together, we wanted to create music that we could see being placed in film and TV—kind of more like a score. So that’s what we geared our songwriting and production to. We are also really inspired by film. We watch a lot of movies. We had about a month off in between touring. We decided to utilize that time to make our own film.
What’s the storyline of the film?
MS: You’re actually the first person to ask us that.
RA: I guess it’s too be seen—TBS—not the network.
You guys were on “The Late Show with David Letterman” on July 25, how was that?
RA: It was pretty exhilarating. It was kind of a cold experience though. We loaded out from D.C. and drove straight to New York for a load in at the Letterman studio at 3 a.m., so we were kind of zombies. When we got there it was 40° in the studio—so it was ice cold. You could se our breath. We sound checked and had a minute to chill, and we were told to do the show. We grew up with [the Letterman Show] so we were really excited.
How was it talking to Letterman?
RA: He was cool, but we didn’t meet him beforehand. During the show he asked us a question, and I was so nervous. Luckily, it was just about where we were from, so that was easy. But I remember stepping back while we were playing and laughing, thinking, “I’m on David Letterman, that’s kinda weird!”
MS: Yeah it was cool. But this lobby is out of control! I feel like a massive natural disaster is about to happen.
I know. Our weather is crazy here. So what do you guys have planned next, assuming we survive the storm?
MS: We’ll probably be on the road for the rest of the year.
AH: We’re doing a lot of headlining stuff and we’re also supporting a band The Walkmen in September.
For more information on Milo Greene, check out MiloGreene.com.