The year 2016 has been a bit of an “annus horribilis” for the music industry with the loss of a number of greats, including Prince, David Bowie and George Michael.
However, for one Sheffield band it has proved to be a memorable 12 months – and 2017 could be even bigger.
Milburn – Joe Carnall junior, Louis Carnall, Tom Rowley, Joe Green – called it a day in 2008, having grown frustrated with their lack of success as they watched friends’ bands such as Arctic Monkeys and Reverend and the Makers make it big.
But absence makes the heart grow fonder.
As a band spokesman writes: “When Milburn parted company eight years ago, it seemed they may be remembered only as an influence on more successful artists still to come, but over time it became clear this music would not die, stubbornly refusing to take its place in the backwaters of Spotify. Instead the songs reached a new generation; spread by chants of ‘Miiiilburn’ at other band’s gigs and the help of social media.”
So much so, the four friends could not resist anymore and agreed to reform for a couple of hometown shows to mark 10 years since debut album Well Well Well.
Singer and bassist Joe says: “We never really got the credit we deserved the first time around, we deserved a lot more attention.”
What they did not expect on their return was to sell out four shows at Sheffield’s O2 Academy.
Such was the success it led to some festival shows and an autumn tour, plus a couple of arena shows supporting The Courteeners.
Now there is a new album planned – following the single Midnight Control – as well as a huge summer homecoming show at Don Valley Bowl.
Joe says: “When we realised we were going to be a lot more than just a few gigs, we thought ‘let’s go for it’.
“It’s been amazing.
“We knew the Sheffield gigs would fly out, but we didn’t expect to do four, and to sell the best part of 10,000 tickets – that blew our minds.
However, the band remain cautious about how long the “honeymoon period” will last.
“We’re under no illusions, that people have been coming to see the tracks written eight years ago,” says Joe. “People are nostalgic for what we did before.
“However, after the chaos that was the Sheffield ‘comeback’ shows it was important to us we released some new material if we were going to take the project any further.
And Midnight Control – complete with kaleidoscopic video featuring a woman dancing in Sheffield’s iconic City Hall ballroom, a venue made famous in the video for fellow Sheffield band Pulp’s famous Disco 2000 video – has gone a storm.
“The song’s gone down well,” says Joe. “There’s a sense people want to support us and got behind it.”
And it was a conscious decision not to show the band in the video, even after eight years away.
“We’re all 30 years old, no one wants to look at us,” laughs Joe, “but everyone in Sheffield knows that room.”
Joe spent his time away from Milburn playing bass in Reverend and the Makers, performing in The Book Club and playing solo, as well as a teaching history at Dinnington School, but says he has had no issues turning his attention back to Milburn.
“The songs aren’t a problem” he says – something clear with the latest track Keep Me in Mind having been offered as a free download for people pre-ordering the as yet untitled new album, as well as the upcoming Don Valley Bowl show.
The band say: “To celebrate the release of our third studio album on Friday, June 2, 2017, we will be playing a massive outdoor hometown show at the Don Valley Bowl.
“Support comes from our pals Reverend & the Makers and band Cabbage, with further guests to be announced.
n To pre-order the new album or book tickets for the Don Valley show, visit milburnmusic.co.uk