INTERVIEW: GEMMA ROGERS AND THE MIL MEN


How’s it going? 
Rippingly well, I thank you. 

You’ve just come back from Glastonbury, how did it go? 
Really well, surprisingly. Most of my backing group The Mil Men, suddenly had other gigs, and I had to hurtle around finding someone to stop me appearing as a lost douchebag with a uke(lele). With just an hour to go until being on the Rabbit  Hole stage, I was getting healing hugs from naked people in The Tipi Fields and trying to get a band together. Luckily, I did have an accordion player who was already there: the wonderful George Bell. Somehow, I managed to find myself two guitarists and a trumpet player. We all got in the lock up backstage, I read them the pieces, told them a couple of chords that had been texted over by my brother and then got accidentally shut in. Darkness. Panic. Sam the trumpeter put his foot through a nail. He played with a massage bandage - what a trooper. My favourite moment was handing over my carrot shaker as a prize to the loudest singing member of the audience. Oh, and I got an odd sunburn from falling asleep in a field afterwards. I'm shedding skin like an old snake.  

Next stop, Latitude?

Yes and with a whole new line up again. My brother who was the original guitarist has started playing with King Charles who are smacking it and doing four festivals a weekend so basically he's not available. Annoying, since he essentially wrote the music. But the gang from Glastonbury are now going to be playing with us more regularly. I love Latitude, even though come the most lively thing you'll find is a handful of well-dressed teenagers snogging in the woods. But the Pimms, opera by the lake and the fact that wearing a feather makes you the most alternative person there, is such a different experience that I just sit back and watch it happen. Oh, and they've got a wicked line up this year AND some of my favourite theatre companies are there too. 

Could you describe your sound in a sentence? 
Contemporary musical storytelling.

What inspired you to come together as the group?

I've always written poetry, plays and stories. My friend Matty who was in the original line up, his brother Dom, who's now an excellent sound designer and my brother Nick, did the music. We all lived in a million pound squat in Queens Park over different periods of time until six months ago. Once the quids ran out in the electricity metre you were plunged into darkness so there was nothing to do but tell stories and play music and from that - very slowly - came this.

What do you want to say with your lyrics?  

The lyrics are about real life events. Not always. Sometimes they're exaggerated but always based on something that I've either seen, experienced or heard. Life in London can be very funny... bloody hard too though.

What’s next for you?  

An endless supply of rum and ginger, Bombay Mix and a phone with a good signal. Prior to that though, we're playing Secret Garden party 28 July at The Artful Badger Woodland area - so come and see us there.

Anyone you would like to plug? 
Loads of people I'd like to plug. Jobee Jo for the wicked headdresses we will be wearing for Secret Garden Party, Miles at Strange Loop for the awe-inspiring jewellery, Emily Whittle at EmilyandFin for the beautiful dress she is loaning me for Latitude. Marisha Green for the heavy jacket she painted for us at Glastonbury, Dan J Wiseberg for his beautiful photographs and my Mum. I'd like to big up my Mum. 

Gemma Rogers & The Mil Men will be playing at Latitude Festival on Friday 19 July

Words: Ruby Ocean