Gemma Rogers & the Mil Men came together while living in a squat on Milman Road (NW6).
The quids would run out of the meter so there was nothing else for it but to sit around and tell stories in the darkness – no one could afford candles either.
We caught up with Gemma at her local boozer, we were buying and we were getting nervous when she asked to see the cocktail menu.....whilst she was selecting her poison, we asked her a bunch of questions, here's how we got on.
Please introduce the band and your music in one sentence....
Gemma and the Mil Men tell stories with music which may contain banjo.
The band is called the Mil Men, how did you come about choosing this name?
I lived in a squat on Milman road in Queens Park. Wonderful house. Wonderful people. Freezing though. All the time. The boiler didn't work, none of us had any money to put into the electric meter so we just sat around in loads of jumpers. Matty once put on every item of clothing he owned and stayed like that for two days. We told stories and played instruments which various people had left casually strewn about the place. I'm Gemma. They became the Mil Men.
‘Jenni Peters’ sounds like a dark sounding story, are you up for sharing the inspiration?
A friend disappeared.
‘The Escape’ another great tune, just thought I would let you know that.
Well thank you very much. That was part of the Cowshed Trilogy. I lived above The Cowshed pub on Ladbroke Grove, which has since gone.
You’re opening the Camden Rocks festival, what can the rock goers expect from you?
Mellow ambient jazz with a slice of heavy punk. Nah, not really. Storytelling with essence of folk.
Who are you looking forward to seeing during the festival?
I’ve been told to look out for the Graveltones and also our violinist Clem is in Johnny Borrel's new band so I’m going to see them.
Favourite venue to watch a gig?
In your opinion, what is the BEST album/record ever released?
John Martyn's One World. The grandaddy of chill. The meister of the guitar. The man who showed us all that we don't have to be pigeonholed.
What classic song would you have liked to have recorded and why?
Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen. One of the best songs ever, which seems to be able to withstand any assault.
First gig you ever went to?
East 17. I fancied Terry even though he looked like a car thief. What? I was 11.
How has social media aided you with your music?
I guess it’s allowed us to reach people further afield than just our close mates
There are many good bands and musicians out there, who would you ask the readers of musicmuso to look out for?
Nick Mulvey, Gorgeous George, The Gentle Mystics, Moddi, Llloyd Williams, The Be Good Tanyas. There’s a great website called The Mahogany blog who have their ears firmly to the ground and have introduced me to countless other artists.
If you could describe your music in the form of a fictional character, who would it be?
Captain Hook - we like to deliver an earworm.
Do you think we can ever live in a world where a chicken can cross the road without having its motives questioned?
Only when we discover whether the egg came first.
Who would you like to know has your music on their iPod, MP3 or cassette walkman?
What are your plans for the remainder of 2014?
I want to learn how to play the guitar, finally learn how to drive, record an EP, finish writing a children’s book and complete my degree.
Luckily for me, the cocktail barman was having a sneaky fag and Gemma couldn't wait any longer, 2 pints of 'Mild' it was and on with some short, sharp, quick fire questions....
Coffee or Tea? Coffee
Coke or Pepsi? Rum
Drum machine or the real deal? Real deal.
Mac or PC? Mac
Fry up or Sunday roast? Sunday roast
Lemmy (Motorhead) or Ozzy (Black Sabbath)? Ozzy
CD or Vinyl? CD
Car or Motorbike? Motorbike
Acoustic or electric? Acoustic
Shower or Bath? Bath
Tattoos or Piercings? Tattoos
Robert de Niro or Al Pacino? Al Pacino
God or Google? Google. Sorry God!
Gemma and the Mil Men are playing at The Black Cap in Camden on 31st May at midday as part of Camden rocks fest.
We would like to thank Gemma for sparing her time to answer our questions, we wish her every success at the Camden Rocks Festival and for all future live dates that they are planning. We hope to receive more news from Gemma and Co as and when it's received....
Interview by Mark Wincott