Interview: MILK on Pop Punk Karaoke

Photo credit: Neil Jarvie

We sat down with the two inspirational women Hannah Currie and Aileen Lynn (a Strathclyde Alumni who was previously the music editor of the Strathclyde Telegraph) who run and curate the MILK club nights, formerly of Flat 0/1 residency, as they continue with their new endeavour, the ever popular Pop Punk Karaoke. Joining us in the conversation is Wesley Shearer, current assistant marketing executive at DF Concerts who has been standing in to assist with the nights while Lynn has been working overseas. We talk nostalgia, the changing climate of the live music industry, and how good it is just to let go.

So, how did Pop Punk Karaoke come about?

Hannah: Our friend who loves singing had the idea of karaoke, and that would be my worst nightmare because I hate karaoke so we liked the idea of getting a band and getting singers up and getting the crowd involved, because the crowd has always been a really really integral part of the whole show. They’ll stage dive, they’ll crowd surf and all that. How to make karaoke bearable. Pop punk was definitely our era, of when we were growing up.  As soon a we did the first one, people were like “when’s the next one?” So it’s just kept going, people seem to get really excited about it. I looked it up and it doesn’t seem to be a thing outside of this

Wesley: The karaoke aspect really gets the audience engaged, because you’ve got an open stage and people can run on and jump up and actually be on the stage and I think it’s about capturing that being on a stage and singing along to the song that you’ve always wanted to sing along to, whether it is with the band or not is the added bonus.


What do you think is so appealing about the night?

Hannah: The whole thing is that it’s about zero pressure at all, like just having a good time and, it’s not your own songs, so you don’t have to worry about people’s reacting to to whether they like new stuff or not. That’s not what music’s all about. Glasgow’s brilliant for it’s new music scene but we have loads of that, whereas this is about the inclusiveness of it. If people are worried if they can’t hit the high note, it doesn’t matter, it’s karaoke, it can sound as shit or as good as you want. The amazing thing is that random people can come up from the crowd and absolutely kill it, in a good way. Sometimes they can go up and kill it, in a bad way. But it doesn’t matter – it’s all fucking brilliant.

Wesley: Pop punk’s always appealed to the outcast kids and that’s all in the classic lyrics of years gone by. But because you’re combining that karaoke element, if you go to a normal club night, it’s kind of a catch all affect. But the karaoke element brings in that it’s inclusive and it’s open to everybody. You know you’re gonna go along and hear songs you know, songs you love, songs you’re happy to listen to with like minded people. You don’t really get that when you go to ABC or Garage, or Propaganda [ABC club night] or a Garage club night, they’re just playing songs that are popular at the time, so you might not feel like you fit in with everybody in that room. But with [the PPK] there’s such a camaraderie, and everyone’s on the same page.

See above: the author at the Halloween PPK. Photo credit: Cameron Brisbane Photography.

What is it for you, personally, that you enjoy most about these nights?

Aileen: It’s the songs. There were some songs that’ve not heard in about 10 years, but when they play, every single lyric came back to me. My memory just kicked in and it was like I was 15 again. People know it’s going to be pop punk, but they don’t know what the set-list is gonna be. As Wes said, everyone around you is into the same thing already, there’s like this instant bond of everyone just going for it and being like “let’s pretend we’re young again and don’t have any responsibilities.”

Wesley: It goes back to the nostalgia thing, they go because they know it’s going to be catered to their tastes, and they think about it that way [in promotion] as opposed to what will make us the most money and what will sell us the most tickets?

Hannah: We want people to be able to sing the songs they love but at the same time we want to make sure the crowd’s having a good time. For me, it’s more about the era [as opposed to the genre]. If it was on MTV2 or Kerrang, then it’s in. When we started doing it, we had no idea how much the pop punk thing would capture people. We were very open for the first event. But I think if you get too snobby about these kind of things, it takes the fun out of it.

Photo credit: Cameron Brisbane Photography

Wesley: What seems to be popular on the DF side of things just now is the “nostalgia fan” and “the nostalgic artist”. I’ve been working on so many shows this year that include the words “anniversary” or “greatest hits” or “album”. There’s been a lot of bands doing album tours, like last year Manic Street Preachers did Holy Bible. From a band from 10 years ago, or a band like Yellowcard doing their farewell tour.  I think that’s the selling point just now. That just comes down to basically money in a way, as cynical as that sounds. Where bands or artists make their money, or try and cut their losses is with touring. A lot of releases and repressed and repackaged vinyl seems to a loss leader for coming on tour that they can promote this album they had an album out 20, 10 or 5 years ago. That’s totally fine, that’s just the climate of the industry at the moment, that’s where the money seems to be.

It seems to have a downside effect on the new up and coming bands coming through because the gig market is oversaturated with these heritage acts, if you like. Unless you’re at the level of like a Drake who just sold out the Hydro in like 2 minutes.  So many of these new bands, bands that are creeping up to playing ABC size (2,000 capacity venue). Bands can’t seem to continue on because the monopoly of these live bands seems to be these big acts peddling stuff they’ve had for years. That’s not a problem from the booking side of things, you’re just booking what’s reflective of what an audience wants. And that seems to embedded in nostalgia. That goes back to the PPK, and that’s probably why there’s such a boom for it. I think you can’t really put a price on nostalgia at all and people will tend to pay whatever they can for it, either that’s £65, £70 to this band for the very last time.

I think it’s important that these wee nights do exist, to appeal to the local audience and bringing them into experience this nostalgia for way less money on a night where there’s no holds barred, you just go and get pished. It’s in the same market of nostalgia is really popular just now and here’s a way of enjoying it, in whatever environment you feel comfortable in.

Aileen: I think you do always take comfort in familiarity.

The next Pop Punk Karaoke night, featuring Wolves at Heart will be the 12th of May at the O2 ABC2. Tickets are available now from TicketWeb and student discount tickets will be available on the night.