Here we have the long overdue Drew Millward interview. A nice guy and a great talent, I figure most people reading this are poster and or design nerds so I’m gonna spare any big intro.
But I will say if you’re following me on twitter you should definitely be following Drew. We tend to trade snarky jabs from time to time. People always say “Shameless plug” when they plug themselves like this, why? It’s shameful, that was a shameful plug. I feel shame…anyway, Drew Millward. ENJOY:
Jon: So where are you from, Leeds?
Drew: Yup, well, I’m not exactly from Leeds. I’m from a lot of places (kind of like The Highlander). I was born in Coventry, when I was about 4, my mum and I moved to Bolton, which is just outside Manchester. I lived there until I was about 18… so I guess I’m from there. That said, I’ve lived in Leeds now for about eleven years, so it’s as good a place as any to call home. I moved here for University, met my now wife, and just stayed…. more through laziness and circumstance, than design.
Jon: In my time working at D&L I saw your work plenty and I’ve seen it evolve. You’re obviously a natural doodler, are you self taught or did you go to art school??
Drew: Bit of both, I guess. I studied art through high school, college and did my degree in Fine Art, but I didn’t really draw throughout that time. I always enjoyed it, but I wasn’t good enough to actually pursue that angle at degree level. It was only after finishing University and working an office job for a few years that I really started drawing. That must have been around 2004/5. I started making some posters for shows we were putting on in Leeds, and it sort of snowballed from there. I’m pretty sure that without that imputes I would have likely just carried on in an office job, but I didn’t really enjoy it, so when someone offered me some money to draw them a poster, it just set the ball rolling. It was around that time that I met Jay Ryan at a show opening in Manchester. Spending some time with Jay, and talking to him about work, really lead me to think about pursuing it seriously…. so it’s all his fault really.
Jon: Another thing, I assume you have no idea what GEICO is. It’s just this insurance company here in the states, but their mascot is this generic British(or perhaps a poofy Aussie) animated gecko. It’s the worst shit ever:
It’s always a hack move to attach a British accent to something for no reason just to come off as smarter or classier….not that it doesn’t work, but it’s a strange phenomenon.
Drew: What the fuck is that?! What is the trend with animating animals to look like they are talking? it’s bullshit. Why they would see fit to have a gecko with a voice similar to Danny Dyer, to advertise insurance is a fucking mystery. I’m not sure what the connotations of that voice over there are, but over here, that voice sounds more like one that would accompany a sales pitch for pirated DVD’s (and possibly a knife attack), rather than insurance.
That said, we have Iggy Pop advertising car insurance over here, so it’s probably a little less heartbreaking than that.
NOTE: This is the point in the interview where I realized I had a million little British thing I needed to ask about, so it’s going to be like The Chris Farley Show for a while.
Jon: Jason Statham. Over here he’s the poster boy for meathead, assembly line, mindless action movies. Is it the same over there? I liked him in Snatch, didn’t expect him to ‘roid out and be a watered down Jean-Claude Van Damme.
BTW, the guy who plays Tommy in Snatch is pretty good as Al Capone in Boardwalk Empire. He pulls it off, I swear.
Drew: Aw man, I’m saving Boardwalk Empire until I can sit down the the whole box set. Really looking forward to getting stuck into that.
As for Statham, he knows what he’s doing. If he took himself too seriously (something that Van Damme, Lundgren et al were guilty of), there is no way he would have made ‘Crank’. That film alone saves his habitual career missteping. It’s like watching a fucking headache, or being crammed into the mind of a teenage boy with ADD. I’d challenge you to find anything that looks like it, or is as downright preposterous. It’s almost quite experimental, but you get the feeling that it’s by accident instead of design.
To be honest with you, Jason Statham probably makes a lot more films than anyone sees. Since the start of this year, he has been in 4 films, with another 4 in production. Over the period of about 12 months, how many Jason Statham movies would you want to watch? I can’t imagine even his biggest fans will watch everything he appears in. In fairness, I’ve not even heard of most of the films he’s been in. Hi mum might watch them.
I dunno, he seems to be fully aware that he’s not creating high art. He’s carved out a little niche for himself, and he’s feathering is nest while he can. Probably a good idea when you look at the likes of Van Damme and Seagal. These things seldom come with a pension plan.
If you want low budget hardmen, you can look no further than Danny Dyer.
Jon: Guy Ritchie. Wanker? Is it all Madonna’s fault?
Drew: I’m unsure. I’ve not met him, but frankly, anyone that divorces Madonna is OK in my book. If I did meet him we have some common ground straight away, because I wouldn’t want to be fucking married to Madonna either. We could probably while an hour or so away in a boozer. In fact, I’d happily go for a pint with him, as long as he buys the nuts.
I think if you look at his body of work, he has a pretty unique style, a bit of visual flair (admittedly, he’s inconsistent, but, y’know, we all have our off days).
So the ending, Hoskins gives his last gasp/fuck off and die speech to the Americans before facing the music. Here’s my take on it, the ugly American perspective:
Hoskins character is the embodiment of “the old days” and he wants to put England back on top but he knows in the back of his head that it’s a futile effort. He presses on regardless which is where the charm lies. He’d rather die on his feet than live on his knees, as James Brown might say. He truly does live his life like a candle in the wind(I couldn’t resist).
He talks about the Dunkirk spirit, says the Americans don’t have the balls(he’s looking tough to this point, even though the Americans are clearly leaving his sinking ship and would be crazy to stay in the deal) but then says he’s gonna get in bed with THE GERMANS…..hello. The fucking Jerries?!?! This man is obviously desperate. He knows he’s screwed but he’s gonna go out guns a blazing even if he reveals himself to be insane.
I found it perfect to cast a dude the size of Bob Hoskins to play this kind of character. He is so Napoleonic.
It’s a great movie, left me wanting more. I don’t really know what my question is, you like it right? I guess it’s the “best british gangster movie ever”, agree??? I still need to check out Get Carter and all that.
Drew: You know what? I don’t think I have ever seen it.
Jon: WHAAAAAT???? YOU JUST SUNK THE WHOLE FUCKING INTERVIEW! THIS IS THE PART WHERE I LOOK COOL FOR KNOWING ABOUT NON-OBVIOUS BRITISH SHIT…The Long Good Friday was my ace in the hole…BLIMEY!
Jon: What’s a “Budgie”??? There’s that Clash song, “Vacuum cleaner sucks up Budgie”…I’ve heard it other places.
Drew: It’s a bird. Like a little parrot. It was not one of The Clash’s finest hours. I did once meet Joe Strummer, he was nice.
Jon: DUDE!….meeting Joe Strummer, nice to know your life’s complete at an early age.
Next up: James Blake. Don’t tell me you like this guy.
Drew: No, can’t say I do. I listened to the album, as it was recommended to me by a few people, but i didn’t get it. There are some elements of the overall sound I quite liked, but the tunes were lacking. Who knows? He may make a great album at some point, but this isn’t it, as much as the music press would have you believe.
Jon: Oasis, Blur, Supergrass. Rank ’em!
Supergrass, Blur and then, an awful long way behind would be Oasis. In fairness, when that was all kicking off, I was much more into American music. The whole ‘Brit-Pop’ thing sort of passed me by. My early/mid teens were spent listening to stuff like The Pixies, SDRE, Nirvana, Green Day, Offspring, Afghan Whigs, Soundgarden, Guns and Roses, and my brothers tape collection of 80’s/90’s metal… that sort of thing. The first show I ever went to was Silverchair and Everclear, which i think was the day before my 15th birthday. That alone probably gives you an indication as to my sadly misguided ways. Having said that, I listened to Everclear’s first album again recently, and I really quite enjoyed it. The production on it is pretty fucking raw.
Jon: Radiohead. I love Kid A, everything before then seems pretty good(obviously) but haven’t been interested since Kid A. Whatsayou?
Drew: Radiohead are another band I simply don’t get. Not saying they are bad, but the way people talk about them, you would be forgiven for mistaking Thom Yorke for the second coming of Christ. I really try not to get into conversations about them, because i know how people feel about them, and me just sitting there going “well I don’t like them”, usually ends up in hurt feelings and raised voices.
They are nowhere near as groundbreaking and interesting, to my ear, anyway, as people would like to think.
Jon: Ricky Gervais. The snarky comedy nerd community over here has pulled a 180 on him recently. Years ago it was “the British office is the best comedy ever, I can’t believe you watch the US version” now it’s “His podcast is lame, he just makes fun of that retarded guy and The Office is only 12 episodes”.
For the record I have enjoyed his podcasts, all that Karl Pilkington shit is good and I liked Extras. Thought his jokes on the Golden Globes were good but I wasn’t into him on Curb this season and his bit as the doctor in Louie gets old real fast.
Drew: Is that even a question?
I’m in the same boat as you. If he sticks to working with Steve Merchant and put out stuff of the quality of The Office and Extras, then it’s all good. I’ve watched some of the films he has been in, and i’ve not really enjoyed them at all. But, y’know, we all have bills to pay.
Jon: The class system, what up with that? Do people in top hats and manacles spit on you if you’re wearing jeans.
Drew: Can’t say it’s something that has ever happened to me. Rumour has it, that we live in a classless society, but that’s just a load of bollocks.
It’s pretty tricky to discuss class systems, especially in the form of an interview, without coming across as either a wooly liberal or verging on the right. It’s probably best avoided.
All I can say is that I have seen some poor people, through the tinted window of my gold plated Rolls Royce.
Jon: Beer. I like Boddingtons, Samuel Smith and Newcastle. Have you tried this John Smith Ale? Recommend something for the yanks to try and track down at the local imported beer store.
Drew: Now we are talking. Most of the stuff you listed is the mass market filth that you will find in any chain pub. There has been a massive resurgence in brewing in the UK over the past few years. In Leeds and surrounding areas alone there are some really awesome breweries making bloody delicious ale.
I’m just thinking locally, but frankly, if you go anywhere in the country you will find a lot of different beers, all of which are different and unique.
Jon: Can you elaborate on this Danny Dyer character??
Drew: He’s a bit of a tit. He makes more films than anyone else i am aware of, even though I’m sure only about 12 people will ever see them. He always plays a lippy cockney geezer, and is generally fairly unlikeable. As well as his film work he also make TV shows about real life ‘hard men’, which are shit. Personally, i’m convinced that some day he will make a genuinely great film.
Jon: Bands. You’re always talking up these bands I know nothing about on twitter. Gimme the 2-3 best UK bands right now.
Drew: Fucking hell, that’s too much pressure! How can I just choose 3?!
Ah, fuck it. Well, again, I’m going local on this, and it should be stated that I do know all three, to varying degrees, but I’m very lucky to know some very talented people, who play in some great bands…
1. Humanfly – Heavy, fast, slow, heavy, progressive – http://humanfly.bandcamp.com/
2. Himself – Talky, Heavy, Fast, Slow, Beautiful, Terrifying – http://himself.bandcamp.com/
3. That Fucking Tank – Groovy, sludgy, fast, heavy, danceable – http://www.thatfuckingtank.com/
4. David Thomas Broughton – He’s a bloody genius – http://www.davidthomasbroughton.co.uk/
There should also be notable mentions to Hawk Eyes, Blacklisters, KONG, Mob Rules, Palehorse, Broken Arm and Hookworms. Infact, just go and listen to all those bands I just mentioned.
Jon: Pink Floyd. Pink Floyd is still a stoner rite of passage over here, high school and college kids get into pot and mushrooms and go through all the Floyd albums…well actually most of them probably only listen to Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall(Meddle is best, you idiots!) but the question is, is it the same over there or is Floyd old hat?
Drew: My wife is a big Pink Floyd fan. Until I met her, i’d paid them practically no attention whatsoever. Not sure it’s as much of a rite of passage over here.
I much prefer King Crimson.
Jon: Soccer….you into that shit, hooligan?
Drew: Absolutely not.
Jon: What’s a crumpet?
Drew: Umm, i’m not sure what it is really, It’s kind of a round bit of really doughy bread, with holes in it. They freak me out a bit. The texture and the way they look gives me the creeps.
Jon: Riots. Weren’t there some riots or something over there recently, people still rebelling against the whig party???
Drew: It was localised pockets of disenfranchised kids, wanting some new trainers. Fucking scumbag thieves. The sad thing is, is that there were plenty of reasons to riot. The fact that these events took place in parts of London where the government is spending millions to host the Olympics, while down the road they can’t keep open basic provisions within these communities. That’s a pretty good reason to riot, not to get a new pair of Air Max.
Jon: They still make Air Max? American sitcoms. I was in London and Brighton for a week a couple years ago and I noticed whatever the comedy channel is over there, was just getting King of Queens and I think Two and a Half Men, and the ad campaign was in full swing. It was really gross.
I would apologize as an American but, we still haven’t cleaned up the oil spill that is Simon Cowell over here. So eat a bowl of dicks!
Drew: Your sitcom’s are horrible, and we get a lot of them. We export our most odious cunts (Piers Morgan, Simon Cowell etc.) to your shores. Fair deal.
Jon: Reckon. I like how you guys say “reckon”, I reckon this, I reckon that….It’s a very useful word that has been denigrated in the states as it is most commonly associated with and incorporated in the vernacular of the country bumpkin, ignorant hillbilly, and white trash types…, like Pikeys in England. It is a useful word, I try to use it when applicable.
Drew: I use reckon a lot. It is very useful indeed.
Jon: I saw on twitter you sold your old drums or something, so you used to be in bands? The cliche, failed musician poster artist?
Drew: Not really, I was never that good. I played in bands when I was younger, and then started playing drums again a few years ago, when some friends and I started a band. It was never something we took seriously, and never thought we would really bother playing live, but we did. People seemed to enjoy it, but we were all to lazy and busy to actually do anything. I’m not really one for travelling and sleeping on floors, so the idea of touring didn’t appeal to me that much. I never really wanted to be in a band, but I do enjoy playing music. It’s just reached that point where I’m playing less and less, and lugging a drum kit around is a total nightmare, so, in a way, I’m glad to see the back of it.
I think sitting at home and drawing posters for bands, is much more enjoyable than actually playing in bands.
Jon: So you got this new Bon Iver poster, you tweet about this new album like it’s Blonde On Blonde or something. Is it that good, I got it, haven’t listened yet. I like “Skinny Love” and I like what Kanye did with “Woods”, I was gonna listen now but I started watching Bucktown…
Drew: Personally, I think it’s phenomenal. I loved ‘For Emma…’, and I liked his work with Kanye, but this sounds like such a leap forward in terms of song writing, production, lyrics… everything. I think Justin is a pretty incredible talent, and they don’t come along that often, so it’s nice to see.
I’ve always loved a wide range of music, but this year I seem to have been struck by three albums in particular, and they all seem to come from a similar hushed place. Obviously ‘Bon Iver’ has been a favourite, but I’ve been equally enthralled by ‘Last of The Country Gentlemen’ by Josh T. Pearson, and ‘Everything’s Getting Older’ by Bill Wells and Aidan Moffat. All three came out this year, and all are difficult to fault, in my eyes. It’s been a while since I connected so much with an album, and then to get three in one year, is a bit of a treat.
Jon: Let’s wrap it up! Go ahead and plug whatever you have coming up, or what’s happening right now.
Drew: I have no idea. The future is uncertain, anything could happen. I’m sure if you visit www.drewmillward.com then you will be able to find what is going down.
As well as all the usually drawing malarkie, there are plans for my creative brotherhood The Dead Sea Mob to set sail to the US next year, as well as a lot more shows in the UK and Europe. We are now five members strong (Myself, Godmachine, Tom J. Newell, Twistedloaf and Dan Mumford), with some new members and affiliates ariving all the time. It’s exciting. It’s like being in a band, but without the sound checks.
Jon: OH YEAH, a drawring question. For all the kids at home, what does a Drew Millward draw with? Brush pens, nibs, bic, pencil? And do you lean more towards photoshop or illustrator?
Drew: Anything I can get my hands on. Pencils, Rotring Isograph pens, dip pens and ink and posca, generally. I use Photoshop to clean up and get stuff print ready, and I have never used Illustrator.
There you have it! THE GREATEST DREW MILLWARD INTERVIEW EVER!!…are there other Drew Millward interviews? Probably, but I wouldn’t know. The greatest thing I gleaned is that generationally growing up at the same time in the UK and America is pretty similar as far as the media and music you’re exposed to, I suppose cable TV and the internet pretty much close the gap. The part about being into Silverchair and Everclear at 15 painted the picture of Junior High for me.
Good stuff, I enjoyed it, hope you did too, thanks again to Drew for indulging my onslaught of random inquiries.