Savages has been a band on the make since well before their explosive 2013 full-length debut with Matador, “Silence Yourself”. They released their first single in 2012, on frontwoman-powerhouse Jehnny Beth’s Label Pop Noire, to enormously enthusiastic audiences craving a new post-punk dream team. Since then, they’ve been touring non-stop, and this past year saw the band nominated for a Mercury Prize, with Silence Yourself making it to number 19 on the UK Album Charts. They’re an incredible live band, cool and gutsy with propulsive intensity—a tough, lockedin gang of four badass women. We got to interview drummer Fay Milton about her influences, her internal monologue, and what it’s like to be in one of the most exciting bands going.
T O M T O M M A G A Z I N E: CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT Y O U T H I N K A B O U T WHEN YOU’RE DRUMMING? Fay Milton: Literally what I think about when I’m drumming? Oh, it’s hilarious. It’s like a Woody Allen monologue sometimes. It’s better to not be thinking about anything though. It’s only if I drink too much coffee before a show that the paranoia starts. What I’m thinking when I’m writing drum parts though—I’m usually trying to combine things that don’t go together. I take inspiration from music that is completely different to Savages’ music and hammer it into a new shape. It doesn’t always work, but it’s the kind of mathematics of it that I like. When I’m making new drum patterns, I like to play along to music with drum machines usually rather than actual drummers. I like how drummachine-based patterns progress, long sections of repetition, then maybe adding a new element one at a time, the stops and drops. I’m constantly looking for the little details that give a drum pattern its energy and spirit. You can find examples from every genre of music. W H A T M A D E Y O U F ALL IN LOVE WITH THE D RUMS A N D P U R S U E B E I N G A DRUMMER? I started when I was 8 years old, and it was basically because my best friend Lucy decided to play the drums, so I did too. It’s funny, at that age you can make small decisions based on very
little, that turn out to be completely life-forming. Me and Lucy loved playing the drums partly because it was a bit ridiculous, we were both really tiny girls and it just seemed so funny to be playing something that was usually the territory of big hairy men. We both learned percussion together from eight until eighteen. We were learning the snare drum, xylophone and timpani mainly. Our real hit was a xylophone duet that we used to play together on our matching xylophones called ‘The Two Imps’. It was so cool. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST EXPERIENCE PLAYING WITH OTHER PEOPLE? WHAT OTHER KINDS OF BAND EXPERIENCES HAVE YOU HAD? I played in all sorts of groups as a kid, but never a rock band. I played percussion in a wind band and an orchestra too. We played all sorts of music, from Leonard Bernstein to Tchaikovsky to Disney classics. There were about 50-75 young people in the band and it was amazing to all work together and share the music with each other. I also played in a percussion group, and we would play some super avant-garde pieces sometimes, I remember one piece where we set up a dinner table on stage and played wine glasses and spun plates on the floor. I loved that piece. We would have been about thirteen at the time, I don’t think the audience of parents at the Bromley Youth Music Centre were really ready for that. I’ve also played in a samba band, and a gamelan orchestra. Playing music with other people TO M TOM MA GA Z INE