A Call To The Void

A Call To The Void

The day that Manchester band Hot Milk began work on their debut album, singer/guitarist Han Mee walked into the studio and immediately started crying. “I had a breakdown,” Mee tells Apple Music. “It was the pressure of it, like ‘I want it to be good and I don’t know if I can do it.’” Rather than be cowed, though, Mee and fellow singer/guitarist Jim Shaw channeled their fears and doubts into the music. “It became an actual diary entry, it became us and what we were going through at that time,” continues Mee. “That’s what music should be. Sometimes you just write to make yourself better.” Following three EPs and a string of exhilarating singles released since 2019, A Call to the Void takes in fierce metal riffing, explosive drops, and pummeling grooves alongside urgent beats, swaying synth-pop, and ’80s melodicism. It’s the sound of a forward-thinking rock band. Somewhere in the middle of the maelstrom are Mee and Shaw trying to make sense of early adulthood. “We’ve grown up a lot in four years with the experiences we’ve had, life moving around us, having to deal with loss for the first time,” says Shaw. “It’s the overwhelmingness of those questions,” adds Mee. “It’s where A Call to the Void came from as a notion, where, when you go through all those things, life in the trenches, it’s like there’s this overarching black hole. That’s what we wanted to encapsulate: the light and dark side of life, the reality of it all.” It’s all in there on Hot Milk’s debut album. Mee and Shaw guide us through it, track by track. “WELCOME TO THE…” Jim Shaw: “We always had the idea that we wanted to start the album with both our voices. It’s always been me and Han, that’s how it started, with our two voices. We wanted to introduce the album from both of us with this almost-hymn and a euphoric feel, like the church doors have opened and the choir is singing.” Han Mee: “Lyrically, it is an intention and a mission statement of what you’re about to hear. I think the fans will appreciate the grandiose sound of it. We’re about to enter the pearly white gates or maybe the spiky black gates of Hell. Who knows which one it is?” “HORROR SHOW” HM: “We’d been listening to a lot of The Prodigy, Pendulum vibes, and we love drum ’n’ bass, so that was sonically where we wanted this song to sit. It’s built to have this structure where you want it to get to that release. When it goes crazy, it works with the meaning of the song itself, which is me not being afraid to be the weirdo. I remember getting called a ‘horror show’ growing up and it’s leaning into that. This way of life that we’ve followed, this rock music identity, it gets in your DNA and it gets in your bloodstream and becomes your whole life. So, it’s like, ‘I might be a bit of a nightmare, might be a horror show, but fuck you.’” “BLOODSTREAM” HM: “It’s still a rock song, but it’s like a house or EDM track as well. We love putting everything together and we love that kind of music, it working as two genres married together. It was a fun song to write.” JS: “Me and Hannah [Han] have always loved house music. We’ve always gone to Creamfields, we’ve gone to The Warehouse Project [Manchester’s annual season of club nights]. The whole spectrum of electronic music is very much in our veins. We’ve always had in our head this scene of this dark and dirty club, like a [Berlin nightclub] Berghain kind of vibe.” “PARTY ON MY DEATHBED” HM: “This is quite nihilistic. A lot of people are like, ‘It doesn’t mean anything,’ but it does because the point is that it’s supposed to be everything or nothing. It’s supposed to be darkness in a light place. It’s that whole feeling of, ‘I’m just going to keep doing this until the day I die.’ I’ve always said, ‘I’m going to try heroin on my deathbed. I’m going to get my son to inject it between my toes.’ It’s the funny thing I say to my friends, so it came from that.” JS: “It’s a ‘fuck it!’ song. It’s seizing life as it comes at you and trying to get the most out of it and saying, ‘I’ll be partying on my deathbed, I’ll be singing my way out all the way through.’” “ALICE COOPER’S POOL HOUSE” HM: “This was an idea I had while I was on mushrooms in America. I was watching a lot of music documentaries at the time, and a lot of them mentioned the same thing: how they always used to go back to Alice Cooper’s pool house for afters. I thought it’d be quite funny if I wrote a song about him telling you something at afters—you know how you get all deep and stuff at afters?—and it just blew your mind. It ended up getting to Alice Cooper himself and he ended up doing a skit on the end of it, which was insane. I always say it’s the mushroom trip that never ended.” “ZONED OUT” JS: “We’ve played this for maybe three years and it’s changed drastically every single time. When we wrote it, it was about how consumed we are with technology and social media. I can’t stand social media and it was the frustration of being like, ‘Unless it’s online, it didn’t even happen.’ It’s asking people basically to get their heads out of the phone and see the world.” “OVER YOUR DEAD BODY” HM: “There was a feeling I wanted to write about but I wasn’t sure how to convey it. Also, I think saying, ‘Over your dead body’ can be quite strong if you’re being serious. I’d been listening to and reading a lot of John Cooper Clarke poems. I love the way that he is so tongue-in-cheek and cheeky with it all. I was like, ‘That’s where the song has to be. Let’s go really cheeky in the lyrics and the verses and let’s just have a bassline and vocal and see where this song’s going to take us.’ It’s about the way that we talk about people that have done us wrong. At the time, I was pretty angry about the way that someone had done something, so it was kind of about them.” “MIGRAINE” JS: “This is probably my favorite track and it’s got no right to be because it’s basically a Frankenstein of three other songs plus another. We were in LA and [blink-182’s] Mark Hoppus hit us up and was like, ‘Do you want to try writing a song together?’ We were like, ‘Fuck, yeah.’ It started in his basement and we took it back and sewed it into stuff that we already had. From a sonic perspective, I really wanted something that started synth-driven and then moved into something super aggressive.” “BREATHING UNDERWATER” HM: “I feel like this song is the greatest encapsulation of my pain that I’ve ever managed to create. Even now, when I listen to it, it makes me upset because I’m still feeling like that. This song is probably the most important song we’ve ever written just for my own sanity and my own brain and the way that I managed to create the lyrical content and it flew out. It needed to be written. It’s never been hard for me to share, to talk about my emotions. I’m blessed and gifted, but at the same time, it’s not a very great thing for everybody all the time. It’s not hard for me to talk about my feelings, so I feel like it was like, ‘Of course Hannah’s written this.’” “AMPHETAMINE” (feat. Julian Comeau & Loveless) HM: “This is another social commentary song about the fact that you’re kept awake all night because of the stuff that happens in the world, and it’s just a bit of a mad place that we live in. This is a tongue-in-cheek thing about the amphetamine that’s built into the news, this notion that we’re controlled by fear.” JS: “Originally, this was the end of the album. We collected these 10 songs and the way that ended, we wanted to bookend the album the way we started it, so we got Julian Comeau [TikTok star and one half of emo-pop duo Loveless] involved and wanted this big vocal ending where all of us were singing different things and then all came together at the end with that big ending, the same way it starts.” “FORGET ME NOT” JS: “This is about the passing of my granddad through dementia. That was something I was dealing with right then and there and I wasn’t sure—I’m the complete opposite to Hannah, I’m not very good at expressing my emotions and telling people how I feel.” HM: “I had an idea of how he was feeling, so I would write lines and show them to him, and he would say yes or no. If he said yes, I’d go, ‘Why don’t you write the next one?’ just to prise it out of him.” JS: “We wanted to do something that didn’t really have any guitars or live drums, something that was different. I’m super happy how this song came out. It’s everything that I thought it would be and more.”

Select a country or region

Africa, Middle East, and India

Asia Pacific


Latin America and the Caribbean

The United States and Canada