A-Sides with Jon Chattman: No ‘Mistaking’ The Secret State or Milo Greene

By Jon Chattman | April 2, 2013

With over 54 million views on YouTube for their debut song “The Biggest Mistake,” The Secret State are anything but a secret these days. See what I did there? Yes, that success has propelled the band to stardom without even releasing a full-length album yet, and it’s not strictly on the interwebs. “The Biggest Mistake” is gaining significant play on radio stations, and was recently remixed by a tag team of hip pop greats Akon and B.o.B. But, this Baltimore-based band isn’t resting on the popularity of their first track. They’re currently putting the finishing touches on their full-length album, which will drop later this year.

At an A-Sides session recorded in the percussion room of the Music Conservatory of Westchester, I chatted with Statesmen =Dan Martiniano, Josh Jones, Hunter Schafer, Danny Espinosa, and Mike Marx-Gibbons about their success thus far, their new album, and the follow-up single to “Mistake,” which could very well become a new national anthem of sorts. Since that single and its video are close to the band’s heart (Jones, Marx-Gibbons and Espinosa served the United States on active duty in Afghanistan and Iraq), I’ll let them explain it in the video interview below. But first, watch them totally annihilate an acoustic version of “The Biggest Mistake.” Watch. Listen. Love.

The Adventures of Milo and Otis was a Japanese film released in 1986 about a cat and dog who grew up together on the same farm, but get separated. The film resonates with me for all the wrong reasons. I found it extremely boring, and was forced to sit through it countless times because when I worked at a day camp, it was the go-to film to show while we waited out a rain storm. I bring up this lackluster film for no other reason except the next band has “Milo” in its band name. It’s a lame attempt at a segue, but here we are. Milo Greene are anything but boring, and would actually inspire positive energy and feelings during any rain storm. The Los Angeles quintet of Robbie Arnett, Graham Fink, Marlana Sheetz, Andrew Heringer, and Curtis Marrero have been getting a lot of mileage out of the self-titled album they released last year. Everyone from EW to the LA Times called them “A Band To Watch,” and they’ve already toured with such gifted artists as Grouplove, Civil Wars, and most recently, Stars. Additionally, the band made a short film called “Moddison” inspired by their music. Like The Secret State, Milo Greene filmed an A-Sides session at the Conservatory and talked about the art they make. Watch them perform below, and talk about their career below.

“What’s the Matter” Performance

Jon Chattman’s “A-Sides Music” series usually features artists (established or not) from all genres performing a track, and discussing what it means to them. This informal series focuses on the artist making art in a low-threatening, extremely informal (sometimes humorous) way. No bells, no whistles — just the music performed in a random, low-key setting followed by an unrehearsed chat. In an industry where everything often gets overblown and over manufactured, I’m hoping this is refreshing.

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