Tijuana Bibles, ‘Free Milk’ | Track By Track

Tijuana Bibles vocalist Tony Costello guides us track by track through the band’s new album ‘Free Milk’ which is out now via Button Up Records.


“‘Stateless’ is very much a statement of intent – it was always going to be the first track on the album. ‘This is a National anthem’ is really a rejection of any national anthem in a post-Brexit Britain. Musically it’s like a siren going off. Taunting the troglodytes with a middle finger and a smile!”


“‘Pariah’ is a groove, that’s the first thing that springs to mind. It’s about an anti-hero, who lives on the periphery of society. There’s a line within the song ‘…as the beat shakes the walls of the dystopian disco…’ This song sounds like it was recorded to be played in such a place. As I said, there’s a groove throughout and the rhythm section sort of thumps and slithers to the shuffle of snakeskin boots on the dance floor. Then we’re gone, into the moonless night…I think I was binging on Pulp Fiction at the time, maybe subconsciously trying to write something for that famous dance scene!”

Three Is A Cult 

“James (guitarist) brought this mammoth riff to the studio, we all loved it, but we just couldn’t seem to figure out where it went… I used to love sitting back in the corner listening to the rest of the guys jam it, just waiting to pounce, once the right vocal entered my mind! At the time we were working on this pretty melodic indie rock song, and we decided to drop this crazy-heavy, bolder of a middle 8, right into it! It was a little experiment which opened up a lot of pathways for the song. It runs from indie, to metal, vocally there’s a lot of word play you might associate with hip hop or spoken word, and there’s a dark gothic element too. From a different angle it’s also one of our ‘poppiest’ songs. Overall it gives a good indication of the genres or influences you can hear on the album.”

The Wave

“This song almost missed the boat! About three days before we were due to record the album, this song sort of just crept in during rehearsals. I think Daniel (bass) and Mikey (drums) had the basis of a really cool rhythm section, and we recorded it on someone’s phone. I was buzzing off it, and listened to it over and over again, and the idea of a guitar hook intertwining, ebbing and flowing ‘like a wave’ through the chorus came to mind. I played the riff to James (guitar) the next day, and he made it sound much better! By the time we went to 7 West to record ‘Free Milk’ the song was still taking shape, but there was so much ‘new’ energy to it that we, and producers Chris Marshall & Johnny Madden, were keen to get it recorded. I finished the lyrics in the vocal both and the rest is history!”


“I feel there’s an atmosphere within the recording that isn’t on the rest of the album – in a good way! If the album is twelve rooms of the same big house, the Architect is standing staring out the top of the lighthouse. It’s about considering how much control you want to have over your own ambitions in life, versus what’s comfortable. It’s all about perception and belief. Standing looking out at a landscape – the illusion of the sky meeting the water – the horizon only exists if you look at it from a distance. Like trying to break out of the Truman show!”

Free Milk 

“The title is obviously a reference to Thatcher stealing milk from children.  However, the song is centred around the residual effect of modern, brutal, dehumanising decisions which are now commonplace in Britain. People having to fight and protest for basic needs and human rights. I wanted to tie in the concept of this individualist society with being out in the wild – no different to the animals. ‘Free’ milk when you’re born and nurtured, then you need to fend for yourself- Survival of the fittest. It’s an invitation to reclaim the spirit of community, and celebrate the beauty of cultural diversity, in the face of nationalism.”


“Probably the most introspective song on the album. It’s a sort of bittersweet lament about losing a friend, or growing apart from someone close to you. Reminiscing and wondering if they are still out there, somewhere, and what might’ve been if things were different  – All part of the great unknown. Originally, James sat down with an acoustic guitar and I sang – as straight forward as it gets. I think there’s an intimacy within the song, having written it that way. I was tempted to change the lyrics because I felt they were naive, but I think I was just feeling vulnerable, which isn’t a bad thing, so we decided to keep them as they were on that day.”

Human Touch

“It’s about disassociation and longing for warmth in a concrete landscape. It happens to so many of us – Leave the house in the morning, get home at night, and feel like you’ve just been on autopilot all day – struggling to remember anything you’ve said or done. On a travelator passing through all the white noise and fuzz in the city. It’s about unplugging from the matrix and living for the people and experiences that make you feel like you.”

Moth Man 

“There’s an old American tale that tells a story of this “man-sized bird” being spotted in Virginia. A supernatural being as such.  But truth be told, I’d been to the pub and locked myself out the house, so I had some time staring at my boots (sort of mohair looking things called ‘moth boots’) and I started singing the chorus, just chuckling away… I discovered it in my voice notes next day. But if you listen to the verses, it’s essentially a love song. Moth to a flame – basking in the brilliant light of someone else – a special person who has the ability to show even the ugliest of things in a different way, and send them into a different stratosphere, spinning through the satellites.” 

Slip Into The Leather 

“‘Slip into the Leather’ is about consumerism, selling sex, keeping up with the Jones’. Kicking against all of that! ‘They tell you to pray to keep you on your knees…’ This alludes to religious and political systems being used to create hierarchy to maintain control for the powers that be. However, more and more these people are being exposed for the crooks they really are. And we’re here for the downfall with jelly and ice cream! Our good friend Chay Milne created a brilliant animation to go with this song and it’s well worth checking out.”


“Originally this song was about the stupidly-rich funding proxy wars. Hence the title and the original chorus – which is now the outro vocal instead. The same character from ‘Architect’ also makes an appearance in this song. However, I wrote a counter chorus whilst recording it. ‘No sleep, no fun, ever since I told you you’re the only one.’ I thought it was a kinda ‘throw-away’ nursery rhyme or a backing vocal, but the guys liked the simplicity of it, and because of that it just puts a different spin on the song. Being unable to avoid getting dragged back in, it makes me think of a relationship where the same arguments are repeated and no one has a chance to heal, and neither side can back down. Heart ruling the head.”


“I pretty much wrote it in the middle of a panic attack. Thoughts whooshing round my head, worrying about things I have no control over. It’s a stream of consciousness and it was so cathartic to get it all out, it still is when we play it live. The frenetic nature of it almost mimics my thought process at that time…  All of that aside, it’s just a crooked, dum-dum, whacked out, three-minute punk song – it’s primal energy… in pill form!”

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