When it came time for the Milkstains to record their new album, "Broken Bones," the local rock band encountered an unusual obstacle: the threat of freezing to death.
While band members slept in a minivan the first night of recording in Roanoke, the temperature outside dipped below freezing and snow piled up.
"It was like the coldest weekend on record in Roanoke," recalls bassist Gabe Lopez, who slept in the van with guitarist and singer John Sizemore. "We almost died."
Luckily, the three musicians lived to play another day, but it was just the beginning of their troubles in releasing their first LP. After they finished recording, they had difficulties getting it mastered for vinyl. Ultimately, they decided to release it on CD first.
Nearly a year later, the Milkstains will release "Broken Bones" to coincide with playing Gallery5 for Fall Line Fest on Sept. 6.
With a sound that's been described as a mashup of Dick Dale, Dinosaur Jr., the Cramps, spaghetti Western themes, psychedelic and garage rock, the LP has been a long time coming. The band formed 10 years ago, when Sizemore and drummer Raphael Katchinoff were in high school.
"It started out like a noise band, or what we thought was a noise band, and added all our influences," Sizemore says. "Mostly old rock 'n' roll, '80s punk, stuff like that."
After a string of bass players, they met Lopez through the now-defunct band Baby Help Me Forget in 2009. Since Lopez joined, the trio has put out three releases, starting with 2011's "Hot Sauce Cemetery" on cassette. Recorded in just four hours at do-it-yourself space the Yerb, the album is a messy, loud and fun affair.
The past year has seen the release of EPs "Hell Gel" and "Gored, Kicked, Beaten," which show the band moving away from its instrumental roots. Eight of the 10 tracks on "Broken Bones" include vocals.
Their music is about being "in a mid-20s crisis," Sizemore says — "trying to figure out your place in the world. Being mad as shit. It's about being broke, or about girlfriends that don't work out. The song 'Broken Bones' itself is just, it's time to get back on your feet and figure shit out."
Curiously for a balls-out rock group, two of the band's song titles reference fine art: "Next Monet" on "Hot Sauce Cemetery," and "Carolina O'Keeffe" on the new album, a play on Georgia O'Keeffe's name.
"I thought it was funny, because it's like what your parents think of as good art," Sizemore says. "Saying you'll never be the next Monet is funny because it's outdated kind of, but also funny in the way parents don't understand kids. That's what that song is about."
Except for "Hot Sauce Cemetery," all of the band's releases feature cover photography by Ben Rinehardt, depicting a family of creepy characters that he's created. "We're going to have all these themed album covers like [Insane Clown Posse]," Lopez jokes.
Above all else, the band members want their music to be the life of the party.
"We've had some really good times, and I feel that that somehow seeps into the music," Katchinoff says. "It's a good album to buy a 40, maybe get some weed and turn up real loud." S
The Milkstains will play Sept. 6 for Fall Line Fest at Gallery5, 200 W. Marshall St. For information visit falllinefest.com.