Lockdown exploded with a new project, debut EP for DuPage's Dan Milligan

While many local artists spent this past year anxiously reinventing their performances and frustratedly trying to figure out how to keep playing together, Wheaton native Dan Milligan was busy building something from scratch.

And because of the pandemic, he and his bandmate have never met face to face.

Now a Warrenville resident, Milligan and fellow artist Scott-David Allen (from just outside Kenosha, Wisconsin) are releasing The Burying Kind's self-titled debut EP Friday.

They were connected in late 2019 by a mutual friend when Allen needed a remix for his darkwave project A Covenant of Thorns. It was business as usual for Milligan, who specializes in production for other musicians when he's not out playing with Libido Funk Circus or writing new music for his industrial/punk supergroup The Joy Thieves.

But when COVID-19 hit, business as usual flew out the window.

“We were working on the remix in the studio, just me and my studio partner (James Scott of Wheaton's Populist Recording), and just looked at each other like 'My God, that guy! His voice is so good!'” Milligan said.

He and Allen talked about working on some songs, but it wasn't until the pandemic hit that either had time to focus on something new.

“We started writing, and we literally just never quit,” Milligan said. “The music just flowed out of us. It was crazy. Outside of just doing that one remix, we hadn't worked together before, and we actually didn't really even know each other.”

But from that, the five-song EP (and a full-length to come later this year) was born.

“I know a lot of people who are creative types had a real hard time last year. There were so many things going on and it was very heavy and a lot of people just weren't feeling creatively inspired. For me and Scott-David it was exactly the opposite,” Milligan said. “All this stuff just came pouring out because everything was so unsure, and this became our one outlet that we could look forward to every day. It made being locked down in my home for months and months completely tolerable. If it weren't for this, last year would have been really rough.”

Fans who know Milligan from his electronica-inspired project Drownbeat or the gritty, heavy industrial textures of The Joy Thieves might be surprised at the flow of the new-wave fare The Burying Kind is serving up. Riding a hazy alt-rock wave and meshing it with Joy Division-esque vocals and sonic textures straight out of New Order and classic Depeche Mode, the band's sound is familiar but new. It's engaging and exciting, like a fresh retelling of a favorite and comfortable story.

“I love all kinds of music, and I play all kinds of music, so for me it's so much fun to be able to do multiple things,” Milligan said. “Three or four people have said on separate occasions that when they hear the music, they think of a John Hughes movie. That's the kind of vibe. When alternative rock was brand new and it was just breaking into stuff like that. John Hughes was famous for having really great soundtracks. And so, to me, that's the ultimate compliment.”

Milligan and Allen shared the The Burying Kind's musical duties with a few friends and collaborators, but he credits Allen with the songs' meanings.

“Scott-David has an amazing skill writing lyrics and singing, and what he does is kind of dark generally, but there's always this ray of hope,” Milligan said. “And I guess that's the bottom line for the EP. It does lean a little dark musically at times, but there's always this romantic hope, looking to the future, trying to figure out what's coming next.”

Milligan said he's looking forward to spring and summer when he hopes Libido Funk Circus can safely play some outdoor shows. On top of that, The Joy Thieves has a new full-length in the works. And he's working more with other artists through his newly established Joy Thieves Productions company. But maybe more importantly, Milligan looks forward to finally meeting bandmate Allen in person.

“It's very strange, but I can't wait for the day,” he said. “Honestly, we have never been in the same room together.”

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