By Chris Gray
By Corey Deiterman
By Jef With One F
By Chris Gray
By Rocks Off
By Rocks Off
"I probably did have a wild look in my eye on Tyrants -- I was scared," he says. By contrast, Miller sounds more relaxed on Upside. "Now I do feel a little more settled," he says, adding that his marriage has aided in that department. "It's been a long, hard road to get to where I can make a decent living -- which I feel guilty about -- and of course my parents are so old-school. They're from the depression era, and all people like that want for their children is for them to find a job with insurance so they don't have to worry about them. So choosing this path was hard on them and hard on me. When it finally came to fruition, I think I kind of relaxed a little bit. I told y'all I wasn't worthless!"
His fellow musicians were easier to convince. Steve Earle took the V-Roys under his newly mended wings back in the mid-'90s, as did Cheap Trick, with whom he toured as a V-Roy and for whom he continues to open with his new band, the Commonwealth. Miller's Texas swing is interrupting a few summer gigs with the legendary Chicago rockers.
"One of the last decent things the V-Roys did before we disintegrated was tour with them," he says. "We learned more about rock and roll in those ten days Those guys got the songs, man. You just don't realize how many hits they had. I know radio was different back then, but fuckin' A!"
For Miller, it's all about the songs. Literally hundreds of bands are making good music these days, but precious few can be said to pen good tunes.
"Songs are not for everybody. If they were, John Prine would be a billionaire," Miller says. "And there's nothing wrong with that kind of music; it's just not what draws me. Songs have always drawn me. My dad listened to big band and all that shit, which I appreciated whenever it was a good song, and occasionally it was. Cole Porter can write a song."
And Miller is one of the few writers going today that seems as genuinely touched with the gift. Take these lines from Tyrants' "Loving that Girl Is Hard on a Man": "Every winter will spring every summer will fall / She's as cool as they come and as hot as them all." Or these, from Upside's "The Way": "The back porch where we first kissed is where we said so long / I headed out to find what it is that makes a man want to come back home." And this one, from Upside's closer, "Jack Tymon," a song to his godson: "May your heart be so pure it's one that God wants to know."
Yep, we're with you on that one.