Tag: Tom Miller

Interview with Tom Miller of The Righteous Kind: Pt. 3

Jaco Pastorius photo © 2010 Chris Hakkens | more info (via: Wylio)


Paul McCartney (and Wings)photo © 2008 slagheap | more info (via: Wylio)

Tom Miller, as evidenced by previous accounts, is a renaissance man of sorts who speaks fluently of Bobby Shermans passed, plays bass for psychedelic garage revivalists The Righteous Kind, and learned at age 15 to multi-track 45 records with an iPhone.

His band just released its second album Wild Hibiscus which, judging by this review and the successful February 4 CD release party, is every bit the slab of ear candy Tom described.

With diabetes of the ear on the rise, Tom and I callously discuss two of our favorite things: the ATL and obscure bass luminaries like Jaco Pastorius and Paul McCartney.


Ana(b)log: You were talking earlier about how you have a multi-tracking app on your iPhone.

TM: I don’t.

A: Right, but you can get one. So there’s been this kind of democratization of being able to make music, right? Do you think that’s a good thing – that somebody can just set up with a laptop and…

TM: Yeah. I want people who want to express themselves to have those tools. I don’t criticize. A lot of people would be like, “Well now anybody can make a song.” It’s like a video game – make a beat, do a little thing, whatever. But the truth is, do people like it? Does it have legs? Does it have emotional content? Or is it just one hamburger – one crack rock, let’s put it that way – to get you from here to there?

A: So the stuff that’s good you think will be able to cut through the rest of the clutter.

TM: I think it shows itself. Yeah. And that’s why I tell you it’s not an ageist thing or anything else. People know who Beethoven is more than they do their own favorite band. And that makes a point.

A: What do you think about the Gainesville music scene in general?

TM: I’m disappointed in the number of venues that are taking the shot to show original music, or even original acts of any kind. It used to be a very eclectic scene – lots of house parties. Lots of cops and… Well, let’s not say the cops. Cops are fine. Let’s say government. Government doesn’t want anybody to have any fun, so house parties are out. Venues are few and far between. There’s a few eclectic venues around. But it isn’t like when I moved here in the Eighties – every place was a venue. The restaurant was a venue. Bands would be playing everywhere. Art, performance art, art shows, poetry was everywhere. Now you really have to dig into – what’s that word for the surface of the Earth? – the mantle of the Earth to find all the little caves and tunnels where the cool stuff is happening. But it’s still here. There’s like 350 bands and three major venues, and maybe 6 mini venues.

A: You guys are playing at The Atlantic coming up. Was that a hard gig to get?

TM: No. I mean…

A: Not for you guys…

TM: The Atlantic puts on great music. I’ve been to that club under many different names. That room has had many bands in it. It’s been the Atlantic. It’s been one of the greatest dance clubs in the world. It was called “The Metro.” It’s been Club America – when I moved here. It’s been lots of things, but oddly enough, it’s always had really eclectic, interesting bands. People who move in there just have to do that. There’s a vibe there. And the Atlantic’s done a great job – because those guys are connected with The Top and everything – of making that area really Gainesville and really eclectic and really interesting. So the bands that play there are always interesting. I like the Atlantic a lot. I like playing there, too.

A: Tell me some of the other bands you’ve been in.

TM: What bands have I been in? I’ve been in too many bands to bother with…

A: I’m almost done. I promise.

TM: In Gainesville, I started in a band called Plastic Age. I played in In Dolphin. I played in the Space Masons, the Bill Perry Orchestra. I played in a band called VSOP, which was an improvisational band of Donny Undeen of The Semantics and Pop Cannon. I’ve been in Vinnie and The Demons, which was a very serious blues band. We actually went to Chicago for three years and got very, very deep into the blues. And now I’m doing The Righteous Kind. I’ve never been in a band I didn’t love.

A: Okay, final question: who’s the greatest bass player of all-time?

TM: (laughing)

A: If you had to jam with one guy – one bassist who’s ever lived – who would it be?

TM: (silence)

A: Paul McCartney.

The Beatles – Paperback Writer

TM: Uh, yeeaa… yeah. I mean, um… Yeah, that’s a very difficult question. I love all the bass players that are around. There are so many amazing bass players. I would definitely say Paul McCartney, naturally. He’s just my hero on the bass, not because he’s so flashy or technically proficient. He doesn’t even read music – you know that, right? And he’s America’s… Europe’s… well, the world’s greatest songwriters. This is a guy who can write such a p**** song like “Sea Moon”. I mean, have you ever heard that? I want to claw my eyes out and swallow a box of saccharine when I hear that song. But he also wrote “Helter Skelter,” and that inspired Manson to go kill a… So he can really go different places with his music… I don’t know. Paul McCartney. Willie Dixon and the blues. You know, it would be redundant to say Jaco Pastorius because that’s a given.

A: John Paul Jones.

Led Zeppelin – How Many More Times

TM: Very underrated bass player. In fact, I’d just call him a musician – the other musician who was in a band who primarily played the bass. I can’t even think of the one who’s the most influential to me of all. Hang on. Pause that. (*uses iPhone to Google search for “fat famous jazz bassist”. Results show Paul McCartney and… *) Charles Mingus!

Interview With Tom Miller of The Righteous Kind: Pt. 2

Tom Miller of The Righteous Kind at Gainesville's AM/FM Music Showcase

Photo courtesy of Debby Strickland.

Describing Tom Miller in two words or less is not a particularly challenging endeavor. Sure, he plays bass for Gainesville’s acid-fried garage revivalists The Righteous Kind, spent three years honing his blues chops in the Windy Cindy, can rattle off a laundry list of now-defunct 352 venues, and dropped both Beib and Bobby Sherman references in part one of our interview.

But “chill bro” will suffice.

In part two of our convo outside of Sunday’s AM/FM Music Showcase at 8 Seconds, we discuss his band’s new album Wild Hibiscus and meditate on the concept behind… Sorry, what was I saying?


Ana(b)log: Tell me about your new album.

Tom Miller: It’s awesome. I love the new album. My favorite part is that it was mastered by a guy named Michael Fuller of Fuller Sound in Miami. You can look him up (reader’s note: I did. And he won a Grammy). But anyway, he mastered Bee Gees albums and America albums and I knew him 25 years ago because I made my first record – actual 45 record – when I was 15 years old. And that’s where I met this guy.

A: No kidding? Were you in a band at the time or just doing it solo?

TM: No. I was just multitracking my heroes. Paul McCartney was multitracking. Stevie Wonder was multi-tracking. And then me. And nobody else was doing it. Now you can download a multitracking app on your iPhone and sit under a tree and make an album. I had to con my parents out of thousands and thousands of dollars to get the stuff to do that. But, um, what was the question?

A: The new album.

TM: Oh yeah, yeah. So Mike Fuller’s mastering of this album really polished what was a very beautiful gem. The Colonel [The Righteous Kind's singer/guitarist Charles Ray] has put a lot of work into it. We all put a lot of work into it. And the songs are fun. “Ear candy” is what I’ve been saying to myself. It has a beginning a middle and an end. It’s not background music – it can be. But I miss the days when you sit around in a dark room with a really good friend or a girlfriend or a boyfriend – whatever you’re into – and you’d just kind of say, “Let’s be quiet and listen to this.” And it’ll tell a story. You know Sgt. Pepper’s tells a story. And the Court Of The Crimson King tells a story. And you’d turn your life off and listen to it.

A: It’s a concept album…

TM: Yeah. But all the songs work independently and they also work as just rock ‘n roll music to be played when you’re having a good time. So we covered all three bases with it. Ear candy, in short.

A: Ear candy. Okay. How is it different from the stuff you’ve done in the past?

TM: Our first album we did at Rob McGregor’s [Goldentone Studio]. And we’re really proud of that.

A: He’s a big name around here.

TM: Well yeah, he’s a badass. He’s just… the man. And what we did was, we went into Rob McGregor’s studio and we just played the songs. Like the Beatles went in – their very first album – and just played the songs. So we were trying to replicate that arc of a good Sixties band. They come in, they play some good quality songs, and then they start screwing with it, bringing in other instruments. Then they start trying to play with you. And hopefully they represent what’s happening in the times. There’s some politics in the album, but not much. We want to stop the war. Peace, music and love – that’s what it’s about.

Interview With Tom Miller of The Righteous Kind: Pt. 1

L to R: B. Burrhuss Bran, Charles Ray, Tom Miller, Larry California

Photo courtesy of TheRighteousKind.com.

Tom Miller – a.k.a “The Electric Bass Cat” – plays a particularly funked-up brand of 4-string in Gainesville’s The Righteous Kind, a psych throwback once described by bandleader Charles Ray as “The Beatles plus the Mooney Suzuki plus Ike plus both Elvises.”

In other words, TRK makes music to get high to.

From what I can tell, Tom does his part to – um – light the fuse of electric human love and, at this stage of the game, seems to have a pretty tight grasp on the whole rock ‘n roll thing. He’s currently helping The Righteous Kind promote its new garage-goes-Summer-of-Love album Wild Hibiscus. No truth to the rumor the liner notes double as hallucinogens, though you can check for yourself at Friday’s release party at the Atlantic.

I caught up with Tom outside of 8 Seconds at the third annual AM/FM Gainesville Music Showcase. In part one of our interview, we talk Bieb vs. Beatles and discuss the relative merits of ’60s teen idol Bobby Sherman.


Ana(b)log: Do you think you’re part of a retro revival? Seems like psychedelic music’s more popular…

Tom Miller: I’ve never heard any of the latest stuff. I don’t know if retro ever died. I’m not really interested in Justin Beieber or anything happening today. So I think retro is actually what I call the “neo retro” – the new old – which has just been around the whole time. People are probably tired of corporate Taco Bell music.

A: So what would not be corporate Taco Bell music?

TM: In today’s world or back in the day?

A: No, according to you…

TM: Janis Joplin wouldn’t make the first round of American Idol… I have very eclectic tastes, so I wouldn’t be a good judge of that. I don’t know. Justin Bieber – I guess he sings good, but you know, he’s like the Bobby Shermans. There’s always a cute dude who does fluffy music. It’s a great thing and everybody’s into it and lots of money gets generated, and he’s probably a great singer. But do you know any Bobby Sherman songs?

A: No, I don’t.

TM: Do you know any Justin Bieber songs?

A: So you don’t think he’s here to say…

TM: My question was “Do you know any Justin Bieber songs?”

A: No. I can’t name one.

TM: Do you know one lyric or one title?

A: Not one.

TM: He’s outselling The Beatles. So there you go. That’s what’s happening. Just like the Backstreet Boys did. Do you know any Backstreet Boys songs?

A: I do unfortunately.

TM: How many?

A: Three, maybe.

My favorite

TM: Wow. That’s amazing. How many Beatles songs do you know?

A: I know… all of them.

TM: How many Beethoven songs do you know?

A: Not many, unfortunately.

TM: Can you name three Beethoven songs?

A: I can name a Beethoven symphony.

TM: And you know when he was doing music. So it’s not an ageist thing or a time thing. It’s – other than the financial operation of music – is it worth anything? Does it tell a story? Does it make you feel something? At the very least, is it decent background music? So much on the radio is just so overcompressed and computerized. I shouldn’t say that – “without emotion” is what I’m trying to say. Because even computers can make great emotion. I know a lot of music that’s only made – you know, guys get in there and program stuff – but the music somehow carries an emotional content. And that to me is the thing that’s missing. I don’t really feel an honest emotion coming out of a lot of today’s music.

A: And so that’s what you’re going for in The Righteous Kind.

TM: Well, what we’re going for in The Righteous Kind – I’m pretty sure – is fun and rock ‘n roll. There’s really nothing complex about it at all. We want to have fun and we want to play rock ‘n roll. There’s nothing to read into it. You just show up, take your boobs out, run around naked and drink some stuff, jump around, freak out and smoke a joint.

A: Do those things happen at the typical Righteous Kind show?

TM: We’re trying to encourage more of that, but no… Maybe. All the stuff that used to be “rock ‘n roll” is now illegal.