Music Eyz Interview With Rival Sons Drummer Mike Miley
As a fan of Rival Sons, I loved the fact that I had a chat with drummer Mike Miley before their gig in Manchester. Unfortunately he was a little ill; the British weather must have got to him! He spent a good thirty minutes with me though.
Music Eyz: Have you done any sight seeing?
Mike Miley: No, we rolled up today from Glasgow, the first time that I was here I walked around a little bit. I think we played at The Academy and our hotel was two miles away, so we just walked down this long strip of a street and that’s about of the sight seeing I’ve done! I have a picture on my Facebook from my hotel room, of a church tower or some kind of interesting thing but that’s really it. Nothing very exciting.
Music Eyz: How is the tour going? Are you enjoying it?
Mike Miley: Yeah, just trying to stay alive, trying to stay afloat.
Music Eyz: The new album has had a great reception, were you overwhelmed?
Mike Miley: By being no 1 in the UK Rock Charts? No, I mean, yes, completely! We got the email in the morning, we all woke up and got on the WiFi and we found out we were no 1 in the rock chart, 31 in the overall chart and so that’s pretty cool! So yeah, we are all so grateful and humbled and we feel blessed. So this is what every musician’s dreams of doing and it’s doing well with the music you create
Music Eyz: Nice email to wake up to! How does this album feel differently to perform?
Mike Miley: We are just getting our feet into some of these new songs as the summer we spend finishing off the pressure and time album so this is the first time that we get to unleash new material so some of them are still forming a life of their own you know, some of them we play on the record and then we try to leave room for you know opening, extending guitar solo, or breakdown for Jay (Buchanan) to say something to the audience or but its tun to play new material you know, we are all inpropersational musicians and it can be real boring playing the same thing, the same set every night. Same tune and same fold, like we like to, we are always going to bust an unexpected left hook/upper cut combination till someone else in the band like last night in Glasgow I think I was a little bit more on top of the beat and excited you know, and robin was more laid back so there was that tension which ultimately I think the fans like it. Each night we are going to get something differently in a rival sons show.
Talita (Rival Sons PR Manager walks in with a cup of tea for Mikey).
Mike Miley: Thank you darling. Is this earl gray? (in his best English accent)
Talita: Its not, there wasn’t any.
Mike Miley: Oh, is it Tetley’s.
Talita: No its PG Tips, Lady Gaga’s favourite!
Talita walks out of the room.
Mike Miley: I’m drinking Lady Gaga’s tea, it’s awesome! How long do you steer PG Tips?
Music Eyz: I don’t drink tea so I’m the wrong person to ask.
Mike Miley: That’s not very English of you.
Music Eyz: I am Spanish to be fair.
Mike Miley: Oh. España!
Music Eyz: What has influenced your change of sound?
Mike Miley: I think just growth. The basic question would be touring together for 2 years and coming into the studio fresh off the road after playing about 100-150 gigs, when you come in fresh off the road you are in that play together mode whereas when we first got together to start rehearsing for this album at the bringing of September we rehearsed four times, three times as a full band! That is just how we roll! Me and Scott (Holiday) got together a few times just drums and guitar have to sort of work out our choreography with his peddles and what song goes well into the next song. That kinda me and Scott kinda worked on all that. It’s just a snapshot of who we were at that time you know. We were listening to a lot more soul music and a lot more 60s garage music, The Staple Singers like gospel music, like old old blues, you know. The Black Keys, Jack Whites’ new album, The Black Angels, these are like bands that we check out that are today and current. We are still trying to do our homework. I went to music school, so did Robin (Everhart), and in music school you just are constantly learning who influenced who, you know. Without Beethoven you don’t have Mahler, without Mozart you don’t have Beethoven, without Bach you don’t have Mozart. Without Gregorian Chant you don’t have Bach, without church music you don’t have any music. Without church music you don’t have gospel music you don’t have the blues and if you look at the musical tree of whose branches are on whom all the way up to death metal, so we go from the church to Satan! So if you look at the cornucopia if the genres of music, that have existed over the last 300-400 years you can just keep diving into rabbit holes so we are just discovering 1930s blues and so we are growing as musicians and as people. That’s probably a long winded answer but its there
Music Eyz: This album took you 20 days.
Mike Miley: Yeah we kinda do that because it keeps us honest you know, it keeps the musicianship honest, the song writing honest and truthful. Like we are not going to doctor up anything, we are not going to sew up the hole or patch up the holes in the knees, its like, what you see is what you get. It’s very dangerous, it’s a dangerous form of recording going in with no songs written, and then just to be expected to lay down what is supposed to be magic you know. I mean I have to tell you, this was the hardest process; Pressure and Time was pretty fun and laid back and there is a little bit of pressure as we had to deliver some songs to Classic Rock magazine and so we had to finish the song earlier than we thought. This one was like so diverse and there is more room for argument. And like every band, we are bothers, we are Rival Sons and we don’t always agree so you also get that tension you get that rubbing fists you know. Scott says “it’s like a knife fight not a knife dance and its pretty funny”.
Music Eyz: What makes you think makes you both stand out and what makes you as successful as you are?
Mike Miley: I don’t feel like we have had any success, if you think we are successful, what do you think….. What’s the question again?
Music Eyz: Do you think you are different to other bands and do you think that difference makes you stand out and makes you as successful as you are?
Mike Miley: I think what makes us difference is our drive from different wells and our differences are dispert and we wear them in our sleeve. We are not afraid to show those influences. We are not directly stealing those riffs or exact drum beats but we definitely have those inspirations whilst we draw from are a lot older than most bands. Most bands aren’t going through 1930s blues and really learning them and feeling what the energy and the vibe is and why it captured heartstrings you know. And because it was pure, it was honest and in not saying all other music is dishonest, I’m just saying what we are going for is pure earnest delivery truthful lyrics, lyrics that tell a story that everybody can relate to. You know there is nothing that Jay writes that is so fancy that people cant comprehend it, it pretty much like “we can dance till the sun comes up” you know that’s pretty fruity everybody can take a bite out of that one.
Music Eyz: What is the most embarrassing song or album that you have on your iPod?
Mike Miley: Erm … oh God I have so many! I love club music, I love electronic music, drum n bass, I have everything Skrillex has released, and I have all of Lady Gaga‘s albums. To our fans, having all of Lady Gaga’s albums would be pretty embarrassing I’m not sure.
Music Eyz: I’m a fan and I love Lady Gaga big time and Skrillex! Would you ever collaborate with someone like that?
Mike Miley: I think we would be a perfect opening for Lady Gaga right now in our stage in our career. She has rock bands; she has a rock band playing with her onstage. I remember seeing her drummer about three years ago. What a rock dude, long hair, tank top, the chain and I was like “oh dude, I could totally be playing drums with Lady Gaga, she should call me!” I think in the future there would be collaboration because I just adore her, I think she is rock & roll, she is the appitemy of punk rock and going against the grain and she is an amazing musician and a singer as well. I guess Lady Gaga would be my answer, I know that all Black Sabbath fans are going “ew Lady Gaga” but she loves Black Sabbath.
Music Eyz: She loves metal though!
Mike Miley: Lady Starlight is a DJ that opens her shows every night. All she plays is 70s and 80s metal. I do have Rihanna there too.
Music Eyz: Oh really? Not a fan of that Rihanna! I’ll stick with Lady Gaga. Do you get bored with all the mundane album and tour standardised questions?
Mike Miley: We get similar questions but its ok because people individually are curious about the same things. What do people want to know about? We have a new album out, we are on tour, we tour a lot. We are vegetarian; a lot of people ask us about that. You could ask if any of us are into sports but yeah, that’s what people are interested in.
Music Eyz: Are you into sports?
Mike Miley: Yeah baseball. I’m a major league baseball and I am following it religiously right now. I don’t understand this thing called football you guys have here but I’m trying to learn it. I played soccer growing up is that the same thing?
Music Eyz: Yes it is. (Ed- Well not really, its called football)
Mike Miley: But no I think its ok for people to ask the same questions, as pressure and time went on, people were asking questions like how the band formed and its like dude go on the website, its like on the front page of our bio! I think that even that its ok, maybe someday you’ll get something different. We don’t prewrite our answers so you never know, maybe some day you will get a more expose Jay and maybe Jay is going to say, “we formed it near the beach in the summer of 2008” and that is all that you are going to get out of him or he might tell you the whole story so I think different journalists can pull different things out of artists. We are in different moods every day and you can get an array of different answers. I’m not offended or bummed, actually it gives me a chance to horn in my answers because I do bladder at the mouth a lot so.
Music Eyz: With regards to your fans you have a really hardcore fan base, how do you feel about Rival Sons tattoos? Got any strange stories?
Mike Miley: We have pretty crazy rabid fans, our super fans like every band has its cool. So today when we arrived for sound check there was a long line of people and recognising me you know and wanting to talk and chat. If that annoys you then you are a pretentious rock star. We are here because of the fans and I love our super fans. I have seen some pictures posted on our Facebook of people with tattoos. The lion with the wings is a real timeless logo. If we last that logo will last for as long as we do, that will be on t-shirts and its amazing that we don’t have a t-shirt with just the logo on it because we do get requests for it all the time.
Music Eyz: Why don’t you?
Mike Miley: When we are on tour we are so busy with just our families and relaxing so some of us turn our emails off for a few days at a time, there is so many emails that go back and forth with managers and it’s so easy for it to slip through the cracks. We have had a lot of requests on this tour so id say, be on the look out for the next time that we come back.
Music Eyz: If you could have a super power, what super power would you have?
Mike Miley: Gosh I always answer fly. I’ve been asked before by playing drinking or truth or dare games. I always thought flying but then Jay said disappear. I think that would be cool! I think it’s kinda spooky and freakily and creepy. I just think if you get the power to fly that would impress a girl.
Music Eyz: What is next for you guys after the tour?
Mike Miley: Next is Canada, then US release in January, we are going to tour Canada, we release in Canada officially at the end of October tour there in November, work radio there probably take the holidays off come back, tour the US January and February and come back here march April.
Music Eyz: Starting all over again?
Mike Miley: Yeah it’s pretty much same old same old. We are actually trying to hit some other markets. We have some crazy awesome fans in South America, we have to hit Spain again speaking of Spain, we played there on our first tour but we haven’t been back since. It’s just geographically it’s unfortunately one of those that it’s hard to get and to warrant the bus driver and everybody there, it just costs a lot of money. I hate to mention that kinda crap but we would have to sell out a place this size (Ritz in Manchester) or bigger to warrant it.
Music Eyz: Music is a business after all.
Mike Miley: Yeah it is a business unfortunately. We would love to come over and play; we are also getting offers to play in South America which we are really excited to start putting that in the books. Australia, we have plans to hit there. We would love to go back to Japan, there is a lot to so, we are really busy.
Interview by Kim Martinez-Meakins