Garrett Miller

 

Ten seconds into the chorus of his single ‘Gay Wedding’ and you'll be nodding your head. With an infectious lyrical style and sublime hook, the rock artist known as Garrett Miller seems poised to vault straight up the charts.

Huntington Beach resident Garrett Miller’s love of music runs deep. It shows in his unswerving movement towards his dream of rock stardom and in his award-winning work that has compelled the critics to rave: ‘Well-instructed by a deft complement of hard rock inclinations, 'Blonde Jesus' marries an epic, almost oracular vocal presence with frenzied guitar and electronic statements to produce one of the most humorous and entertaining albums of the year.’ Unlike many of his contemporary artists, however, Garrett Miller has an edge. His music combines a flawless delivery with evocative melodic elements. Coupled with original lyrics and a memorable hook, his new single ‘Gay Wedding’, a clever take on the Billy Idol classic, is attracting fans across the globe. Recently, reporter Blake Wright caught up with this intriguing artist to find out more about his musical inspiration and plans for the future.

BLAKE: When did you first get that feeling that your music career was gaining momentum?
GARRETT MILLER: At the end of 2013 I released a 4-song EP called “Eyes Wide” and promoted it on Facebook, Twitter, emails and lots of loud shouting. Lots of shouting, “BUY MY ALBUM – PAPA NEEDS A NEW PAIR OF SHOES!” Totally grass roots. This was my first musical project. The first time I’d written lyrics for a song. The first time I’d sung outside of the shower. The first time to think about “what would happen if..” a lot of firsts happened here. The lead single/title track is a dance song about waking up and doing what you want in life. “Eyes wide seeing light for the first time. Open wide seeing life for the first time.” I didn’t realize when writing the lyrics it was really going to be prophetic how things would start to play out in the coming months. I think it shocked a lot of friends and family that I’d do something so “out of the box” from my normal suit-n-tie persona – and at this point in my life! Cuz I’m not 16 years old trying to become the next Justin Bieber. I just wanted to tell stories, my stories, and sing my songs and if people like it – great! When I did the music video for “Guess What It’s Christmastime” that’s what really turned the corner. Well honestly, who doesn’t love Christmas, California, Puppies and a catchy tune? By the time Santa had come and gone, people were telling me they wanted more new music. I’d sold enough copies to nearly make up the production and marketing costs – which is unheard of for someone who’s never sold a record, sung a song or ever done anything musically. That was the main influence to go back into the studio and make a full-length album – people believed in me.

BLAKE: Your song’Gay Wedding’is receiving a positive listener response on radio. What was your initial reaction when you first heard your song playing on radio?
GARRETT MILLER: The song first broke in the UK on Chat & Spin Radio. They told me ahead of time they were adding the song to their playlist. When I tuned in to hear it played for the first time, I couldn’t stop smiling. I think I froze for a moment. You hear “Gay Wedding” being introduced, being played and then they start saying, “The phone lines are lighting up, callers want us to play it again!” So they play it again… And again… I was sitting in my studio/office listening to this take place live – I was sure I was dreaming. Except they played it again! The first major station to play “Gay Wedding” in the States was KEZ 99.9 in Phoenix, AZ on the day Marriage Equality became official in the US. I lived in Phoenix for several years before and knew this was the station to listen to. I sent the track to the host, Beth McDonald that morning and she immediately introduced the song and put it on air. While it was playing, people I knew on Facebook are pinging me saying, “Are you listening?!?!?!” I sat there with tears rolling down my eyes that my song was being played on the #1 station in Phoenix on a historical day, and people I knew heard me sing this anthem. I was very emotional. A great memory and I will always remember and be grateful to Beth for making this happen.

BLAKE: What was the inspiration behind your debut radio single?
GARRETT MILLER: I was 9 songs deep into the album and searching for something to write for the 10th and what I thought would be the final song. (Sidenote: it would end up being 11 songs in total – the title track Blond Jesus was the last in the project). I’d worked out scratch vocals for everything else and had a clear idea up to that point which was going to be the lead single, “Face Front.” The only problem was, I wasn’t in love with my vocals on Face Front and needed to come up with another song to work on to distract me. It was early in October 2014 and Marriage Equality was a hot topic across the US. Several states were approving it and the direction appeared clear we’d get it across the country – but how many more years would it take? After doing my radio show (Rated G Radio), one night I was getting out my songwriting notebook, also reading over the rants & posts on Facebook over Marriage Equality, while listening to the radio. Billy Idol’s iconic classic, “White Wedding” came on and while I’m singing along to it trying to think of something else to write about I said to myself, “Self… Someone really needs to write a kick-ass song like White Wedding for the LGBT community!” and then went back to singing the chorus. About a half hour later, the light bulb went off. “Um, Self?” “Yes?” “That person needs to be you. You need to write the song for our community!” So I rewrote the lyrics to be Gay Wedding and headed back to the recording studio the next day. I told my producer, Brian Pothier, we had to do the song. He was cautious, advising that it may not be able to be released because it's a Billy Idol song, etc… We called my singing coach, Bill Cinque, who gave me some excellent advice. “Hire an Entertainment Attorney and ask them these questions. I play the bass guitar.” I told both, “Regardless of the outcome, I must do this song! This song is too important to me NOT to record. Even if I can’t put it on the album, I have to sing this song!” The shrugged their shoulders. I sang the song. I took Bill’s advice and hired an Entertainment Lawyer who submitted my EPK, my version of the song, the lyrics I’d written – along with a lot of hope and enthusiasm to Billy’s publisher, BMG Chrysalis. At 12:13 p.m. the day the email was sent, they sent me a note saying, “Well kid, cross your fingers cuz we just sent ‘em the packet.” There was no promise of when we’d hear back – IF we’d hear back, nada. 12:47 p.m. the same day, THE SAME DAY, I get another email back, “We can’t believe how quickly they replied, but they approved your song! You can get your mechanical license and release the record!” Apparently this qualifies me for a Disney move cuz this doesn’t happen like this very often. I took this as another sign this song was important, mattered and was going to change my life. I LOVE THIS SONG! I love all of the songs on my album, but “Gay Wedding” holds a special place in my heart and history for how it all came together so quickly with everything and everyone lining up perfectly. It had to be the first single!

BLAKE: It is often said that great art arises from difficult experience. Is there something in your life experience thus far that you would describe as the ‘catalyst’ or ‘fuel’ for your desire to create music?
GARRETT MILLER: It didn’t start out that way, but by the time I recorded, Eyes Wide, I was getting cathartic in my lyrics. I was writing about what I was going through, things I felt and the next thing you know, here was a fun dance song. For me it was like writing in a diary, except lyrically and hopefully it would be catchy enough I’d want to listen to it a million times. Eyes Wide, as I was in the studio laying down the tracts, opened my eyes, and I knew there were more stories I wanted to tell. Eyes Wide was about my professional life, up to that point, where I’d go along with the status-quo, doing what I was told, never really thinking about what was important to me. When I finally opened my eyes, I saw a world of things I wanted to do: my radio show, singing, acting, writing books and songs, produce other projects, photography, web design, help people in ways I never thought about before. The third song, FOG, was really what happened to me after Eyes Wide. Other events ensued which left me feeling completely outcast in a world I’d been so closely connected to for many years. At night, my radio show was taking off, more people kept tuning in and I was getting some 5-star guests! Yet, by day I couldn’t get a return phone call or email from people who I used to be close to. The song talks about not losing sight of the other people in your life, in your world, who truly love you and care about you – sometimes it might not seem like it, or feel like it, but to keep the faith and know that you’ll get through what it is. The term FOG also stands for Favor Of God. So when you’re feeling alone, let the FOG surround you, and your life will be ok! Bet you didn’t see that one coming! I prayed a lot during this time. And the FOG got me through it. By the time I started writing the new album everything had hit the fan. The spray back wasn’t pretty either. My 12 year relationship was over, a healthy 6-figure income consulting career overnight was barely 5 digits, and my life was in the proverbial toilet. I’d slashed expenses, but still had bills to pay - I cashed out every account I had, sold all of my big screen tv’s& furniture, and humbly borrowed money to pay rent and buy groceries. I felt sorry for myself. I was also sober for the first time in my adult life and I think being sober helped me make a lot of the choices I had put off for so many years – instead of looking the other way – it was time to deal with everything head on. With all of my nerves raw and exposed, it was the perfect time to write songs deep from my gut. I initially expected to write lyrics that would be fun dance tunes, but there’s a lot of rock-n-roll on this project - a lot of energy I had to get out there in songs about what happened. The songs have common messages of knowing what you do/don’t want, what you will/won’t put up with, and believing in yourself. I love each of these songs so much!

BLAKE: How would you characterize yourself as an artist/musician? (Ex. Down-to-earth, serious, fun-loving, complicated…)
GARRETT MILLER: I’m totally fun-loving when it comes to making music. I try to learn as much as I can from each person I meet – in the studio, at a live music performance, at a gig, networking. I love that this is an opportunity to share yourself with people and tell your stories – and they clap, applaud, buy cd’s, tell people about you. This whole experience is awesome! Now if you put the business hat on, I’m all numbers & stats. It’s a ying/yang for sure. Let’s get out a spreadsheet and crunch the numbers, it’s time to move the merch!

 

BLAKE: What has your experience been like working with the other people on your team?
GARRETT MILLER: My team is small yet mighty. Vocally, I’ve been lucky to study under Bill Cinque – a world-class bass player and vocalist in his own right who tours with Neil Diamond. Neil friggin Diamond. Bill helped grow my vocals by leaps and bounds to prepare me for the studio and I’m grateful to him for his friendship, business advice, and extreme patience with me while rehearsing. My co-writer and producer, Brian Pothier, walks on water. I’ll come into the studio with a song I want to sing with lyrics written out and somehow he interprets my dreams, gets out his guitar, lays down some tracks, gets a drum beat behind it, and lets it evolve into the song we’ll create. Musically, I’m stunned every time we work together. He’s also got the most tact, “That was great! Let’s do another take!” I’m hardly a delicate flower that I can’t handle being told “That sucks” but Brian is careful to protect the people he works with making sure they feel safe in this vulnerable place of performing. I love working with Brian and am lucky he makes time for me.

BLAKE: Did you come from a musical background? Are there other musicians in your family?
GARRETT MILLER: I begged my parents for a piano from an early age. They spent more money than they should have on a nice upright. And at the young age of 6, I’d take piano lessons once a week for what seemed like 100 years. I was supposed to practice 15 minutes a day, but always faked my log book. I’m sure the teacher knew as well. I really only wanted to learn how to play “The Entertainer” and “Ben” and once I kinda learned how to play those, I lost interest in anything else. After I gave up the piano, I played the flute in the 6th grade. It was required, as was choir. That’s the extent of my musical training until the last couple of years.

BLAKE: What do you find most rewarding about being an artist? What do you find most challenging?
GARRETT MILLER: Most rewarding: Getting to create things you love and then sharing them with the world. Seriously, how awesome is it to create a song, put it up on iTunes and have people around the world say, “Wow – this song helped get me through my day. I needed to hear this today!” What an honor! Most challenging: There’s no guidebook, checklist or how-to manual on how to be a Rock Star. If there were, I’d have bought it, memorized it, put a spreadsheet to it and checked off every box. While there are people out there who have given me good advice, they are busy running their own empires, businesses and careers. Who do you trust? Who can you believe? What is a good investment of your money? What type of return will I get if I do such-n-such project. All of that kind of stuff is challenging – there’s nothing except a lot of faith that you’re doing the right things, trusting your gut to trust the right people and spending your money wisely to get you through this project, and then creating the next. Some would say to get a manager to help guide your precious career, right? Surprisingly, few people I know have a manager or agent they like or respect. Most artists tell me they get their gigs from their own networking, and if they have representation, the say goodbye to 10 to 20%. Thankyouverymuch. The business behind the music and entertainment industry is completely unglamorous. Yet, at the end of the day, people tend to forget it’s also unglamorous in every other profession, so stop your whining and let’s go record another song! YAY!

BLAKE: Who are your role models in music?
GARRETT MILLER: George Michael, Elton John, Billy Idol. The first day I heard "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" I raced out and bought a Choose Life t-shirt. I’d love to do a duet with George Michael one day on “Careless Whisper” or “Kissing a Fool” – much like he did with Elton John for “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me.” I didn’t really get into Elton until the mid-80’s and that’s probably still my favorite period of his music. Yes, there’s Crocodile Rock and literally 1,000 other songs he wrote and performed before and after that, but “The One” or “I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That” –to me, it just doesn’t get much better than an Elton ballad or uptempo song. Billy, I was also late to the game. I grew up “not liking” anything that was rock or punk because people had long hair and didn’t look like Donny Osmond. Imagine that. After taking a music history class at Arizona State, my ears and appreciation opened up a whole new world of enjoyment for incredible performers like Billy. I went back and bought his earlier cd’s and couldn’t believe I didn’t want to listen to these tunes before! Even Billy’s latest cd, “Kings & Queens of the Underground” (which I think is his best work yet) I crank up full blast with the top down on my Camaro and sing along to “Save Me Now.” Billy can do no wrong in my book. And in my book, we’ll also sing a duet in a mash-up of White Wedding/Gay Wedding at the Grammy’s in 2017.

BLAKE: Describe your best or most memorable performance.
GARRETT MILLER: The performance I love most is my song I AM. It was originally written as a 2 word song: I AM. I told my producer I wanted this to be a 12 minute song with only those words. 
He humored me and we made as much as we could out of I AM and then he let me listen to the track about 100,000 times. Then I realized there was more to the song I needed to say – not because a 2 word song was silly, but there was more to the message. So I did a spoken word intro and a spoken word outro. Once I wrote these passages and put it into the song, it says exactly what I wanted it to say. It gives me strength on days I want to give up. It’s also one of the songs I hear back from fans most often on that they got goosebumps listening to it, cried when they heard the message and will also use it during meditations.

BLAKE: What advice would you give to young, aspiring artists out there who are unsure and need guidance?
GARRETT MILLER: Absolutely do it. Whatever “it” is - write down your goals. Tell everyone you know. Believe with all your heart you can do it. Then get the training you need. Do your homework. Ask for advice (from good people). Don’t listen to the critics. When you’re just about ready to give up and forget it – give it one more month, one more week, one more day, one more performance, one more class, one more rehearsal, one more… Do not give up. You can be anything you want to be – and if people tell you “Forget it – just go be an accountant like your father…” they’re speaking from a place of fear. They never pursued their dreams. They don’t want to see you happy and successful doing what you want either. Live your dreams now! Don’t get me wrong, you still may need to be an accountant during the day to pay your bills so you can be that punk-rock guitar player on the weekends, but you’re still living your dream. If you don’t know what you want to do – write down a bunch of the craziest things you’d love to do if given the chance. How crazy are they really? Probably very realistic if you think about it. Narrow your list down to your Top 3 things you’d really like to do now. Then start looking at what it will take to get the first one accomplished, and then the second and so on. What’s a baby step you can do right now on your first goal? Do it! Sometimes, remember, that your goals change over time and what you really want today, it’s okay not to want tomorrow – revise the list! But keep dreaming. Keep doing! You’ll get there and have an amazing life with fun adventures along the way.

BLAKE: What's next for you as an artist? Is there a new single in the works? If so, what can you tell us about it?
GARRETT MILLER: I just finished recording a new track that will be the theme song for a new science fiction book out later this year. The song is called “Mother Earth Anthem” and tells the story about a man kidnaped by aliens and he longs to return to Earth. It’s a powerful ballad that, I think, will turn some heads. It’s a great concept for this author and I’m excited for the world to hear it this summer. Stay tuned! I’m also working on the theme song for a new movie that is currently in development. They are using Gay Wedding in one key scene, along with this brand new new-era disco song I’m co-writing with one of the legends of disco! It will bring back this genre to a whole new generation of listeners. Get your platform shoes and bell-bottoms ready!

BLAKE: That is quite exciting, congratulations! Thank you for taking the time to let me get to know you a little better. I wish you continued success in your career.

http://www.GarrettMiller.com

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