July 19, 2013 Interview: Jason Charles Miller from Godhead to Country Rock
In life we often learn to expect the unexpected and most of all never to box anyone into a corner of who you think they are. Jason Charles Miller, song writer and vocalist of Godhead, has broken free of his box and explored new avenues of music. After years of making high quality music in Godhead he released his first solo material Last to Go Home in 2009. What may comes as a surprise to fans is his solo work is nothing like Godhead, but something completely different venturing into country rock. His latest work Natural Born Killer (2012) has received an overwhelming positive response from dedicated and new fans. Recently we sat down with Jason for in depth look into his world of song writing, his inspirations, following his heart and artistic vision.
Crypticrock.com- You have been involved in music for a long time now. Most know you as the lead singer of Godhead. Your solo material is a completely different direction than that of Godhead. Tell me what inspired you to branch out into the country music genre?
Jason Charles Miller- I grew up in Virginia, surrounded by country music. It was always something that was part of me. When I got to high school through that rebellious stage and discovered Led Zeppelin and Nine Inch Nails I kind of went in a different direction for quite awhile. When I would write songs on my own, with me and just an acoustic guitar, it definitely had a folk-like singer/song writer story telling vibe to it. When I decided to start branching out and doing stuff it just naturally moved in that direction. One of those things that was a pet peeve of mine as a music fan is when someone from a band would go out and say here’s my new project, but it sounds exactly like my old project. So I wanted to do something that was still very much a part of me but a different direction musically and creatively that inspired me. I think that being sort of stuck in one genre for a long time especially when your band is known for a certain genre, you’re naturally going to use what you’ve done in the past to kind of steer what you are going to do in the future. As a solo artist I can pick any direction or any path.
Crypticrock.com- It’s evident it’s a different direction. After almost 2 decades with Godhead now do you find your solo material to be a change of pace you needed to keep things interesting and fresh for yourself as an artist?
Jason Charles Miller – Absolutely. There’s a new spark of inspiration for me in every sense of the word. I’m out on the road in a van and trailer doing it like I was 18 again. Mainly based on the drive and the passion I have for the music, the passion I have for performing this material in front of people, and getting it out to people. I’m doing things that I probably never would have thought of doing again with Godhead but for me it’s worth it because in the end I’m putting out something that’s inspiration to me. So much so that I’m roughing it like I was when I first started because it’s that important to me and I’m endeared to it that much.
Crypticrock.com- That shows a great deal of passion and dedication. Your newest solo album “Natural Born Killer” is actually your second full length country album, your first being “Uncountry” in 2011. Having one full album under your belt in the genre was it any different going into writing the 2nd record?
Jason Charles Miller – I guess I felt like I knew my way around it a little better. With Godhead we used programming in every single song and we used electronics in every single song. One of the things in my solo material thus far is there really is no programming what so ever. I’m not doing that on purpose but it’s more loyal to the genre I guess. I’m using all organic instruments and all live players when I record. It’s a completely different vibe than a industrial record would give you. That’s not to say I wouldn’t do a country industrial record one day or whatever (laughs). I wanted to just go a completely different direction from writing and recording.
Crypticrock.com- Now after listening to your solo material you can tell right off the bat that you offer a more traditional country rock sound to your music and less modern pop country. Was that something you were aiming for?
Jason Charles Miller – I’m certainly more a fan of old school country instead of pop country. I think a lot of people are, and I think that it’s going to change pretty soon. I think people are really getting sick of the whole pop country thing because I think it lacks authenticity to a certain degree. I just wanted to have a more authentic vibe to the whole album.
Crypticrock.com- I think the album has that. I think you are right. I think people are getting tired of the pop country and it does lack a bit of the authenticity. Now you have achieved success in the rock & metal genres, and now also in the country genre. It is pretty impressive. How does it feel to have success in these different forms of music and how do you find your Godhead fans receive the solo material?
Jason Charles Miller – Well first of all I think there are two kinds of music, good and bad. I’ve received a pretty good overwhelming positive response from Godhead fans. I think that Godhead fans that are fans of my voice are definitely along for the ride with the solo material. I think some fans might of only liked us because of our association with Marilyn Manson or our dark side. Those fans are little less receptive but that’s ok. I think that as an artist they will respect what I am trying to do even if they want another Godhead record. By the way there is a Godhead remix record coming out in September. We got the rights back to the album The Shadow Line, so I got 13 different people to remix every song. I got Ben Moody formerly of Evanscence, the guys from Psyclon Nine, Joe Bishara, and I got all these really cool creative people to remix the whole Godhead record. There will be 3 unreleased tracks that we went back and finished so I think it’s going to be a 16 or 17 track album.
Crypticrock.com- Very nice, that is something to look forward for Godhead fans. Your currently on tour until the end of July supporting “Natural Born Killer”. How is the experience on stage playing for a different type of crowd than a Godhead crowd?
Jason Charles Miller- I feel I can be a little bit more myself in between songs and during songs. I certainly let the music carry me where it goes. I think everybody changes, and we all grow, and a lot of the time the audiences grows with you. I’m very comfortable up there, I’m probably more comfortable up there now.
Crypticrock.com- You have to definitely be comfortable in your own skin when your performing in front of other people. You mentioned about the re-release of Godhead remix album in September. Now I’d like to ask you about Godhead, it’s been 5 years since At The Edge Of The World was released. I’m sure many Godhead fans are anxious to know when to expect a new material. Is that in the works too?
Jason Charles Miller – Not immediately, but you never know. There is still always that possibility, I just don’t have any concrete timeline for that.
Crypticrock.com- That is also very positive news. With Godhead you managed to keep the material fresh over the years, going from a more industrial sound toward the early years of the band to a more rock/metal sound later on. If and when you decide to go back and do more Godhead material do you have any direction you want to go or will you just take it as it comes?
Jason Charles Miller – I think we’ll take it as it comes. I think that if we all got back into the room together we would share ideas and let it go where it goes. I wouldn’t want to go in with any preconceived notion or direction. I will just let the material take us along the journey.
Crypticrock.com- That makes perfect sense, to go into things with an open mind. You had mentioned earlier to me that some people gravitated toward Godhead because you were associated with Marilyn Manson. You were the first and actually only band signed to Marilyn Manson’s Post Human record label. Do you find that as sort of a stigma over the years or do you take it humbly?
Jason Charles Miller- No I don’t take it as a stigma at all. I am so appreciative of the opportunity he gave us, and it certain helped make a lot of opportunities for me that I’m still capitalizing upon today. Whether there is a stigma to go along with that so be it. I’m doing a radio tour and promoting my country album, there was one station in Alabama that denied me an interview because of my relationship with Marilyn Manson. Sometimes people take everything as face value and don’t realize that even Marilyn Manson is a show, like Alice Cooper or Rob Zombie is a show. I guess there are people out there that really do believe the rumors. Most of the radio interviews I did across the country promoting this country record wanted to ask me Marilyn Manson questions. They wanted to ask me funny things he did back stage or tell stories of things that he did. I was more than happy to share that because I think most people are open minded enough to realize it is just a show. I had a really good time sharing some of those funny stories.
Crypticrock.com- I do think it opened a lot of doors for the band. It was a great thing for the band and a great thing for you as an artist. It’s very obvious your musical range is very broad so I am curious as to what some of your music influences?
Jason Charles Miller- My first records were The Beatles, John Denver, and Merle Haggard. It kind of expanded out from there. One of my favorite bands right now is a band called Blackberry Smoke. They really have a throwback sound. I describe them and say if you take all the best elements of The Black Crowes, The Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd, that’s Blackberry Smoke. There is another newer country artist named Jamey Johnson, I love his stuff. All the classic stuff you can’t go wrong with any of that. From The Highwaymen, Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Kris Kristofferson. Kris Kristofferson is a huge influence on my song writing. Of course I grew up with Led Zeppelin and The Rolling Stones. The thing that inspired me to pick up my instrument was I learned how to play guitar figuring out my favorite album. I really didn’t have much formal training so what I recommend to a lot of beginning guitar players is pick your favorite record, put it on and try and figure it out yourself. That will teach you so much more, and you will actually learn a lot quicker and a lot more efficiently if you try to train yourself by ear. I don’t know if that everybody can do that or not but that certainly helped me quite a bit.
Crypticrock.com- That is some good advice to learn to play guitar. My last question for you is regarding films. Crypticrock.com is a rock/metal and horror news site so we like to focus on all genres. Are you a fan of horror films and if so what are some of your favorite horror films?
Jason Charles Miller- My favorite horror films are more psychological thrillers because they freak me out more. Of course I love the classics like Halloween, Friday The 13th, Hills Have Eyes and a lot of that stuff. The movie that freaked me out the most ever in my life was Breakdown with Kurt Russell, because all of that shit can really happen. That’s the stuff that disturbs me way more than a monster coming out of the lagoon.
Crypticrock.com- I understand what you are saying. That is actually a great movie. As a film fan do you find yourself appreciating all eras of films do you like the older films better? What do you think?
Jason Charles Miller- I see a trend in film making now, where the bottom line seems to be only making money that first week at the box office. The quality really seems to have suffered in the last few years. I think I am more a fan of classic film making like Alfred Hitchcock when they were innovating and trying new things that people never did before. Then again, a film will come out like Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained that still blows people away. There are still certain filmmakers that will come out and push the envelope and challenge people, and I love that. I guess I am a fan of both.
Crypticrock.com- Right, there is also a gem that comes out every once in a while.
Jason Charles Miller- Absolutely. All the new super hero films are done so well. Although I was not a huge fan of the newest Spiderman, because as a fan I kind of felt fatigued, because how many more ways are we going to see how his uncle got killed? How many more times are we going to see his origin? I would have preferred if they just kept the series moving but that’s just me. I have friends that loved the new Spiderman. I loved the Iron Man series and The Avengers. It’s cool when a big franchise takes somebody like Joss Whedon which is beloved in fandom and give him a movie like The Avengers and he kicked ass with it, and I love that.
Crypticrock.com- Totally. Now you bring up the new super hero movies, and I am a fan of a lot of them as well, but some of them I feel like they really overdue it with the CGI. What do you think of that?
Jason Charles Miller- I agree that don’t just do special effects for special effects sake, give us a good story. That’s all I really need is a good story. Somebody that combined great story with great special effects is Guillermo del Toro. I think he does a great job of that from Pan’s Labyrinth to the Hellboy movies. That’s someone I think has a really good handle on a good balance of it so the story still shines through.