Lisa Miller (singer-songwriter)
She started writing songs at fourteen and has memories of being in a folk music duo with a friend: "I played flute, she played guitar and sang, and we wore matching paisley dresses that went to the floor, and played at coffee houses where people drank hot chocolates with marshmallows."
Her first serious musical outing was as vocalist of the rock group The Hepeleptics in the 1980s, while working as a secondary school teacher. She then became vocalist and rhythm guitarist for The Whole Shebang. In 1989 she took an extended trip to the U.S. to see friends and hear as much music as possible in legendary locations (Memphis, Nashville, Austin, New Orleans, San Francisco). She returned to Melbourne and formed her own roots rock band, The Trailblazers (later known as Truckasaurus) with Mark Ferrie (ex-Models and Sacred Cowboys). They favoured original material by Miller or Ferrie. She also sang in the trio The Everlovin' O'Sheas. Of these early ventures only The Whole Shebang and Truckasaurus issued any recordings.
In 1995 Miller released two EPs on the In'Law label as a solo artist: Do That For You and All Worked Out. Her debut album, Quiet Girl with a Credit Card, followed in 1996 on the W.Minc label. It was also issued in the U.K. on Demon Records, to date her only release outside of Australia. It was three years until her second album, As Far as a Life Goes, which also appeared on the W.Minc label but released by the now defunct Festival Mushroom Records. She was nominated that year for the Best Female Artist ARIA Award - a notable achievement for an artist with no commercial radio airplay.
After sorting out troubles with her record companies, Miller released an album of cover versions in 2002 for the fledgling Melbourne label Raoul Records (run by her husband Ben Lempriere). The album, Car Tape, found Miller in a country-soul vein and was a critical success. As on earlier recordings, Miller's choice of cover songs leant heavily towards cult U.S. male singer/songwriters such as Doug Sahm and Townes Van Zandt. Miller's profile - while still small outside Melbourne's inner-city suburbs - began to grow. A new backing band contained seasoned session musicians, she received multiple ARIA nominations, and Car Tape went on to be one of the best-selling Australian independent releases of 2002.
In 2003 she released her fourth album, Version Originale, a CD of original compositions, that was also warmly received by critics.
With her band (featuring guitarist and producer Shane O'Mara), Miller has been a sporadic live performer in and around Melbourne, with forays up the east coast of Australia, including the Byron Bay Blues Festival. She has played with Billy Bragg and toured Australia with Neil Young and Nick Cave. She has also appeared on recordings by Australian musicians David McComb, Tim Rogers, Tex Perkins, Andy Baylor, Barb Waters, Doug Mansfield, Amanda Brown (of The Go-Betweens) and David Chesworth. At one time she was managed by the late Mick Geyer (close associate of Nick Cave), but is now self-managed.
In 2004 Miller released the EP, Pushover, which features five songs recorded live on the 2003 Neil Young tour. She was again nominated in the Best Female Artist category at the 2004 ARIA Awards, at which - once again - she was beaten by Kasey Chambers.
Miller collaborated with composer Amanda Brown on a number of songs for the award winning film Look Both Ways but only one song (entitled "Eleven") made the final selection.
In 2005 she recorded a version of the Split Enz song "I Hope I Never" for She Will Have Her Way, a tribute album of female Australian and New Zealand artists performing the works of Tim and Neil Finn. This album was nominated for an 2006 ARIA award under "Best Adult Contemporary Artist".
Her fifth album Morning in the Bowl of Night was released in March 2007, many of the songs focussing around the death of Miller's mother. In early 2008 Morning in the Bowl of Night was shortlisted for the prestigious Australian Music Prize.
As of 2006 Miller's band consists of:
- Lisa Miller - vocals, rhythm guitar
- Shane O'Mara - lead guitar
- Peter Jones - drums
- Bill McDonald - electric bass
- Quiet Girl with a Credit Card - 1996
- As Far as a Life Goes - 1999
- Car Tape - 2002
- Version Originale - 2003
- Morning in the Bowl of Night - 2007
- Car Tape 2 - 2010
EPs and Singles
- "Truckasaurus", EP - 1993 (performing as Truckasaurus)
- "Do That for You", EP - 1995
- "All Worked Out", EP - 1995
- "Hang My Head", single - 1996
- "Wipe the Floor", single - 1999
- "Pushover EP" - 2004
- "If You Need Me", single - 2007 (sold through RACV shops as a tie-in to TV commercial)
- The Preston Story, Vol. 1 - as The Whole Shebang: "Funnel of Love", "Another Sunday Morning" - recorded 1987, released 1995
- Recovery: Hits From The Back Door - "Hang Your Head" (live) - 1997
- To Hal and Bacharach - "The Look of Love" - 1998 (duet with Tex Perkins)
- RRRewind In The Chapel - "Are You The One That I’ve Been Waiting For" (live), "It’s A Long Way To The Top" (live) - 1998
- Highlights from Studio 22 - "Trade" (live) - 2002
- You Can't Hide Your Love Forever – A Tribute To Gene Clark - "Why Not Your Baby" (live) - 2002
- The DIG Australian Blues Project - "Red Cross Store Blues" (live) - 2005
- She Will Have Her Way - "I Hope I Never" - 2005
- Mullet - Various Artists - 2000
- Dirty Deeds - Various Artists - 2002
- Look Both Ways - Various Artists - 2005
Awards and nominations
- 1999 Nominated for ARIA Award: Best Female Artist (As Far as a Life Goes)
- 2002 Nominated for ARIA Awards: Best Female Artist (Car Tape); Best Independent Release (Car Tape); Best Adult Contemporary Album (Car Tape); Best Original Soundtrack Album (Dirty Deeds)
- 2004 Nominated for ARIA Awards: Best Female Artist (Version Originale); Best Adult Contemporary Album (Version Originale)
- 2006 Nominated for ARIA Award: Best Adult Contemporary Album (Various Artists: She Will Have Her Way)
- 2007 Nominated for ARIA Award: Best Adult Contemporary Album (Morning in the Bowl of Night)
- 2008 Shortlisted for the Australian Music Prize (Morning in the Bowl of Night)
- 2010 Nominated for ARIA Award: Best Adult Contemporary Album (Car Tape 2)
- Lisa Miller Official Website
- Lisa Miller Official Myspace page
- Lisa Miller discography at the Australian Rock Database by Magnus Holmgren.