Roger Miller (rock musician)
|Roger (Clark) Miller|
|Origin||Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.|
New Music Composer
Ace of Hearts
World in Sound
His main instruments are guitar and piano. Guitar Player magazine describes Miller's guitar playing as balancing rock energy with cerebral experimentation, while his keyboard work has earned comparisons to Béla Bartók and even Cecil Taylor.
Miller was born and raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Inspired by Jimi Hendrix and Detroit-area bands like the Stooges and the MC5, Miller formed several garage bands in his teens. With brothers Benjamin (Ben) Miller and Laurence B. (Larry) Miller, he formed Sproton Layer; Miller played bass guitar and was the primary singer and songwriter. Their recordings were collected and released in 1992 and again in 2011 as With Magnetic Fields Disrupted. The Miller brothers have an occasional ongoing collaboration called M3.
Attending CalArts in 1976, majoring in composition, Miller also studied piano and French Horn, and studied music by 20th century experimental composers like John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen. He would eventually drop out of college in favor of punk rock.
Mission of Burma years
Relocating to Boston, Massachusetts, Miller was a member of the short-lived Moving Parts before co-founding Mission of Burma in 1979. The group was popular in and around Boston, but was unable to expand their audience. Miller played guitar and sang, and slightly edged out bassist/singer Clint Conley as the more productive songwriter. It was also Miller's idea to invite Martin Swope to join the group and add tape loop effects, giving the group an unusual, experimental sound.
Mission of Burma disbanded in 1983 due in large part to Miller's worsening tinnitus, attributed in large part to their notoriously loud live performances. In subsequent years, Mission of Burma's small body of recordings grew to be regarded as important and influential.
During the Burma years, Miller worked as a freelance piano tuner. Since 1992, he has been a soundtrack composer, and numerous films he scored premiered at Sundance, the most recent in 2017. In 2008 he began composing in a more formal fashion, and has had numerous compositions performed at the New England Conservatory, many featuring Prepared_piano. Miller's current rock trio, Trinary System, released a 5-song EP in 2016.
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Miller creates frottage drawings, using a technique developed by the surrealist Max Ernst, and is a writer. He has blogged for Slate and Huffington Post, and written a book review for The Wall Street Journal. His short story "Insect Futures" was published in Penny Ante III. His drawings have appeared in numerous shows since 2003.
Other musical projects
After Burma broke up, Miller turned his attention to playing piano with the more experimental, instrumental group Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic, which he left in 1987.
Afterwards, Miller had several collaborations, solo efforts and film scores; many of these post-Burma albums were released by SST Records:
- Alloy Orchestra, a trio with Miller on keyboards that composes new scores for silent films. The group's name refers to the many metal objects (hubcaps, springs and pots) used by percussionists Ken Winokur and Terry Donohue;
- M2, an ongoing musical collaboration with Benjamin Miller with Miller on prepared piano;
- Exquisite Corpse, an instrumental group with Miller on guitar, piano and sampler; violinist; percussionist; and a shawm/sackbutt player;
- Binary System, an instrumental, piano/drums duo with percussionist Larry Dersch;
- Hooker/Miller/Ranaldo, a free improvisation group composed of William Hooker (percussion), Lee Ranaldo (guitar), and Miller (bass);
- M3, a musical collaboration with Benjamin Miller and Laurence Miller;
- Maximum Electric Piano (solo prepared piano with loops);
- No Man (rock-oriented project with Russell Smith on bass and Ken Winokur or Malcolm Travis on drums);
- Elemental Guitar (solo prepared guitar with loops).
- Trinary System (rock trio more psychedelic and less punk than Mission of Burma).
- No Man Is Hurting Me (Ace of Hearts, 1986)
- Groping Hands EP (Ace of Hearts, 1986)
- The Big Industry (Ace of Hearts, 1987)
- Win Instantly (Ace of Hearts, 1988)
- Oh (Forced Exposure, 1988)
- XYLYL and A Woman in Half (New Alliance, 1991)
- Elemental Guitar (SST, 1995)
- The Benevolent Disruptive Ray (SST, 1996)
- L'inhumaine' BluRay'
- Phantom of the Opera' BluRay and DVD'
- Man with the Movie Camera DVD and BluRay (Image)
- STRIKE! DVD (Image)
- Fatty Arbuckle Vol.I and II DVD (KINO)
- The General/Steamboat Bill, Jr. DVD (Image)
- Slapstick Masters DVD (Image)
- The Lost World DVD (Image)
- Phantom of the Opera Blu-Ray (Image)
- Dragonflies the Baby Cries DVD
- Manslaughter DVD (KINO)
- Wild and Weird DVD
- Masters Of Slapstick CD (Accurate, 2001)
- Lonesome CD (Accurate, 1996)
- Silents CD (Accurate, 1998)
- Metropolis CD (Alloy Orchestra)
- Underworld CD (Alloy Orchestra)
Binary System (Roger Miller and Larry Dersch)
- Live at the Idea Room (SST, 1997)
- Boston Underbelly V/A Compilation "Impov. #4 October 5, 1996" (Sublingual, 1998)
- from the Epicenter (Atavistic, 1999)
- Invention Box (Atavistic, 2001)
Birdsongs of the Mesozoic
- A Wicked Good Time V/A Compilation "Pulse Piece" (Modern Method, 1981)
- Birdsongs Of The Mesozoic EP (Ace of Hearts, 1983)
- Magnetic Flip (Ace of Hearts, 1984)
- Beat of the Mesozoic (Ace of Hearts, 1985)
- Soundtracks V/A Compilation "To A Random" (Arf Arf, 1987)
- Dawn of the Cycads (Cuneiform, 2010)
dredd foole and the din (dredd foole, Roger Miller, Clint Conley, Pete Prescott)
- Songs in Heat, "So Tough" b/w "Sanctuary" (Loose Music/Religious Records, 1982)
M2 (Roger Miller, Benjamin Miller)
- At Land's Edge (Feeding Tuber Records, 2012)
M-3 (Roger Miller, Ben Miller, Larry Miller)
- M-3 (New Alliance Records, 1993)
- Unearthing (Sublingual, 2001)
Roger Miller 45s
- FWP 45 (Fun World Products, 2011)
- Big Steam (Good Road Records, 2012)
- Damage the Enemy (New Alliance, 1989)
- Whamon Express (SST, 1990)
- How the West Was Won (SST, 1991)
Out Trios Volume One (William Hooker, Roger Miller, Lee Ranaldo)
- Monsoon (Atavistic, 2002)
Roger Miller's Exquisite Corpse
- Unfold (SST, 1994)
Sproton Layer (Roger Miller, Ben Miller, Larry Miller)
- With Magnetic Fields Disrupted (New Alliance Records, 1991)
- With Magnetic Fields Disrupted (World in Sound Records, 2011)
- Amplify the Amplifiers (5-song EP and 7") (Fun World, 2016)
Mission of Burma reform
Mission of Burma reunited in 2002, with Bob Weston replacing Swope. On stage, Miller has his Marshall amplifier at the edge of the stage on his right, with the speakers facing away from him (as seen in the reunion footage in the M0B documentary Not A Photograph). The band has released four albums since reforming, the latest is UNSOUND, July 2012, on FIRE Records.
- Guitar Player, January 1997
- Azerrad, Michael. Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991. Little Brown and Company, 2001. ISBN 0-316-78753-1