DIARY - 4 NOVEMBER 2005 - DEAN MILLER INTERVIEW
- DEAN OF PLATINUM
carry a tune in a roomful of buckets but I've learned to judge like a
pro/I'm the Siskel and Ebert of Haggard and Jones and I make up the things
I don't know." - Music Executive - Dean Miller.
actor Dean Miller named his third album Platinum and chose vitriolic parody
Music Executive as its finale he had no idea life would imitate his art.
Miller's tune parodies the puffed up princes of hype and hedonism who
live on the edge.
The edge of their credit cards as they parade on the parapets of broken
promises and dreams.
Corporate bosses closed the Nashville division of Miller's record company
on the eve of interviews to promote the disc in Australia.
"It's pretty ironic," Miller, 40, told Nu Country TV in an interview
"I hope I didn't jinx it. People say that song has got be an exaggeration.
I say no, every bit of that song is true. It happens every day."
The Nashville division of Koch bit the corporate dust and Miller joined
Robert Earl Keen, Dale Watson, Hacienda Brothers, Daryle Singletary, Jerry
Douglas, Tractors and the late Johnny Paycheck's recent compilation in
Canadian label Row Entertainment bought Koch and, like many corporate
bullfrogs, slaughtered the not so golden goose.
The country division began life as Audium and released discs by Dwight
Yoakam, Charlie Daniels, Cletus D Judd and Kentucky Headhunters.
But the only hit unleashed was Illinois born country star David Lee Murphy
#5 tune Loco from fourth album Trying To Get There.
Murphy, returning here for Tamworth in 2006, survived between labels like
Miller by writing hits for peers and hitting the international road.
Koch Nashville boss Nick Hunter started Audium with Dixie Chicks manager
Jerry Renshaw and gave Miller creative freedom for Platinum.
Miller says he met no resistance when he proposed his title to Koch and
wrote nine of 11 songs on a disc that he produced solo.
"I just basically said to them, 'For once in my life, I'm determined
to have a platinum album.'"
HARD LOVE AND LUCK
"I drank up all my whiskey and I run off all my friends/ I make every
bad decision I'm a man that I can't stand." - Hard Love - Dean
Koch didn't release a single to radio he still scored airplay from
"Satellite radio picked it up a lot," Miller revealed of
an album promoted without the marketing tool of mainstream radio.
"We didn't go to radio with a single. I know it sounds strange
but we did a video for the lead off track Hard Love for CMT.
We filmed the clip in New York City. It was shot all over place -
Times Square and Radio City Music Hall. We had a ball. There is a
female lead in the video. She does a lot of standing around looking
beautiful which I know is a challenge. She would like to be known
as an actress and a model but not so far."
Australian record company Shock is servicing the video to Pay-TV channel
CMC and Nu Country TV.
And, unlike Miller's last movie role with Robert Redford and Sopranos
star and CMA awards presenter James Gandolfino in The Last Castle, he
is the focus.
"I played a prison guard but most of my performance was edited out,"
"If you get the DVD of it you can look at me in the deleted scenes."
Miller, born in Santa Fe, New Mexico, chose acting as his profession when
he left for Hollywood at 17.
"I did a lot of movies and stage plays including Shakespeare with
some different roles but acting was never satisfying to me," Miller
says of an eight-year thespian tryst.
"Music was much more satisfying and fulfilling. I had been writing
since I was a kid. But I didn't think I was very good compared with my
father who was well known. It was very hard to step up behind him."
So Miller and a couple of friends formed The Sarcastic Hillbillies, and
began playing shortly after Steve Earle hit Guitar Town.
Ironically, Miller didn't just follow in his famous dad's slipstream -
he joined him as a writer with songs recorded by the legendary George
Jones scored a Top 20 hit with Roger Miller tune Big Harlan Taylor in
1962 and cut Dean Miller-Mark Collie song Ain't Love A Lot Like That
for his comeback disc Cold Hard Truth
37 years later in 1999.
"That was a pretty cool thing," says Miller who played down
his genetics on arrival in Nashville in 1990.
"I got a publishing deal four months after I got there. I was very
fortunate but I didn't get first song cut for a couple of years. It was
Shawn Camp. I wrote with him."
Camp, some time fiddle player for Georgian superstar Alan Jackson, recorded
two of his collaborations with Miller on his self titled debut disc.They
were Man, What A Woman and Turn Loose Off My Pride.
Miller's music has a tougher edge than Camp and some recipients of his
Although his songs hit for acts diverse as Trace Adkins, James House,
Chris Knight and Terri Clark he's equally proud of a posthumous pairing
with dad on the latest disc by Mark Chesnutt, 42, who hails from near
Jones East Texas hometown Beaumont.
Dean, one of
seven children from his dad's three marriages, was just four months old
when it was first a hit.
year we both had a cut on a Mark Chesnutt album," Miller revealed.
"Mark recorded my song What Are We Doing In Love and
dad's song You Can't Do Me This Way."
The songs are on Chesnutt's 10th album Savin' The Honky Tonk
in 2004 for indie label Vivaton.
Also included are Billy Joe Shaver classic Honky Tonk Heroes
and Kevin Fowler tune Beer, Bait & Ammo.
Although Miller wrote 10 of 11 songs on his self titled 1997 debut
disc and nine on Platinum he drew deep from his father's
well for his little known 1966 hit I've Been A Long Time Leavin
(But I'll Be A Long Time Gone.)
dad used to do it very rarely in his shows," Miller recalled of his
sire who died at 56 from cancer in 1992.
"And I just loved it so much. I would beg him and beg him to do it.
He would say, 'Oh, it's too much work.' It's hard to sing, obviously.
So finally when I had the chance, I said, 'I'm gonna cut it.'"
call me hayseed country boy/ but what I am I can't avoid/ my hometown
streets are part of me/ the city limit signs are back to back/ we ain't
even a dot on rhe map." - Nowhere U.S.A. - Dean Miller.
clocked up more than 245 songs during five years at Sony Tree and
Blue Water Publishing.
His development deal at Jimmy Bowen era Liberty in 1995 morphed into
a Capitol album in 1997.
Miller's disc, produced by Travis Tritt champion Gregg Brown, ignited
Nowhere, U.S.A., My Heart's Broke Down But My Mind's Made Up
and Wake Up And Smell The Whiskey.
Miller wrote four songs with fellow New Mexico raised singer-songwriter
Stacy Dean Campbell who toured Australia in 1993 with Texan troubadour
Hugh Moffatt - elder brother of fellow tourist Katy.
singer Raoul Malo guested on Nowhere U.S.A and Trisha Yearwood
sang on Dreams.
But Miller, unlike Keith Urban, didn't survive Capitol's pre-occupation
with Trisha's latter day fiancee - Garth Brooks mania.
So Dean walked the plank to Universal South where he released two singles
Love Is A Game and The Gun Ain't Loaded But I Am.
Tony Brown, Brent Maher and Richard Bennett produced the stillborn album
Just Me but lack of major airplay and sales found the disc, like
some of Dean's acting roles, on the cutting room floor.
"I hit the big time but I bounced right off," Miller says of
his flirtation with fame and hiatus before releasing Platinum for Audium-Koch.
reminiscent of the tough country of late Waylon Jennings, was a natural
to use video as its vehicle.
And, of course, the whiskey theme permeated from it to Whiskey Wings
and Coming Back To You.
"I wrote Whiskey Wings with Eric Church - a new artist on
Capitol," Miller said.
He's a brilliant songwriter. I'm very proud of him. With Coming Back
To You I wanted to write a song with whiskey being a woman. As we
know a lot of people have a relationship with alcohol - a not too healthy
kind of interaction."
So what about Whiskey Valentine - penned with prolific fellow Australian
tourist Jim Lauderdale?
"Where are you finding all these songs?," Miller joked.
"That song has been recorded several times in other countries. It's
a very traditional country song."
Miller says his penchant for drinking songs is no reflection of him being
whiskey bent and hell bound.
"Some of these songs I've lived, and some of them I haven't,"
"I've not ever been an alcoholic - that I know of - but I've sure
known some. So I can tell you that I've at least been around everything
that's in the songs."
Miller's catalogue also includes songs in movies Black Dog and
The Cowboy Way.
"Yes, I have a healthy income stream from writing to see me through
the lean times," says Miller. There are a lot of songs out of there."
Quite a few were written with artists diverse as Rick Price, Melinda Schneider,
Adam Brand, Felicity and Brooke McClymont on his Australian tours.
Miller wrote This Is Life with Felicity for her fourth CD New
Shadow, re-released for her Victorian tour in November.
WALK AWAY RENEE - INTO ALTONA MEADOWS
how many of Miller's songs were inspired by jogs along the jagged
edges of his oft broken heart.
"I was at one time engaged to someone from Melbourne," Miller
"I spent a lot of time in Melbourne."
Was she a singer, I pondered aloud?
Perhaps Renee Stewart from Altona Meadows?
"It's amazing you can remember that," Miller queried.
"We were engaged for about a year so I was over there a lot.
I wrote with Rick Price both in Sydney and Melbourne."
Renee - one time partner of Brownlow medallist Shane Woewodin, now looking
for new digs after stints with Melbourne and Sydney?
wrote a little," he confessed about the singer who scored national
airplay with her single Kiss And Tell.
has frequently suffered the flip side of fame and understands the
blood, sweat and tears necessary for young artists - especially Australians
- to break in the U.S. Latter day expatriate Australasian superstar
Keith Urban endured pregnant pauses as he cut his debut U.S. disc
with The Ranch three times with diverse producers before it hit the
radio and stores.
Fellow expatriates Sherrie Austin and Jamie O'Neal hit hurdles despite
topping charts on their first albums.
Quorn born Jedd Hughes released debut U.S. disc Transcontinental to
wide acclaim and works in the band of another Kentucky Coalminers
Daughter Patty Loveless to keep wolves from his door between gigs
with his own band.
novitiate Catherine Britt cracked the U.S. Top 40 with The Upside Of
Being Down and her duet with Sir Elton John on Where We Both Say
But sales have not been high enough for her record label BMG to release
her second album Too Far Gone in the U.S.
Instead it will be launched first here in Australia for her Australian
tour in January - the single for her collaboration with revered Texan
troubadour Guy Clark and Jerry Salley on Poor Man's Pride has already
been released here.
So Britt, not yet 21, is still performing showcases and working the radio
circuit with cameos like Miller has done with varying degrees of success.
OF LOST HIGHWAY
slow, but now I know/ we only get what we're given." Dean Miller
- Right Now.
empathy for Aussie peers who quit the unforgiving unlucky radio country
to shoot for success in the U.S.
"I've done three different radio tours, for three different projects
in three different contexts," Miller revealed.
"It's hell out there, believe me. It's tough sometimes. You literally
end up playing in kitchenettes and conference rooms. I would suggest that
you drive down to a radio station, go into their kitchenette, get about
four or five people and sit there with a guitar and play. See how that
feels. Does it feel natural? And - then - wait to see if they say they're
going to add or not add your record. It's weird, believe me."
But the singer is not bitter about his desire to succeed despite the hurdles
hit by most peers on that Lost Highway.
"If you don't laugh, you end up bitter," he added.
"And who wants to be around somebody bitter? I try to find the humour
in everything. I can find humour in the darkest of subjects. I honestly
think if I'd made it years ago I'd have been more of a jerk - because
I was a less talented person then. So I'm glad I've been through the hardships.
They make you have character."
LITTLE GASOLINE IN HARLEY HOUSE
& Roger Miller
biggest earner so far is A Little Gasoline that topped charts
for recently wed Canadian chanteuse Terri Clark - a frequent Australian
It could have been an even bigger earner in Australia if it was logged
by the midnight DJ on Nu Country FM late one night during the station's
sojourn at Harley House at the Paris, Texas, end of Collins St in
the Melbourne CBD.
Miller's benefactor - late heart transplantee Peter Cresp-Gerrard
- prepared to decamp the studio in a former dental surgery in the
early hours of an autumn morning.
overnight music computer suffering ailments of a bizarre nature the bearded
DJ reached for a 60 minute compilation disc to entertain the nocturnal
denizens and shift workers of Melbourne - population 3.7 million.
In the soft lighting of the ornate studio the popular DJ and bon vivant
programmed the CD on repeat until the arrival of breakfast DJ Bayside
Bob Crain - also the building's landlord - to kick the dew of the glass
But the hapless DJ programmed Track 1, not the entire compilation, and
A Little Gasoline burned up the airwaves for hours and hours and
hours - four of them.
When Cresp-Gerrard mounted his steel steed for the drive home to Brunswick
he was shocked to hear A Little Gasoline on high rotation.
But alas, without a key to the studio, he was unable to do anything but
end the drive word perfect on Miller's song.
A frantic call to programmer Dawson from the suburb where his family's
ancestral cattle roamed the plains in the 1850s was fruitless.
The elderly programmer was sleeping the sleep of the just across the Yarra
in a leafy domicile where an automated singing Texan crime novelist Kinky
Friedman took all calls in the witching hour.
"That's a really great story," Dean laughed, "no, that's
never happened before, to my knowledge."
Maybe we could shoot for a resurrection on Miller's next Australian tour.
So when will that be?
"If I'm invited I'll be on the next plane," Miller said.
"If I found a way to make a living there I would move there. I've
done Tamworth a couple of times and enjoyed writing with Australian artists."
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