An interview with Vinny Miller
-your album 'On The Block' came out this week, and how long have you been signed to 4AD now?
-sorry, that sounds really accusing, doesn't it!
It's ok... well I signed at the end of 87 and err...
-so how does it feel to finally release your record? It's here!
I thought that I wouldn't feel any different, but I do actually feel very different now it's gone. That's good. It's gone and I'm thinking about the next one
- do you really feel like it's gone? I suppose it was recorded so long ago
it was recorded a very long time ago, yeah.. well I say a real long time ago, it was on the mat at 4AD in April 2003
-really? Wow!
well it's just that I'm a new artist, and if you give the record to someone with no prior thing, most of them are gonna go "uhh?" so...
- but you're here, and it's out - and it's digital! Which I think is quite cool
yeah, it is quite cool
- have you downloaded it?
I haven't, no. I'm too skint
- before that you did the two singles, ‘Breaking Out Of Your Arms' and ‘Pigpen' which was the hand numbered limited 7" - how long did that take you?
Erm, most of the day...
-only a day?!
Well there were a thousand copies which need to be numbered and thumbprinted and abused
- did you use the same thumb? That's a really Smash Hits question
yeah. Yeah! I did use the same thumb! It was that thumb (sticks thumb in air)
-and that was also a download...
it was in mp3 format, yeah
- cause that was the first 4AD digital single, wasn't it?
It was, it was very soon after the mp3 thing - I think a lot of the buzz came before it was a 4AD mp3 thing - I know Mojave 3 were coming up with ‘Bluebird of Happiness' so it was moving pretty quickly around that time anyway.. I think Mojave 3 get the props for that
- I think you pipped them by a couple of weeks...
yeah, but they were the first paying customers of a proper 4AD digital download
- and that was all linked to your website of course, which has been up and running quite a while now - I like your website because it's a lot more personal, you have your blog
it's not really very demanding, is it? It's just fun, yeah
-you've been signed to 4ad for ages - you started off using the name Starry Smooth Hound - what made you change it?
I just wanted something a bit "meat and two veg" ...
- so why Starry Smooth Hound in the first place? Where did that come from?
Probably from being stoned and wandering around aquariums! Nah, it just sat and fitted for a bit, and then after a while it didn't fit, so I stepped away from it - I wanted a meat and two veg name!
- sounds fair enough! The two tracks you did under Starry Smooth Hound, do you think they'd ever get re-done in a vinny miller way? They are quite different to what you're doing now.
I quite like the fact they're just there and just that little part of that era, cause it's another era now
- cause there was the track on ‘Dust Distorts' which is pretty impossible to get hold of
well that was a Spanish only retail promo
- you should stick it as an MP3 on your next single!
Could do - or just throw it up on the site, something like that
- I bet that would go down pretty well... so also being the last Ivo signing to 4AD, did you feel there were expectations for what you wanted to achieve, and a pressure that you had to be something, or have you managed to distance yourself from that?
I have now - at the time I was really close to it - I felt there was a huge weight of history around the label - at one point there was factions of old school and new school, and stuff like that, and you fall into these places. Once I removed myself from that situation and stopped thinking anything about 4AD or what the future of the label is, or was, or isn't, and belongs to the past or future, or this or that and is nothing to do with me, it just becomes a lot easier. You've got enough trouble being responsible to your own end of things, without considering the wider responsibilities of anything like that.
- I remember one of the first times I went into 4AD and Kristin Hersh was just stood there, and I was "OH MY GOD!!"
yeah, I was definitely like that at the front end, and now I'm just at the point where I don't get fazed by anyone - as they shouldn't really be fazed by me - you're just a dickhead like everyone else really!
- so what made you start recording music?
- so how did you end up getting signed?
A tape found its way to Ivo, and he signed it!
- simple as that?
- that sounds far too easy!
That's a good thing - it's 5, 6, 7 years down the line, I think the great british press, they like a bit of a story, but I think it'd be a bit shit if it was "hey, this guy, he got signed, hey, oh now he's a star, woohoo" you know, it's like, no adversity, no triumph...
- so, the live shows... how are they going?
They don't go in a straight line, the first lot, I went into doing a bunch of rehearsals, and I started doing some shows, and those shows got progressively better and better. Recently with work, it has been more difficult for me to get near rehearsal space
- so you're also holding down a job?
So that's like running two jobs - consequently I arrive at venues, having not rehearsed, being overstressed and not properly... like, when you get plugged in and there's technical stuff going on, they need to know exactly what you're doing, in a soundcheck, and if you've not rehearsed properly, and haven't got recent gigging memory of it.. the ICA and the Spitz felt scrappy, and shambolic. I don't want it to be all perfectly rehearsed, every bit I know how to do...
- your performances are always very interesting, you end up staring at you, and it's very intense
I think we should be doing something with visuals as well, just to give people something else to look at
- have you ever thought about having someone else on stage with you?
All the time! A proper drummer...
- you've played lots of dates in London, and you're about to head out to the US...
yeah, with the Mountain Goats, it's gonna be blinding, it would be worth everything. If I come back from the States and the record is... well I can turn around and say "look! I got played on National Radio, and I toured the west coast of the states!" - that's something to say isn't it?
- have you got plans for any more UK dates? Outside of London maybe?
It totally depends on how the record goes. My honest answer is I live in the sticks, and I don't want to live there forever, I just wanna see a lot of the world, and a bit of getting out on the road would be pretty cool.
- to finish off, tell me more about your new songs, you mentioned now the album is finished you're working on new songs,
there's about six tunes, that are in a state of play, which need some sitting down and sorting out, I'm not going to commit to a time,
- it's not gonna be...
it's not gonna be fucking five years, no!
- good! That's alright then!
what I mean is if you're putting together an album, and the grouping of tracks, then you've crossed all the biggest hurdles, it's a case of looking at the tracks and finding out what is missing, or if there's an imbalance between x and y, and you think "well we need another one like this" and that's how it all starts fitting together, say for instance, those six tracks, I've got the end track to the album, so if you've got the end track, then that's quite a good thing, cause then you need all the little bits to put in the sandwich
- so when you did the ‘Yes/No Game'
yeahhh...? What about it?
- that's the one they all bring up on the boards as being a controversial one.. it has mixed reactions - did you think "oh that'd be a good one for right there!"
things like the ‘Yes/No Game', ‘Cro-magno' or ‘Millalude' as it's called now - it was called ‘Tweety Pie' are... people are either gonna go... they're gonna be puzzled by them, or they'll like them, or it'll irritate the bejeezus out of them, you know that, so.. in the end, so what? It's not gonna happen again - I'm not gonna make a career out of gargling, and I'm not the jerky boys, or anything, I'm not gonna be ringing up people... we tried putting it in lots of places on the record, and the only place it would work was at the front. Maybe it should have been consigned to a b-side, I dunno. I don't give a shit, it's my record and I can do what the fuck I like with it!
- exactly!
And with that, Vinny did a couple of songs in session, and we all left for the pub...