Interview with Deron Miller of CKY

May 13, 2009 at 8:59 pm (Essays, Interviews) (, , , , )

Carver City

Carver City

What do a tide-soaked corpse, a roller rink, a rat-infested infirmary and a shipwrecked crew have in common? They’re all a part of the story of Carver City, a resort-town-turned-hellhole that has its very own soundtrack from CKY. But it’s not a concept album, said guitarist and singer Deron Miller in a recent phone interview.

“I guess it was an accidental thing,” Miller said, “(The album) gave us the same vibe even though the songs were completely different. It wasn’t something that we preconceived, it kind of happened after the fact.”

There are songs that seem lyrically related (perhaps the girl who disappears in “…And She Never Returned,” resurfaces as “The Boardwalk Body,”) but Miller wouldn’t explicitly state any connections. “It was our idea to leave it open to interpretation, rather than put it in your face,” Miller said, “We wanted to make it vague—not so vague that it was pretentious—but vague, so that it fits together but it’s all up to your own imagination and how you view it.”

One difference that fans are sure to notice is the album’s production. Mixed and produced by lead guitarist Chad Ginsburg and Miller, it is more uniform track-to-track than earlier works like “Volume 1” or “I.D.R.” And For a CKY album, the drum sound in particular is remarkably consistent.

“What people are recognizing as a similar drum sound is that the drums are sound-replaced. All rock and metal records are done that way now,” Miller said. “‘Woe Is Me’ had a really cool organic drum sound that we didn’t want to replace. This is our first record where we went for a little more, we used technology a little more to our advantage and got a thicker, fatter sound.”

Deron Miller

Deron Miller

The thick sound comes from layer upon layer of tracks. How many guitar and vocal tracks does it take to make a CKY song? “You lose track. . . .” he said, “We like to build vocals. Some are really low, some are in the background. We definitely don’t limit ourselves and say ok enough is enough.” This leads to a cascade of harmonies piled upon harmonies, which is closer to CKY’s earlier albums than riff orienteed 2005 release “An Answer Can Be Found.”

“Some people might say in their heads ‘This is overproduced,’” Miller said. “I think music could use more overproduction, actually. Two guitars, bass and drums is dull. I think 99% of bands could be doing more with their songs on their albums, aside from getting basic tracks down. We like to hear more creativity. We enjoy layering, we enjoy putting sounds on, I guess, ‘overproducing’”.

The thickly layered and harmonized vocal harmonies are at odds with garage-rock minimalist conventions, but that’s not the only remarkable thing about Miller’s singing. Even more striking is the seeming change in his vocal range in comparison with CKY’s older albums. “These sessions for vocals were probably my first sober vocal sessions,” explained Miller, “I never used to go into the vocal booth without some kind of buzz on. It was nerves, I wanted to loosen up. On AACBF the vocals were so straight and so aimed at perfection that I think they, not to take anything away from that record cause I love that album, but they came out a little too straight and too perfected. They lacked personality. There wasn’t that many dynamics to it. These vocals have a lot of dynamics.”

CKY are going on tour this summer in support of “Carver City,” and with an ever-expanding list of fan-favorites to pick from, they could easily settle in to a setlist that remains the same from night to night. But CKY isn’t a band to fall into a rut. “We never stick with a setlist,” Miller said, “We’re happy to have more songs to pick from. There isn’t a song that I wouldn’t want to try. I love all the songs I think they’re all amazing, I think they’re all equal. I wouldn’t even mind playing instrumentals. But it’s up to us as a band to decide.”

Asked if he was nervous about trying to recreate the density of the album live, Miller said “I think the bands that have any substance and try to recreate their record live, it’s boring.” But he added, “We were talking about hiring a synth player. . .We wont know until we start rehearsing.”

It’s no secret that people have already heard “Carver City.” Message boards have been alight with discussion and analysis of pirated digital copies of the album. “All bands can do is sit helplessly,” lamented Miller. “(Fans) have been listening to the record, probably a lot. It’s very valuable to them, and us, that they go out and they get a physical copy.”

So on May 19 head out to a record store and show Roadrunner how badly music fans are craving original—and “overproduced”—rock.

Take a trip to Carver City.

Just don’t look under the boardwalk.

Links:

CKY Myspace

CKY Official Website

Roadrunner Records Homepage

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10 Comments

  1. roly said,

    good shit sam

  2. Brett said,

    Terrific interview! This is how CKY deserves to be interviewed. Great writing as well.

  3. Doug said,

    Great review sir, loving the new album. this could be the album that finally gets me into these guys, picking it up on the 19th.

  4. jacob said,

    great interview. i disagree with deron on the whole “overproducing” deal though. I like carver city dont get me wrong but it took a few listens to grow on me as opposed to the older albums (i know everyone always says that but i immediatley liked the older albums at first listen) but i honestly don’t care too much for the way the drums sound on this album. to me they sound kind of 80s and i feel like they could be on a soundtrack to a montage or a workout video or something. for example the song “imaginary threats” and “the boardwalk body” i think if they would have used a more real drum sound it would have sounded better. thats just me though, im still buying the album and the special edition when it comes out. i absolutely am in love with “…and she never returned” i love the synth part in that song i just wish they would throw in an extra verse after the solo/outro part…who knows they might do it live like improv or something

    • transientwriting said,

      to me, the albums that you are instantly in love with on first listen arent albums you love forever.

      sleeper hits are my favorite kind of album, and thats what CC was to me. i spun it a few times in my car and enjoyed what was going on, but i wasn’t entirely enthralled until i was about 5 plays in.

      are you confusing drum SOUND and drum PERFORMANCE or do you not care for both? i love the “disco beats” and they definitely do sound dated, but they also sound fun and totally confident.

      the drum SOUND to me is also ok, though im not a fan of quantizing and drum changing as a whole, i understand why they did what they did. whether or not they snapped the beats to any cue i’ll never know, but deron did say in another interview that he didn’t auto tune any vocals.
      i like the big organic drum sound on woe is me, but it just wouldnt work for all the songs imo.

      thanks for reading!

      • jacob said,

        about the “albums that you are instantly in love with on first listen arent albums you love forever.” thats not always true, when idr first came out i loved it immediately, it didnt leave my cd player for a very long time same goes with vol1 and aacbf and alot of other albums. the one thing i dont like about the albums that take a few listens to grow on you is that once you keep listening you start memorizing which for me, i like it when ive only heard a song once or twice and dont quite have it memorized yet so it kind of leaves some parts of the song a mystery…i know that sounds weird but thats just how i am but anyway after a few listens for the albums that have to grow on you, 1st) i have to listen to it so it can grow on me. 2nd) i finally start loving it. 3rd) after a few more days of listening to those songs i get kinda tired of hearing them. CC to me seems like an album that alot of people like on the first listen but for some reason it took ME a few listens to get into it. and i did mean drum SOUND as in i like the beats but wouldve liked it better if they sounded more like real drums. but whatever, i was blaring imaginary threats earlier tonight and it doesn’t bother me as much anymore, you’re absolutely right. but i didn’t have a problem with the fact that they were sort of dance oriented beats, that couldn’t be true because i love the solo/disc-esque part in foreign objects #10/universal culture shock. and you’re right the drums are fun and confident on carver city i guess my expectations were just a little too high. no need to thank me for reading man. but i doubt you’ll read this

  5. transientwriting said,

    oh i love reading and interacting with comments man, its my favorite part!

    to me the replaced drum sound is probably my biggest problem with the album. everything seems to clip a little depending on what speakers im using. the snare sound is too crisp for my car speakers, and everything seems to distort a little (the guitar-only parts distort a bit in my car, like imaginary threats and boardwalk body)

    the songs on CC melodically pretty easy to wrap your head around, spare some of the crazy chorus riffs that you cant catch. but that hides the fact that there’s a LOT going on there. if you listen with good quality headphones there are walls of synth and vocal tracks that you wouldnt ever hear just driving around town. i absolutely love that, its why i love shoegaze-y music, too.

    the discobeat during UCS is one of my favorite parts too, but jess really pulls off the cheesy beats with conviction on this album, i think. its a lot of fun to listen to. deron, too, hes singing with such abandon and pleasure…i think its pretty noticeable how constrained he sounds on AACBF in comparison with these songs, where hes just belting it out. the ironic thing is that he’s still hitting all the notes!!

    please comment back as much as you want, i love discussing it

  6. Heather said,

    Hey, haven’t taken a look at your blog lately and just did today.

    I’ve listened to the new album, and I must say that it is completely different. The whole thing with Deron saying it was overproduced and layers…no offence, but the whole album contained wayy too much of it I think, so much layers that there’s too much going on, almost like it was just clashing with noise and someone had put the radio back on…that was a bad thing to me. Deron’s voice has grown to be more whiney and poppy, that also made it very distasteful to hear. I really wasn’t going to give CC a listen at all but I figured I would being a CKY fan. I couldn’t get myself to listen to the whole thing. Was unbareable for me. Honestly, I think the problem now with CKY is that they are on a now big-time band label and this is making them MUCH more popular than they ever have been. Good bands like them can start out good, but can take a major downfall overtime, which is very common with lots of bands…sadly, CKY has, hate to say it. I think I will have to stick with their old stuff, nothing will beat Vol. 1, IDR and what Deron was starting with FO..still think Deron is a good riffist and guitarist overall but, CC I just could not get into at all.

    • transientwriting said,

      I’m surprised you didn’t like it Heather. I don’t know if CKY has “sold out,” as in changing the music that they wrote to make it more marketable. No one but the band and the label knows that.

      I do know that their new album is extremely viable in today’s rock scene. It’s catchy, but so were the old albums too. I think the synths and the drums, along with the 80’s vibe, make this one very easy for kids and teenagers to get into. It’s not exactly synth pop, but the vibe will certainly apeal to the kinds of kids that like to go to 80’s party and ironically listen to old bands.

      But this doesn’t hurt the album for me…

  7. Heather said,

    Who knows if they will end up like that, it’s whatever will happen and whichever direction they would like to stay in so.

    Of course it is, alot more than their other stuff..they just went alittle overboard I think with it on this album, that’s just my opinion. Very poppy, that’s why so many people are getting into it moreso..their older albums had that “poppy” vibe to it as well, but not as near much as this release.

    Yeah, some people will like it.. some won’t.

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