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.


CKY Myspace

CKY Official Website

Roadrunner Records Homepage


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