Thursday 18 April 2013

Scott Miller

Scott Miller died this week. He made many brilliant records, first with Game Theory and then with The Loud Family. Those 1980s Game Theory albums did everything REM's did, only better and with more bite.

Miller thought that "it was essential to hold on to this mid-sixties way of talking about a particular girl with a particular mysterious complexity the way Bob Dylan would, or something" (you should listen to Crash Into June).

Miller had a degree in electrical engineering and used analogue synths and electric drums to complement the jangling, literate romance of his guitar. Game Theory's songs had the conviction that combining Big Star's power pop with The Three O'Clock's paisley underground would define the 80s more accurately than Madonna (you should listen to Penny Things Won't).

Somehow - the usual reasons, you know what they are - neither Game Theory nor The Loud Family broke through. Though there was some attention in the US, they were almost entirely ignored in the UK. In the late 1990s, the band Beulah stayed over at my place after a gig. I put on a Game Theory album - The Big Shot Chronicles, since you ask - and they were elated.

Miller was a near-neighbour of theirs in California. They said he'd be delighted that someone in the UK was a massive fan. I got an email a month later telling me that he was indeed pleased that he was known and well-loved by at least someone. I thought it bittersweet that he wasn't known by tens of thousands. He should've been.

In a 1985 interview, Miller revealed his modesty, realism and pure pop heart:
"We have none of the mysterious appeal of a band like Husker Du, who have overtones of real violence and just confront the world's most heinous problems head on. Or bands like The Cramps that have this kind of ghoulish quality - there's nothing really impressive about any mystique that I have. I'm's just pop. And that's kind of hard to sell sometimes."

Here, read that interview in full:

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