Nothing Sacred (Geffen)
An interview with singer Kirk Miller
by Scott Hefflon
Gas pedal to the floor, transporting a load of attitude over state lines, a pack of cigarettes rolled in the sleeve, a sneer on the face – Hog are coming. They’ve got an AC/DC tape blaring, despite the fact that they’re dressed like mechanics-gone-mobster, and that they’ve listened to a little too much melodic punk for their own good. Singer Kirk Miller is so wound up he talks a mile a minute – happy in a sarcastic, cheerfully pissed off sort of way. Hog has been added to radio stations all over the country. Their song “Get A Job” adds a little butt-kickin’ sonic bad-assness to the ending of the movie Black Sheep, but the Hogsters just keep tearing up the tour. Keep moving, that’s the thing.
Quick question, just for perspective’s sake – did you used to be in Klover?
Yeah. It’s a long story, but I formed Klover and Mike Stone came in and sang with the band, and after a couple of years Mike moved away, the band broke up, and all of a sudden he has a record deal with Mercury and does one of my songs, “I Wanna Be,” on a record. But the original Klover was much cooler. I listened to the record and said, “Wow. That’s it?” I didn’t hear any real hooks. I wonder if Mike still lives [in the Boston area].
Yeah. I did an interview with him around the time the album first came out. He was shit-faced and… let me put it this way, it was my first non-linear interview. I’d ask a question and he’d say “I don’t wanna talk about it,” and then I’d ask another question and he’d answer the question I’d asked before. Just this total time-lag thing. It was interesting but it didn’t translate very well to paper. Not too many hard feelings there?
It’s just one of those things where you realize how close your friends really are when certain things happen. Put it this way, there were a lot of hardcore Klover fans and Mike just fuckin’ dissed them all. Klover used to be more like modern metal, very heavy metal and very punk all at once, but soulful, too. It was a lot different than the album. We had quite a thing going for a while there, but nobody signed us. And then Mike jumps in with his record and it sounds a lot like my new band.
Fuck it, you’ve got your day now. You’re on DGC now, a label with some serious credibility, you’re cashing the checks, got the tour going…
Oh, yeah. The irony is very bitter for Mike, I’m sure. But I’ve got no bad feelings because I’m in a really good place right now. Ain’t no Mercury Records goin’ down here, baby.
Where do you live now?
I live in L.A., the Hollywood area. I’ve been there for about thirteen years. I grew up in Spokane, Washington, Dillinger grew up in Hollywood, and Matt (Gillis) grew up in the Valley.
So you were in Klover in L.A.?
Yeah, well, I formed that band in Los Angeles and I hired Mike Stone. That was what was weird about it when he split. But I don’t have any hard feelings. It was no big deal, Klover was over, he decided to use something that was old hat and it didn’t work. I moved on and it did work. I haven’t talked to Mike in a while. We’ll always be friends, he’ll just never play in my band anymore. God bless ’em, I was hoping they’d sell a million records ’cause I wrote one of the songs on it.
As far as Nothing Sacred, what’s the deal with “Medicine”and “Aching?” They seem slowed down a little bit, a little more acoustic than usual…
“Medicine” is kind of a slow acoustic version of the original, which was more in-your-face, high-octane rock and roll. When we play live, that’s the way we play it, but we wanted to branch out a little bit. Songs like that, “Junk,” and “Aching,” are kind of on the slower tip because we wanted to have a little more depth to the thing and not just be pigeonholed as one of those punk revival bands. People call us punk rock, but I don’t even think I know what punk rock means. Nobody’s punk rock anymore, you know why? ‘Cause everybody’s too damn good! Punk rock is supposed to be shitty. You’re supposed to have no money and just get beat up constantly. I think we’re just a rock ‘n’ roll band.
When you say “rock ‘n’ roll,” what do you think of?
I think of old Kiss, I think of Black Sabbath… I grew up with Travers, ZZ Top…
Pat Travers? Dude, fuckin’ nobody uses him as a reference!
Nobody listens to him! But I’m into that, I’m into old Van Halen… it’s all about puttin’ the burn back in rock ‘n’ roll. Nobody does it anymore, everybody’s so serious, such tortured artists, the whole bit. We just like having a good time. When we set up our gear every day we thank God that we can do this for a living, so when we get on stage we’re not gonna be all negative and burn out. We’re gonna get up there and kick ass. When I was younger, I would go see Angus Young and AC/DC and just take my brain home in a bag! That’s our job, to bring a little fun back into rock ‘n’ roll, and we seem to be doing a good job of it. We’ve had some unbelievable shows. Everywhere we play, our sales double the next week. We’re kickin’ out some major energy.
I was reading how you just give it your all when you play and that it takes 23 hours to recuperate for the next show.
It does, I swear, I shut down after the shows and have to go back to my hotel room and relax. Then literally an hour before the shows we just wake up and rip it. This band burns, that’s all I can say. Sometimes it’s perfectly played, sometimes it sounds like shit, but it doesn’t really matter. At the end of the day, people are really into what we do. We tend to believe that we’ve got good melodies and rhythms, good songs, and people are just eatin’ it up. We’re lovin’ it. We’re having a gooood time.
What’s it like up in Spokane where you grew up?
Really cold and really boring, but everyone’s a good player. When I moved to L.A. it was such a joke. I’d watch the bands and laugh because they were so terrible. In Washington, we weren’t into Mötley Crüe and glam-rock. It was all Deep Purple, Blue Öyster Cult, the whole ’70’s rock thing. And when the ’80’s came around we were all into Maiden and Judas Priest. I like everything, though. Country, R&B, if it’s got a good hook I’ll listen to it. I like melodies.
Which songs on the album mean the most to you lyric-wise or tune-wise? Obviously, other people have decided that “Get A Job” is The Single. Do you agree with that?
Totally. That’s the song that’s done everything for us. But all the songs have meaning, like “Shut Down.” Listen to that song and think about Klover, it just about says it all.
It’s like the ladder of life – there’s always gonna be someone above you kicking your head and someone below you tugging at your feet. But as long as you can hold on and keep moving forward… the guy above is gonna have to watch his feet ’cause I’m pulling pretty hard.