This past week, I had the chance to ask T.J. Miller, vocalist of the recently reunited Still Remains, some questions about the band, past and present.
IVM:What made the you guys decide to get the band back together?
Tj Miller: We got asked to play Haste the Day’s final show in Indy. Initially I was very skeptical about playing with Still Remains again, even if it was just one show. After we started jamming again, things felt undeniably good and we all felt like attempting some new material. The rest is history.
IVM: What challenges did you face in coming back together? How were these
challenges different and similar to when the band was first starting up?
Tj: Well, in getting back together, we had to confront the past head on. Its
different when a band first starts because usually the sky is the limit.
This time, when we started playing again, we had to set a lot of new
limitations that catered to each individual band members life style.
(Family, jobs, kids, etc.)
IVM: Have the goals of the band changed from when you first started to when
you got back together? (For instance, were your goals before the breakup
to gain success and tour as much as possible where post breakup it’s just
about having fun?)
Tj: That assumption just about nails it on the head. Before,
we wanted to try to land the best tours possible, and the focus was more on
success. Now, the focus is on the music and having fun. You can tell when
you hear the new record.
IVM: How was the recording process for “Ceasing to Breathe”? Was it similar
or completely different than when recording under a label?
Tj: It was indeed completely different. No big studio atmosphere. We got to
stay home, and that means we got to sleep in our own beds at night. No
waking up in an unfamiliar environment. I think its important for us to do
this at home. You get to walk away and give your ears a rest for a couple
days, go back to work, etc.. and when you return, things are fresh, and you
might walk in with some great new ideas. We recorded most of the material
in Mike Church’s basement where the songs were written.
IVM: Did you have it in your minds that you wanted to return more to the
“Of Love and Lunacy” sound when you started writing again or was it just
natural how the songs came out?
Tj: No, but we did recognize that we were a little jaded when we did the last
record. We asked ourselves “Who are we as a band? What is our forte?” That,
to us is writing, recording, and performing heavy, melodic metal. To me,
the record doesn’t sound anything like Of Love and Lunacy. But it is a lot
heavier than The Serpent.
IVM: How do you think you have grown and matured, both in music and on a
personal level, since the band took a break? Do you think this maturity
adds anything to the sound of the new album?
Tj: Well, we’ve gone through a lot together. I think that the extended time
away from each other and our music helped each of our minds to get back on
track and when we came back together, it helped us to be able to focus
clearly. There was no pressure this time around, and that played a big part
in the making of Ceasing to Breathe.
IVM: What sort of lyrical topics do you touch on with “Ceasing to Breathe”?
Tj: I wrote a song about my daughter coming into the world. One is about the
time span in where I met my wife. There are a couple about faith and
hypocrisy. Things that make me happy, things that piss me off.
IVM: I know it’s like picking a favorite child, but what are your favorite
tracks on “Ceasing to Breathe”?
Tj: A Way Out is my favorite right now.
IVM: Where do you guys draw the line with touring? Do you ever plan on
doing tours anywhere down the line?
Tj: Because we all have started families, and the lack of income that touring
provides, we have no desire or plans to tour. However, we do take every
show offer we are offered seriously. We arent opposed to fly in, play 2 or
3 shows, and get out.
IVM: If you could choose one thing you miss most about touring, what would it
Tj: I miss touring in the UK. Shows were always unstoppable. Every night, each
different room brought a different vibe, and they were always packed to the
IVM: On the flip side, what was the most unenjoyable part about touring?
Tj: Touring is fun, but it can get lonely at times. You tend to miss your
family and friends, and just normalcy.
IVM: What bands most influenced and continue to influence you guys as a
band? Do these bands translate to how you try to portray your sound? I
know Zao was a big influence, how was it to work with Dan?
Tj: In flames has always been a huge influence to Jordan and AJ. We pay homage
to most of the Gothenburg scene. Zao was a huge influence on me as a
vocalist. Working with Dan was incredible. I hope we can have him back
IVM: How does it make you feel to know that, as a band, you
have influenced people enough to still be relevant enough to back with a
Tj: I tell you what. It feels incredible. We asked for 15k to help fund the
record. People donated over 19k. If it wasn’t for them, it would have taken
another couple years for us to finish this thing.
IVM: If you could give 3 tips to any band looking to get into the music
industry, what would they be?
Tj: Focus on the music, not the fame.
Know that the life of a musician is everything but glamorous.
Expect to crash on people’s floors you’ve never met, and to eat Taco Bell
everyday until your band breaks up.
IVM: On the subject of young bands, what band do you think deserves more
attention than they’re
Tj: I honestly haven’t listened to many new bands in the genre, and I’m out of
the loop as far as who gets what kind of hype.
IVM: At this point in your career, how would the band define success?
Tj: To us, right now, success is just about being happy. We can still make
music. We are having more fun than ever. It never felt like this when we
were touring full time and releasing records on major labels.
IVM: What band would you love to see follow in Still Remains’ footsteps and
launch a comeback?
Tj: Led Zeppelin 🙂
IVM: What books / movies / music has caught your attention lately?
Tj: I’m huge into the A Song of Ice and Fire books (Game of Thrones). Im really
into the new Queens of the Stone Age record. I haven’t seen a new movie in a
long time. Its about impossible to get out with our 17 month old daughter
running around 🙂
IVM: What songs do you feel go under the radar from your back catalogue?
Everyone knows The Worst is Yet to Come, White Walls, and Stay Captive.
What songs do you think deserve more attention?
Tj: In Place of Hope, Light Through Skin, Stare and Wonder, Dropped from the
IVM: Something I’ve always wondered; what’s the meaning of the band name if
Tj: When we named the band, it didn’t have any specific meaning. I think though
now, it means something different to each one of us. To me, it means
IVM: What does 2014 hold for Still Remains? Any summer festivals or short
out of state runs? Possibly a music video?
Tj.: We are working on an EP already. It will hopefully be released this year.
We are talking about festivals but don’t get your hopes too high. We want to
do them, but might not be able to afford it. We are working on booking a
home show and might play a couple other regional shows, but are going to me
mainly focusing on writing. Talking about a video, we have some ideas we
are throwing around. We released a lyric video for “Close to the Grave” and
we might do something similar to that, just with some actual footage of the
IVM: Any last words for the readers here at IVM?
Tj: Get stoked on the new record! Working hard on another release! Hopefully we
will get to see all of you at some shows this year!