An Interview with
'Jason Charles Miller'
A solo artist and Frontman of Godhead
that took place at The Hilton Hotel, Anaheim, California on Sunday, January 25th, 2015.
Interviewed by OZZFestAmy.
As the interview begins, we are addressing my American Head Charge tattoo; as Jason has spotted my ink. Since I know he is familiar with a lot of other musicians from us being in the same circles, we begin to discuss memories of Manassas, VA while on the OZZFest which allows him to discuss his roots in that area, and what it was like for him to be from there, and growing up.
OZZFestAmy: I was part of OZZFest in 2001, Godhead were on the tour and you guys disappeared. What happened there? Where did you go?
Jason: We got offered the tour with Rammstein. So we went straight from the Ozzfest to touring with Rammstein.
OZZFestAmy: I had no idea. One day you were gone and I never heard anything else.
Jason: Right. That’s what happened. Ozzfest was pretty awesome.
OZZFestAmy: Yeah. You were the first band that ever signed onto Marilyn Manson’s independent label and the only one ever in the history! How do you go from that style to what you are currently doing? I don’t know if you’d really call it country. It’s not like the old school backwoods. Okay it’s got a little bit of that, but I can also hear the rock influence too. So, it’s not like totally sit down, redneck, and backwoods style country, but it’s got the banjo aspects!
Jason: I grew up in Clifton, Virginia which is right next to Manassas. I grew up around country music, so when I started writing music solely on my own; it was just me and an acoustic guitar. It had a real Folk/Country vibe to it. I decided to take it more in that direction! I was inspired to. It’s something that resonated through me. When I hear country music it resonates through me in a different way, if that makes any sense.
OZZFestAmy: It’s kind of like a spiritual thing?
Jason: Yeah, I love gospel music and the blues. I felt like there was something really pure about what you can produce minimalistically. Country Music and Americana Music has that ability to take you there in a different way. It is an awakening! It was always inside of me. Living in Northern Virginia is kind of a weird space because you are right by Washington DC which is a huge international city. There are other people that live 30 or 40 minutes from DC that would never go there. So, you are influenced by an almost international culture, and then a really close culture all living together at the same time. So looking back, I love where I grew up. It is the best of both worlds. I never really thought about how much living in that environment influenced me as a musician or an artist, until I looked back at it later.
OZZFestAmy: It’s definitely multicultural and Washington DC is nothing like what you see on TV.
OZZFestAmy: The backdrop of the White House is as misleading as Hollywood. When I first ever went there, I heard the popping off of the gunshots in the middle of the night. When I went to Applebee's it was an international culture. It was like being in a totally different universe. It was strang to see it in reality outside of what they show you on television. It doesn’t prepare you at all. I can see the cultural influences of the backwoods, and maybe some country!
Jason: Yeah. Where I lived from the ages of 5 to 14 years old was in the middle of the woods. No sidewalks, no neighbourhood per se, and the closest kids I could play with were a half a mile trek through the woods. But you get in your car, and within 45 minutes you are in Washington DC. In 20 minutes you are in neighbourhoods where there are sidewalks. My next door neighbour had horses, and my other nearest neighbour had a barn with chickens, pigs, and things of that nature. So to me, all of it seems normal. When I became a teenager, I would go to Washington DC every weekend because it’s a big city. But once again, I had other friends that were like, “Oh that’s the murder capital of the world!’ I’ll never go there, I’ll never go to any clubs there”. If a band came to town that wasn’t in Virginia, they wouldn’t go to 'DC even to see that band play. Like, come on guys, it’s not that bad! I know it’s really surprising to a lot of people that I am doing Southern Music and Country Music. I understand that because Godhead has such a powerful image.
OZZFestAmy: I call it an industrial style of music for sure and probably really the first of its kind. You were in there with the like of the band Orgy which was kind of its own thing too. I think it was all basically starting out then so you jumped, in, you know? Basically your stuff was totally different. You can hear the Nine Inch Nails kind of influence...
OZZFestAmy: …but then at the same time, I listen to it still periodically and I’m like just blown away by the changes in it and how it comes together.
Jason: I’m totally proud of it. I’m really happy that people like you still listen to it and love it. So, we were working with Marilyn Manson. We are on tour with all these bands. That’s sort of the imagery of your band. You have got to go in that similar direction. But when I re-examine it, I am going to step out and I’m going to truly be myself. What I am doing now is what I would like to do going forward!
OZZFestAmy: I think we all matured though over the years. I think we’ve all changed our lives so much that the changes do not shock me totally. I had a hard time answering for you last night when I was asked if your style was now Country.
Jason: That’s okay. Whatever your interpretation of the answer is to other people is fine by me.
OZZFestAmy: Yeah. I wouldn’t say it’s totally Country – not all the time. I think you could throw a little bit of rock riff in there at any point. I think that’s the whole thing of ‘Un-Country’! I got the humor in that. (This is one of Jason's songs). http://youtu.be/xMBXOjt--Js
Glenn: It blew me away. Going from Godhead to the stuff you are doing now. I think it is amazing.
Jason: Oh thank you!
Glenn: The voice is so different.
OZZFestAmy: When I started on the Ozzfest in Chicago, you and I stayed at the same hotel. When I came down to the lobby to get ready for the show you were there, and you were wearing this black hat. Almost like the guy on the Poltergeist movie – the scary spooky guy?
OZZFestAmy: You had all the make-up on. That was my first impression I ever got to see you. I didn’t even know what the hell your band was about. That was how I saw you that day and that was my first day of work. So I was like, ‘Oh My God!’.
Jason: That was your first day?
OZZFestAmy: Yeah. It was pretty amazing but it was kind of surreal at the same time, because you were very shocking at the same time. It was pretty funny. To see you today and even myself when I look in the mirror, I see two totally different people. I actually I like the path that you came on.
Jason: Thank you.
OZZFestAmy: At least you didn’t self-destruct!
Jason: Right. Yeah.
OZZFestAmy: You’ve got to look at all the people in music that have fallen in the time frame.
Jason: A lot of that has to do with what happens behind the scenes. The popularities of bands has to do with who is their team behind the scenes, who is helping market this band, and who is helping get the word out? Especially now! Getting the word out is kind of paramount. There is so much competition, and so many people out there that you are competing with, whether they are good or bad. My friend, Kenny Olsen who was in Kid Rock’s band for 12 years equated the music business now as going to an NFL Football game and trying to watch your two favourite teams play each other, but at the same time all the fans are on the field. Meaning, if you take guitar lessons for six months, you can record an album, put it out on ITunes and Youtube. Musicians are now competing with cat videos and everything else on the web. We are trying as artists supplying five minutes of our time and competing with every type of entertainment and media that’s out there now. The quality that you put out has to be second to none. The team that you have behind you has to be amazing for it to work!
OZZFestAmy: Right! I agree! I think the changeover happened. I even want to say in 2001 or 2002 with the making of street teams people like me quit getting paid. Let’s put it that way! The quality of work went down the drain.
Jason: Street Teams did a really great job. I think people, the powers that be at one point or another said, “We got the Internet and social media, and we will do that instead of street teams. Street teams are still important, but I don’t see that much at all anymore.
OZZFestAmy: I do not see them either, but I do not know if they really know the marketing aspects of music anymore because it’s so complicated!
Jason: Well it is changing every six months! No one knows! People are throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks and seeing what doesn’t.
OZZFestAmy: Yeah I agree. I agree actually. I can’t argue about that you know!
OZZFestAmy: I think that was the big change. People like me, who went out as a part of the actual shows, with bands, and handed out whatever promotional material they wanted and continued onward with them; It was consistent and we had to answer to ridicule. Basically it made to where I had to do my job right. It wasn’t like, I’m sitting at home and you never see me and that kinda thing. So basically I had to be spot on all the time and at the top of my game. No drinking until the day was over. You know?
Jason: The way I think it’s changed is, the only way that I think most people now are going to take a chance on a new act is if a friend recommends them. Often it’s two or three friends that have to recommend them before I’ll take a look at something. I’m not doing it on purpose. Let’s say, you tell me about a new band. I am like, “Cool, I’ll check them out”. When I have time to check them out I’ll probably forget totally. If you told me about the same band again and I see an ad online about them, I’ll think, “Oh yeah, that’s that band that they told me about, I should check them out”. That’s how it works now. So it’s like a combination of the marketing but peer to peer as in person to person in verse telling people about stuff. Then there’s tastemakers out there too that people really pay attention too. There’s no rules anymore so what I try and do is make the most quality music that I can and I hope it reaches people. I don’t think about how it’s going to be marketed and is this going to reach people or not. You just have to follow what you are passionate about and the rest of it will figure itself out.
OZZFestAmy: I hear when you play a lot of shows and usually they don’t coincide with my school schedule as I’m a student too, so I haven’t been able to get out. Like I saw when you played the Hotel on Caheunga and several venues around my house because I live in Hollywood anyway. But getting out to see you yet play live has been impossible for me – unhappily impossible. I’m looking in time that it will probably happen though. You are pretty consistent with putting on a lot of shows.
(BTW Jason Charles Miller is playing a show coming up). Here is the link:-
Jason: I try not to play LA too much because I don’t want it to be something where, “Oh well, I’ll go see him the next time”. So because I live in LA and because of how LA is so competitive I try to make every show an event. So I’ll probably only play a proper LA show like once every four months or once every six months. But I’m doing weekends in ‘Vegas now and then when I’m on tour of course. I’m playing every night a week in a different city. I really still believe in that philosophy that’s really how you have to do it. It perplexes me when people overplay a certain city just because there’s so much out there. There’s some that I think it’s better to create a little bit of interest and demand for it.
OZZFestAmy: I think they call it the ‘Intraweb’ because basically it starts here and if you never go anywhere else it sticks to that general area. It’s like at least get 100 miles out and move to that other point. Then their friends are going to tell their friends and it’s going to generate a demand.
OZZFestAmy: If you always stay in LA and you never create that excitement, you’re always here and the only people that are going to know about you are the people that are here, that came here on vacation, or just happen to catch your show. It’s not branching out so I think it’s called ‘Intraweb’ or the ‘web’ because it takes off. But if it never does that, I think that the best way that a band can market itself is at their own hand. Your best promoter is yourself. A lot of bands are afraid of that and they go, “Hey, help me, help me!” and then it’s like they just sit back or that’s the end and you never get any results because you can’t do the driving for them. It’s like a car going nowhere. I look at the reality that MTV and the music channels of yesterday no longer exist so that crowd that used to pay attention, they have no outlet really.
Jason: Well they have the internet now but its all little pockets. Everything is become niche marketing, you know?
Jason (to Glenn): So what about you? How do you tie into all this?
Glenn: Well I was thinking, are you finding that a lot of Godhead fans are checking out your Country stuff and maybe Country fans and Southern Rock fans coming in and checking you out?
Jason: I think if people were fans of Godhead, like primarily for my voice and lyrics I think their on board with my solo stuff. If they are primarily a fan for the image then they’re not into it as much. But that’s okay. You’ve got to do what you’re inspired to do and be true to yourself.
Glenn: Do you find that with you working in Godhead and as a solo artist that it is a different way of writing or have you always written for yourself?
Jason: It’s a different way of writing. I’ve written with a lot of people who are just songwriters for a living. That has been really interesting and opened my mind. Often when you are in a band you only write with that band – with those members. By now, I’ve written songs with probably a hundred different songwriters. Some you click with and some you don’t. Some are where you feel like this really works. We are going to keep writing this. It makes you a better writer. It really does.
Glenn: Which ones would you say really enhanced you and made you a better writer? Who comes to mind?
Jason: Well there’s Andrew Rollins that I’ve written at least 15 songs with and another friend of mine named Bart Allman. Blue Foley and Randall Clay are two other brilliant songwriters that I really click with. These are all guys that write primarily for the Country market. I learn a little bit from everybody. What you have to do is, rather than write for the sake of you or will this song be one of my songs, you have to write for the sake of the song. Make it the best song that it can be and then decide later whether it’s for you or whether it’s for another artist.
I’m still writing rock, actually a song for the band ‘Otherwise’, I wrote their current single, ‘Darker Side Of The Moon’. I co-wrote that and it ended up at No. 15 on the Billboard Chart. Then I had a No. 1 song last year for a Disney Channel Movie called ‘TeenBeach Movie’. I wrote the song ‘Cruisin’ For A Bruisin’ which was the main single from the movie. It has sold 700,000 copies to date. Then, I was asked to write a musical comedy and we did that for the web. They did a kick-starter and we raised $50k. We shot the first three episodes. That’s coming out later this year. So, from all these other writers, and writing with them, it has expanded my horizons so much to where if there’s a certain style of music that I think I can write, I’ll just go for it! No Fear! Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, but most of the time it works.
OZZFestAmy: I like the ‘No Fear’ aspect. That’s great!
Jason: It’s really free!
Glenn: I guess a few years ago you didn’t think you would write for Disney and all these different companies back when you were in Godhead.
Jason: Right, Yeah. I’m sure the teenagers singing the songs would be surprised that I wrote it but hey, they don’t need to see me, they just see the kids dancing to it.
Glenn: What are your favourite food places in LA?
Jason: There’s a place in the valley. It’s called ‘Caheunga General Store’ for lunch – that’s in North Hollywood. In Studio City there’s a place called Aroma Tea and Coffee. That’s different to the ‘Aroma’ on Sunset. They are run by different owners and have different menus. So ‘Aroma Tea And Coffee’. On Tujunga Ave, you got to go there. It’s awesome. They have a full menu.
Glenn: Did you ever play Sheffield when you were in Godhead?
Jason: I did play Sheffield. The Corporation! In Jan of 2007. That was 8 years ago. I want to go back so bad actually. I really do. Even with my solo stuff.
Written and Edited by OZZFestAmy: I want to thank Jason personally for taking the time out at NAMM 2015 of his schedule to do this interview and talk music as well as share some cool locations to eat at that I plan to check out. Check out the genius and talent that is Jason Charles Miller when he comes to a town or continent near you. It was a pleasure to see him doing what he loves. Music brings people together. Jason is a pioneer of the Metal Scene and the Country Scene and that is why I feel personally that he belongs in this publication today.