English Singles is the newest band from prolific Sacramento native Scott Miller (The Bananas, Ski Instructors, Bright Ideas, Nar). Well, not that new – “We’ve been a band since winter of 2006 which seems crazy to me! We move slowly,” he tells me.
With Miller on guitar and vocals, Tristan on 12-string guitar, Tony Cale on bass, and Ed Carroll on drums, their DIY punk/Flying Nun-inspired pop sounds so comfortable and natural, it could only have been made amongst friends. “We've all known each other for a LONG time. I met Ed in junior high when he moved two houses down from me. I met Tony in high school and I met Tristan through playing music in Sacramento – probably '92 or so.”
While Miller’s songwriting approach in the past had been for trios based around vocal melodies, adding the melodic element of a 12-string guitar and leaving the songs open-ended and unfinished currently lend to a more collaborative effort. “I'm not used to just letting go and bringing fragments to practice instead of full songs. That's the main difference. But I also try to take everyone's personal taste in to account and write a song I think they'd all like.”
English Singles' debut 7-inch, Backstreet Pages, available from Slumberland, is a four-song collection of energetic and addictive pop songs that all together clock in at under eight minutes. Don’t stray too far from your turntable lest you need the cardio. One or two listens from this short and sweet disc does not suffice. Another self-released 7-inch brings their total releases to just two, however they have recently finished recording a third single and plan to “cajole Slumberland in to doing it. Or if not, we may just put it out ourselves.”
Scott Miller has been playing in bands since 1989, when he formed Bagpipe Operation at 19 years old and then Nar shortly thereafter, followed by ten or so more bands in addition to a slew of one-offs he would release on free cassettes he’d get from Tower Records.
Times have changed. “I liked how [in the past] info about a band would trickle out instead of flood. The records tended to get in the hands of die-hards and people that went the extra mile to find out about things...I strongly believe that the many cracks you had to fill in to every half-story made everything a lot more interesting.” He adds, “I mean, things are fine now too. I'm glad I didn't grow up in this era because I doubt I would be as in to music with it being so readily available and un-mysterious. It seems like a romantic way of looking at it (or maybe just a stupid way of looking at it!) but I do feel like a lack of info formed me in a positive way.”
Permanent Collection, Swiftumz, English Singles, Manatee
The Stork Club
September 28, 2012