Sleigh Bells | Derek Miller Doesn’t Mean to Blow Your Speakers

prof sleigh-bells_75Sleigh Bells are in the spotlight, and they don’t plan on leaving any time soon.

With two albums under their belt and plenty more where that came from, guitarist David Miller (who, along with Alexis Krauss, comprises the duo) says that he’s ready to do this for the rest of his life.

With a favorites list like The Four Tops, Jerry Goldsmith, and Eminem, one might begin to understand the spontaneity of their music. Miller is a very cool, very down-to-earth guy. All he wants to do is score some films and have a Bud Light while he’s doing it. Is this not making sense to you? Maybe you should just read the interview.

prof sleigh-bells_500

What should fans who have never seen you live expect at your show?

Hopefully it’s a sensory overload—at least that’s what it feels like to me. There’s going to be a ton of lights, a ton of smoke. It’ll be extremely loud, but hopefully to the point where it’s still pleasurable. You know, I don’t want to hurt anybody’s ears, but that’s just one of the technicalities of bass music in general. If that all sounds like fun to you, it’ll be a good time.

I heard you guys blew the speakers the last time you came to St. Louis, when you played The Firebird. Is that right?

Oh yeah, oh my god, that’s right! That’s probably happened a handful of times, here and a couple times in California, a few other places. But yeah, I think I remember that. It sucks; things gets a little blurry. It’s not really a point of pride because it’s going cost somebody money.

Maybe it’s something to be proud of.

In a way, right? But no, I’m not an asshole; it’s not something we’d ever want to do intentionally.

Do you prefer big clubs like The Pageant or smaller, more intimate venues?

To be honest, it totally depends on the crowd. I mean, any band would tell you that they’d rather play to a hundred people that are psyched to be there than to a thousand that are just standing there. I know that’s a boring answer, but it’s pretty true. As long as the crowd is with, us then I’m down. But 10,000 huge Sleigh Bells fans would be pretty fun to play to.

I’ve been to a lot of festivals, and you may have like a couple thousand people watching, but only a couple hundred are really into it. The rest are just kind of checking you out, which is fine; it just doesn’t make it especially exciting. No matter the size of the room, I’m down as long as the energy works.

I’ve definitely heard that before about festivals not necessarily having as fun of crowds.

Yeah, sometimes there’s not as much of a reciprocation, and you’ve got to have that.

What do you hope people get out of your music?

It’s tough to say, because I don’t want to define anyone’s personal experience with my music. I don’t know how to describe what I get out of music other than that it makes me profoundly happy. It’s just the love of my life. My experience with music is extremely profound, to the point where it’s just taken over my life. I would gladly do this forever, whether I’m doing this for a living or not. I’m very ambitious, we’ve got a good career now, and I’d like to keep it that way. No matter what, I’ll be making records; I love it to death.

A friend described your first album as “music to kill cheerleaders by.” What do you think of that description, and what is the weirdest description of you music that you’ve heard?

We get that a lot, like demented maniacal cheerleaders at an apocalyptic basketball game or something. Random shit like that. It always amuses me that a lot of people describe it as noise pop, as well. It’s like, all right, it’s pretty noisy and it’s also pop music, so that works. Actually, NME once called us the world’s first R&B/metal group, which I thought was pretty funny and awesome. Because that makes sense to me, too: We’ve got some heavy R&B influence but some super high-gain end guitar. We’ve got a little of both.

What do you like a about being a duo as opposed to a traditional full band?

Less cooks in the kitchen. [Laughs] I played in a hardcore band for a while, which was a good experience, but there’s a lot of fighting over where you want to go artistically and everybody wants something different. I wanted to get away from that. I wanted to be completely in control, creatively. I’m actually just starting to collaborate a little more, Alexis and I, while we’re working on new music. I’m getting more used to it, and I trust her, and she trusts me so the exchange is much more fluid, so that makes a huge difference. It’s also a lot easier to split a dollar two ways than it is to split it five ways. You know, that’s a very real look at it: Everybody wants to eat, and pay rent, and be able to do this for a living. It’s just so much easier and more enjoyable. We just get along so well, there’s no drama between us. Sorry, I know you’re supposed to write about drama. [Laughs]

Who are some artists that you would or do enjoy collaborating with?

As a producer, I’d want to work with the dudes that a lot of producers want to work with. I mean, I love Eminem, I love Jay-Z. Those guys are just monsters. I’d really enjoy branching out with more production work like that down the road. I don’t feel like I’m in any rush. Right now I’m just in a really good place. There’s been a lot of growth, and I do not see us slowing down any time soon. I’d also love to score films sometime in the future. I’ve had a couple offers, but either the economy wasn’t right or we didn’t have the chemistry. I’m a big film music fan. Jerry Goldsmith is one of my favorites, Ennio Morricone, John Williams, Hanz Zimmer—those guys who have been doing it forever. They’re just killer.

I feel like a lot of film music gets overlooked, but there’s so much people are missing out on.

Definitely. I’d love to do it, and a lot of it I can actually work into Sleigh Bells. Sometimes there are just so many different things going into a song, and it just all works together. I love that we can do something like “Rill Rill,” which is just a straight pop song, and then go straight into “True Shred Guitar,” which is essentially a hardcore song. I love that we can keep it in the same band and have it make sense.

Do you have one record of yours that you prefer over the other?

I don’t know if I can answer that, really; there’s a lot that I like about both of them. Reign of Terror is a way more cohesive album. I wanted it to have a more uniform aesthetic, both sonically and visually. Treats, on the other hand, is all over the place. It doesn’t know what it is or what it wants to be. I used to think that that was a weakness, which is why we got away from that with Reign, but now I’m kind of going back to that, using a ton of different sounds. I feel like I’ve learned a lot from both of them.

What is your favorite song to play?

“Comeback Kid” is my favorite. It was the last song that we recorded for Reign and I feel like it was our first true collaboration. I showed [Alexis] what I was thinking for it—we had the lyrics—and within five minutes she had the whole thing mapped out. It just came together very quickly, and has an energy to me that’s optimistic. It’s the only optimistic song on Reign of Terror, which has a really depressed feel.

That’s most of questions about your music, but I’ve got a couple other random ones for you. I’ve got a friend who’s dying to know what your favorite beer is.

Oh my god, Bud Light, for sure. No question. I grew up drinking Bud Light. I grew up in South Florida, and it’s really hot muggy, so something light and cold and refreshing is what I go for. They’re aware of how big of a fan of their product I am. I feel like there was an opportunity for them to sponsor a tour, but, nothing against Bud Light, I just think it would be really weird.

What was high school like for you? Were you a jock or a nerd or anything.

I actually went to a really small high school. There were like tiny cliques, but everybody got along. I was a music kid, but at the same time I was friends with the quarterback. It sounds boring, but we all just got along.

That’s kind of how I feel about your music, in the way that there’s so much that wouldn’t normally cooperate, but the way you guys do it, it just all fits together.

Thanks; that’s what makes sense to me. I want it to be inviting and welcoming. I don’t like when music is deliberately challenging. I’m not afraid to admit that I want to please our crowd. My favorite records are like that. I think more people should take that stance. People get so uptight about their records, like, “I don’t care if anyone likes it; it’s just for me.” Well, then why fucking even put it out, you know? Just sit in your bedroom and make [records]; don’t bother us, don’t bother me. There’s nothing wrong with wanting people to like it.

And the last thing I’ve got to know: What is your favorite album of all time?

It wouldn’t be an actual album, but probably something from the Motown Songbook. I’m a huge Motown fanatic. Just the classic stuff too, like The Supremes, The Four Tops; I’d probably be okay if I could only listen to “Dancing in the Streets” for the rest of my life. The Funk Brothers, who were the Motown house band, is probably one of the greatest groups of musicians to ever be assembled. | Brian Cheli

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply