Newcastle guitarist Adam Miller is in a strong groove after making it through the pandemic unscathed.
He released his eighth solo album, Beyond Reason, this week, and will have a launch performance on Tuesday, May 2, at The Underground at the Grand Hotel with long-time friends and musos Nick Cecire on drums and Peter Gray on bass.
A short Australian tour will follow, with shows in Melbourne, Canberra and Brisbane.
The album is available by streaming, CD and vinyl, and already being sought by Miller's fans around the world. He's been working the US market for nine years, including a stint living on the West Coast before the pandemic.
For him, the effort of breaking into the US market is paying off, even though it's hard work, carrying two guitars, a backpack and a suitcase around the US on your own to shows on both the West Coast and East Coast and points in between. Miller calls it "muso crossfit: carry lots of heavy things through awkward areas".
The album was released on esteemed guitarist Charlie Hunter's label SideHustle Records.
"Charlie has been such a huge influence on not just my playing, but also how to go about surviving, and evolving in the music industry. It's an incredible honour that my first ever label release is on his SideHustle Records," Miller says.
Miller is a musician's musician of sorts, who plays immaculate guitar grooves that cut across genres, although primarily falling upon jazz ears. This week he was making music with Ben Gillies (Silverchair). He always catches up with Newcastle mate and drummer Dom Borzestowski (Gang of Youths) when the two are in the same city.
The eight-song album contains elements of blues, jazz, funk, rock, folk, and country and features Miller on electric, archtop, acoustic, resonator, and nylon string guitar. Much of it was motivated by Miller listening to music he grew up with, like John Mayer, Ben Folds Five, Fiona Apple, Jimi Hendrix, The Living End, Norah Jones, and Rage Against The Machine
It features long-time collaborators, Los Angeles-based drummer/engineer/producer Justin Glasco, and bass player Joel Gottschalk, who recorded their contributions in LA. Miller then worked up the tracks through 2022 in his home in Newcastle between his return to performing and touring dates.
"The material was written predominantly through the last two years of not touring and playing, just sitting at home and playing music," Miller says. "A lot of it is less improvised, because I was sitting by myself playing it, writing out these songs and sometimes the improvised section just turned into a melody of its own."
He says, "This album was sort of not meant to be an album, it just sort of happened."
This album was sort of not meant to be an album, it just sort of happened.- Adam Miller
The opening song, Ageing, runs to almost six minutes. Miller says it will be the hardest song to reproduce live. "I wrote it around my 40th birthday," he says. "That whole idea - the pain and privilege of ageing."
He got excited when recording it as he played with the sound of a resonator baritone guitar, producing something akin to a banjo from it.
The name of the album comes from Miller's state of mind. The album wasn't in the plans, as Miller navigated his career through a pandemic. Yet, making music on his own time, some smaller projects got bigger and parts came together, collaboration was possible and the next thing you know there's eight songs that fit together.
"It was beyond reason that I should be doing it," he says. "It's beyond reason I still get to actually do this."
He edited, mixed and mastered the album, and also shot the album cover artwork from near his home on The Hill in Newcastle.
"A lot of people have asked if it's LA," on the cover, he says. "I find Newcastle has changed so much, the city lights of Newcastle are different now."
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