He wrote to me once. Really. I sent an email to the ‘Ask Scott’ section of the Loud Family website – for the uninitiated, the concept was simple – you ask SM a question and you got an answer, which could be more than you bargained for. Often, straightforward questions about lyrics were answered by lengthy and learned treatises on Joyce and Pynchon. It was all essential stuff. My question was banal by comparison…as I was off to California with my new wife on our honeymoon, I just wanted to know if he knew any cool places to go and see, being a West Coast native. I received no reply at first, which I shrugged off; after all, if someone asks you a question about some of the greatest authors of the twentieth century and at the same time, someone asks you where to go for decent indie CDs, which one are you going to answer first? Yeah, that’s what I thought. Well, after a few months, some unsolicited mail popped into my inbox from the Great Man himself, apologising for the lateness of the reply, saying that my initial post had slipped down a crack in his ISP. He wished me well, said hi to my wife and also broke the news to me that Will Glenn of the Rain Parade had passed away. I replied, thanked him profusely, congratulated him on a great album (Attractive Nuisance) and promptly deleted his previous email and erased his address. Why? The thought of having a hotline to his personal PC was too much to bear – the temptation to fire off some unsolicited fawning would have been too great. Trust me, its better this way.
Mitch Easter once said that all Scott Millers tunes have ‘overtures’, and I can see what he means. From the lovely arpeggiated ripple that opens ‘24’ to the cut ‘n’ paste samplefest that makes up the intro to ‘He do the police in different voices’, you can never tell what the rest of the song is going to be like after listening to the first 8 or 16 bars. Chord progressions twist and turn and fold back on themselves while the lyrics are both fascinating and unfathomable simultaneously. The scope is always cinematic, belying the fact that the records were often made with little or no budget. The attention to detail is incredible. It’s as if Brian Wilson had turned his attention from The Beach Boys and started working with Utopia.
Aimee Mann is a huge fan. Quite right too.
He made the College Rock ‘White Album’ with the majestic, sprawling ‘Lolita Nation’. He then followed it up with the Alt Rock 'Abbey Rd' in ‘Two Steps From The Middle Ages’. And at the peak of his game, he walked away and started again with a new band, which turned out to be even better than the one before. Seriously, what is not to love about that? Oh yeah, he also managed to make a live album which wasn’t just some contract filling, holding pattern, easy money, no brainer, “What shall we do while the Guitarist is in rehab?”, waste of Polyvinyl Chloride that most of the genre are. ‘From Ritual To Romance’ works as a great intro to The Loud Family, a tip of the hat to some cool influences and a great ensemble performance. If there was any justice, it would have sold more copies than ‘Frampton Comes Alive’.