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Rocking Out In The Dark with JD Miller

Rocking Out In The Dark with JD Miller

Photo Credit: Olof Händén

Rocking Out In The Dark with JD Miller

JD Miller is a hard rocking band from Sweden who are ready to bring their dark melodic entreaties to a great big world!  Empyrean is the name of their latest magnum opus, now available worldwide via Mighty Music!  With intriguing standout tracks such as Inside the Night, Enemy, Out Of Control and The Butterfly, JD Miller captivate the listener with songs that will invade the senses and set the imagination in flight.  Highwire Daze caught up with vocalist Peter Halldén to find out a whole lot more about the grand and auditory world of JD Miller.  Read on…

We’re here with Peter Halldén from JD Miller. First of all, let’s go ahead and talk about the new album. Is there any overall story or concept behind the album title, Empyrean?
There is a bit of a backstory for that one. The songs are actually in themselves, like, small stories, lyric-wise that I came up with. And they are about different people that are considered to be on the wrong side of the law, maybe in society, and also mentally ill people in some ways. And Empyrean is a place where you can explain it, like, the highest heaven there is, where God and saved souls live after their life if they get accepted. And I wanted to have, like, a bridge between that, because the stories and the people that I sing about in the lyrics, they are not, like, allowed into that empyrean space, if that makes sense. So that’s a little bit of a backstory for the title and the stories in the songs.

Let’s talk about a few of the songs. The Butterfly. Tell me a little about that one.
I would say, at least it starts off a little bit harder than the other songs that we usually play. So that one, it’s about a killer, actually, a murderer, who is mentally ill and yeah, stalks his prey and wants to take people’s lives, but also a person who feels really bad in himself. It’s kind of a dark one, that one.

A recent single, One In A Million. Tell me about that one.
So that one is one of the more, I would say, catchy songs on the album. A little bit more pop influences in that one and the story behind it. The story of the lyrics is actually about a person, it can be a man or a female. I try to leave a little bit up to the listener as well, to interpret in what fits them when they are listening to the music, because I think that’s important. But that one, when I wrote it, I had in mind writing a song about a person that thinks too much of himself and because of that, gets into situations that are not that good when he does different things. Kind of like a little bit more of a story about, like, a psychopath who sees himself as one in a million when he’s not really.

And then I selected one more. Call the police. Tell me about that.
So this one is actually also a pretty dark one, even if you can’t hear it in the music, maybe, or the delivery of the vocals in the song. But that one is actually about a man that’s feeling mentally unwell and wants to commit suicide by cop, actually.

Lots of dark, fun stuff on the new one.
Yeah, a lot of dark stuff. But also in the lyrics, even if that’s where I come from, when I write the lyrics or the stories I try to create, there is also room for the listener to interpret what the song and the lyrics means to them. I try to leave some space for that. So, for somebody else that listens and reads the lyrics, it might as well mean something else for them. But that’s where I’m coming from when I write the lyrics with those songs.

Let’s go to the end of the record, Alive. Tell me about that one.
So Alive for me and for, I think, all of us in the band, that’s the song that we ourselves like the most because we like our music to not be too much conformed into one kind of mold. And in that song, we walk very much across different genres to get the song to where we want it to be without sounding too pretentious about it. And the lyrics also come from a pretty dark place. I mean, basically in the lyrics, it says, “When we’re alive and we’ve conquered the darkness, let me inside and I’ll get lost.” So it’s about losing oneself in your own head, in your own mind, feeling mentally ill.

One of your newer members, Jonny Trobro. He’s in Find Me, Hydra, First Signal. A lot of pretty well-known bands. How did Jonny become involved with JD Miller?
We actually met Jonny through a mutual friend. We were doing a gig here in Sweden, in Gothenburg at a place called ValandHuset. So we were playing together with the rock band Wigwam from Norway and act from Sweden called Gathering of Kings at ValandHuset. We were kind of looking for a permanent bass player because the bass players that we had during that period when this gig was put on, we didn’t really have like a stable bass player – a full band bass player. We borrowed some bass players in to come play live with us, but we didn’t really have one that was permanent in the band. We were looking for a bass player and we met and hit it off with Jonny at ValandHuset. He worked very well and was a good dude. And then we met a couple more times here in Borås, and he tried out some songs and everything worked. So, yeah, we brought him on and now he’s a permanent member.

What are you guys looking forward to the most about the upcoming Nordic Noise festival and the Malmo Melodic festival?
We’re going to Copenhagen tomorrow. It is actually to play Nordic Noise Festival. It’s just going to be good to start playing the new songs and more of the songs live from the album and try them out in front of the fans and in front of the people. So that’s what we really are looking forward to now, to get out and show our stuff live as well, because we ourselves – at least we think that we excel when we perform live. It’s always where we feel that we have the most fun.  We try to really deliver on our live shows.  We’re really looking forward to both the Nordic Noise and of course, the Malmo Melodic one in July later. And for the same reasons. It’s also good bands. It’s going to be nice to get out on the road again and play live and meet other musicians and meet the fans again because it’s been a while now.

What was it like touring with Jeff Scott Soto and what were some of the highlights?
That was, I would say, an amazing experience, actually. Really good guys. All of the guys in Soto’s band. Basically awesome dudes. We really hit it off with them and the support act as well. The other support act that I was with on that tour, Big Clyde from Switzerland. We became really good friends on the tour.  I would say the highlight were the people that we met, both the bands, of course, Soto and also the people that we got to meet.

Has JD Miller ever played here in the States, or is that something you might like to do in the future?
We would, of course, love to come over to the States, but we never played in the States yet. And it’s because of the logistics and getting a promoter to get us over. So, if anyone hears this and wants to bring us over to do some shows, we are totally up for it.

Who exactly is JD Miller?
So, JD Miller is actually nobody. The story behind the name is…. I’ve said this in a lot of interviews because the question always comes up, who is this JD Miller? Is this a person or what is. But it’s actually, when JD Miller were created, the first show we did was actually, like, a cover gig in a local town here in Sweden. And my brother, at the time of this gig, was a part of this cover gig that we were making, and we didn’t have a name. And the promoter that booked us for the gig rang my brother up the day before the gig.  “What’s the name of the band that’s playing tomorrow? Because I need to put something out tonight that you are playing tomorrow!” And he was sitting and drinking, having a party in Borås, where we live. And he was drinking Jack Daniels and Miller Beer. So, he just put JD from Jack Daniels and Miller together as a name for the promoter. And, yeah, then it kind of stuck. The first couple of years we thought about changing it, but then, yeah, it stuck. And it sounded good when you said it, but, yeah, it’s a fucking really bad band name but now we’re invested. Now, I’ve said this before that Dave Grohl says that Foo Fighters is the worst band name ever, but I think we will top that one. But now we’re keeping it forever.

Oh, yeah. Because you’re, like, four albums in and yeah, here you go.  Speaking of your previous albums, the first one, Grand Intentions, was actually released 10 years ago. When you look back on that album and the fact that it’s been ten years, what do you think of it now in retrospect?
I think it’s a good snapshot on where we were at the moment, actually, because the band was pretty new then and we were trying to find a way where we were going with our music. And there was a lot of different wheels, if you like, to like what are we, where are we going? And there were some differences there that made that album sound a little bit more…. It didn’t make it better if I put it that way. But also on that album, that was the first on that album when Emil Eriksson, our drummer, has been with us since then. He started to write a little bit more of the music to that album but took that to another level on the World War X album later and then full-on Afterglow and this one. So, I think it’s a good snapshot. The Grand Intentions album is a good snapshot of that period for our band, but I don’t really think it’s that representative of where we are today.

Are you involved with any other bands or projects outside of JD Miller?
Not really. Not anything permanent. I’ve done some work with some different friends. I’ve done some work with Johnny Trobro, the bass player in our band, his solo stuff. That’s a bit different stuff and a couple of other small things, but nothing major. So I’m not involved in any other band myself.

Do you have any messages for JD Miller fans here in the States who are reading this now?
I know we have quite a few listeners in the States and I really hope you guys enjoyed the new album. And we would really love to come over to the States to play some live shows, really get to show what we are made of over there. And it’s always been a dream for us to come over to the United States and play live music. So, we’re really hoping that this or maybe next year to get an opportunity to come over and play live for you and meet all the beautiful American people.

(Interview by Ken Morton)

Peter Halldén – lead vocals, backing vocals
Emil Eriksson – guitar, keyboards, drums
Tommy Timonen – guitar
Jonny Trobro – bass guitar

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