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Winter 2016-2017. What’s up w/Miller?


Miller completed the documentary “500 Years”, his fourth film for Skylight.  It will premier at the Sundance Film Festival on Jan.24, 2017.  The music was produced by long-standing associate, Michael Bierylo.  This is the third film Miller has done with Skylight that has premiered at Sundance, and it is the third film that he has done with Skylight regarding the genocide in Guatemala in the early ’80’s (supported by the Reagan administration).  Click HERE for more information on this film.

During the genocide trial of Rios Montt.At the genocide trial of Guatemalan Dictator Rios Montt.



Miller began his “Solar System Sonata” for piano and string quartet late summer 2016, and worked on it during Alloy’s relentless fall touring.  He will complete the score by the end of 2016.

sssonata-pg-2 “Solar System Sonata” for piano and string quartet, pg.2

Here is a recording of the first movement to Miller’s composition “Scream, Gilgamesh, Scream”, from the premier on Feb. 2016 in Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory.  Miller played the guitar part with the Callithumpian Consort conducted by Stephen Drury.  Miller was pleasantly surprised to feel that even though the musicians were all reading music, it felt like he was in a band, just a different type.  The score blends his interest in Varese and Messiaen with his interest in rock music.
——–Clinton Conley: “(the musicians) were clearly diggin’ in!”



The band is working on new songs (the epic “Press the Button” and the more pop/rock “When the Dust Settles”), aiming to get enough material for a full album in 2017.  Trinary System couldn’t play shows this fall due to Alloy Orchestra’s dense touring schedule, but will be back in action in 2017:
Feb.11:  Plough and Stars, Cambridge, MA. With Audrey Harrer, harp and vocals with loops, electronics.
Mar.8:  Midway Cafe, Jamaica Plain, MA.  With Fully Celebrated Orchestra.

You can buy our 7″ 45 (with 5-song EP download card) at shows or on Bandcamp.



Alloy’s fall touring was relentless, but even films they hadn’t played in a long time came off remarkably well.  Even they were surprised!  And now there is not a single gig until the Spring.  That’s kind of a relief…

flight-home-from-tellurideSomewhere out west flying home.



Mission of Burma contributed one of Miller’s unrecorded songs, “Panic is No Option”, to the “30 songs in 30 days: A playlist of Songs that Trump will Hate.
Miller was interviewed by The Guardian for an article about protest music in the age of Reagan and potentially the age of Trump (god help us…)

And the band made it in at #36 for POP MATTERS top-50 best post-punk albums ever.

Playing with the Obliterati Cards. Trying to make sense of “The Obliterati Cards.”  Clint and Bob just plain gave up!  Photo:  Kelly Davidson Savage



super-moon-2016“Super-Moon”, Nov.14, 2016, over our backyard.  Photo: Debra McLaughlin.


Here are my three claims to fame:

1.  I played drums in Destroy All Monsters (with my brothers Laurence and Benjamin) in Ann Arbor spring/summer 1977 until they got a full-time drummer.  After Ron Ashton joined the band, Scott “Rock” Action came to see us rehearse.  He told the Monsters’ manager, DB Keeps, that they should keep the drummer because “he’s rock solid.”

2.  Alloy Orchestra was playing Buster Keaton’s great film “The General” at Washington University in St. Louis.  Because there was no stage, I was in the aisle by the wall.  The promoter’s daughter was at her very first movie (3 years old?), and her seat seat was at the end of the row.  When the film was over and we were taking our bows, I saw this little girl point at me (a few feet away) and heard her say “Is that Buster Keaton?”

3.  My son’s name is Chance, and he was born the night after one of John Cage’s Norton Poetry lectures at Harvard in 1989.  At the next lecture, 2 months later, we brought him backstage.  I was introduced to John Cage, by the gentleman who put on the event, as “The Father of Chance.”

mebillychance-by-wayneLilly, Billy, Chance and Me     Photo: Wayne Valdez.


Fall 2016

Alloy Orchestra:

Midwest Fall Tour starts in Detroit – first time playing there in quite a few years and the band is glad to be back.  The tour goes as far West as  Bismark, South Dakota (my first ever gig in S.D.)  then turns east and ends in Nashville, TN.  In between we hit Chicago, Milwaukee, Iowa City, Des Moines, St. Louis and other suitable urban centers.
After that tour there are many more gigs, from Gloucester to Providence to Boston to many upstate New York towns, then on to Atlanta and San Francisco and surrounding areas.  All Fall All Alloy Touring All The Time.

For more information about Alloy’s fall touring.

This summer Alloy scored their new film for the fall, VARIETE, and premiered it at the Telluride Film Festvial in early Sept.  The resulting standing ovation was a good sign.  Drama in a circus/trapeze setting.  Suitable for the band.

This summer the band also scored the crazily inventive Japanese film (silent of course, until Alloy gets their hands on it) A PAGE OF MADNESS.  Set entirely in an insane asylum, this film is right up Alloy’s alley: moody, emotive, dark, and completely insane.  This will be released on BluRay later this fall.


Alloy in action in Milwaukee at the Oriental Theater some years back.

As a Composer:

Miller is excited about, and working steadily on, his “Sonata for Piano and String Quartet”.  He is using this image of Frozen Oceans on Europa (one of Jupiter’s moons) to structure Movement II, the classic “slow middle movement”, but in this case without a beat, any pulse, any melody, harmony, or concert pitch.
Movement I, structured less severely by a photo taken on Mars by one of the Mars Rovers, will generally have an on-again/off-again rhythmic thing going.  Movement III is based solely on intuition and feel, with the struggling forward-motion of Miller’s 1976 CalArts composition “24:24”.  Movement I and III have similarities to Scream, Gilgamesh, Scream which premiered at Jordan Hall at New England Conservatory on Feb. 2016.  Movement II has similarities in style to Vines for Music, which premiered at N.E.C.’s SICPP festival in June 2014 (and got a nice write-up in New Music Box Review).

For more information about Miller’s composing.


Ice Oceans of Europa, courtesy NASA.

Trinary System:

Due to Alloy Orchestra and Soundtrack work dominating the summer and fall, Trinary System won’t be playing much in the near future.   But the band continues to work on new material.  PRESS THE BUTTON is complex and pursues what in 1969 Miller called “Warp Riffs”, but now might bear some similarity to the later style called “Prog-Rock”, if you believe what certain individuals have to say on the topic.   WHEN THE DUST SETTLES is more on the pop/rock side with even a full-on chorus.  Top-40 here they come….

For more information about Trinary System.


Trinary System at ONCE BALLROOM.  Photo: Blowfish.

As a Soundtracker:

Over the summer, Miller composed 40+  cues for the feature-length documentary “500 Years”.  This is the second film he’s done with Skylight Pictures on the Genocide in Guatemala which began in 1982 (with the graces of Ronald Reagan).  Two films Miller scored with Skylight Pictures premiered at Sundance.  Mixing will happen in later October (after the first round of Alloy shows) with long-time producer/partner Michael Bierylo.

For more information about Miller’s Soundtrack work.


Skylight in Action.  Proud to be associated with these folks.

Mission of Burma:

Generally, we’re not workin’ too hard.  But in Paste’s Top-50 Post Punk LPs, Vs. came in at #44.  Musta done something right at some point (as if these lists are “truth”).


Some time in 1980. Miller ponders his next move, any move…  Clint and Jimmy remain unconcerned.  Photo via Clint.

And as a Normal Person:


Our living-room in Vermont when the weather is good.  (my foot always manages to find a way into these photos).





Summer 2016

Friday, July 2:  Trinary System at ONCE Lounge

165 Highland Ave., Somerville, MA.  Minibeast headlines, Miller will join ’em on horn, Trinary System on second (around 10 pm) and Oceans on the Moon opens.  The band continues to kick out the jams after our first release, a 45 with the 5-song EP: AMPLIFY THE AMPLIFIERS.

L to R: Andrew Willis, Larry Dersch, Roger Miller. Photo: Debra McLaughlin


Thurs., June 23:  Surrealist Games at 3S Artspace, Portsmouth, NH.

This is Miller’s second Surrealist Games Night at 3S Artspace – the first Games in February 2016 were so successful they wanted to do it again.   The venue is wonderful.  The Surrealist Games Night at the Brattleboro Art Museum on June 10 was a total blast – everyone was actively engaged and having a wonderful time.

One of many, many Exquisite Corpses created. Photo by John Hessian.

One of many, many Exquisite Corpses created. Photo by John Hessian.


Alloy Orchestra upcoming shows:

June 21:  Lincoln Center, NYC.  L’Inhumaine.
July 6 and 7:  Coolidge Corner Theater, Brookline, MA.  2 nights of METROPOLIS!  25th Anniversary of the band starting, and it started with METROPOLIS at the Coolidge Corner Theater.
July 31:  Traverse City Film Festival, Traverse City, MI.  L’Inhumaine.
Aug. 13:  AFI Silver Theater, Silver Spring, MD.
Aug.31-Sept.6:  Telluride Film Festival, Telluride, CO.
Sept.22: Three week Midwest Tour Starts.

Rack of Junk. Yep.

Rack of Junk, yep. Photo: Ken Winokur.


Soundtrack Work:  500 Years, a film by Skylight Productions.

500 Years, a feature-length documentary film, is Miller’s biggest work this summer.  The film continues Skylight’s focus on the genocide in Guatemala,  the case against the dictator Rios Montt, and how things are developing in the aftermath.  Previous films Miller has scored with Skylight include GRANITO, DISRUPTION, and THE RECKONING.  Two of these films premiered at Sundance.

Jubilation at Rios Montt’s downfall.


7 Haiku from camping at Half-Moon Pond, June 13-16:

I rambled one of these accidentally and Deb said “Write that down!”  So I did, and kept it up…..

The fire is started.
Shrimp, gnocchi, asparagus!
Where’s the scotch?  By me.

Why no mosquitoes?
Could be we are wearing coats.
Chilly advantage.

The lake’s wind patterns
Ten turtles on a big log
What a fucking hoot!

Sunlight shines through leaves
There’s nothing I have to do
That’s a way to be.

Now that was a hike!
The fire is so hypnotic…
We talked for two hours.

Why is that book wet?
It’s right next to the tea cup.
Chipmunks like tea bags?

When you are camping
Simple life is all there is.
That is a virtue.

Half-Moon Pond

Spring 2016


Dave Davies b/w This House 7″ 45

Apr.15 release date on Fun World Records!
AMPLIFY THE AMPLIFIERS 5-Song EP download card will be included in the package.  Records (and downloads) will be available at shows and via online sales.

Amp the Amp cover
May Record Release shows!
Fri., May 13 at Lizard Lounge, Cambridge, MA.  With Gymnasium and Soft Gang (from NYC).
Sat., May 14 at 13th Floor Music Lounge in Florence, MA.  With Bunnies and Dust Witch.



European Tour April 17-25 based around two ATP festivals in England.  Always fun driving over European terrain.

Bradford Vernon DoucetteBradford Theater, 1983, performing “See My Friends”.  Photo: Vernon Doucette.



Miller will be hosting his Surrealist Games Night at the Brattleboro Museum of Art on Friday, June 10.

Miller will be hosting his Surrealist Games Night at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth, NH, on Thurs., June 23.

NHPR interview for 3S Artspace show here.

Surrealist Games held at 3S Artspace, Portsmouth, NH in February were very successful and Miller has been asked to hold the Games there on a regular basis.
“Fantastic night — a hilarious, creative, and healthy mix of mind-bend, head-clearing and humor-refraction. And met great new people — thank you to esteemed host Roger Clark Miller for coming up to Portsmouth to throw an unconventional good time.”
Cliff Lazenby.

3S Feb. 2016

3S Artspace Surrealist Games.  Everyone here is bearing down on the topic.  (Can’t find photographer’s name – my apologies).



Miller’s craigslist lesson posts were picked up by the Onion’s AV department.  Amusing as always.     One of his current lessons lives in Tokyo: this lesson is drinking coffee while the sun is setting outside Miller’s window.



NOTE:  A large enough orchestra was not able to be procured to perform to this film, so there will be no live performance.  Instead, Miller is afixing the score to the film and will show the film with pre-recorded music.  The premier has not been set.

The Davis Square Symphony is based on traffic patterns in Davis Square.  Miller has filmed Davis Square from 5 different locations, one time per each season.  Each season has its own harmony.  Analysis of the vehicles, color, size, etc., will indicate which string instrument will perform that particular vehicle and what note they will play as it travels across the visual field onscreen.  People, bicycles, and pets will be performed by wind instruments and percussion.  The resultant composition, 23 minutes in length, will be based entirely on the edited film footage.
The Davis Square Symphony has been funded by the Somerville Arts Council and is slated to be performed by the Somerville City Orchestra including high school students in the Somerville area.  The film will be shown while the orchestra performs the music, so there will be a direct relationship between what is seen and heard.  Despite being built upon the ideas of John Cage, it is a populist work.  People will see their every-day life transformed into music.

The premier of Scream, Gilgamesh, Scream on Feb.18 at New England Conservatory’s Jordan Hall came off quite well.  Once everyone got aligned to the unusual direction of the piece, it really came together.  Great ensemble (Callithumpian Consort).  Miller was on electric guitar and at one point couldn’t stop grinning as the ensemble hammered a “one-pulse” chord over and over.  He hid his face but then looked up and saw that Stephen Drury, the conductor, had the same grin on his face.  It worked.  Thanks to everyone who came to the show and thanks to the Callithumpian Consort – as Clint said “they were really diggin’ in.”

Gilgamesh BowMiller bowing after Gilgamesh performance at Jordan Hall.  Photo: Debra McLaughlin.



Spring Shows:
March 26:  Somerville Theater.
April 15: Roger Ebert Film Festival.
May 8:  Maryland Film Festival.
June 21:  Lincoln Center, NYC.
New releases:
1.  L’Inhumaine Blu-Ray.   French avant-garde film from 1927 with sets designed by the artists Ferdinand Leger.  Alloy Orchestra premiered their score last fall at Telluride Film Festival to a standing ovation.
2.  Phantom of the Opera DVD, starring the amazing Lon Chaney.  Previously this was only available via Blu-Ray.

Phantom DVD copy
L'Inhumaine BluRay copy

Winter into 2016…

Surrealist Games:

Thurs., Feb.4: 3S Artspace, Portsmouth, NH.
Miller will be hosting his Surrealist Games Night at the wonderful 3S Artspace (Burma played there in 2015 and loved it).  Everyone becomes creative in this setting – there is literally nothing you can do about it.  Drawing and Word Games create previously unheard of Proverbs, charms, and warnings.  Drawings produce beings that Darwin could not possibly have anticipated.  A splendid time is guaranteed for all (based on previous experience at the ICA Boston, Mass MoCA, First Night Boston, and many many nights with friends in homes).

Interview with Miller on New Hampshire Public Radio.
Interview starts at 21:24

Photo by Bridget TonerPhoto by Bridget Toner


As A Composer:

Thursday, Feb.18, SCREAM, GILGAMESH, SCREAM (commissioned by the Callithumpian Consort) will be performed at Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory by The Callithumpian Consort, with Miller playing the electric guitar part. 
Miller completed the last four bars to his take on the Epic of Gilgamesh in October 2015, and will be honing the final details of the score into early January.  The composition is for Baritone and Soprano voice, piano, two percussionists, electric guitar, synthesizer bass, alto saxophone, French Horn, Bass Clarinet, two violins, viola, ‘cello.  Rock smashes into classical music and Edgard Varese would likely be amused.
Miller is simultaneously working on The Davis Square Symphony.  The Fall season footage was re-shot this November, and editing 4/5 hours worth of video down to 25 minutes has begun.  Once the editing is complete the next step is composing and orchestration for full orchestra.   Performance will happen mid-June in Hodgkins-Curtin Park in Davis Square, Somerville.
The Slaying of Humbaba                                                                                              Gilgamesh and Enkidu slay Humbaba.


Trinary System:

The band continues working on their 5-song EP with Andrew Willis (bass, vocals) engineering.  The focus is on layering things sonically without diluting the energy of the band.  Two songs, THIS HOUSE and CHEMICAL STEW, are nearly mixed and plans are for a 7″ 45 in spring 2016, with a 5-song EP download card inside.

Tri WordPressTrinary System at 13th Floor in Florence, MA


Unusual Vinyl Releases:

This has been an unusually prolific year for Miller and vinyl.
1.  FARMERS (Feeding Tube Records) features Daved Hild (vocals, accordion) of the Boston art-punk band The Girls with Miller backing him on guitar, cornet, piano, drum, recorded live in 1984.  Outsider neo-Americana art-music somewhere between Pere Ubu, Nick Cave and Capt. Beefheart, but sounding completely unlike any of them.
2.  ROGER MILLER? OH. (Feeding Tube Records) is Miller’s 1988 LP for Forced Exposure, recorded on a 4-track cassette deck.  This record exhibits Miller’s most complete lack of concern for commerciality to date, which may account for it being released by three different labels over the years (second was a CD on New Alliance 1995).  It was very favorably reviewed in the NY Times as “The Miller Experiment: Avant-Garde Record of the Week.”

1989 N.Y.Times review of Oh.  1989 N.Y.Times review of “Roger Miller: Oh.”

Even more unusual than those two releases, two songs Miller recorded in 1977 under the moniker F.U.K., “Road Kill” and “Fire in My Head”, will be released mid-2016 as a 45 on HoZac Records.  “Road Kill” sounds like a prototype for XRay Spex and “Fire in My Head” was written while listening to the first Ramones album.


Alloy Orchestra:

Feb.14: Northampton Academy of Music Theater.  Son of the Sheik.  Rudolph Valentino on Valentines Day!
Feb.28: Wellesley College, Wellesley, MA.

Alloy Orchestra smites AgainAlloy Orchestra Smites Again!


Fall 2015 Actions….

 Alloy Orchestra:

Double LP of MAN WITH THE MOVIE CAMERA that we recorded live at Third Man in Nashville a couple years back.
Double LP of MAN WITH THE MOVIE CAMERA the band recorded live at Third Man in Nashville.

Midwest Tour finishes off:  
Sept.22:  Ragtag Theater, Columbia, MO.  Rudolph Valentino’s SON OF THE SHEIK.
Sept.24:  Belcourt Theater, Nashville, TN.  Buster Keaton’s THE GENERAL.
Sept.27:  Hamilton College, Clinton NY.  MAN WITH THE MOVIE CAMERA.

Alloy heads to Europe:
Oct.7:  Rijeka, Croatia.   MAN WITH THE MOVIE CAMERA and PICTURE.
Oct.8:  Ljubljana, Slovenia.  PICTURE.
Oct.9:  Pordenone, Italy, Silent Film Festival.  PICTURE.
Oct.11:  Zagreb, Croatia.  MAN WITH THE MOVIE CAMERA and PICTURE.

Other Fall Alloy Shows:
Nov.2:  Coolidge Corner Theater, Brookline, MA.  SON OF THE SHEIK, starring Rudolph Valentino.
Nov.13:  George Eastman House, Rochester, NY.  SON OF THE SHEIK, starring Rudolph Valentino.
Nov.15:  Three Rivers Festival, Pittsburgh, PA.  MAN WITH THE MOVIE CAMERA.
Dec.5:  The Castro Theater, San Francisco Silent FIlm Festival, San Francisco, CA.  THE BLACK PIRATE and L’INHUMAINE.

The Trinary System:

Larry's kit all miked up at Sonelab Studios, May 2015.
Larry’s kit all miked up at Sonelab Studios, May 2015.

The band will be completing their 5-song EP with Trinary bassist Andrew Willis engineering and co-producing.

November shows:
Thurs., Nov.5: Johnny D’s, Somerville, MA. With Birdsongs of the Mesozoic.
Fri., Nov.6:  13th Floor Music Lounge, Florence, MA.  With Bunnies.

As a Composer: 


“Scream, Gilgamesh, Scream” is slated for a mid-February premier at New England Conservatory.  The final 20 bars are under completion.  Miller will likely be playing the electric guitar part for the concert.

All four seasons of “The Davis Square Symphony” have now been shot, and editing 4 hours of footage down to 25 minutes has begun.  Once the film is edited composing begins based on vehicles, pedestrians, bicycles, etc..  Slated for a June 2016 performance outside in Davis Square, Somerville, with the Somerville High School Concert Orchestra.

Guitar Lessons via SKYPE:

I’m happy to teach guitar lessons via Skype.  Not as easy for people to come to my house on the mountain-side as it was outside of Davis Square.

Moved to Southern Vermont:

Backyard in Vermont.
                Our backyard in Vermont.

I listened to these albums on the final drive from SOM to VT:
1.  Dog-Faced Hermans: Those Deep Buds.
2.  Art Ensemble of Chicago: Baptizm.

Summertime, and the Living is…….

Alloy Orchestra

Alloy Orchestra at the Milwaukee Film Festival, 2014.

Alloy Orchestra at the Milwaukee Film Festival, 2014.

We are working on two new scores for the fall:
1.   “Picture”.  This is a modern silent with a strong avant-garde underpinning, very abstract.  Our score is improvised.  In the fall we will perform it in Italy, Slovenia and Croatia.
2.  “L’Inhumane”.  The film is slow, but the sets are designed by the artist Fernand Leger and are utterly amazing.  Considered one of the best of the era of French avant-garde film.  We’ll be improvising on open themes for this one.
Summer Shows:
July 10 – 11:  Silver Spring, MD.  AFI Silver Theatre.  3 shows.
July 17:  Brooklyn NY.  Celebrate Brooklyn at the Prospect Park Bandshell.  Starts after the sun sets.
July 24:  Stamford CT.  Mill River Park.  2 shows.
Aug.2: Traverse City, MI.  Traverse City (Michael Moore) International Film Festival.
Early Sept:  Telluride, CO.  Telluride Film Festival.  Premier of L’Inhumane and PICTURE.
Sept.10:  New Haven, CT.  Yale University.
Sept.14-27: Midwest tour:  Columbus, OH.  Cedar Rapids, IA.  Des Moines, IA.  Omaha, NB.  Lincoln, NB.  Lawrence, KS.  Columbus, MO.  Nashville, T.  Hamilton College, NY.

Mission of Burma

Rock+Roll Hotel, June 2015. Photo: Scott Monroe

Rock+Roll Hotel, June 2015. Photo: Scott Monroe

Summer Shows:
June 25:  Boot and Saddle, Philadelphia
June 26:  Bell House, Brooklyn, NY
June 27:  Rock+Roll Hotel, Wash. DC.
July 18:  Fenway.  Rumor has it that there are other bands on the bill.

Good recent interview with Miller in the UK mag: DROWNED IN SOUND.

The Trinary System

Trinary System at Sonelab Studios, May 2015

Trinary System at Sonelab Studios, May 2015

We are near completion on two songs from our May session at Sonelab Studios: DAVE DAVIES and CHEMICAL STEW.  Three songs to go:  THIS HOUSE; HOV-1 VIOLATOR; and LIVING BY FLASHLIGHT.  The raw band tracks from Sonelab came out quite lively, and are a vast improvement over our demos from last November.
Summer Shows:
Aug.7: Machines With Magnets, Pawtucket, RI.  With “E” and Odysseus Finn.
Aug.8: Out of the Blue Gallery.  541 Massachusetts Ave, Central Square, Cambridge, MA.  Boston Hassle Productions.  With Minibeast and others.

As a Composer

Rothko Score I

My composition HALF-MOON POND, for large String Ensemble, will get a private reading by the Cambridge Philharmonic the end of July.  The composition utilizes nature to organize the music.  There is no preconceived rhythm, melody, harmony or concert pitch.  As in nature, so in this music.
I’ll be finalizing my composition SCREAM, GILGAMESH, SCREAM for the upcoming season at the New England Conservatory.
And soon I’ll be shooting the summer footage for my composition THE DAVIS SQUARE SYMPHONY, to be premiered June 2016 in Davis Square, Somerville.

Art Show in Hudson Valley

“Upthrust”. Frottage Drawing, 2006.

Six pieces in a group show on Sept 6 in Brooklyn, NY.

Camping in June w/Deb.

Deb and I in the Northeast Kingdom of VT.

Deb and I in the Northeast Kingdom of VT, June 2015.

Camping at Maidstone Park in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont was as beautiful as expected.  The loons at night were amazing, some close, some far (superb stereophonic placement and hi-quality reverb).  The simple focus of starting a fire every day, preparing food, no internet.  Hikes.  Wish it could always be like that!

Guitar Lessons with Roger C. Miller

I have taught guitar lessons out of my home for years.  I am now adding SKYPE guitar lessons to the mix.  Many people do this, why not me?  Now I can teach all over the world (does the International Space Station have Skype?).