If you've listened to KTCL even briefly in the past year, you've heard the handiwork of Lee Miles. You've either heard his band, Oh My Stars, who has one of the top played songs on the station, or you've heard his production on songs by Colorado-based acts like Tickle Me Pink, Speakeasy Tiger and Life In Electric.
"Bloody November," Oh My Stars' first single, gained some serious traction locally thanks to spins on KTCL, a supporter early on -- before the band's first EP, Heavens to Betsy, was even released this past May.
In the advance of Oh My Stars set on the Main Stage today at the Westword Music Showcase (12:15 p.m., gates are at 11:30 a.m.), we caught up with Miles and discussed the struggles of his burgeoning music career, the appreciation for the love Denver has shown him and he should get Craig Newmark for being the one who brought his band together.
Brian Frederick (WW): What is the Lee Miles story?
Lee Miles (LM): Well, I was born in Virginia and adopted at an early age. I then moved with my brand new family to Florida, and there, I grew up, and there, I learned how to dance, cartwheel and cook burned pudding. I went to school. During school, I was a part of some really shitty bands, and kept trying to do that. Eventually, I got out of school, and kept doing that anyway.
I worked some crappy jobs through it, but eventually got hired to sing for a band [3AE] that was signed to RCA, which, RCA then dropped -- not because of me, of course. [laughs] Never. No, Clive Davis took over the label, and a bunch of bands were let go at that time. If I were RCA, it wouldn't have made sense to keep the band that I was in, on, either. The singer had just died in a car accident, and I had replaced him. It was a real rough thing. As soon as I saw SR-71 dropped, I was like, "Yep, we're next."
I stayed around when the band was defunct and worked with the producer [Tony Battaglia] as an intern, a paid intern. I'm gonna call it a paid intern. With him, I learned the works of ProTools and had the opportunity of working with Shinedown, Saliva, Puddle Of Mudd, and a lot of other random rock bands. That's kinda how I saw what was going on from a major standpoint.
I'm trying to give you the most abridged story here. There are a lot of lap dances in between.
Then, I grew out of the internship. After several extra failed attempts at doing other bands, one of which was working with Chester Bennington from Linkin Park for about a year on something that never went through. So like, a year went by after I stopped working with Tony to where I decided I wanted to move to the West Coast to try my hand there.
I had kept a connection with Puddle Of Mudd, thankfully. The third day I was in L.A., I called Doug [Ardito], and said I was in town. It so happened they had just fired an engineer. I was extremely lucky, and I went and started working for Puddle Of Mudd immediately. I ended up producing all the demos [and], went to Colorado to help play on the record. I helped out as much as I could, and that's where I met Tickle Me Pink.
Tickle Me Pink was how I met Nerf. Johnny Schou had come to me while he was working with Pill. Johnny was so accomplished for his age, when he approached me, he gave me a CD, and I listened to it and thought, "Holy shit you guys are actually pretty good." I went to rehearsal and saw them play. Then, "Let's do this," and then, there they went.
So through TMP I got the word on the street out in Denver that I had some cool stuff go down. Denver has been the most amazing city, for music, for me. I truly owe it all to the Blasting Room and all those guys for all the work they did.
WW: How then did Oh My Stars come to be?
LM: I found this song on the Internet. It was called Razz Tazz. It was the music to "Bloody November," not the version you hear now, but a demoed version that Davey [Duke] had put together himself. I don't know. I was just having a bad day, man. It was on November 7th, which is my birthday. I wrote this crazy shit to it and sent it to this band blindly. I ripped it off their MySpace file. Over of about a period of a year, we'd get together every month or two, and we'd show each other ideas.
We got five, maybe six, strong ideas together. Davey went and tracked a lot of the instrumentation, and then I came in and recorded vocals. I sent it to Jason Livermore [Blasting Room], got it back and thought it was actually pretty cool. Let's see what somebody else thinks. I sent it to Nerf, and didn't tell him I was in the band or anything. He heard it, and sent it to Brian at Blee Music, and the rest was history.
After the songs were recorded, we decided we may actually need to do a band. We went back to Craigslist, and put an advertisement out. That's how we got Aaron [Prather] and Mike [Roberts], through Craigslist. The entire band was formed via Craigslist. It's kind of cool to think. Whoever this Craig dude is, I need to send him a box of cookies.
WW: Any of the bands at the Showcase you're excited to see?
LM: Ya, we're obviously gonna hang out and check out Life in Electric, Tickle Me Pink and Single File. I want to see Ghostland Observatory. I've never seen them live, so I'm pretty pumped. There are a few others that I'm not thinking of, but I want to watch everyone.
Every show I go to, I try and check out all the bands, because I'm such a fan of live music. That's why playing Mile High is such a badass thing. We play on the second day, but I'm coming in to go to the festival, hang out and see as many bands as I can possibly see. I'm looking way forward to Westword; I've heard nothing but good things about it.
WW: Are you currently working in studio on something new?
LM: We have prepared about ten new ones. We do not have any immediate plans to record them just yet. We're trying to see what happens with the single and search for a tour to hop on for the summer. We'll see how that plays out. I think Heavens To Betsy will always kind of be the EP. Our next effort will definitely be a full record, and have a full new batch of goodness for everyone.
That's the thing with the band; it used to be a guy on the Internet with another guy on the Internet. It sort of grew into this. Davey Duke is what I'd call the music director of the band, which is great because I've always had that job. That's why I do what I do for a living. It's been such a relief to have another guy in the band I can depend on to take care of direction for music.
We have this magic that happens between the two of us. Davey is a music teacher, who teaches music to kids at school. So he's got that mentality already. His story and my story are similar in that we were told by our mentors that we should just produce and write.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
[They said] we'd never make it with our own music because nobody would get it. That makes the song "Bloody November" that much more important to us. It explicitly describes the feelings we both had going into this thing. Now to see it get such a good reaction, we feel extremely validated and motivated, and we really want to do this.
We want to tour the country and the world. I know a lot of people have a goal seeking fame and fortune. Let's be honest, those are icings on a cake that you just want to get baked first. We just want to do it before we die. We want to do it and see some kids and rock their faces.
That's why everyone's in this band because we love this music and love the idea that we have opportunities to play things like Kegs 'n Eggs and Mile High and Westword. We feel very fortunate to say the least.