In this interview, Tim Millar gives us a glimpse into what was driving him and the rest of Protest The Hero during the recording of their latest release on Vagrant, “Scurillous.” Citing less than brutal metal influences, Millar blends it all together for us in this conversation.
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Could you provide some background on ‘Scurrilous’? The songwriting process, and how Protest The Hero developed the album into what it became?
Yeah. Pretty much for this record, we tried to be the most professional. We got a rehearsal space, and came to practice Monday to Friday; the four instrumentalists sat down and just started hashing out rough instrumental song structures, making our way through ten songs. We then recorded them in a pre-production state, and sent them off to Rody the singer. He took his time getting to know them and recorded some ideas over them, and we went back and forth from there.
Which jazz musicians influenced you?
I guess as far as the old school stuff I really got into (John) Coltrane and Miles Davis, which I guess aren’t guitar players. I forget who it was, but it might’ve been Steve Morse playing “Giant Steps” by Coltrane on the guitar. I just tried understanding the technical ability of some of these players where to the common ear you’ll pick up on it, but those were the two big jazz influences. It’s more just about learning the repertoire, all these standards, and then playing along. I really like Chet Atkins playing – I can’t even keep up with him at all. It sounds so simple and it’s so sweet sounding, but you try to play it and it’s going back to the basics.
So that makes your playing stand out then, considering they aren’t usual influences for metal musicians?
Yeah. I find if you are able to pull influence from a place where maybe a lot of other bands and guitarists aren’t getting it, at least you end up with this unique sound where people might not know where that sound comes from. It sounds familiar sometimes where someone might say “This sounds like this person” or “That…”, but I find that when it’s just a confused blend of styles you end up with your own unique sound I guess.
Does Protest The Hero have a big following amongst guitar players?
Yeah, I think guitar players make up a good percentage of our audience and just musicians in general. Usually if I’m ever talking to a fan, there’s usually quite a few that say “I’m a drummer” or “I’m a bass player” or “I’m a guitar player” and so on. With the tab books, Luke and I wrote them and printed them up ourselves. I’ve been shipping them and with the ‘Fortress’ one we’ve got rid of quite a few pretty quickly, so it was nice to see such a positive response from the guitar community.
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