Miles
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Miles

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Spotlight: Miles

Joseph Huttner

February 23, 2008

When you hear the words ‘rock’ and ‘New Jersey’ in the same sentence, do you get nauseous thinking a Bon Jovi song is starting? Or worry that some dude is about to yell “BRUCE” at the top of his lungs? Thankfully, an antidote to garden state music burnout has arrived: Miles. Originally from Millburn, NJ, this spunky, funky rock group wins fans over with great vocals, and welcoming jazz overtones that keep your foot tapping long after the tracks stop.

I talked with Marc Plotkin (saxophone, vocals, guitar) and Ben Jacobs (bass, vocals) about the band’s philosophy, how their live performances differ from recorded stuff, and, of course, their sexual kinks. These amiable rockers are motivated, creative, and eager to release their first full length album this summer. Check out their current songs using the player at the left, and let’s get on with the interview, baby!

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The first time I heard you guys was at a kick-ass party at Haverford two years ago. Now, browsing your current tracks, your sound seems different. What’s changed?

MP: For one, we weren’t Miles yet. That group was called “Funk in the Trunk,” and although we played some great party music, we never did much in the way of recording. Miles was formed when Ben and I joined forces with Kenny Flax, our drummer, and Brandon Sherman, our guitarist, both of whom we know from high school.

So what types of themes comprise your current work that didn’t exist with Funk in Trunk or any other sexually-titled bands you guys were in?

BJ: For one, we no longer try to squeeze as much as possible into the five minutes that make up every song. That is just so A.D.D.-ish. We’re going for more lyrically diverging themes, more storytelling, and less “my girl broke my heart” stuff. Still, we do have a fair share of “my girl broke my heart” stuff (laughter), but our backgrounds in jazz and improvisatory music are showing more now and in our soon-to-be released full length album.

I’d agree with that. The jazz stuff is incorporated really well, especially in the song ‘Extra Info.’ For two guys who are audio majors at Case Western I expected a much more artificial, special effects type sound, but the soul of the group really comes through. Is it hard to maintain this great sound and group chemistry that Miles has with not all of the group members attending college in the same area?

MP: It can be tough since we don’t play many shows together during the academic semester. Most of our touring is during breaks and over the summer, when we play eleven or twelve shows. Here at school, Ben and I play a lot of songs with our guest drummer Nick Svoboda, who rocks.

BJ: We really have a great time playing with Nick, in large part because we just want to get our music out to fans. We don’t believe in the friend-based philosophy that we [the original four guys in the group] can only play with each other.

So what is Miles like in concert?

BJ: There are a lot of differences between Miles live and Miles recorded. Why? Because nobody goes to see a band to hear a record - what happens on stage and in the studio need to be different experiences. That’s why sometimes we’ll pause in the middle of our own stuff and play a Sunny Rollins tune, totally impromptu, just to keep it fresh.

Speaking of keeping it fresh, part of this interview requires divulging your sexual kinks. The last featured artist said antelopes, so anything goes.

MP: I’d have to say a flyswatter. The electric kind so it’s more masochistic.

BJ: Handcuffs!

Are you talking the plastic or the metal kind?

BJ: Metal, no doubt.

And what's your safety word when you use them?

BJ: Ah, I don’t usually use a safety word.

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You can find out more about Miles by visiting their MySpace at: http://www.myspace.com/milesbandmusic

And you can purchase their album, Wow & Flutter (2007), here: http://cdbaby.com/cd/milesband

- sadsteve.com


Miles, a pop/funk/rock band from New Jersey, opened up the event at about 9:30 p.m. with an array of songs from its first EP Wow and Flutter, as well as some new tunes. The group was a perfect way to start off the evening, with a laidback sound that crossed boundaries between jam band, funk and pop music.

Songs such as "Repeating in Here" bear a resemblance to jam-band, infused with a sweeter voice, while "Calm Yourself" could be the next acoustic radio hit of the summer, reminiscent of the Plain White T's "Hey There Delilah."

While Miles entertained the early crowd with ear-pleasing sultry funk, by the time the group left the stage shortly before 11 p.m., a sea of toga-wearing students had emerged ready to party. - The Williams Record


A capacity crowd of 450 toga-draped students had been dancing to the music of New Jersey-based band Miles for two hours when Afroman came on for his 11 p.m. set. - The Williams Record


Amazing performance. If you don't know who these guys are, you are missing out. Killer intelligent pop songs driven by amazing instrumental prowess and sprinkled with sax solos that will blow you away, (get it?) We will be sharing the stage with them again on July 19th at the Knitting Factory, so make plans to not miss that one now. - Eveneye (myspace.com/sellrecords) Blog


Discography

Wow & Flutter - 2006
As Fast As You Can - 2010

Photos

Bio

Ingredients:

-A fastidious aesthete who ruthlessly batters four plastic skins and four metal discs in a torrent of polyrhythmic splendor
-A master of tranquility and serenity whose digits conjure layers of multi-timbral melody
-An optimistic ideator whose ruminations reverberate through six strings and a tuneful tenor
-A playful yet steadfast anchor known for occasional four-string deviations and talent with thesaurus

Recipe:

Mix three-parts living room rock to two-parts self-obsessed neurotic songwriter. Add a tablespoon of funk soul and a pinch of power pop. Shake till fluid. If the mixture breaks into improvisation, heat under hot stage lights for 30 seconds to a minute until precision returns. Top with Shavings of neo-folk and electric blues. Best served loud.