Chris Mills Biography
The full-length album is Mills’ fourth, courtesy of Brooklyn indie Ernest Jenning Record Co. and Mills’ own imprint, Powerless Pop Recorders. After No Depression called 2002’s The Silver Line “an elegant, ambitious and mature rock record never burdened by an ounce of the pretension those weighty words suggest,” Mills set out to do something even more ambitious.
He wanted to see if he could take things a little bit farther and make something a little larger sonically. Wall to Wall Sessions is a sonic masterpiece — an intelligently crafted orchestral pop ode with heartfelt lyrics and intricate melodies.
Chris recently emerged from the touring van he currently lives in to have this exclusive heart-to-heart with ARTISTdirect.
AD: Do you ever google your name? Ever find anything interesting? Any other Chris Mills do anything you’re ashamed of?
CM: Doesn’t everyone? I haven’t really found anything too scandalous. I usually just check to make sure I’m still the second most famous Chris Mills. The competition is stiffer than one might think.
AD: Would you call “Wall to Wall Sessions” chamber pop? If not...what would you call it?
CM: I would call it awesome! Actually I don’t really know what to call it. Some say orchestral pop. Some say chamber pop. Potatoe/potahhhhhhtoe. Tomatoe/tomahhhhhtoe. Let’s call the whole thing off.
AD: Why should people buy “Wall to Wall Sessions”?
CM: In all honesty, I think it’s the best thing I’ve done. It’s interesting and fun and has lots of great players on it, like Ryan Hembrey and Kelly Hogan and a bunch of other people. I think smart people who are into cool stuff will definitely be into it. So if you’re one of those, go for it.
AD: Chicago or New York?
CM: No comment.
AD: Do you really have a following in Europe? Or is that something your publicist made up to make you sound cool?
CM: I don’t know if I would call it a following. I’ve played over there a bunch and met a lot of really cool people. But they don’t really follow me. I usually stand in front of them and play songs and they stand in the audience. Then when that’s over we go our separate ways. It would be creepy if they actually followed me anywhere.
AD: You spent your formative years in Germany and Southern Illinois. So...does that explain why your music has always sounded like a cross between the Scorpions and Uncle Tupelo? (Please feel free to tell everyone how little you actually sound like the Scorpions...and take this opportunity to tell everyone what you want them to hear in your music and/or who your real influences are)
CM: I’m not even going to answer this.
AD: You’ve been compared to Uncle Tupelo a lot. Do you still see the comparison as being relevant? And who do you get compared to that you wish you didn’t?
CM: I don’t really listen to comparisons all that much. Obviously if you’re an artist, you’re going to be influenced by things: drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, Jay Farrar, Harry Nilsson, The Beatles, The Muppet Show, Thunder Cats, etc. But I just try and make records that I want to listen to. With the new one, since we recorded it in such a unique way and because I think that David Nagler is pretty singular as an arranger, I don’t really think it could adequately be compared to anything. There are obvious nods and winks to music that David and I are into, but I hope that I’m getting past that whole comparison phase, where writers have to associate it with someone else’s work, instead of being able describe it within the context of how it actually affects them emotionally. I know that’s a little much to ask, but that’s how I’d like people to approach it, if they can.
AD: Did you know Richard Pryor was born in Peoria, IL?
CM: I did not know that.
AD: Metaphor time. Compare each of your albums to beverages...and elaborate please.
CM: They all taste like Coca-Cola. ‘Cause Coke is it. Supposedly.
AD: What do you think of Sufjan Stevens' Illinois? Does it sound like your home state or not?
CM: I haven’t heard it.
AD: What’s the worst trend in music right now?
CM: My on-going battle with obscurity.
AD: If you could open for any band (past or present...or future) who would it be?
CM: Either The Band (with Robbie Robertson) or Neutral Milk Hotel (the best live band I’ve ever seen).
AD: What band would you like to have open for you some day?
CM: If I could, I would have my friends The Have Nots open every show I do. They’re from Leicester, England and are amazing. Amazing songs. Amazing harmonies. Amazing everything.
AD: What’s on your iPod?
CM: The Trojan Calypso Box Set. British Dance hall Music of the 1930’s. Franz Ferdinand.
AD: Favorite new band?
CM: The Have Nots.
AD: Favorite old band you just never get tired of?
CM: The Beatles, duh.
AD: Seen any good movies this year?
CM: Plenty: Serenity, Wallace and Grommet, History of Violence, Capote, The Squid And The Whale, and that’s just on the last tour.
AD: What film director would make the film that Wall to Wall Sessions would be the perfect soundtrack for?
CM: Either Wes Anderson, P.T. Anderson or Loni Anderson.
AD: Are you tired of this interview yet? If so, why?
CM: Yes! God, yes! No comment.
AD: Is it true that you’re the best thing in music right now and that everyone needs to hear your music at whatever cost that might be?
CM: Abso-f**king-lutely. And the cost is only $15 postage paid from www.powerlesspop.com or your fine local record retailer. Come on people!