“I have a degree in music from the University of Pittsburgh,” says singer-songwriter John Miller. “I studied jazz vocal...and I was president of the glee club. I know, laugh it up!”
Miller arrived in San Diego in 2003 and settled in O.B. After he began performing acoustic shows with guitarist Ryan Vernazza, the duo ended up forming John Miller and the Payback. “Our music sounds like Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder, G. Love, and Dinosaur Jr. got together and wrote an album,” says Miller, who was nominated Best Acoustic at the 2008 San Diego Music Awards.
John Miller and the Payback’s debut album, Vinyl Static Compliments, was produced by Chuck Schiele at StudiOB. Lead single “Gonna Find Me” was the most-downloaded track on the Reader website for June. Miller provides some background.
What was the origin and inspiration behind “Gonna Find Me”?
I had been working on some lyrics that were personal to me, that were part of a process for me. They focused on my problems with organized religion in general and, more specifically, having grown up Catholic. Religion to me, oddly, had an answer for everything; it was too easy. The more I examined it, the more I drifted away. The process wasn’t easy, and I believe that “Gonna Find Me” was a final part of the process. It allowed me to close the door on any doubts that I had and continue to move forward. I believe in free will, and I don’t believe that you can have free will if someone or something “has a plan” for you.
Can you provide a sample lyric that you think best sums up the song?
“Written word, now states my claim.”
What exactly is the “linear grin” you sing about?
A linear grin is the “aha!” moment. It’s when something clicks, when you realize the answer was in front of you all along. It’s almost a smile, but your lips are tight together, very linear, except the corner of your mouth tilts up, sort of like a smile.
In what way do you feel “We are all consumed by free will?” Wouldn’t a state of free will be one in which you could decline to be consumed?
The lyric in the song actually refers to my soul being consumed by free will. As I stated above, I don’t believe that you can have free will if you believe that someone or something has a plan for you. The writing of this song was part of my process of accepting that my feelings weren’t wrong in regards to religion — though some may see them as wrong — but that they were different than what I was originally raised to believe. My feelings were right for me.