Don Miggs says he wrote his first song when he was eight years old, but he didn’t turn pro until years later after one of his songs landed with a producer named Gavin MacKillop. MacKillop had worked with Toad the Wet Sprocket, the Barenaked Ladies, and the Goo Goo Dolls, and he liked what he heard in Miggs. MacKillop expressed desire to work with the unknown singer, but Miggs was tied to a day job.
“Tell me this,” asked MacKillop. “Are you a musician, or are you someone who just plays music?” Miggs says he went home and thought about it. “I realized that I didn’t want to be in my mid-40s someday and kill myself because I wasn’t doing what I love to do.” That ended the day job.
What MacKillop heard in that demo was hard emotion (Don Miggs pushes his voice past its limits) set against a backdrop of streamlined boy-pop rock but with an unexpected turn toward realism. “There’s a theme on the new album about facing the truths,” Miggs says by phone somewhere on the road in Montana. “It’s so much easier to dull the pain.” Some of his worldview came from watching his parents struggle. “We grew up without much. My mom had illness. My dad worked a lot to make ends meet.”
Some critics have called Miggs one of the best bands you’ve never heard of. The Florida trio has opened for Duran Duran and Maroon 5. But success has turned out to be a harder gig in ways he hadn’t imagined. “I’m invested in every one of my songs. I get to the end of a song, and I feel like whatever it was, the emotion, I was living it. Sometimes it’s hard for me to disconnect.”
MIGGS: Lestat’s Coffee House, Friday, July 16. 619-282-0437.