John Miller & the Payback

Ryan Vernazza: Guitar (electric), Vocals | David Swendsen: Bass guitar | John Miller: Guitar (acoustic), Guitar (electric), Vocals

Genre: Acoustic, Rock

RIYL: Ryan Vernazza, the Grams, Meld, Johnny Different, G. Love and Special Sauce

No shows scheduled | Post a show | View show history


Inception: San Diego, 2009

Ex-Band Members: Leo Zugner, Drums Chris Busenlehner, Drums

Influences: Tom Petty, Elvis Costello, Billy Joel, Kurt Cobain, Mike Ness, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, Jakob Dylan, Greg Graffin, Billy Joe Armstrong, Brett Gurewitz, Chuck Schiele, Ray Charles, Tom Waits, Joey Ramone, Johnny Cash, Brian Setzer, Tim Armstrong, Joe Strummer, David Byrne, G. Love and Special Sauce, John Lennon, Roy Orbison, Dave Grohl, Mike Butkovic, Jay DiMartino, Chris Isaak


Based in Ocean Beach, John Miller & the Payback is fronted by singer/songwriter John Miller. The band includes Meld bassist Dave Swendsen (who played with Miller in Pennsylvania) and guitarist Ryan Vernazza. “I have a degree in Music from the University of Pittsburgh,” says Miller. “While that might not be that surprising, it might be more-so that I studied Jazz Vocal. Oh, and I was president of the college Glee Club. Yeah, I know, laugh it up!”

Miller arrived in San Diego in 2003, playing with Johnny Different. They recorded one album, Growin' Up, produced and engineered by Chuck Schiele (the Grams). Miller began performing acoustic shows with Ryan Vernazza in 2008, and that duo ended up forming John Miller & the Payback. Their debut album Vinyl Static Compliments was released in May 2009, produced by Chuck Schiele (the Grams) at StudiOB.

“Our music sounds like Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder, G. Love, and Dinosaur Jr. got together and wrote an album,” says Miller, who was nominated for Best Acoustic at the 2008 San Diego Music Awards. He also appears on the Grams' second studio album, Love Factory, and his 2010 recording “We Will Find A Way” appeared on the local band compilation Staring at the Sun Volume 8, on local Blindspot Records.

In summer 2010, Miller relocated with his wife to Cincinatti. “The band is staying, though, they're each interested in doing shows whenever I come back into town,” he told the Reader. “I guess the only thing I can really say to San Diego, is thanks. The last seven years have changed my life dramatically. I fell in love, got married, and did more with music then I have ever before. I've met great people and great musicians that I've been fortunate to share the stage with. San Diego will most certainly always be some form of home and my experiences here will stay with me always.”


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