Hey Fartheads! Dig this. Every month this year I will randomly choose a Farthead of the Month. I have some truly awesome, dedicated, and awesome readers and I consider you all friends. Anyways, every month I am going to randomly choose a Farthead of the Month and if chosen, you will do a 12 question Q&A that will be featured as a post on the blog! This is your way to get semi-famous or at least give you the ability to brag that you’re on a shitty metal blog!
Making the honor roll this month is Jeff. Jeff is the real fucking deal and he’s a really cool guy. Jeff and I have known each other for a while and he’s been a huge supporter of the blog for years. We don’t always see eye to eye on some of our favorite bands but that’s what makes life great right? Did I also mention that Jeff is a teacher? He’s shaping and molding the young minds and he’s a Brainfart reader? Kinda scary huh? Anyways, take it away Jeff!
What’s your name and what the hell do you do with your life?
Jeff Miles. I teach art and advanced students in elementary school, a part-time photographer shooting mostly bands and wildlife, I rescue turtles, mostly injured wildlife or unwanted pets, I play guitar very poorly, occasionally paint, but not nearly often enough, and I live with two cats and two Rottweilers.
How did you discover the Great Southern Brainfart?
We met at the Masquerade. I think Eddie and Tony from the band Kyng introduced us and we kept talking after they left. It was like an immediate metal bromance, lol!
What’s your favorite thing about the Great Southern Brainfart?
My favorite thing is that you and I have completely different taste in contemporary heavy music so I’m not familiar with most of the bands you review and rave about. You and I had a discussion once about how you prefer metal bands that are the descendents of Iron Maiden, whereas my favorite bands are influenced more by Black Sabbath and Black Flag. Despite the differences, every once in a while, you introduce me to a new band that I really like. Our metal Venn diagrams seem to cross when the female fronted, occult-influenced style you like cross pollinate with the stoner, sludge, and doom that I prefer, and you get bands like Blues Pills, Blood Ceremony, and Windhand. Generally, I do prefer reading music blogs written by people with different tastes. It’s the same reason I like to read Kim Kelly. I’m not into death or black metal at all, but she has her boot on the throat of those scenes so I see what she has to say every once in a while.
How did you first get into heavy metal?
There isn’t a definitive moment I can point to, but more of a succession of events. When I was 10 or 11, I started listening to Heart, Queen, Cheap Trick, and Van Halen. My older sister and her then boyfriend listened to those bands so I’m sure I picked up some of that up from them. I still have some of her albums, lol. Shawn was my best friend since kindergarten and his parents were into 60’s and 70’s rock. His dad died when we were 14, but I remember one conversation between just me and his dad when I was about 13. I was into music so he was showing me records that he liked, probably the Beatles, Moody Blues, maybe Neil Young, and after going through a few artists, he said, “Well Hell, Jeff, you seem to really like the heavy stuff,” and he pulled out some Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, and I think Sabbath’s “Paranoid.” That was more to my liking and helped foster my interest in bands from the past. As much as I enjoyed those bands, as a 13 year old, they seemed to be as much in the distant past as dinosaurs and when you’re young you want your own generation of music. In 1984 I was 12. Motley Crue, Ratt, and Bon Jovi were getting big so unfortunately my introduction to metal was the Sunset Strip scene. Some of it was cool, but most of those bands just sang about partying and kind of seemed like dicks. I listened to some of it, but I didn’t really relate. Twisted Sister was the first 80’s metal band that I really embraced. I was always picky about lyrics and Dee Snider wrote about a broader palette of topics. Iron Maiden did, too. That kept my interest, and Dee didn’t seem like such a dick. I was 14 when Snider testified before Congress about the PMRC with John Denver and Frank Zappa and shut down Al Gore and the other Senators for being condescending asses. Although I don’t listen to them often anymore, Twisted Sister will always be special to me for taking a stand. In tenth grade, I met a guy named Greg who was only year older, but was already in a band (coincidentally, his guitar player at the time was Fred McNeal, who Atlanta folks may know from several bands including the Georgia Satellites). Greg turned me on to heavier stuff like Metallica, Megadeth, Anthrax, and Slayer. Real metal! 1988 was the watershed year for me though as I discovered Jane’s Addiction, Living Colour, Faith No More, and Soundgarden. Those bands were heavy, but left of the dial of metal. Metal guys thought they couldn’t play or were too punk. Punk fans saw the long hair and thought it was metal, and alternative at that time meant British guys with weird hair (Smiths, Cure, Depeche Mode). Faith No More and those bands were outcasts among the outcasts. I related to that more. There was little to no fan base for them in rural Georgia in the 80’s, but those bands would form the foundation for what would be “my heavy music.” A few years later California would have underground scenes in Palm Springs and San Francisco with similar aesthetics and attitudes with bands like Kyuss, Sleep, Acid King, and Neurosis that I really like, too.
What are your Top 5 metal bands?
My favorite bands tend to be ones that fall outside the metal spectrum. I guess the “heavy” was always more important to me than the “metal” if that makes sense. Anyway, here goes:
1. Soundgarden: Although not as fast or evil sounding as thrash bands, they were as heavy as any band when they came out in the 80’s. I loved the heaviness mixed with the weird, almost Bauhaus-type arty thing. It’s easy to forget how completely new that was at that time.
2. Neurosis. How many bands are hitting their creative peak 30 years into their career?
3. Mastodon: Don’s definitely making faces now, lol. I love the way they mix so many different styles without it feeling contrived or compromising the song.
4. Melvins: slow, heavy, weird, often funny, inspired several genres and countless bands.
5. Faith No More: again, weird, versatile, unpredictable, but can be as heavy or aggressive as any band.
What is currently your favorite metal album?
Lately I’ve been listening to “Clean” from the Atlanta band Whores. They are probably more punk or noise than metal. They have a bit of Black Flag, Helmet, and Jesus Lizard in them and are heavy as Hell!
What is the least metal thing about you?
Did I mention I was a teacher, lol? Actually, I’m probably the least metal person you’ve chosen so far. Let’s see: My sister owns a dance studio and I’m the photographer so I photograph a lot of little ballerinas in tutus. Not very metal. Musically, I listen to a lot of Tori Amos, Amy Winehouse, Billy Joel, Leonard Cohen, Norah Jones, Tom Waits, Prince, and James Brown. Not very metal.
If you could have dinner with any metal musician alive or dead, who would it be, what would you talk about, and what would you have?
That would have to be Kim Thayil from Soundgarden. He’s obviously exceptionally intelligent and seems rather opinionated so I’d love to talk to him about art, politics, and of course bands and music. We’d have to have ice cream in case we started arguing. You can’t get too angry with an ice cream cone in your hand because no one will take you seriously. I know a few people who know him. That means I’m only one degree of separation away so it could happen.
What is one metal album that everybody should own?
The first Black Sabbath record. I think that’s the album most bands are still trying to write anyway.
What is your favorite metal t-shirt and why?
I have a Kylesa shirt with this big white swan on the front. Most metal shirts have skulls, dragons, snakes, etc. A swan is not typically metal, but they used it anyway and it works. I like that.
In your opinion, who is the worst metal band out there?
I usually don’t slam bands in print, but I really don’t like Five Finger Death Punch. That probably doesn’t need explaining. I’ve never really liked Dream Theater, either, even though those guys are amazing musicians. Actually, I think that is specifically why I don’t like them. A band is usually 3-5 people trying to create something better than they could do alone. You know, the whole being greater than the sum of its parts. It’s all about the songs. Dream Theater songs seem to simply be vessels to show off their individual talents. I don’t care much for solos or showing off so I find it boring.
Finally, what does being selected as Farthead of the Month mean to you?
Ugh, it’s going to be terrible. I’m sure I’ll have to avoid the paparazzi for a while, and the easy availability of money, sex, and drugs that will come with my celebrity status will certainly distract me from the purity of the music and corrupt my perspective which will ultimately destroy my career and lead to my demise. But then of course I’ll have my redemption phase to look forward to!