New Monsoon's Jeff Miller: 'If You Come to See Us, You're Part of Our Family'
The jam band New Monsoon originated in San Francisco and garnered much attention after their music hit the streets. Founded by Bo Carper and Jeff Miller in the late '90s, the band is still going strong and currently in the process of releasing new songs. It is difficult to describe New Monsoon's unique sound. It's a mix of different genres: jazz, Indian, country, rock and pretty much anything you can imagine. Right now, they are kicking back, relaxing and touring pretty much everywhere from Colorado, the OC, to the Bay Area. They've performed at various festivals like the High Sierra Music Festival in 2001, Bonnaroo, and the Austin City Limits Festival.
OC Weekly (Monica Luhar): How and when did your band form in SF?
Bo, Phil and I all went to Penn State University back in the day. Bo had moved out to California on his own. I moved around from Penn to Boston and was looking for a place to go. And the Bay area was where I wanted to be. I fell in love with the place and Bo and I decided to make some music and we gradually started the band. That was around '97. We've known each other for a long time even before that. We were a local band for a while. And in 2003, we started touring so we've been touring from then onwards. 2001 was our first major play High Sierra music festival--that's when we discovered we were a legit band--that we were getting going. So we look at this year, as our 10 year anniversary.
How did you guys come up with the name of your band?
It came out of the rains of the El Nino winter season that year ('97). Bo had a song that he was working on and he was calling it new monsoon. I liked that name a lot, and said, "that's a cool title, maybe we should call the name that."
What was it like having your band's album produced by the Grateful Dead's sound engineer John Cutler?
That was great. John's a good friend of mine, he's actually my neighbor. I currently live in Marin County. And I stumbled upon these great neighbors and I didn't even realize who John was at first, and I got to know him as a friend and realize that he was the guy who was a major sound engineer and did sound for the Dead for a long time. And it was a really great experience. Really happy with the way that record came out. I still remember being in the studio and how great of an honor to work with such a pro and such a great guy.
What kind of message would you like to send to people who listen to your eclectic music?
I would consider ourselves as a "wine" sort of hopefully refined through the years. We recently went to Texas and spent four nights there. People come from all over. If somebody comes to see us, they are going to see a bit of the old, new and hopefully something fresh every time. We've played over I think close to 2,000 shows. We have the experience, the friendship and the familiarity with each other to feel comfortable on stage and make our fans feel comfortable. People are starting to bring their little kids out, and a couple of us have kids now too. It's growing into a really rooted family. The message that I'd like to put out is that if you come to see New Monsoon, you're not just a fan, you're also part of our family.
What's been the most memorable moment for you? What do you take from it?
There's so many in so many different ways. It's being backstage and being out on the PA and the lights go out to a sold out crowd and feeling the rush of energy from the crowd. It just elevates you and gives you something to load upon. We've also had experiences playing near Golden Gate Park for like 30,000 people. The smaller shows, a lot of the smaller shows have equally memorable moments. The vibe of the room that particular night is magical--and for me, it doesn't matter how big the venue or how small. If the music, vibe is good, and people are enjoying themselves--that's what matters.
Can you talk about your fifth official release, New Monsoon V?
We've since released a live album as well, which was our most recent release. Now we're working on new material we hope to finish by the end of the year.
Can you talk a little bit more about the next album you have?
We have been working on some new ideas. This time we're going to take our time before we set up the microphones. We're going to use a very organic method of recording. It will take some time because we're not just going to go to the studio.
New Monsoon is performing at the OC Music Fest June 3-4th. For more information, go to the OC Music Fest site here.
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