Long the handsome face of alt-country luminaries the Old '97s, Rhett Miller has also released four excellent solo albums, including one he made in high school. His latest is last June's self-titled outing, which betrays scattered moments of twang but otherwise proceeds from offbeat guitar-pop to robust rock. On the phone from his adopted home in the Hudson Valley area of New York, the 39-year-old singer/songwriter outlined the album's unlikely results.
OC Weekly (Doug Wallen): Your latest album is less alt-country and more pop/rock.
Rhett Miller: Well, it's a product of the Old 97's taking the songs that are more in that vein, because they work better with that band. So the songs that are left over are the ones the band turns down, which are more quirky or weird or poppy.
But you don't feel like you're working with castaways?
No. There are castaways, beyond the solo records and the 97's records. There are songs that don't make the cut. A lot of songs, in fact. I feel like I wouldn't make a record if there weren't enough to populate it, at least to my taste. But I had to stop thinking about it that way, because the 97's are so specific. It's not like they take what I think are the best songs; they just take the songs that they feel like they can play well. That's why I did a solo record to begin with, because there were songs that I liked that weren't getting released. It was pretty frustrating until I got to do that.