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SCOTS discover "Countrypolitan Favorites"

By Jason MacNeil, February 2007

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Miller says that this album was a slight departure from the usual cycle of writing, rehearsing, recording and touring. He also says that being on the road results in less time to put pen to paper. "You try to get bits and pieces of it while you're on the road," he says. "I find that once you get into the rhythm of writing again, it gets a little easier. You have to sit down and work like you would any other job. Some days it's good, and some days it's nothing but junk. But as long as you continue to work and get yourself in a good working cycle or habit, if you can get a month where all I have to do is write, then that's really good."

"By the end of the month, things are going really fast," he continues. "You have to rework songs, you come up with a couple of good lines, and there might be a couple of weeks or three or four months before you flesh it out. But you're always thinking about it. Driving is good for it, driving around in a car. And just laying in bed is good. When I wake up in the morning, a lot of times I'll just think about song lyrics. It makes for some strange dreams, but I may have something going on."

From there, getting Huff and drummer Dave Hartmann is the next step in creating originals.

"I don't know if you've ever sat down and looked at a blank piece of paper and go, ‘Hmm, where do I go from here?'" Miller says. "I usually have a bunch of riffs sitting around that I've either put on little tape decks or on the computer. I'll start listening to those. Sometimes I'll have Dave come in for a couple of days, and I'll play records for him that I'll like. I'll say, ‘Dave, play that drum beat for me.' Then I'll loop it, and it will give me something to work with rhythmically. We kind of work at it in spots and spurts."

One thing that the group has found a rhythm with is their home on Yep Roc. The group's new album marks the third release on the label. Miller says that it seems to be a perfect fit.

"Yep Roc is a good label for bands like us and Los Straitjackets, bands like that who tour who are older bands who make records," he says. "It's not like we're going to be overnight sensations on MTV or anything like that. Those days are gone. But I think Yep Roc really likes our music and understands where we're coming from."

"They give us total freedom as far as what we want to do as artists," Miller adds. "And it knows how to promote bands who tour and where to put the money that they have. It's not a lot because it's an independent label. But they know where to best use it. So, I feel pretty good about Yep Roc. And their offices are about six miles from my house, so I can go over and collect royalties if I need to."

Southern Culture On The Skids had enough material to do a double-album of covers, but Miller says he's saving the second batch for later.

"I thought we would just hold onto them," he says. "The ones we didn't put on there were more garage-rock covers. We did The Fuggs' ‘I Couldn't Get High,' we did ‘Primitive' by The Groupies. There were a bunch of other covers, but they didn't really fit as well together as a group, as that group of 14 or 15 songs did. It was really hard to come up with an order of cover songs, how to make the record move from one song to another."

In the meantime, Southern Culture On The Skids will tour in support of "Countrypolitan Favorites." The tour began in February and goes until June, with the band doing two weeks of gigs and then taking two weeks off throughout the continental U.S. Miller also says that the group are working on some original songs as well, songs that he expects to start recording for a new album sometime this summer.

"We'll stay busy," he says. "We own our own studio too, which is really easy for us to start jamming around and come up with stuff."

But perhaps the most important question circling around Southern Culture On The Skids these days is a simple one. Which song does Miller's baby boy Jack enjoy?

"He likes ‘The Fly That Rode From Buffalo,' which is pretty funny," Miller says. "But he loves one of the new ones I've been working on too called ‘Pig Pickin', Finger Lickin'.' He just stares at me and loves to watch my fingers go over the fret board. He sits and watches me play guitar all the time."

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