Split a Six Pack with Jeremy David Miller of Rambos

Want to know more about Chicago’s local music scene? Here’s the plan of attack: one musician, six questions. Let’s check them out, see what turns them on. If you like ‘em, turn ‘em up.

Rambos Chicago

Photo Credit: Gene Wagendorf III

Our third Six Pack is going to be hard to top. I see a lot of shows, buy a lot of records, but rarely come across a band that I want to be in more than anything else. Rambos is such a band. No matter how much fun I have at one of their gigs it seems damn near undeniable that these guys are having three times that up on stage. The ringleader of this joy-tornado is a man with the balls to list his own band among his current top five (along with the likes of Grinderman, The Louvin Brothers and The Carter Family), a man just as sweet as his music (and that’s saying a lot): Jeremy David Miller.

Jeremy, one of the most infectious things about your shows is the presence you bring to the stage. How long have you been making music?

When I was 13 I told my dad I had an interest in learning the bass guitar; within the hour we had gone to the pawn shop and he taught me my first and only lesson — which consisted of a basic blues run and how to visually follow a guitar player.  Since then I’ve been writing songs and playing bass in many little known bands. Since arriving in Chicago five years ago I’ve played solo as Jeremy David Miller, fronted and broke up the band The Butcher’s Boy (Grape Juice Records) and played bass behind friends Joe Pug and Tom Schraeder.

What kind of impact has Chicago had on your music in those five years?

The city makes you cynical; you either get mad or get clever. I put out only what I take in, and there is a lot to take in. Chicago has too much talent for its own good and too many clubs for that matter, but both simply mean you have to work harder than the next band to get noticed.

What bands from the city stick out to you, either to play with or watch from the crowd?

We Repel Each Other is a louder than life Chicago outfit consisting of Rob Majchroswski, Eric Quilan and Izzy Price.  I recently saw these guys at The Empty Bottle and was floored by the wall of sound they put off, not to mention the crazed stage antics. I’ve been following this band since they formed less than a year ago and their progress is noteworthy and inspiring. Eric and Rob also run Two States Audio, a recording studio on the Northwest Highway where Rambos is working.

You mentioned the excess of solid clubs in Chicago. Where’s the best place to play?

Schubas.  The staff at this club is more pro than any you could ever hope to deal with. They’ve got the best sound guy in the city.  You can throw anything at that guy and know that he’s going to make it work. We as Rambos used a “suit case” for a kick drum the last time we played there and none of us could believe the way it sounded after our man routed it through his magic in the back. The room is kind of known for being “chatty” but that only means you’ve got to earn it to own it. It’s a fact; if your music is poor people are going to talk through your set. If you’re Rambos, people are going to stand at attention.

Everyone I’ve talked to raves about playing at Schubas, but it doesn’t come up as frequently when I ask about great places to see a show. When Rambos isn’t out conquering venues, where do you like to take one in?

My favorite view in a Chicago club is from the balcony at Subterranean.  I am able to see the entire stage, take good accurate aim and launch beer cans directly at my target.

Although this sort of action is looked down upon in most concert settings it always makes me laugh and never fails to get me ejected, though never banned, from the club.

As far as sound goes; I would have to say The Riviera Theater in Uptown. Most critics might argue that this room sounds like garbage and I would maybe agree if I didn’t love the fact that you can’t leave the Riv without blood coming out of your ears.  The sound guys in that room must be perched, laughing and pointing at all the people in the crowd they are permantly damaging who don’t know better than to put some ear plugs in. Rambos likes it loud, baby.

Rambos also seems to like it a bit theatrical. During your set you don a mask and gloves, playing the part of a monster for “Human Monster.” If you were to write a song about a Chicago icon and dress as them on-stage, who would it be?

I think I would put together a super band consisting of Billy Corgan’s bald mug singing about who cares what, with an aging Jeff Tweedy puking on his guitar because he still does that, along with shy and confused Andrew Bird whistling dixie to the tune of something from when he cared, mixed with or by Flosstradamus who are on the side of the stage wondering when Chicago will start dancing, all playing a song I wrote called “Enough is Enough.”

Listen to the Rambos track “Arrows” here:

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Or see them “Terrorize” live:

Want more? Watch them play their now-infamous take on the Black Lips song “Bad Kids” from Chirp Night at The Whistler. You can keep up with Jeremy and Rambos on Facebook and hear more music on myspace.

Gene Wagendorf III

About Gene Wagendorf III

Gene is a writer who has spent his entire quarter century of life as a resident of Chicago. When not exploring the city he can be found wandering flea markets and garage sales or having a cigarette between classes at Northeastern Illinois University, where he hopes to acquire a degree in the next quarter century. His favorite smells are old books and bowling alleys. His poetry (how embarrassing!) can be found in issues of Kill Poet, Ditch, Word Riot, O Sweet Flowery Roses and Vowel Movements.

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