The latest “15 questions” feature is with guitarist Simon Miller.
Simon Miller is one of the rhythm/lead guitarists from an up and coming hard rock/metal band, MG & The Juggernaut.
Guitar Jar catches up with Simon to quiz him on his guitar equipment, gigging across the local circuit and plans his band has for the future.
…We have an almost ridiculous amount of riffs just sitting in the background we plan to work on over the next year…
- Hi Simon, can you give Guitar Jar readers an insight to why you first picked up the guitar and how long you’ve been playing?
I’ve been playing for 11 years and it’s all down to Metallica.I’d always been interested in learning – I remember nagging my parents for a guitar when I was 10 – but it wasn’t until I heard the Black Album when I was 16 and was blown away that I actually decided to pick one up.
Thankfully my girlfriend at the time went away on holiday for 2 weeks so I did nothing but play chords for 14 days straight.
- In the first few years in learning the instrument, which guitarist(s) were you influenced by the most and why?
James Hetfield. I didn’t really have an overwhelming passion for music – even though I did like it – until I heard Metallica so I was instantly inspired by Hetfield and his seemingly endless array of riffs that just spoke to me.I’ve also been drawn to the likes Mark Tremonti from Alter Bridge, Michael Romeo from Symphony X and Daron Malakian from SOAD simply because they’re extremely diverse guitarists but all manage to nail a particular style.
- Can you tell our readers of your current live rig setup?
Unsurprisingly I usually stick to ESP guitars – my two favourites are currently my EX-400 and, guilty pleasure, Truckster – which I run through a Marshall AVT-150 head and Mesa Boogie 2×12 cab.A lot of people seem surprised I combine the two, but I really can achieve the heavy chug sound I was looking for through them.
- Your band has a BIG sound. How difficult is it to complement each other musically when writing new material? Many band arguments!?!
There’s always a certain level of difficulty when writing new material as everyone in the band leans slightly in different direction, but I think that’s helped us as well.It means we’re never stuck for ideas or have many songs that sound alike keeping us quite diverse. We still argue all the time [laughs].
I think it’s a natural part of writing music but ultimately as long as the row is serving the song and the end result is good, I’m happy to go through it.
- You’ve performed at lots of gigs in the Bournemouth area. Have you had many opportunities to play further afield and what’s the most challenging aspect to gigging on the local scene?
We’ve been lucky enough to have some great opportunities ourside of Bournemouth so far.We supported Powerage Records’ New Device on their Southern tour in 2010 and also supported The Lost Prophets at the Hard Rock Cafe in London with Guitar Hero: Warriors Of Rock.
We still love playing locally, though, but I think it’s fair to say it’s a slight struggle in Bournemouth at the moment as a lot of the venues are closing down.
It’s a real shame as they’re fantastic places to play that, unfortunately, have fallen on hard times. We just want to play as much as possible, though. It doesn’t matter where.
- What do you recommend to players to help them progress if they’re “stuck in a rut”?
Never force it and never try and write a specific song.Some of my favourite riffs have been written by guitarists who just sat down and started mucking around with their guitar and stumbled across something interesting.
It sounds a bit soppy but I believe good material comes from a good place.
- Guitar/Amp modelling: Love it or hate it?
If you can find a way to get the sound you want through it fair enough, but personally it’s never worked for me.
…Unsurprisingly, I usually stick to ESP guitars…
- Your house is burning down. What’s the one guitar item you would save?
A pattern will slowly be forming here but it would be my James Hetfield Metallica pic I grabbed when I saw them live during their Death Magnetic tour.As it’s small, though, I’d also be able to grab my EX-400. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mesa Boogie cabinet survived either…
- A DeLorean time machine has just burst onto your front lawn. With your hover-board in hand, you’re ready climb in and hit 88mph. Will you go to the past or the future and why?
As a fan of music I’d go back to the late eighties as most of the bands I admire today were either on their way to great things or at the peak of their powers.I would just follow them all around on tour for a few years. I like to think if I went forward into the future MG & The Juggernaut will have continued to find more and more success, but I wouldn’t want to miss that journey.
- Have you had any nightmare experiences whilst gigging?
Nothing too unexpected, but breaking strings on stage, accidentally unplugging Elise’s (our bassist) bass with my foot and an unruly microphone stand that wouldn’t stay still have all been slightly embarrassing.The worst was when my guitar strap decided to unhook itself, but thankfully I was able to catch the guitar mid-swing and carry on playing.
- Is your band working on any new material?
All the time. As a band that’s still in its infancy we use every practice session to keep our current songs up to scratch and work on new material.We have an almost ridiculous amount of riffs just sitting in the background we plan to work on over the next year. Hopefully it’ll always be that way.
- What’s your opinion on music downloading? Are free/donation based downloads the way forward?
I’m a huge fan of it. It would be stupid to pretend that piracy isn’t a problem but to digital music is clearly the future of music and for good reason.Services like Spotify allow you access to nearly any song within seconds. Whether or not free downloads are the way forward is a little different as I think there’s a way to charge a fair price online and get an audience.
It’s a completely different audience, but comedian Louis C.K recently showed that people will pay for material rather than pirate it if they think it’s fair.
- If you could form a super group using famous musicians past or present, who would you have on drums and why?
It’s not the most original answer in the world but Keith Moon. He was so exciting to both watch and listen to, mainly because he was a little bit off the wall.As a massive fan of progressive rock Neil Peart would be up there too.
- What’s the plan for you musically for the next 12 months?
To gig as much as we can and continue to write and record as much new material as possible.We’re all so passionate about what we do and the songs we play, so getting it out there to a wide audience and hopefully securing a bigger fan base would be a great way to spend 2012.
- And finally, Lager or Cider?
As a gym nut, I’m saying a refreshing protein shake [laughs].
For more information about MG & The Juggernaut, visit: