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Chris Mills- The Triste Interview
|Since the late 90's Chris Mills has been plouging his own musical furrow, releasing albums that mixed rocking tunes, power pop, various flavours of country and lush ballads to great effect. His engaging live shows, both solo and with a band, have also gained him a devoted following in the UK. Unfortunately, the record industry has not always agreed in their assessment of his music and the last studio album was released on his own label: a situation that suits Mills just fine. Triste caught up with him at The Star & Garter in Manchester where he was playing a solo gig with support from Matt Hill.
Triste: Let's start off in traditional style right back at the beginning. How did you start off making music?
Chris Mills: I was in bands in high school and then, when I went to college, I sort of discovered country, folk and roots music, which I guess a lot of people do when they go to college. I was playing on my own as I hadn't met anyone else who was into it, but I didn't want to play in coffee houses I wanted to play in bars. I wasn't really old enough to get in, but I started taking tapes out and called. Chicago was great for the kind of music, especially in the early 90's and I sort of got caught up in it and went form there.
Triste: But I suppose you'd moved around a lot as a kid - your Dad was in the army wasn't he?
Chris Mills: Yes. My Dad was in the military so we moved all over the place. My parents were both from West Virginia originally, so they listened to a lot of country music. They moved around about eight or nine times before I was 13 and then settled in Southern Illinois. I went to school just outside Chicago
Triste: I presume in the early 90's that it was a good time, musically, to be arriving in Chicago.
Chris Mills: Yes. It was great time to be there.
Triste: From what I hear a lot of music people are moving out of Chicago - the rents are too high, there's increasing gentrification of the poorer districts.
Chris Mills: I don't know. Big cities go in cycles and Chicago was really at a high and pitting out a lot of major stuff in the mid-90's and then things kind of ran their course and people moved on .
Triste: When you were playing in bands in the early-mid 90's were you playing covers or were you playing your own stuff?
Chris Mills: I always played my own stuff. When I was in high school I played covers, but I was always writing. Then when I got to college I started doing all my own stuff - I'd do a cover every now and then, but the bulk of what I'd do would be my own stuff. It wasn't very good, but at least it was mine. I was always into people who wrote their own songs. I was more into guys like Dylan than the manufactured pop stuff.
Triste: The first album, Nobody's Favorite or rather EP, had 7 tracks. Was that designed to be sold at gigs?
Chris Mills: It was on the first release on a label that had started in Chicago called Sugar Free. It was a national release; I toured all over the States, starting with that EP and just get doing that for however many years. Then they put out the next two records, Every Night Fight for your Life and Kiss It Goodbye. Kiss It Goodbye came out on Loose Records over here and that's when I started coming over here.