Family Values

The Loud Family's Scott Miller battles the limitations of life in pop-cult hell

Miller says that over the past two decades, the climate has become less receptive to his brand of pop eccentricity. Though an admitted fan of Nirvana, he sees much of the alterna-dross that followed in its wake as being narrow-minded and unimaginative.

"Everybody knows this, but the alternative movement was yet another mainstream, yet another canonical way that you had to sound to fit in: the sort of raspy voice, a certain rhythm, a certain attitude, you think about being a depressed loser," he says. "That was just morphologically the same thing as having to be a hair-metal band or something like that. It's the semiotics of newness and originality that doesn't really have any substance to it."

Miller finds it easier to get behind the semiotics of the small-but-intense new pop movement that's being driven by events like the Poptopia and International Pop Overthrow festivals in Los Angeles, and by the host of pop-worshiping magazines like Amplifier, Popsided, and Yeah Yeah Yeah.

"Theoretically, I'm kind of a believer in that," he says. "The idea of pop music is fundamentally a little different from these other music movements in that ideally it's not excluding any audience segment. It's not saying, 'Okay, we're the gangster outlaws or we're the metal wild men or we're the country people who don't like these other people.' These markets tend to be awfully exclusive. They paint themselves as not being something else."

Miller sees pop as an elastic form that draws from various traditions of music making. Even as a willful musical misfit with a relatively small audience, he seems comfortable within the parameters of pop as defined by the new wave of melody fanatics.

"I think what they have in mind is a base of listenership that spans everyone, that has the same vision that pop music of the late '60s and early '70s had," he says. "In other words, you would have black music and white music on the same station. What has to go away is the idea of listening to music with the idea of aligning yourself socially. It's a powerful thing, if you look at the weight this phenomenon has on people's lives, where they're afraid to get behind the wrong music, 'cause that would put them in the wrong social milieu. It can completely displace your ability to hear music for what it is.

"In a way, music is just this minor thing in anyone's life, but in a way it's not, because the same sort of things are happening in life. Your complete perception of how you place yourself socially is going to be colored immensely by what you think are going to be the gains and losses of that perception. Listen to the music at all costs, and don't listen to what are going to be the consequences of your reaction. If I have a mission, that's part of it. To get people to listen without thinking that way."

The Loud Family is scheduled to perform on Wednesday, July 29, at Hollywood Alley in Mesa, with the Hammertoes. Showtime is 9 p.m.

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