Robert Miller is set to release his debut solo album, “Summer of Love (2020),” January 2021 (Cakewalk Records). The leader of the rock-jazz-Latin fusion group Project Grand Slam’s unaccompanied endeavor was birthed out of the pandemic reality of confinement.
Miller Turns Pandemic into New Creation
The acclaimed bassist and composer found himself sidelined by the pandemic soon after the release of the Project Grand Slam album “East Side Sessions.” With the groups’ concert and music festival schedule on hold, Miller changed course to craft and release videos highlighting four of the album’s songs. The new-found success inspired the musician to
conceive in a fresh imaginative method.
Having no home studio would not deter Miller from creating new music. He began recording new songs using just his iPhone. Although his engineer and fellow musicians were separated by a pandemic Miller found a way for them to work together to create.
“I would record a guide track for each song on the phone and then email it to my engineer, who miraculously would bring up the sound quality. Although I later re-recorded the parts properly, this was literally how I started the project! We next added drums and then I asked each of my other musicians to record their part and email it back. We slowly assembled each song like a Frankenstein and edited all the ingredients together. I’m very pleased with how it turned out.”
Miller Newest Effort Labor of Love
The newly minted solo artist not only sings lead for the first time but the harmony parts as well. Miller notes that the effort is one that he had always wanted to pursue while waiting for just the right moment to do so.
“The songs on ‘Summer Of Love’ are all very personal, so I felt that I had to sing them.”
Miller notes how his sense that love is what is needed to get through the pandemic inspired the love theme running through the album’s 10 tracks and the “Summer Of Love (2020)” moniker. Response ahead of the album’s release has been positive.
Hot songs from the album are being praised by critics and fans. “Now and Always” is a true ballad of love harking back to simpler times of raw music. “The Night Was A Mystery” reminds one of fun island music times – making one long to dance on a beach with a margarita in hand. Cool rock poetry comes to mind when listening to “Another One Like You.”
Other highly received singles from the album have been the Creedence Clearwater-inspired rock “Aches And Pains,” and the cool soothing melodic “Heaven.” As noted by FAME Magazine:
“Strutting about in the background like a thief in the night, there’s a bass part that seems to weave its low-toned melody into the fabric of the central harmony of ‘Heaven’ as though the two elements were always meant to be joined together in this song. ‘Heaven’ is definitely one of the finer points in the track list of bassist and all-around musical mastermind Robert Miller’s new album Summer of Love.”
Interview with Miller
Carol Ruth Weber: “Summer Of Love” is so truly unique in its variety of song styling – how would you personally describe this album?
Robert Miller: I named the album “Summer Of Love (2020)” not only because I wrote and recorded it during the past summer, but I felt that music and love were among the most important things that would get us through the pandemic. So, yes it was a terrible time in many respects, but I felt that love was the light at the end of this dark tunnel. The songs on the album are all about my reaction to the pandemic, or about love – or both.
I pride myself on the variety and diversity of my music. I always admired groups like The Beatles that were able to pull off diversity in their music so majestically. So many artists find a certain sound that works for them, and it seems like they stick within that box. For me, though, that would be totally stifling creatively.
I decided to make “Summer Of Love” into a solo album because the songs are all so personal, so I felt that I had to sing them. Project Grand Slam [PGS] has always had wonderful female lead singers, like Marilyn Castillo our current vocalist. I sang harmony on several of the tracks on our last group album, “East Side Sessions” (which luckily we finished a few weeks before the world shut down), so I felt like it was an opportune moment with the new album to step out and do all the vocals. And I’m so pleased that the reviewers were kind about my singing!
CRW: How did this album help your personal journey through the on-going pandemic?
RM: When the pandemic struck, musicians were among the hardest-hit group. PGS had festivals and a European tour in the works for the summer, and of course, everything was canceled. So, I had to figure out what to do.
The first thing we did was to make and release four videos of songs on “East Side Sessions.” The first two, “It Is A Miracle To Me” and “I’m Falling Off Of The World”, were recorded remotely with all the band members’ lip and play syncing along with the track.
Then we got a bit more creative. The third video was “The Pardners,” my crazy little Cowboy Jazz song complete with horse hooves, gunshots, and even a whinny. It tells the story of two criminal partners in the Old West where one cheats the other and the cheated one comes back and gets revenge. My video guy was somehow able to find a 1968 Spaghetti Western that had just the right storyline – and had a female star to match our female singer. So, the video came out just great.
The last video was even cooler. It was of our Beatles cover of “I Wanna Be Your Man” (that Ringo sang in “A Hard Days Night”) which I retitled “I Wanna Be Your Girl.” This one we did as an animated video – sort of our version of “Yellow Submarine.” Everyone loved it.
In total, the four videos had close to a million views on YouTube so they were a success in my book.
Between the videos and “Summer Of Love” I did all that I could to get through the pandemic creatively.
CRW: What else are you doing to help yourself and others through this difficult time in history?
RM: Now in 2021 I’ve just finished writing a bunch of new songs which I’m in the process of recording for a follow-up album to “Summer Of Love.” Maybe I’ll name it “The Winter Of Our Discontent.”
CRW: Many do not realize that you are also a prominent attorney – how does your legal know-how meld with your musician side?
RM: I haven’t practiced law for over 30 years – a lifetime ago! However, I do some informal pro bono work for my various musician friends.
When I was much younger I dreamed of becoming a Rock Star, but like for so many life got in the way. While I always played music, it still took me decades before I was able to dedicate myself to music full time.
I reorganized Project Grand Slam in 2015, adding in a group of young, super talented musicians – mainly from other countries. I jokingly refer to them as my International Cartel. I started writing and recording my music at a furious pace.
Here we are five years down the road and we’ve got nine celebrated albums – including a Billboard #1 (“Trippin’”), over 4 million video views, a million Spotify streams, over 50,000 Facebook fans, festivals and concerts around the world, and even openers for Edgar Winter, Blues Traveler and Boney James, and an after-show for YES. I think it’s worked out pretty well so far.
CRW: What is next once the pandemic comes to an end?
RM: God willing, when the pandemic finally is over, PGS will be out playing festivals and concerts again and recording more music. I can’t wait!
Miller is on a quest to spread love and bring the masses together with his music endeavors. In addition to his musical journey, this talented musician uses his legal prowess as an attorney to help fellow musicians in need by donating legal aid. “Summer of Love (2020)” (Cakewalk Records) has elevated Miller to well-deserved solo recognition in the music world and beyond.