Stagecoach is Coachella’s country cousin. If you’re a country music fan though, you’ve definitely heard of it. Over 50,000 people turn up to watch celebrity country stars such as Garth Brooks and Keith Urban.
Up and coming country singer Chase Miller went to Stagecoach this year, to take in the spectacle. We chatted with him to ask him about the festival and his music.
John: How you would describe your Stagecoach experience?
Chase: It was a blast. It’s one of my favorite weekends of the year.
John: What were the highlights? I know they add new things every year, but what did you enjoy?
Chase: You know this year it seems like they spread out the festival itself a little bit, so it was nice to kind of walk around and not feel like you’re bombarded by people. That was nice. I got to see a lot of singer-songwriters that I’ve never seen before too. And it was really cool to see how many songwriters kind of get their debut at Stagecoach. There’s a few artists singing that I really enjoyed watching.
John: Like who?
Ashley McBride, she really just captured everything that I’m all about. Her band was all about being with each other. She is a great songwriter has a great energy and I definitely took notes from her performance. Yeah, she’s an amazing songwriter and tells really cool stories.
You know, one thing I’m really trying to capture in my band is having real people in my band that like hanging out with each other outside. That really shines through and it’s really important to me.
John: People can tell when you get along with each other, when you really get along with each other. Your band, they’re playing songs that you wrote about stories that are important to you. So, they have to support those stories, have to be on board, or understand the stories. When you are rehearsing, do you ever share with them what the story means to you?
Chase: Yeah, they’ve all made a conscious decision to support what I’m doing here, which is really important to me. And I’m very, very grateful for that every day. They have the opportunity to listen to the songs. They give me feedback from time to time, and it is welcomed. Somebody tells me if they don’t like something. I’m all ears for that.
John: And how early do you share your songs with them? Are they pretty complete by the time they hear them, or do you share really early rough drafts?
Chase: Typically, I work with my lead guitar player and producer. He’s pretty much part of the process from day one. He’s one of the main people I write with along with my rhythm guitar player. They typically get to hear first. The rest of the band gets to hear it when it’s 50 to 60 percent done, and basic production is done.
John: What does your songwriting process look like? Are you just walking down the street and an idea comes to you? How you get your new ideas for songs?
Chase: I try to be relatable. The songs that I like are ones that I can see myself kind of living. I have to kind of envision myself almost like shooting a music video for the song before I even start writing. I’m very visual. If I can kind of come up with a scenario, whether it be super unique or kind of cliché, or whatever it may be. If I can turn that into a storyline that’s three, four minutes long, that’s kind of how it all starts for me. And sometimes that’s talking to somebody you know. And sometimes, it’s me sitting in the car driving to work and sitting in traffic. So, I come up with something that’s relatable for both me and the people listening. And that’s where it all starts.
John: So that’s interesting. You almost have the music video or a movie version of this song in your head? Does that play into how you promote the songs? Or is that just something you use early on in the process?
Chase: It’s something I kind of use early on in the process because as I write it develops. Obviously, if you have another writer involved, and they see it their own way and start looking at it from a different perspective. But it’s typically how it starts.
John: For our readers who have never heard you before, what would you what would you want them to know about your style, your music?
Chase: Yeah, my background is a little bit more on the rock and roll side; alternative rock. I listened to country for a very long time and that’s what kind of drew me into it, to even start writing country music. And so, I think my style definitely blends a little bit of my alternative rock-style and with a traditional country sound. That’s kind of what I’m trying to capture here and like I mentioned before, I’m just trying to write real songs about what people like myself go through day to day. Music is a powerful tool. And I think that if you can connect with people, even if it’s one person, through one song that I write, that means the world to me. I mean that’s kind of what it’s all about.
John: So, Palm Springs is a lay by the poolside kind of town. It’s a resort area. If a visitor was coming here and they were going to listen to your music, what would you want them to be doing while they’re on vacation listening to your music?
Chase: My new single redneck weekend kind of just encompasses getting off work and just partying all weekend with your favorite people in your life whether it be family friends, et cetera. Stagecoach weekend turned into just a big redneck weekend, and you’re just all having a good time by the pool drinking and you know telling stories with good company around.
John: So, you’re back home and you’re taking a break now. What kind of things do you do when you take a break? I read in your bio that you’re a body-boarder. Well, what other hobbies do you have?
Chase: Yeah, so I grew up surfing, bodyboarding competitively and I shot a lot of photography for a few years. So, I love shooting photos on the side and I love snowboarding in the winter. But now that we’re coming up to the summertime I’ll probably just keep writing and producing and writing with a bunch of different people. I’ve really been kind of trying to push myself out of my comfort zone writing with other songwriters in different genres and just kind of pushing my thoughts out of the limitations that I currently think I have as a writer.
John: What kind of people are you looking to work with? I mean are you looking for people who you think do a specific thing well or are you just open to collaboration at this point?
Chase: I’m kind of open to collaboration. People who have already done something that I haven’t, whether that means writing a different genre that I’ve never tapped into before. Not necessarily for my own use. Even if they did it for a different artist. But just being part of that process and learning. I know hip-hop producers produce a different way, in a different format. People who create pop songs kind of think differently about certain things. So I’m just trying to surround myself with different people in different situations so that some of it will translate into some music down the line.
John: Learning is always a good thing.
Chase: Yes, 100 percent agree with that.
John: So, if you could name some artists that you would want to collaborate with since you’re in a collaboration space right now, who might that be?
Chase: Man, I’m a huge music fan across the board and I listen to so many different genres. You know as far as songwriting, I think Taylor Swift did an amazing job. I know that she went from country to a genre that wasn’t considered country, like pop. I kind of see that as a pretty strong victory for her simply because it’s not easy to write different genres. I’ve met writers in the past here and even recently who are really good at writing one thing. People who can write in different genres and truly understand the structure and the type of melody are kind of in now. To be able to translate that onto paper or onto a computer is completely amazing to me. So, I think you know she’s definitely up there. I’m a huge fan of the alternative rock band Blink 182. Def Leppard is another one. I love them. I mean I can go from the 70s and 80s all the way up to you know a current artist.
John: Keep going, give your most esoteric, out there collaboration request.
Chase: I like Ice Cube, you know the rapper. I mean, Ice Cube is up there. I used to listen to a lot of Tupac. And Michael Jackson was another huge one. I mean I just like to go across the board. But those are definitely a little out there compared to you know some of the songs that I’m currently writing.
John: I feel like you can make that work. What it takes is an open mind.
Chase: I think if you come to any situation with an open mind and just be willing to learn something from it I think that it goes a long way.
John: Cool, let me ask you a little bit about your singing. How do get ready for a gig before you have to go on stage?
Chase: So I do, like most singers, some type of vocal warm up before. And typically, I do some liquor before I go on. At least one. I try not to drink too much before shows because I don’t want to be making bad decisions on stage. But you know, a shot can kind of warm you up a little bit. It’s kind of our ritual of the moment before. But it’s really vocal warm-ups and drinking a lot of water of throughout the day.
John: Do you ever get nervous before you go on stage?
Chase: Yeah, I definitely get nervous before I go on stage. I think, honestly, it’s good. I think I’d be more concerned if I didn’t get nervous before I walk onstage.
John: Interesting, why’s that?
Chase: Under a little bit of pressure I think I typically perform better. And when there’s not a lot of pressure there I feel like maybe you could always do something better. So, I feel a little bit of heat on you is a good thing most of the time. I’m a pretty competitive person when it comes to sports and other things like that.
John: I’m wondering if you if you feel like karaoke can be a good way to practice, to keep your vocal chops in good shape.
Chase: Yeah, I mean I don’t see why not, especially if it’s a new song or maybe an artist that you don’t typically sing or kind of questioned yourself singing. I think it could be a really great way, in a fun way to kind of test it out to see if it’s something that might work for a song you want to play in the set one day. So, I definitely think it could be good for sure. But I do enjoy karaoke for fun just in general. I have some friends who do some really good songs. So it’s fun to hang out with them and do that from time to time.
John: So, pick a karaoke song, like an out there one, to kind of test yourself and try something new. Can you name a good one that will be fun karaoke song for you?
Chase: That song Mambo Number Five. I don’t know if you know that song.
John: I do.
Chase: And I have some friends who do some really good Shaggy. One of my buddies does such a good Shaggy interpretation when he’s singing Shaggy songs. I mean those are some good ones out there.
John: Shaggy, that’s vintage.
Chase: That is vintage. Yes, I agree.
John: But you didn’t say Ice cube.
Chase: I didn’t say Ice Cube. I get on the Eminem route and did that a few times at Karaoke. When it comes to the harder rap, I haven’t really tapped into that area.
John: Well, you’ve got to start somewhere. I think Shaggy’s a good place.
John: And a final question. So, I had my little list of questions, but what’s the question you wish I would have asked you?
Chase: Oh, the question that I wish you would ask me? Maybe something like something that I couldn’t live without. And I would probably tell you my fiancé and my dog and my guitar.
John: You have those three things, that’s all you need.
You can find Chase at ChaseMillertime.com. Want more interviews from music’s rising stars?