Battle of bands winner releases EP

Nick Baker

Dana Beveridge | Daily Kent Stater

Credit: DKS Editors

Since Justin Miller formed the Justin Miller Band last summer, the project has undergone lineup changes, multiple demo recordings and a lengthy recording process.

Saturday, after six months of recording, rerecording, producing, pressing and waiting, the band plans to release a new EP, “A Delicate History,” at a release show in the Rathskeller from 9 to 11 p.m..

The recording features six songs, and a couple that the band has yet to perform live, which means fresh tunes for both newcomers and its core audience.

The EP, Miller said, is “driven by relationships, the highs and lows that come from caring about somebody.”

“It’s essentially just a manipulated version of what happens in my life,” Miller said. “Some of it’s fiction, some of it’s not. The recordings are pretty straightforward and poppy.”

The songs on the recording are acoustic-driven pop songs, catchy, honest and emotional. Miller’s smooth voice rests well on the lush guitars and mellow tempos.

Miller started the project last June after playing in several bands and coming up short of what he was looking for musically.

“I realized it was hard to find somebody who could sing or write songs,” he said. “So I just sat in my room, for like three years, just with a little tape deck and singing, and it sounded terrible.”

He managed to put together a three-piece band, but lineup changes slowed progress until Miller added bassist James Continenza and drummer Joey Jablonski. He had known Jablonski since the two played together in a band when Miller was just 13 years old, while he managed to find Continenza online.

“He just Facebooked me out of the blue,” Continenza said. “It seemed fun, and I figured I might as well.”

Continenza said he and Jablonski, a percussion performance graduate student at Cleveland State University, can hold the rhythm section well because they have a similar interest in jazz, which complements Miller’s melodies.

“We all come from different backgrounds,” he said. “So it’s kind of an interesting mix. Me and (Jablonski) come from more of a jazz background, while (Miller) has more of a rock influence.”

The Justin Miller Band beat out 15 other bands to win the Battle of the Bands in the Rathskeller in April, and subsequently won 25 hours of studio time at Mammoth Cave Studios in Akron and the opportunity to play at Kent State’s FlashFest and BlastOff! venues.

The band likes to add different dimensions to its live performances that aren’t found in their recorded music.

“In the live shows,” Miller said, “we incorporate a lot more jams and just try to pick up the pace.”

Fans’ response to the free-flowing live sets often results in jam-heavy shows, but that doesn’t mean the band ventures far from its mellow-pop sound.

“To a lot of the audience, that’s their favorite element of the performance,” Miller said. “So we try to incorporate as much as we can without straying away from being a pop group. But that’s usually the climax of the show.”

Miller said he also plans to perform acoustic sets occasionally, and plans to return to the studio soon to record a handful of acoustic songs.

Miller said there is the possibility of adding new members to complete the sound, and he has considered pianos, another guitar or background vocals.

“A Delicate History” will be available on the band’s Web site and on iTunes, as well as at upcoming shows.

Contact features reporter Nick Baker at [email protected].