By Carl Begai
A Million Miles is a band out of Germany that grabbed my attention several months back thanks to the efforts of vocalist Mona Miluski. Rather than flooding my inbox with drivel about how awesome her band is and how they’re poised to dominate every plane of metal existence, her approach was limited to “This is what we’re up to; your opinion would be appreciated.” Subtle but effective, particularly when the invite to see the band live supporting The New Black – ultimately delivering a scorching show – came down as a build-up to the release of their debut album, What’s Left Behind. That performance was the icing on an already enticing cake, putting A Million Miles well beyond the “nice try” threshold in my book.
As for the new album itself, call it one of the biggest surprises to come across my desk in 2012.
“We can’t wait to release the album,” says Miluski. “We’ve been heavily and constantly touring all over Europe in the past few years, and played all of the songs that are going to be on the record live, so it means a lot to us to finally share this album. It represents an important chapter of being on tour all these years, and where we are going in the future.”
Seeing the band in action, it’s easy to imagine the music being far more chaotic and frayed around the edges when they first started compared to the material earmarked for the debut album. Like any band worth the price of their gear A Million Miles was built for the stage, and they’ve finally locked into that needed balance of skin-flaying heavy and refined musical performance.
“When A Million Miles started back in 2005, the guys were writing songs without a vocalist,” offers Miluski. “When I joined the band in 2008, all of the songs were written without vocals and I had to find my space in all these riff monsters my bandmates had created and packed into the songs. But, we grew into each other and started to write new songs with vocals. We worked on each song all together, so we became more musical in the way we felt we wanted to go. Our songs became more structured, and we found our own way and style.”
“We hear and feel the difference between the old and new songs we wrote together, but it’s fun to play both. Still, the old ones are heavy but more kind of groovy, metal and stoner rock. Our new songs definitely show and represent the heaviness; they are much more metal and represent the way we are today. We’re just doing what we do and feel, no matter if it´s metal, rock or even blues, there are no rules for us about what we feel while doing and creating music with our own sound.”
That said, Miluski has had one hell of a time distancing herself from Guano Apes singer and countrywoman Sandra Nasic. She’s been getting the comparisons to the rock veteran almost since Day 1 in spite of the fact Miluski’s delivery is straight out of the Pantera box a lot of time, and the band’s music is far more volatile than the Apes’ pop rock anthem sensibilities. Miluski does indeed have moments where she sounds like Nasic, however, which is a good thing in the end. Add to this a generous helping of veteran Canadian rocker Sass Jordan‘s smokey blues in her throat and Miluski is in excellent company.
“I’ve been compared to Sandra many, many times and to be honest, in the beginning I was a bit annoyed because, like you said, our music has nothing in common with Guano Apes. But I do respect her as a vocalist, and I think they’re a good and very successful band with a lot of influence on heavy female fronted music. It could be worse when you get compared to a band (laughs). Most of the general response by people at our live shows is that we are getting compared with Pantera meets Guano Apes, with a hint of bands like Arch Enemy. For me personally, a comparison to people like Phil Anselmo is just amazing, as he is one of my main influences in music. I’ve never listened to many female fronted bands, except Manhole, which was the first female fronted band I saw live. Tairrie B Murphy (vocalist) still impresses me with My Ruin, but I grew up with the male dominated grunge and old school metal scene. In general we don’t care about differences between the gender in music and how we can get compared to other bands. We just do what we do and we are who we are.”
“We never decided to start the band saying we are going in only this or that direction,” she adds. “We all bring our musical influences into the band, which became a mix of old school and modern heavy tunes in the end. Every song we write has its own style and musical character, and we don´t care about any musical rules or stereotypes. That´s the sound of A Million Miles.”
For information and audio samples of A Million Miles’ work check out their Facebook page here.