“I washed my hair for you, I shaved my legs for you,” growls Misty Miller in ’Next To You’, a song she wrote when she was just 17. Later, at once defiant and defeated, she concludes, "I’m just a body to you, you wouldn’t care if I was lying there dead next to you.”
Its lyrics like these - sombre, morbid almost, yet with a wry humour - that set Miller’s new album, The Whole Family Is Worried, apart from the pack. That and its melodically grungy musicality.
Ahead of the album’s release on Friday (8 April), Miller talked us through the story behind every track on The Whole Family Is Worried.
I was feeling pretty miserable and wrote a satirical song about being 'happy', talking about staying clean and pretty and smiling. My drummer at the time had a song called ‘Friends' with this wicked chorus. Me and him were close and wrote together a lot. We thought it would be cool to put his chorus in my song and then there… ‘Happy' was born!
This was the last song I wrote for the album. It took a while to get it sounding right with the band. My band were a really integral part in the arrangement and sounds for the album. The narrative is pretty obvious - ‘Guys, stop watching porn'. But it’s also a comment on how this idea of the perfect sex object is utterly ridiculous.
Another song I wrote with my drummer Dan at the time, this song is like an anthem for all those hopeless romantic, reckless relationships. Toxic but beautiful in its destructive way.
Writers often say they think the best songs come in seconds without effort. It was this way with ‘Devil'. The lyrics just poured out. I was 18 when I wrote it but I feel much more connected to it now.
Back when I was in a band called Slit Lizard with my mate Liv on drums, we used to throw gigs in her basement. This was the time when I was discovering my new direction and energy with the electric guitar. ‘Girlfriend' was originally sung by a guy who played at one of these gigs, 'I had a girlfriend, lets call her Liza..' etc, but when I took the song on I played the role of the whore!
You can tell I’m a huge Velvet Underground fan. Like ‘Stars', it’s about a relationship which you know can't last but you chase it anyway. Saying that, I like to think there is enough space lyrically for people to create their own narrative. This particular relationship I had played a big part in the early stages of making the album.
This song is really fun to play live. In fact, I think we recorded it before we had the chance to play it at gigs. I enjoyed writing the lyrics for this, they came from a few acid trips I did. They're a lot more abstract than what I usually write.
The origin of this song makes me laugh. When I was 18 I was really into the blues. My drummer Dan was taking the piss out of me cause of it and wrote the little, ‘Baby's in the back seat of a taxi cab' line and riff. But I really liked it! So I turned it in to a song and basically just wrote about those horrible times when you're on your way home alone after a shit night out.
I think this is the oldest song on the album. I wrote this when my first album was just coming out. I hated the fact that I was misrepresented, and no one was willing to give me the chance to make this kind of music. So yeah, I felt like I was a lonesome cowboy. Naturally, I was changing and growing my style and this song was the first sign of the direction.
'SUGAR TO ME'
'Sugar To Me' is one of those Frankenstein songs because its three different songs I already had chopped up together to make this. I guess it’s an unrequited love song. I interpret it in a few different ways myself. Who is that guy with bags of 'sugar' in his pocket?
'NEXT TO YOU'
I wrote this when I was 17 in Slit Lizard. It’s had many different arrangements and recordings and has really grown with me. That teenage angst has grown, too. Again, my band was a huge part in making this song sound the way it does. I really care about this track because it’s been a part of my life for a while now and fits perfectly into this album, which really does represent the past 4 years of my turbulent life.
When I wrote this I thought it was just playful. My drummer Jack and I were in a rehearsal room in Camden waiting for my bass player to turn up so we just started jamming. I actually have the original recording of it on my phone. A few years on I can see that it did mean something when I wrote it, and it was my subconscious coming through. A lot of people can really connect to this song when I play it live, and that’s a wonderful thing as a writer.
The Whole Family Is Worried is set for release on 8 April on Relentless Records / Sony.