J. Waylon Miller is Friends of Cesar Romero.
Who are Friends of Cesar Romero?
By Denise Giago
Eyapaha Today Editor RAPID CITY—Friends of Cesar Romero is the one-man-band brain child of Rapid City’s own J. Waylon Miller, formally of The Reddmen fame. On his new album released this summer titled Cinco Seis, Miller continues exploring his love of low-fi, pop, garage rock. Miller, who got his start playing in Rapid City's underground punk scene, was the frontman of The Reddmen from 1995 to 2011. The Reddmen experienced some fame and gained a following during the mid-90’s “garage rock revile” wave that brought the raw sound of bands such as The White Stripes and Jet out of the garage and into popular culture. After The Reddmen split in 2011, Miller relocated to Arizona where he planned to “retire” from rock n roll, but it wasn’t long before a friend in Minneapolis asked him to come out and record some songs and Miller was back at it. A seriously prolific song writer, Miller has written and recorded over six albums worth of music as Friends of Cesar Romero all in the past two years. Originally from the 605, Miller, who, also goes by Johnny Porcupine, is Northern Cheyenne and Lakota. This fast talking artist excitedly expressed how happy he was to do an interview with a Native publication. “This is unusual for me, most the interviews I have done have been with non-Natives, so they don’t care about where I am from or even understand many of the issues that interest me,” explained Miller. As a result, a good portion of the interview time was spent discussing Tribal politics, sovereignty, and spirituality before even getting to the subject of music making. Miller explains the artist’s role in revolutionary action. “For me, by making art, I had to go out of my way, you know, nothing is guaranteed in life,” says Miller, “But we can make a difference, by making art, music, and film, etc.” Miller goes on to explain how the act of creating comes from a natural curiosity which in turn spawns critical thinking and awareness. “Aware people banning together is what makes changes happen in the world.” Miller, who is something of a non-stop pop music machine, churns out catchy ditties that make the listener want to get up and dance, at a staggering rate. His active mind is constantly creating; whether it is writing and recording music, writing stories or drawing and designing record covers and stickers, Miller believes a creative mind is an active and aware mind. But he says his favorite activity is definitely writing and recording music. “You know, like anything else that is meaningful to you, you want to stay up on it,” Miller says of song writing. Along with writing all the songs for F.O.C.R., he also plays all the instruments himself and does the recording. “When I write and record songs, both the left and right side of my brain get fully intrigued because the recording is very technical and mechanical and the writing is very much the creative flow part of the process,” explains Miller. Although Miller enjoys recording, he rarely records for other bands. “I have to be really into the band, I mean, recording and producing requires you to listen to a song hundreds of times, it is a very painstaking process,” laughs Miller, “so I really have to like that music to have the patience to produce it.” These days, Miller is a D.I.Y. artist on every level. “Almost all of The Reddmen’s stuff was recorded in big studios with lots of really cool equipment, and well, you know, it is impossible to duplicate that sound in your house on your lap top with a lot less cool equipment” jokes Miller, “so I stay true to low-fi and record it all on 4 track cassette tapes and then transfer it to digital.” In fact, Miller uses the same 4 track machine he bought back in 1999; he says the only problem these days is finding the cassette tapes. One new form of technology that the artist enjoys utilizing is his Ipad. “I call it my brain” says Miller. I use it in my song writing process, my Ipad has a recording app and it is like a sketch pad for me, I can quickly record any little line or lyric going through my head at any given moment.” He explains his old process, pre- Ipad, was more dependent on memory. “I would write a riff, play some cords, sing some lines and then put down the guitar, take a break and if I remembered it when I came back I knew it was catchy enough to be a song.” These days he records everything and enjoys occasionally being surprised by a song idea that he recorded and completely forgot about. By doing everything himself, Miller maintains creative control. For live Friends of Cesar Romero shows, he simply enlists the help of various musician friends. At the time of this interview, J.Walyon Miller had just relocated from Rapid City to Northern California. He explains this is an interesting time for him, “It feels like everything is wide open, it is a sort of ‘the world is my oyster’ time in my life. I don’t really know what I will do next”, ponders Miller. “Maybe I will start another band; F.O.C.R. always has been a revolving door of sorts.” You can check out Cinco Seis on the Friends of Cesar Romero Facebook page, as well as other Friends of Cesar Romero’s albums at friendsofcesarromero.bandcamp.com. Also the entire catalog of The Reddmen is available on ITunes and Amazon. (Denise Giago can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.) Copyright permission Native Sun News
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