Jared Miller is one-half of the guitar power powerhouse behind Morgantown, WV's literal and figurative Worst Kept Secret [har har -- sorry, couldn't help myself]. If you like tasty, heavy guitar riffs, precision drumming and percussion, paired along with pop-punk's catchy hooks and light-hearted sensibilities, WKS's eclectic style will please your musical palette.
In this interview, Jared discusses everything from Worst Kept Secret's formation, latest album "Confidence | Arrogance," and everything else in-between -- without further ado: Mr. Jared Miller.
Q: How did Worst Kept Secret form, and how do you describe your sound?
A: Worst Kept Secret was formed out of a lifelong friendship between the 5 members. We all grew up in the small town of Elkins, WV and all played in bands together in some form throughout our teens. We individually moved to Morgantown, WV after high school.
Shawn [vocals] and I went to college together at Fairmont State University while Ben [guitar] and Ryan [drums] relocated to Morgantown to work and were roommates.
After being in Morgantown for a while, we finally decided that we wanted to play music again after being bored with the state of music at the time.
Shawn, Ben, Ryan and myself were all in the same band in high school, so naturally we just wanted to play together. We enlisted Pat as he was a good friend of ours and he moved to Morgantown to complete the lineup.
Our sound is kind of like: Every Time I Die and He is Legend mixed with some Pantera riffs, and a little Rise Against sprinkled on top.
Q: Musically -- or even non-musically -- what are your influences?
A: I would say my guitar influences are James Hetfield, Adam Dutkiewicz and Mark Tremonti.
Q: Can you describe for us your approach to songwriting?
A: Our approach is simple: We want people to move and have fun. We always ask ourselves "Would we listen to this? Would we enjoy hearing this if we were in the crowd?". I pretty much start all of the songs as far as writing goes. I'm always riffing and then I pitch them to ryan and we lay a foundation. Then fine tune everything. We are kind of slow writers honestly.
Q: Writer’s block -- how do you approach the problem? And are there any tips that you can offer players who are struggling to get over the “hump” of writer’s block?
A: This may not sound like the most helpful answer but just leave it alone for a while. The song that is. Zakk Wylde once said "if you're thinkin' you're stinkin" and I always remembered that. Anytime I've ever had writers block I just act like that song doesn't exist and move on. Inspiration usually strikes a few days/weeks after and I'm like "oh this would be so cool in that song I was stumped on."
Q: Do you feel that your eclectic style helps you with writing since you have more musical options, or does it require more imagination to tie all of the musical elements together?
A: Yeah, it helps absolutely! When we first started people would always be like "I like you guys but you gotta pick a genre. You'll find your sound" and I was adamant the other guys in the band that if stick to our guns it will get over. Now when we write and someone throws a curveball in it we just roll with it because we feel like it's our sound and we can do what we want. People are more accepting to it now.
Q: Do you have any pre-show rituals?
A. I won't eat within 3-4 hours of a show. One time we played this venue that gave us an open tab for food and I ate a HUGE plate of shrimp alfredo. Well our set is pretty energetic and as soon as our set ended i went and projectile vomited all of that food. A lesson learned the hard way. I'm also really weird about practicing or changing my guitar strings the day of. I feel like it's bad luck and I am not even superstitious.
We have a 2 Beer, 1 Shot rule before the set, too. One time we got way too drunk before our set and played the worst set we had ever played. Again, a lesson learned.
Q: What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned as a band in the three years you’re been recording and performing?
A. Be nice to who you pass on the way up because chances are you're gonna pass them on the way back down.
Q: Your latest album “Confidence | Arrogance” -- what inspired this album, and if you could summarize in one sentence the overall statement of this album, what would it be?
A: It wasn't so much of one event as it was a series of them. Prescription drug use is a huge problem in the world right now that's kind of where the title came from. "There's a fine white line between Confidence and Arrogance".
People think they're invincible with drugs and they cross that line of being a confident person to an arrogant person. [We've] had several people we [have] looked up to and considered friends, [but] sadly this terrible epidemic has gotten the best of them.
Q: What did the recording process of this album look like, and what kind of recording-related advice can you offer to other players?
A: The recording process was long. Really Long. Over a year actually. 4 of the songs (tracks 2,5,6 &9) were released on a demo we put out in 2015 called "Nuff Said" so we had been playing them for a while. But we changed so much stuff when it came time to re-record them. The rest of the tracks were really fine-tuned in the studio. Due to budget's, schedules and Injuries it took longer than expected. We recorded the drums in Pittsburgh PA, the rest in Bridgeport WV and we recorded the cover of "Broadway" by the Goo Goo Dolls in Cambridge, Ohio.
The recording process was we laid down all of the drums. Then I did all of the rhythm guitars and then overdubs and leads, then Ben laid down all of his solos. Then we spent a long time on vocals. I was so proud of how much he grew as a singer on this album. Last we did group vocals and then just went back and did overdubs and everything.
I used a 150 watt Mesa Boogie Triple Rectifier through a Marshall JCM 800 lead cab. For guitars I used a Schecter tempest custom and a '72 Les Paul. My effects are minimal. I use a Maxon od808 for an overdrive and a boss noise suppressor. Ernie ball .11-54 heavy bottom strings and a wound G string.
As for advice, just know your stuff before you go in. Know your songs inside and out and make sure to rehearse with a metronome. I'd suggest making sure your instruments are properly intonated and tuned too.
Q: As a band, what are your goals, and what ways are you working to achieve them?
A: Our goals right now are to play warped tour, tour Europe and grow as much as we can. We want to tour with He is Legend, too. We want people to leave a show and be like "holy shit," in a good way.
We are just grinding and putting the work in right now and growing our brand and getting our music out there anyway we can; we are looking into publicists and agents to help us grow.
Many thanks to the fellas of Worst Kept Secret, and be sure to check them out at the following links: