Chances are you’ve seen Allison Miller perform. While her name may not as synonymous as some of the singer-songwriters she’s recorded and toured with — Ani DiFranco, Natalie Merchant and Brandi Carlile among them — Miller has been banging away on drums for years.
Now the out drummer-pianist is taking her seat at center stage as the band leader on her second album, Boom Tic Boom, fronting a jazz ensemble including collaborators Myra Melford (pianist/composer), Todd Sickafoose (bass) and Jenny Scheinman (violin).
AfterEllen.com recently caught up with Miller on a rare break from touring to discuss the album, being a queer fashion icon and why female drummers always have to prove themselves.
AfterEllen.com: When did you first become interested in jazz?
AM: I was first interested in jazz when I was about 16. I had been introduced to jazz but not the kind of jazz that I ended up loving. I got introduced to Big Band jazz — a Buddy Rich record, but I wasn’t that into it. Then someone else gave me a Miles Davis record called Miles Miles and that’s when I fell in love with jazz. That was more of a small group of really creative, improvisational jazz, which is more like what Boom Tic Boom is. Before jazz, I was really into Prince and Michael Jackson, Earth Wind and Fire and bands like that. I pretty much like all different styles of music.
AE: How did Boom Tic Boom come together?
AM: After I got home from the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, I sat down and over the span of two or three weeks and wrote most of the music for that album. It was so nice to have that time at home because I tour a lot. I was inspired by my friends so I made it a point to wake up early every morning and go straight to the piano and write music.
AE: When and where was Boom Tic Boom recorded?
AM: It was recorded in February 2009 in Brooklyn at a studio that’s just a couple of blocks from my apartment.