Anyone who has seen the top local Roots Rock, Folk and Bluegrass acts in concert knows that the Roots and AltCountry scene is probably the strongest thing going in the local scene. In terms of unity, promotions and sheer talent, it simply can't be beat at the moment.
The latest entry to that scene is the promising newcomers of Mill. The band — Chris Moses (vocals, guitar), Scott Anderson (guitar, banjo, bass, keys), Matt Fenech (drums), Tim Maggart (keys), Bill Riddell (bass) and Mike Wakeman (mandolin) — mixes a contemporary songwriting instinct with a variety of "traditional" instruments for an intriguing mix.
Mill released their self-titled debut CD — featuring special guest and local Roots music godfather, Ed Cunningham — late last year (check Shake It Records in Northside for a copy), and they're currently honing their craft on the local club front. CityBeat recently chatted with the multi-instrumental Anderson about the band.
CityBeat: What was the plan when you first formed? You got a CD out fairly quickly. Did you have an idea of what you wanted to sound like when you got together?
Scott Anderson: Nah ... there really wasn't a plan.
At first, it was just something to do. We love playing music. Just jamming in the basement and having a good time was truly our only drive. There wasn't much talk about playing out until we eventually had enough songs written that could be put on a CD. I guess when there's no pressure on making music, it kind of happens on its own.
The sound we desired just came with the territory. Everyone in the band has their own unique flavor. Lately, playing live, the songs have evolved even more. So there really isn't a fixed sound for us. That's the best part of our sound, which makes making music so interesting and fun.
CB: You guys have some rootsy influences in your sound. Were you at all inspired by this area's strong Roots music scene?
SA: You know, Cincinnati does have its collection of great Roots bands. And a big inspiration for me is the Bluegrass genre here. Hanging with The Comet Bluegrass All-Stars and eventually having Ed Cunningham play on our CD was a huge honor. The Roots scene is definitely taking off around here. And the best part is that more and more venues seem to be a part of all this. If you think back a couple years ago, Cincinnati had very few things to say about itself musically. It was stale. Now, a person can look at a schedule and usually find something worth going out for. I'm all for it!
CB: Who are some of the musicians and performers that you think have influenced the way that Mill sounds?
SA: I try to let everything come through. And not only musically speaking either. The greatest thing we have going for us is our ability to try new things to see if it vibes. Maybe that's why we have had such a good response to the CD. The songs were written through changing moods and, to me, have their own personalities and characteristics. (But) the greatest influence for us would probably be the AltCountry thing.
CB: What about being a band in the Cincinnati area? What are the good things about it? What are the obstacles?
SA: Hey, being in a band in Cincinnati has been pretty good for us. I mean, the venues that we have played have been more than supporting. On top of that, we've already been featured on WOXY. An area that I see taking off around here is Northside. That is an area where there (are) all walks of life enjoying great songwriters. Northside Tavern, which was where we played our first gig, has countless numbers of great bands. One thing I would like to see is having more bands connect with each other and make the most of it.
CB: What's the ultimate goal for the band? Do you have record label dreams or are you just happy playing music together?
SA: We take each day one by one. Every show means a lot to us. Every person listening to our music means so much. What separates us from a lot of bands is that we are sincere friends. I can't see any reason why we would stop playing music. Record-label dreaming is something we don't really discuss. If that is a way to get us in a better recording environment, then we are for it. But, like I said, the music and the audience is what matters for now.
MILL performs Saturday at the Southgate House parlour with Kid Valance and The Curs. For more on the band, check www.millmusic.com.