You’ll no doubt have read our review of 420MUSE’s single, ‘In The Nightclub‘ – now we catch up with their frontman, Jack Miller, and ask him some of our most burning questions.
First of all, Jack, you’ve moved from one island paradise to another – Jamaica to Hawaii – what are the pros and cons of each, and what prompted your relocation in the first place?
It all started in Kansas, which is where I was born and raised. Kansas City was a good music town, but it was land locked with long, cold winters. After high school I was feeling restless and was “California Dreaming.” So, I packed everything I owned into an Ford Econoline van and drove out Route 66 to the West Coast. I landed in Laguna Beach, South Orange County. I attended the University of California, learned to surf and opened a waterbed store. Laguna was an artist colony, and I became friends with some local musicians. We formed The Friends Band and played dance clubs along the coast. A few years later I went on a surf safari to the Caribbean and to Carnival in Trinidad. Partying with the steel drum bands performing in the streets all day and all night was a revelation. The Soca Rockers music was political, sexy and infectiously danceable.
I returned to California and formed a surf reggae band, the Rebel Rocker. We were definitely an anomaly, a bunch of white suburban kids in conservative Orange County playing reggae. At that time reggae was relatively unknown in the United States. The Rebel Rockers exposed many people to live reggae for the first time. In 1977 I decided to go to Kingston, Jamaica to record some of my original songs. That began a chapter of my music career that included many trips to Jamaica, musical collaborations with Sly & Robbie, the Wailers, the Third World Band and a performance at the Jamaican Sunsplash in ’82. That California – Jamaican reggae connection became the story line for the documentary California Rockers.
In 1987, I moved to the Big Island of Hawaii. Shortly thereafter we formed the first reggae band on the island, Big I. In 2005 I produced Dreadlock Rock: the Story of Reggae Music, onsidered to be the most comprehensive documentary on Jamaican Music. In 2015, I was inducted into the American Reggae Hall of Fame for my contribution in helping bring reggae and Bob Marley’s One Love message to the United States.
So for me there was actually three relocations: California, Jamaica, and Hawaii.
The Polynesian Reggae scene is currently thriving as young Hawaiian artists blend Reggae with Pop to create a musical category called Island Music.
As I write these questions, the news is breaking about Maui being hit by devastating wildfires – what can we do to help?
I have spent time in Maui and have many friends on the island. My deepest condolences go out to those who have lost loved ones and homes. Here are a few of the Maui Relief Funds:
Your song ‘In The Nightclub’ blends a variety of genres – but reggae is the underlying vibe – how much do you feel Jamaica has influenced your music?
I was raised on blues, jazz, and R&B. I’ve always seen myself as a soul singer. It’s hard to estimate how reggae has shaped me as a musician and human being. What I can say is, “You can take the boy out of Jamaica, but you can’t take Jamaica out of the boy.”
What’s next for 420MUSE? What can fans expect?
At least one more single will be released before we drop the new 420MUSE album. We are looking to tour Europe and Latin America in 2024.
If you could go back and start all over again in music, what, if anything, would you do differently, and why?
Don’t be afraid to follow your dreams. Don’t be your own worst critic. Don’t take yourself so seriously. Be authentic and true to yourself. You can’t be anyone better than yourself. Whether you are recognized for your talents or not is ultimately not the most important thing. Enjoy your life and bloom wherever you are. Is a flower that blooms in the desert any less than a rosebush in the city?
What advice do you have for anyone who might be just starting out on their musical journey? What have you found that works, and what would you definitely not recommend people do?
Unless you have a gypsy spirit, thrive on uncertainty, and are willing to make major sacrifices then music is probably not your best career choice. With the current state of the music business, the competition, and the sheer amount of music that is being released, the chances of making your music a viable income source is a long shot. But don’t let that stop you from being a creative person. If you’re passionate about music, if there’s a song in your heart, then follow your muse. Entertain your friends and family, play guitar around the campfire, sing in the shower, enjoy the moment! It’s about making music, not money. If you are lucky, the Goddess of Music may bless you with good fortune. But don’t have too many expectations about riches and fame. At the end of the day the real reward is feeling the joy that comes from making music. Ultimately you can’t be any better musician than you are a human being. Cultivate virtue, compassion, and loving kindness.
Finally, what question do you wish someone would ask you in an interview, but nobody ever does? And what’s the answer to that question?
The question is “Who smokes the most weed – Snoop Dogg, Willie Nelson or Bob Marley” … and the winner is … Drumson Richardson of 420MUSE!