INTERVIEW: Drew Miller of Curio Key Club fills us in on his band, his love of Louisville, and the last record he bought!

Photo by Brandon Scott Coleman

Early last month, Curio Key Club released their debut 9-song self-titled CD, an effort that has since become a mainstay in my current repertoire of go-to albums. It’s easy for me to appreciate their unpredictable, horn-laden approach to indie rock that draw from several of my favorite sub-genres, including prog, soul, and even pop. At one moment I’m settled in to a Tortoise-esque groove, at another I’m feeling early Genesis, but as the album progresses I sense a plethora of inspirations that make Curio Key Club a tough band to pin down to one genre, or even sub-genre at that.

While I love the instrumental progressive tracks on their debut, what keeps me coming back are the songs where the band takes more of a modern approach to modern rock, such as my favorite, “Running Man” which has sort of an Arcade Fire meets Lucky Pineapple feel to it.  Listen to it below to see what I mean:



As intriguing as this music is for me, I figured it would be an obvious point of emphasis for me to reach out to the band to get a better grasp on what these folks are all about.  I was able to connect with singer/sax/synth player Drew Miller, who was kind enough to answer a few questions about his band, his love of Louisville, and more.

Never Nervous: Tell us about how Curio Key Club originated, then delegate who does what in the band.

Drew Miller: It is the malignant growth of D’Stra (D’Arkestra). Over the coarse of nine months (in late 2014 early 2015) we had significant changes in the band with personnel and process. We had come to a head with our then guitarist who was living in Cincinnati, which made rehearsal and collaborative writing difficult. We also shrank from nine to seven. Those changes led to a tighter knit band and the shift in process, where everyone was really contributing in substantial ways and sharing ownership of what we are making. The personality of the band changed and warranted an identity of its own.

The band is: Ken Allday on guitar, Jose Oreta on bass, Joe Thiamin trumpet, Zack Kennedy on drums, Graeme Gardiner plays tenor saxophone, Wade Honey plays keys/synth, and I’m responsible for vocals, alto saxophone wind synth.

NN: What’s the name about? There’s gotta be an interesting origin story there.

DM: The symbol of a key means access, knowledge, curiosity, even safety or security. Through our shared experience and compassion for one another we’ve achieved a certain acceptance and sensitivity towards one another that only comes through time and playing together.

NN: When I listen to your latest record, I’m reminded a wide range of bands/artists. Sometimes I’m thinking of Tortoise, others Curtis Mayfield and even Genesis. I have to ask, who to YOU consider to be inspirations behind the music you make?

DM: There are a lot of ingredients in the stew. Great instrumental bands like Tortoise and Jaga Jazzist have definitely made a mark. Also Memphis soul, Michael Brecker, Talking Heads, soundtracks, brass bands. I try to be receptive to everything. I feel like I draw most of my inspiration, negative and positive, from the people I’ve played with. I have learned most about my desired path through experiences and I have put myself out there.

“I feel like I draw most of my inspiration, negative and positive, from the people I’ve played with. I have learned most about my desired path through experiences and I have put myself out there.”

NN: Is there a formula utilized when making music in Curio Key Club? Or is every song constructed as an individual project?

DM: Each song is its own being. They start off as seeds of an idea. Sometimes they develop easily. Sometimes they require a little tending to. When we write and arrange a group of songs in a relatively small window of time, they have continuity. And when we were choosing songs for the album we paid attention to how they fit together.

NN: Now that the record is out and about, what’s the plan moving forward? More shows? Touring?

DM: YES! SHOWS! Some traveling. It can be a gamble at times. We’re definitely trying to get there.

Photo of Curio Key Club by Garrett Tuggle

NN: Tell us about the last show you attended in Louisville. What bands were playing, what was the venue, and how’d everything sound? Oh, and did the show start on time?

DM: The last show that I was not playing was Twin Limb, Big Mamma Thorazine and Tony Robot at The New Vintage. The sound was ok. The BMT mix was a little low compared to the audience level but what can you do? I think Tony Robot was billed to hit at 9:00 but at the witching hour Kevin posted that he would start at 9:30ish. I hadn’t left the house and honestly, this made me balk at going because I assumed that meant it would be super behind schedule and I had been gone on tour earlier that week and was tired. BUT, thankfully I went. The show did start at 9:30 and through synergy and great show planning Twin Limb was on by 11PM. I really enjoyed the whole bill.

NN: Of all the video games you played as a kid, are there any Nintendo or Genesis games that no matter how much time you spent or how hard you tried, you just couldn’t beat it? Personally, I find Zelda II and Castlevania III to be almost impossible.

DM: Ninja Gaiden was a thorn in my side.

NN: It’s important that I ask you this now before the film comes out: Who wins, Batman or Superman?

DM: Zack (CKC drummer) says BATMAN..no hesitation.

NN: In all seriousness though, what do you think cats dream about? They sleep so fucking much!

DM: Thats like asking what do babies dream about! If dreams are assimilations of your personal experiences and information you have been exposed to.. then it varies on the circumstances of the cats life. Indoor cat? Outdoor cat?

NN: Tell us something about Louisville that you particularly love, something that we might not have considered maybe.

DM: I love Louisville because it is affordable therefore possible to carve out an existence doing what you love to do. And because the cost of living is not totally oppressive I am able to engage and interact with like minded people who also have the time to be on a team and you can invest your time and energy into one another. The creative community is diverse and there are lots of great places to stuff yer face with lots of great people.

“I love Louisville because it is affordable therefore possible to carve out an existence doing what you love to do… The creative community is diverse and there are lots of great places to stuff yer face with lots of great people.”

NN: Lastly, tell us about the last record you bought. What record did you purchase, where’d you buy it, and how’d you like it?

DM: I bought Tim Krekel’s 1979 debut Crazy Me as a gift for my mom’s birthday. The point of aquisition was Modern Cult. I ripped it to digital before i gave it to her and it has been fun to listen to. It’s feel good rock and roll and there is a sweet horn section on a lot of the tracks. That always grabs my attention.