Sleigh Bells

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Sleigh Bells


Miller is talking American football (as well as his general love of sports) when he mentions the contentment he feels living in what he calls “his own little bubble”. “It’s definitely by choice,” Miller says. “There’s the kinda rock star world that you can choose to live in, or you can choose to just interact with the people who are working in and around your band. We’re on the tail-end of the tour at the moment and I’ve been basically living in one room with the same people for months and months and I really don’t get sick of it. Some days I think it’s self-assuring – it reminds me that I’m getting to make music for a living, and I’m doing it with my friends.”

There’s safety in that way of living, but it can also be damaging. In a world driven by ego, many artists can stay sheltered from their failings – but Miller is certainly not blind to outside criticism. For a duo that seems to hover in the ultra-hip category, their songs have found themselves in films, and shows like Skins and even Gossip Girl. Twenty years ago, any income came with the assumption of selling out, but nowadays people are somewhat more forgiving. Still, Sleigh Bells have copped some flack. “Some people in the industry tell me they’d never do that, but hell, a lot of people that come to our shows actually watch Gossip Girl,” he says. “If someone wants to pay me to use a song on an ad or whatever, then go ahead. What I’m creating needs to be without compromise; we make the music we want to, we design the covers we want, we’re very hands on with how it’s all marketed and promoted – wherever else the music fits in within the world is perfectly fine with us. You wanna give me cash for seven seconds of a song that I wrote on my own terms? Sure! The money I make from publishing enables us to keep it all up.”

Chances are if you don’t agree to a sync, publishing companies will just use the track anyway, as artists like The Black Keys (with their Pizza Hut and Home Depot lawsuits) have discovered. “Exactly! I hear Massive Attack rip-offs all the time; they’re out there still ripping off Mezzanine,” Miller says, before going on to discuss the blurred line of inspiration versus copyright infringement that exists within the music world. “I have one song that is completely from a current Top 40 song and I’m waiting for somebody to call me on it – but I’m not gonna give it away,” he laughs. “Really it sounds nothing like it, ostensibly, but then again the introduction is pretty much identical. If you’re a hack and you’re not doing it well, you can’t get away with it – but if you make something your own, people seem fine with that. I stole a lot from Def Leppard on the last record, and Phil Collen, the guitar player, came to one of our shows and came backstage. I was so nervous to meet him, he’s one of my guitar heroes from when I was six, and the first question I asked him was, ‘Man, are you mad or flattered?’

“I’d taken so much from him and, although I’d made it my own, he was there and I had to acknowledge it. He goes, ‘It’s totally cool, don’t worry. I took from them, you took from me and someone will take from you. That’s how it goes’.”

There’s a new record coming to life in the Sleigh Bells camp, and a few tracks look set to make an appearance during their upcoming Australian tour. The album, Miller says, will be vastly different to what they’ve done before. “The last record was dramatic and came from a dark place; I was going through a really rough patch, and that made its way into the music,” he says. “I’m done with that, so I feel free to write about a lot of other things again. It’s a lot less heavy and oppressive. Reign Of Terror was just so dense and had these massive, high gain guitar sounds. I wouldn’t change it – it is what it is – but I’m onto the next thing. Everything’s a lot airier and nowhere near as dark.”