Technical Operations Manager or Engineer
I was surprised that he wasn’t wearing his shades. Doug Miller always wears shades. As I listened to him talk I wondered why he wasn’t wearing the shades.
When I interviewed Doug Miller I mostly listened. He is one of the most interesting people to listen to because he has a wealth of stories and he is very animated as he talks. I was interviewing him for two reasons. One, the entertainment department was running a music special this issue, and two, Doug Miller is the Technical Operations Manager for Down Wit’ It Recording Studios of Indianapolis Indiana. He is also a band member of Exact Change.
As an entertainer for most of his life I knew that he could give me the ‘how to’ and the ‘why’ of the music business. I was right. He had a lot to say and the one thing I noticed was that there was no arrogant ‘I am a big shot important person’ attitude about him. Down Wit’ It is like that too. Just plain home folks who like music. They are a big family that Doug says is still growing. But that is another article.
Doug began his career at a very young age. At seven his mother caught him playing the air guitar with a tennis racket. He was so embarrassed that for Christmas or a birthday that same year he asked for a guitar. At least he now had a reason to play. He taught himself the guitar and then he knew what he wanted to be when he grew up. Not a policeman or a fireman but a rock star. He wanted to be a rock star because they were so cool.
Music has always been his love. To not play or work or write music would drive him crazy. It has to get out and he is happiest when he is working music. If he isn’t at the studio, which he is almost twenty-four seven then he is with the band playing. He spends as much time with his wife and daughter as possible. Fortunately for him, and he made sure I understood, he is one of the luckiest men in the world because his wife supports him in every way. She backs him up with everything that he has ever wanted in life. Not only is he a musician and engineer but he is also husband to the best wife in the world.
Doug has been with Down Wit’ It for two and a half years, been playing music for twenty-nine years (he is thirty-six), loves to entertain, and is extremely happy with his lot in life.
The whole time I was with him not once did he say ‘I’. It was always we or us when he told me something about the studio or the band. Never was there a hint of arrogance to him. We were at the studio where I met him for the interview. There were rewiring Studio A because they moved the board island to put it up against a wall instead of in the middle. Now there would be room for a couch for producers or agents to watch their artists sing. Doug and I sat in chairs in one of the lobbies and people were coming and going everywhere. Children were playing and a couple of people were cleaning. Just like home.
Doug is basically a shy man (hence the shades) and usually won’t talk to people unless it is professionally. He agreed to my request for an interview with no problem but we had met before so he knew me. Also he continuously mentioned the studio and his band so maybe that was why he wasn’t nervous and why he wasn’t wearing the shades. He did put them on for the picture though.
He writes his own songs and has since he was a child. As a teen he was in all kinds of rock bands just like any typical teen. He has worked for a couple of radio stations in Indianapolis and helped design a production room. He wanted to be a rock star but he ‘learned’ the engineering side to hedge his bet. Just in case he was bad at music and he wasn’t good enough to be a rock star he wanted to know something so he could stay in the business. Now he doesn’t want to be a rock star. He is having way too much fun doing what he does now to quit for the road. The road is hard and he wants to stay with his family. So one day he hopes to have a rock song that becomes famous.
Through the years he has played many places and seen a lot. He has set up for live gigs and set up for studio gigs. He has met Ted Nugent and even the band Kiss. He knows the ins and outs of engineering. He tells me that when he is on the stage he is an extrovert but in actuality he is really shy. When he is performing he becomes alive and is honored, always honored, that his music touches the audience.
When he wakes up in the morning he is excited because he gets to go to work. He thanks God every day for his life and his family. He knows that he is very lucky and never forgets it. Doug likes remote control cars and boats and is a spelunker. He reads to the blind, teaches reading, and helps feed the homeless as a way to give back. He and his family help the less fortunate when they can.
Exact Change also plays for charity and work together with the Dickheads, a non-profit organization, with charities.
I finally ask him some important questions:
Question: What advice do you have for someone who wants to get into the music business?
1) Practice your music every day.
2) Get a thick skin. You will get rejected lots of times.
3) Work with live gigs whenever possible whether they are paying gigs or not. This gets you noticed.
4) Find people who will foster your creativity. People you really like.
5) Learn how a studio works. Learn how to be in a session and how to record an album.
6) Set goals, unrealistic or not.
7) Be prepared to not sleep. There are no ‘normal’ hours.
8) Don’t give up. Ever.
Doug also says, and I told him I was going to quote him, “You have to have an irrational belief that the impossible is possible.” And another one, “You have to follow what’s inside you.”
Down Wit' It Entertainment
Our Music Special continues with these other articles: