Blake Miller of Moving Units on Eating an Apple a Day and the Benefits of Learning Accounting

January 3, 2017

Tell us about your tour vehicle.

2000 Dodge Ram 3500. Has 210,000 miles. We blow at least 3 tires every time we tour and it always happens in the middle of fucking nowhere. Air conditioner died in mid tour this summer.

How do you eat cheaply and/or healthy while on tour?

If we’re lucky and the promoter honors our rider we’ll munch on veggies, hummus and fruit in the green room before shows. I always eat an apple every day and as many fresh greens and veggies as possible. We hit up health food markets and snack on trail mix. I have a huge sugar compulsion though so I break down and fiend on gummy worms once in a while. And sometimes I catch Mike macking down with a vanilla and peanut butter milk shake. Sometimes you get really weird cravings randomly when you’re driving for hours. I bought pumpkin pie at a truck stop once and that was a mistake…

How many strings do you break in a typical year? How much does it cost to replace them?

I break a lot of strings cuz I play so aggressively. I go through E, B and G strings constantly. We pay the same price everybody else pays!

Where do you rehearse?

Our studio is pretty tight. It’s on the 4th floor of a warehouse in downtown LA. Lots of natural light and a high ceiling. We set up half the room for live jamming and the other half for tracking demos and quick over dubs. No super crazy experiences to share but one of the building owners was an original guitar player in Megadeth so that’s pretty badass.

What was the title and a sample lyric from the first song that you wrote?

I think it was “Lie of Love” and the lyric was something like “When the lie of love happens to you / Where do broken hearts turn to?” It was about child abuse. I wrote it when I was 14 in a Christian rock band. It was the only kind of music my parents would let me play without getting grounded.

Describe your first gig.

It was at a church youth group event at an apple orchard in rural Michigan. I hung sheets of black plastic behind the band and aimed work lamps at it for extra visual impact. I remember lots of hay and the scent of horse manure.

What was your last day job? What was your favorite day job?

My current job is being a full time big mouth in Moving Units. I’ve never had a favorite day job. I despise them all equally.

How has your music-related income changed over the past 5-10 years? What do you expect it to look like 5-10 years from now?

I’ve learned how to do my own accounting which has made a huge difference. I budget everything using spreadsheets so I know where all the money goes all the time. It’s a game changer. And its helped me grow my business by making smarter spending decisions and trimming wasteful expenses in areas that used to go unnoticed. For instance, I was recently able to offer Mike a salary working full time with the band because I could see the financial advantage to doing so based on my spreadsheet figures.

What one thing do you know now that you had wished you knew when you started your career in music?

Never expect someone else to make you successful. Be as “hands on” as possible. It’s a common mistake for new artists to assume the record company or their manager or their booking agent will make everything happen. Those relationships are vital but ultimately its your career and you should always be in the driver’s seat.

The club lights are low. The dance floor is a sweaty blur of shadows. You can feel the blood and adrenaline surging through the crowd. There’s a band on-stage and they are telepathically connected to the audience—making bodies bounce like it was a feat of mind control. This is Moving Units and this is their natural element: unadulterated grooves and constant motion.

Moving Units have bottled this chemistry since their self-titled 2002 EP debut. When Blake Miller first started writing demos and recruiting band mates to help expand his vision, the idea of fusing dance music and indie rock was practically alien. Leading the way along with groups like The Rapture, Franz Ferdinand, The Faint and Bloc Party, Moving Units were at the vanguard of bringing body-rocking grooves to scythe-edged rock and roll. They pioneered a brand of “Dance Punk” that exploded into clubs and radio stations across the globe. “Back then, no one danced at shows in LA. People were trying to play it cool,” Miller says.” We wanted to shake things up and make people boogie.”

Tastes have changed. Members have joined and left the band. But the locomotion inspired by their music remains immutable. Credit the ease with which Miller has merged into contemporary dance culture. A DJ himself, Miller’s remixes with Steve Aoki and Le Castle Vania have earned tons of spins worldwide.

Damage With Care, the band’s most recent album, was released in April 2016.  Connect with the band online and on the road.