Darrell “DWaRf” Millar, Still Standing Tall
With the business savvy of Gene Simmons, the looks of a young Ted Nugent and the musical talents of Dave Grohl, you could pretty much say he is a triple threat.
You would be very, very wrong. Darrell Millar is so much more than that. He is a proud Canadian, mentor, father, manager, record label, personable bloke and an upstanding citizen.
A lifelong musician, Millar has been involved with his current band Automan for almost 10 years. The band, although not on the tip of every ones tongue, played with NWOBHM greats Iron Maiden as opening band, at the Winnipeg show on their last North American tour. Along with current writing partner and guitarist Carleton Lockhart, Millar set out in 2002, to put together a 70’s/ 80’s influenced rock band. 2004 saw the addition of bassist John Fenton and drummer Adrian Cavan. In addition to the Iron Maiden tour, Automan have played numerous shows in Southern Ontario, Canada and with plans to tour, at the very least further afield in Canada this year, it will be a welcome sight for Killer Dwarfs and Laidlaw fans, who are used to seeing Millar peeking out from behind a drum kit.
“I am in talks right now with some important people in the music industry regarding live shows for Automan.” Millar did share a few snippets of detail when asked about a possible tour in 2012. “I need more than just one show here and one there, I need a full tour. It just does not make sense from a business point of view to go out and do a few shows. There is a package of bands that will join us on the road if plans come to fruition, but as I said, things are still at discussion stage.”
Making his debut as a frontman, Millar certainly has the look and charisma, the control over the crowd and the passion to be at the helm. “It just seemed right for me to be the singer right now. I doubled as the singer/drummer in my High School band in the 70’s, so I knew I had a voice. When I was in Killer Dwarfs I was persuaded that drumming was where my talent lay. Then in Laidlaw again, I was drumming.” For those of you who have yet to see Automan live, it is pretty much assumed that you will agree Millar is where he is supposed to be, at the front of the stage. “When Laidlaw was on tour with ZZ Top, I would go out on stage with the crew and sing a song or two during sound check. To be up there on stage looking out at the huge expanse, at all these empty seats, no people, even then it was a rush. You just know when you are meant to be somewhere.”
Having also toured the world in bands supporting the likes of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Motley Crue, and Pantera, Millar is looking forward to another ten years of recording and touring with Automan. “I think I have another ten years left in me. I wouldn’t mind being the Rolling Stones and making it to 50 years, but I think you have to know when to call it a day.”
With the CD, Backseat Surprise now available, following the Auto Motive CD/DVD and Pocket Change CD in 2008, the tracks Hurts To Be Alive and Down To The Bone are now streaming on YouTube. The record is available courtesy of Unkledunk Records, a label brought to you by none other than Millar himself. “It is just pure business sense to have the music on your own label.” Millar shared, when he spoke with Screamer Magazine. “The big record companies could be viewed now to be more like massive distribution hubs. They are rarely found to be signing bands. Of course, now bands can make more money selling far less records. We more often than not own the rights as the artist. It was not always that way and the big companies would earn 80 or 90% from sales, merchandising, tours, etc. Now the bands take an average of 80 points and the distributors take 10-20%. Of course, social media has a large part to play in getting the music out there today. It changes everything completely. We really do need social media in this day and age.”
Millar should be observed as a great example for any younger musicians out there, wanting to make it big in the business. “I was lucky, even when I was much younger and in Killer Dwarfs, I didn’t lose sight of things. I got a pay check each month and I made smart investments. We didn’t do drugs and we didn’t party a ridiculous amount. OK, we drank beer, but we are Canadian! The point is we are still here. There is a lot to be said for having a sound business plan and being smart with your money and you can still go out there and do it musically too.”
So it seems that Gene Simmons was right. We can all just KISS a business savvy ass!