Roger Miller (rock musician)

Roger Clark Miller (born February 24, 1952) is an American singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist best known for co-founding Mission of Burma and performing in Alloy Orchestra/The Anvil Orchestra.

Roger Clark Miller
Dream Interpretations RCM.jpg
Background information
Born (1952-02-24) February 24, 1952 (age 71)
Ann Arbor, Michigan, United States
Years active1967–present

His main instruments are guitar and piano. Guitar Player magazine describes Miller's guitar playing as balancing rock energy with cerebral experimentation.[1] He also plays cornet, bass guitar and percussion.


Early lifeEdit

Miller was born in Ann Arbor, Michigan, on February 24, 1952. His father was a professor of ichthyology, which prompted frequent travel to the Western United States during summers—in search of fish in isolated springs in the desert for comparison with the fossil record—in which he brought his son along. These expeditions informed his later artistic outlook, which incorporates themes of nature, harsh environments, the passage of time, and self-reliance.[2]

Miller began piano lessons at the age of 6. In middle school, he studied the french horn in band class, and at age 13, he picked up the guitar.[2]

Sproton Layer (1960s)Edit

Inspired by Jimi Hendrix and Detroit-area bands like the Stooges, the SRC, and the MC5, Miller formed several garage bands in his teens, starting with the Sky High Purple Band in 1967. With brothers Benjamin (Ben) Miller and Laurence B. (Larry) Miller, he formed Sproton Layer in the fall of 1969; Miller played bass guitar and was the primary singer and songwriter. They recorded a demo for an album in 1970; these recordings were collected and released in 1992 and again in 2011 as With Magnetic Fields Disrupted.[3] The Miller brothers have an occasional ongoing collaboration called M3.

Attending CalArts in 1976, majoring in composition, Miller also studied piano and French Horn, and studied music by 20th-century experimental composers like John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen. He dropped out of college in favor of punk rock.

First Mission of Burma line-up and break-up (1979–1983)Edit

Relocating to Boston, Massachusetts, Miller was a member of the short-lived Moving Parts before co-founding Mission of Burma in 1979.

Mission of Burma disbanded in 1983 due in large part to Miller's worsening tinnitus, attributed in large part to their notoriously loud live performances. In subsequent years, Mission of Burma's small body of recordings grew to be regarded as important and influential.[4]

During the Burma years, Miller worked as a freelance piano tuner.[5]

Other bands and solo efforts (1983–present)Edit

After Burma broke up, Miller turned his attention to playing piano with the more experimental, instrumental group Birdsongs of the Mesozoic,[6] which he left in 1987.

Afterward, Miller had several collaborations, solo efforts, and film scores; many of these post-Burma albums were released by SST Records:

Reformation of Mission of Burma (2002–2020)Edit

Mission of Burma reunited in 2002[8] with Bob Weston replacing Swope. On stage, Miller had his Marshall amplifier at the edge of the stage on his right, with the speakers facing away from him (as seen in the reunion footage in the M0B documentary Not a Photograph). The band released four albums since reforming; the latest is Unsound, July 2012, on Fire Records.

Many bands have cited Burma as an inspiration, including Nirvana,[9] Pearl Jam,[10] Foo Fighters,[11] Superchunk, Jawbox, The Grifters, R.E.M., Miracle Legion (the last two have even covered "Academy Fight Song": the former on their Green tour and the latter on their debut[12]), Sonic Youth,[13] Drive Like Jehu, Throwing Muses, Yo La Tengo,[14] Fugazi,[15] Pixies, Sugar, Guided by Voices, Shellac, Catherine Wheel, Graham Coxon, Pegboy, Moby and Down by Law - the last five of which have covered Conley's "That's When I Reach for My Revolver".[16] In 2009 the city of Boston declared October 4 to be "Mission of Burma Day" in honor of the band's work in a ceremony held at the MIT East Campus Courtyard.[17]

Soundtrack workEdit

Miller has created soundtrack scores for animation, documentaries (Big Ideas for a Small Planet, 2007), and commercials. Four of the films he has scored have premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, which included 500 Years (2016) and Granito: How to Nail a Dictator (2011).

Conceptal artEdit

Miller's work, “Transmuting the Prosaic”, was shown at the Brattleboro Museum and Art Center in Brattleboro, VT, March 15 – October 15, 2020. Five of Miller’s Modified Vinyl works (with turn-tables and listening stations) and his film, “The Davis Square Symphony”. The first edition of “Transmuting the Prosaic” was sold to the New England Art Museum in Burlington, VT.

"Transmuting the Prosiac" was shown again at 3S Artspace, Portsmouth, NH, from December 2, 2022 - January 22, 2023, featuring Modified Vinyl and The Davis Square Symphony. During opening night, Miller also performed excerpts from his new LP, Eight Dream Interpretations for Solo Electric Guitar Ensemble.

Chamber musicEdit

Miller's compositions have been performed by:

  • Ludovico Ensemble, Tufts University, September 27, 2018. “Rocks Music” (for Solo Cello), “The Solar System Sonata” (for piano and string quartet), and “Three Skies” (for viola and piano). All three of these compositions are structured primarily by natural phenomena.
  • Callithumpian Consort, New England Conservatory, February 18, 2016. "Scream, Gilgamesh, Scream". Commissioned and written for piano, soprano voice, baritone voice, two percussionists, electric guitar, alto sax, bass clarinet, french horn, string quartet, and synthesizer. Miller played the guitar parts.

Non-musical activitiesEdit

Miller has blogged for Slate[18] and HuffPost,[19] and written a review about Mike Goldsmith's book Discord for The Wall Street Journal.[20] His short story "Insect Futures" was published in Penny Ante III.[21] His drawings have appeared in numerous shows since 2003.

Miller also has conducted "A Night of Surrealist Games" at Arts at the Armory (Somerville, MA),[22] Mass MoCA (North Adams, MA),[23] the Institute of Contemporary Art (Boston, MA),[24] Real Art Ways (Hartford, CT.), 3S Artspace (Portsmouth, N.H.),[25] Portsmouth Book & Bar (Portsmouth, N.H),[26] Brattleboro Museum and Art Center (Brattleboro, VT),[27] 118 Elliot Gallery (Brattleboro, VT), [23] and Epsilon Spires (Brattleboro, VT).[28] He has shown his Surrealist drawings in solo and group exhibitions.[29]


Solo albumsEdit

  • Eight Dream Interpretations for Solo Electric Guitar Ensemble (Cuneiform, 2022)
  • The Benevolent Disruptive Ray (SST, 1996)
  • Elemental Guitar (SST, 1995)
  • XYLYL and A Woman in Half (New Alliance, 1991)
  • Win Instantly (Ace of Hearts, 1988)
  • Oh (Forced Exposure, 1988)
  • The Big Industry (Ace of Hearts, 1987)
  • No Man Is Hurting Me (Ace of Hearts, 1986)
  • Groping Hands EP (Ace of Hearts, 1986)

Mission of BurmaEdit

The Fourth World QuartetEdit

  • 1975 (Cuneiform, 2021)

Anvil OrchestraEdit

  • The History of the Civil War (CD, Cosmic Cowboy, 2022)

Alloy OrchestraEdit

  • L'inhumaine Blu-ray
  • Phantom of the Opera Blu-ray and DVD
  • Man with the Movie Camera DVD and Blu-ray (Image)
  • STRIKE! DVD (Image)
  • Fatty Arbuckle Vol. I and II DVD (KINO)
  • The General/Steamboat Bill, Jr. DVD (Image)
  • Slapstick Masters DVD (Image)
  • The Lost World DVD (Image)
  • Phantom of the Opera Blu-ray (Image)
  • Dragonflies the Baby Cries DVD
  • Manslaughter DVD (KINO)
  • Wild and Weird DVD
  • Masters Of Slapstick CD (Accurate, 2001)
  • Lonesome CD (Accurate, 1996)
  • Silents CD (Accurate, 1998)
  • Metropolis CD (Alloy Orchestra)
  • Underworld CD (Alloy Orchestra)

Binary SystemEdit

With Roger Miller and Larry Dersch:

  • Invention Box (Atavistic, 2001)
  • from the Epicenter (Atavistic, 1999)
  • Boston Underbelly V/A Compilation "Impov. #4 October 5, 1996" (Sublingual, 1998)
  • Live at the Idea Room (SST, 1997)

Birdsongs of the MesozoicEdit

  • Dawn of the Cycads (Cuneiform, 2010)
  • Soundtracks V/A Compilation "To A Random" (Arf Arf, 1987)
  • Beat of the Mesozoic (Ace of Hearts, 1985)
  • Magnetic Flip (Ace of Hearts, 1984)
  • Birdsongs of the Mesozoic EP (Ace of Hearts, 1983)
  • A Wicked Good Time V/A Compilation "Pulse Piece" (Modern Method, 1981)

Dredd Foole and the DinEdit

With Dredd Foole, Roger Miller, Clint Conley, Pete Prescott, Martin Swope:

  • Songs in Heat, "So Tough" b/w "Sanctuary" (Loose Music/Religious Records, 1982)


With Roger Miller, Benjamin Miller:

  • At Land's Edge (Feeding Tube Records, 2012)


M-3 (Roger Miller, Ben Miller, Larry Miller)

  • Unearthing (Sublingual, 2001)
  • M-3 (New Alliance Records, 1993)

Roger Miller 45sEdit

  • Big Steam (Good Road Records, 2012)
  • FWP 45 (Fun World Products, 2011)

No ManEdit

  • How the West Was Won (SST, 1991)
  • Whamon Express (SST, 1990)
  • Damage the Enemy (New Alliance, 1989)

Out Trios Volume OneEdit

With William Hooker, Roger Miller, Lee Ranaldo:

  • Monsoon (Atavistic, 2002)

Roger Miller's Exquisite CorpseEdit

  • Unfold (SST, 1994)

Sproton LayerEdit

With Roger Miller, Ben Miller, and Larry Miller:

  • With Magnetic Fields Disrupted (World in Sound Records, 2011, recorded 1970)
  • With Magnetic Fields Disrupted (New Alliance Records, 1991, recorded 1970)

Trinary SystemEdit

With Roger Miller, Larry Dersch, and P. Andrew Willis:

  • Lights in the Center of Your Head (LP, 2019)
  • Amplify the Amplifiers (5-song EP and 7") (Fun World, 2016)


  1. ^ Guitar Player, January 1997
  2. ^ a b "Transmuting the Prosaic: December 2 – January 22". Portsmouth, New Hampshire: 3S Artspace. June 9, 2022. Archived from the original on June 28, 2022.
  3. ^ Breznikar, Klemen (November 4, 2011). "Sproton Layer & Mission of Burma interview". It's Psychedelic Baby! Magazine. Archived from the original on September 14, 2017.
  4. ^ Sullivan, Jim (June 19, 2020). "Bidding A Quiet Adieu To Cacophonous Post-Punk Band Mission Of Burma". WBUR-FM. Retrieved July 19, 2021.
  5. ^ Azerrad, Michael. Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground, 1981-1991. Little Brown and Company, 2001. ISBN 0-316-78753-1
  6. ^ Feigenbaum, Steve. "BIRDSONGS OF THE MESOZOIC". Cuneiform Records. Cuneiform Records. Retrieved April 17, 2023.
  7. ^ Pareles, Jon (June 5, 1987). "Music: Roger Miller". New York Times. New York Times Corporation. Retrieved April 17, 2023.
  8. ^ Kielty, Tom (January 11, 2002). "Mission of Burma Fight Again". Rolling Stone. Penske Media Corporation. Retrieved April 17, 2023.
  9. ^ Nugent, Benjamin (July 31, 2001). "The Bands That Made Nirvana". Time. New York City: Meredith Corporation. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  10. ^ Fantano, Anthony (October 2, 2009). "Mission Of Burma: The Story Begins Again". NPR. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  11. ^ Gottlieb, Jed (July 17, 2015). "Foo on Boston". Boston Herald. Boston, Massachusetts: GateHouse Media. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  12. ^ "Cover versions of Academy Fight Song by Mission of Burma - SecondHandSongs". Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  13. ^ Drozdowski, Ted (January 10–17, 2002). "Burmese days". Boston Phoenix. Boston, Massachusetts: The Portland News Club. Archived from the original on October 10, 2015. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
  14. ^ Joyce, Colin (August 26, 2015). "A Revisionist History: Yo La Tengo Pick Their All-Time Favorite Covers". Spin. San Francisco, California: SpinMedia. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  15. ^ "Mission of Burma : Vs". Treble. Retrieved 25 May 2016.
  16. ^ "Cover versions of That's When I Reach for My Revolver by Clint Conley". Second Hand Songs. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  17. ^ Peters, Bill (October 5, 2009). "Sunday was officially declared Mission of Burma Day in Boston". The Republican. Springfield, Massachusetts: Advance Publications. Retrieved May 25, 2016.
  18. ^ Miller, Roger (May 10, 2004). "Entry 1". Slate. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  19. ^ Miller, Roger (October 25, 2005). "Mission of Burma". HuffPost. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  20. ^ Miller, Roger (February 16, 2013). "When the Noise Becomes Too Much". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  21. ^ Lorenz, Jon (July 21, 2009). "Thurston Moore, Robert Pollard, Jad Fair, Roger Miller Contribute to Third Penny-Ante Book, Three; Phil Elverum, Growing, Lucky Dragons on Complimentary CD". Tiny Mix Tapes. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  22. ^ Anderman, Joan (January 22, 2010). "Songs for Surrealists". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  23. ^ a b Levy, Wendy M. (October 31, 2018). "We're all mad here". The Commons. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  24. ^ "ICA First Fridays: Play". The Boston Calendar. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  25. ^ "1.26.16: Dangerous Fashion, Surrealist Games, & Song Exploder". New Hampshire Public Radio. January 26, 2016. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  26. ^ Hislop, Christopher (May 15, 2014). "Roger Miller brings Surrealistic game night to Book & Bar". The Portsmouth Herald. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  27. ^ Levy, Wendy M. (July 13, 2016). "Stop making sense". The Commons. Retrieved September 5, 2020.
  28. ^ Staff, Reporting (January 18, 2023). "Epsilon Spires hosts Surrealist Games in the spirit of co-creation". The Commons. No. 698. Vermont Independent Media. Retrieved April 18, 2023.
  29. ^ "Surrealist Frottage/Drawing". Roger Miller. Retrieved September 5, 2020.

External linksEdit