Rhett Miller of Americana rockers the Old 97’s turns 40 in September, but for now he’s happily the only member of the quartet still in his 30s. “I’m sort of working that angle for the next three months,” he says with a laugh.
But while he’s not dreading it — “If I was upset there was nothing I could do about it, anyway,” he notes — the impending landmark has enriched Miller’s appreciation for his chosen profession.
“Y’know, I remember back when we had our big courting process where all the labels were trying to sign us,” recalls the Texas-born singer, songwriter and guitarist, who now resides in New York’s Hudson Valley. “It was a heady time, and I kept saying throughout that, ‘We’re not concerned about having a radio hit, necessarily. The thing we really want is a career.’
“And I remember thinking, ‘Is this lip service? MaybeI [i]do[/i] want a huge hit. But all these years later, I’m really glad it worked out the way it has. I get to support my family and keep making records, and there are a lot of people who I was on labels with that had hits that don’t get to do that anymore.”
The Old 97’s — who released “Mimeograph,” a four-song EP of covers, this year — have finished work on a new album, tentatively titled “The Grand Theatre” and due out in October. Miller says the group has recorded 20 songs and is trying to figure out how the album will come out.
“I’m really tempted to do a double album, ’cause they’re 20 freaking great songs,” he says. “But I understand the current realities of the music marketplace; people can’t handle that kind of quantity anymore. So maybe we put them out as two separate records. It’s still going to be good.”
The Old 97’s and David Wax Museum perform Saturday, July 17, at the Majestic Theatre, 4140 Woodward Ave., Detroit. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $16 in advance, $18 day of show. Call 313-833-9700 or visit www.majesticdetroit.com.
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