Put Leipzig-born guitarist Martin Miller’s first album side by side with his second and you wouldn’t believe it was the same artist. But a lot has changed in the 10 years since The Other End. Namely, Miller has spent a decade honing his craft with his covers band on YouTube. More than 200 posts, ranging from 26-minute 80s medleys to teaming up with fellow guitarist Paul Gilbert for a romp through Stevie Wonder’s Superstition, have garnered him over 700,000 subscribers and tens of millions of views. For Miller, it was a way to distance himself from that debut record.
“With that album,” he says, “I felt there was an unspoken peer pressure to prove myself as a guitarist. There was a disconnect between the music I was writing and the music I was listening to.”
Immersing himself within a different kind of content creation provided Miller with a fresh avenue for musical exploration. It’s those experiences that have refined his sonic palette and instilled the confidence to write its greatly matured follow-up, Maze Of My Mind.
“The YouTube channel has been a really interesting learning experience for me,” Miller expands. “It’s a great opportunity to study the music that I love so deeply, as a guitarist, producer and songwriter. That played a massive role in creating this record.”
In spite of what his radio-friendly YouTube covers may signify, Miller is a progger at heart. With Maze Of My Mind, he is able to show that. His 90s pop sensibilities weave through winding song structures that take in knitted, prog metal riffwork and huge, accessible melodies. Now, guitars are one ingredient in a well-balanced, song-oriented dish. With these tracks, Miller is proving to be a songwriter with a colourful, panoramic vision.
“I want my music to have a temporal progression,” he reveals. “I like when a song starts at one place and ends at another. It feels like a well-crafted experience, almost like a ghost train ride.”
On how he approached creating this album differently from its predecessor, Miller says: “I’ve found the key is to be truly honest with myself with what I want to express. If I try to sing or play like someone else, I’m not playing to my strengths. The first record was a guitar player trying to find his voice. There’s been so much growth since then. I want to continue to go down the path I’ve created with Maze Of My Mind. I, myself, as a musician have never been happier than I am making this music.
“I think the record is cohesive, but the songs themselves are very distinct from one another. They all have a different mission statement. Something New was Toto on steroids, Fragments was inspired by Michael Jackson and Compass is a tribute to 80s Genesis. But they’re my takes on those styles. I find it very liberating that I can write what I want, and now I get to find out whether I’ve got away with it or not.”