“Deron Miller is back at it, and it rules.” – Metal Injection
Deron Miller gives his life to the riff. Unrestrained by industry expectations and genre limitations, the boundlessly prolific guitarist and voice behind multiple beloved projects is best known as the founder, frontman, and songwriter in CKY. His authentic and effortlessly hooky heavy rock obsession returns with 96 BITTER BEINGS. Reinvigorated and ready to rumble all over again, Miller roars back with the same reverence for riffage that made underground hits out of CKY anthems like “Flesh Into Gear,” “Escape from Hellview,” and “Disengage the Simulator” from 1998 till 2011.
The familiar warmth, feel, groove, and unapologetic honesty which drove the song “96 Quite Bitter Beings” to 54 million streams (on Spotify alone) permeates the pair of albums unleashed by 96BB.
A successful crowdfunding campaign saw Miller, guitarist Kenneth Hunter, bassist Shaun Luera and Shaun’s brother, drummer Tim, conjure up 2018’s Camp Pain in limited release. North American and European touring followed, wrapping up shortly before the COVID-19 shutdowns.
“After CKY and a short break, I decided to continue, without changing the sound,” Miller explains. “Because that’s what I do. It’s what I love to do and what people say I do well. All of the guys who got in the band with me are great musicians. And each of them is hungry. They have priorities and ambitions about being in a rock band, no matter the grim state of pop music out there. If we can bring rock and metal back to the mainstream, in some way, that’s the dream.”
In 2022, 96 BITTER BEINGS unleash the long-awaited Synergy Restored, 11 songs of relentless power and vibe. Four-on-the-floor, fuzzy and visceral, proper rock n’ roll made by an actual band, rather than a bunch of overprocessed samples and otherwise stale shenanigans. Songs like “Vaudeville’s Revenge,” “90 Car Pile-Up,” and “Wish Me Dead” offer vivid reminders of the truth-telling prowess of guitars, bass, and drums. Miller is on fire, weaponizing the same knack for memorable musical epiphanies behind projects like Foreign Objects, World Under Blood, and CKY.
Miller co-founded Foreign Objects and later Camp Kill Yourself (a name born of his love of VHS slasher classics) in West Chester, Pennsylvania, in the ‘90s. Written by Miller, 1999’s Volume 1 appealed to metalheads, skaters, stoners, and punks. The album led to a stint on Warped Tour and a deal with Island Def Jam Music Group, which issued Infiltrate•Destroy•Rebuild• in 2002. Axl Rose chose CKY to support the ill-fated Chinese Democracy tour, and they also played with Metallica.
An Answer Can Be Found followed in 2005, producing the Billboard Mainstream Rock Top 40 single “Familiar Realm.” Extensive touring with Avenged Sevenfold and the like-minded Clutch followed. Carver City, in 2009, would prove to be Miller’s last album with the group he created and led. Across the four albums, Miller indulged his love of everything from ‘80s thrash metal to doom, as CKY blended high-octane ruckus with occasional bursts of Moog synths and cinematic storytelling. Miller never stopped creating, with a handful of full albums written and released, a foray into horror movies, and parenting three children with his wife, scream queen actress Felissa Rose. Like Galactic Prey, the most recent Foreign Objects album, the 96BB records were recorded and produced by Miller and Hunter at Manifest Productions. Camp Pain was explicitly made for diehard fans who supported the creation of both albums through 96BB’s Indiegogo campaign. Synergy Restored was always intended for wider release, which it sees now via Nuclear Blast.
“I want my work taken seriously. I thank God every day that I was never overexposed, or even exposed enough commercially, to where I’m resigned to a specific moment,” Miller says. “I would rather have my self-respect, the respect of the audience, and a dedicated cult following.”
“What are 16-year-old kids supposed to listen to? They can’t listen to these bad pop singers,” he contends. “They’re wearing Nirvana shirts without knowing who the band really is while only getting to hear Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, or whoever. They need to get their aggression out with rock and metal. They need to be welcomed to it, just like I was when I learned about the heavier side.”
“Every time I go out, I see Nirvana, Metallica, and Misfits t-shirts. These kids may not know the music, but at least they are displaying a visual interest,” he adds. “Corporations spend millions of dollars promoting certain styles of music, but history proves that true rock will always sneak in.”
Deron Miller – Vocals/Guitar
Kenneth Hunter – Guitar
Shaun Luera – Bass
Tim Luera – Drums
Synergy Restored (2022)
Camp Pain (2018)
Photo by Nikkie Marie Kephart