We recently had the opportunity to chat with Craig Douglas Miller of Blueburst whose album 'Significance' is out now.
Growing up, what are some of your earliest musical memories?
When I was just a toddler, I used to listen to my parents’ records on their big stereo. It
was one of those ones that’s a big piece of furniture with the turntable inside and the
speakers on the side. I would lift the lid, put the record on, and stand there watching it
go round and round while I listened, while the lid rested on my head. My parents
thought it was pretty weird, especially when I started to develop a bald spot from where
I’d rested the lid of the stereo on my head. At some point, they just told me the stereo
was broken. In retrospect, I think I just liked being in that sweet spot right in between
the two speakers where you’d get the most stereo separation. I’ve always loved big wide
My parents music taste wasn’t so great, mostly crooners like Sinatra, Johnny Mathis,
Roger Whittaker, Neil Diamond, Barry Manilow and a bunch of Barbara Streisand. But
they did have a few classics. Johnny Cash’s Greatest Hits, The Graduate soundtrack, Beach
Boys’ Endless Summer. I always wonder if my brain would have developed differently if
they’d had some Beatle’s records. But my favorites were The Carpenters and John
Denver. I’m actually about to release a John Denver cover as the next single from
Blueburst, so look out for that coming soon!
You perform under the moniker 'Blueburst' - is there a story behind choosing that
“Blueburst” is actually the name of the finish on my two favorite guitars, my Fender
Telecaster Plus Deluxe (like Jonny Greenwood plays), and a Rickenbacker 360 6 string.
It’s a gorgeous finish that’s nearly black around the outside of the guitar, then fades into
a transparent royal/navy blue as you get to the center of the guitar.
I just liked the sound of it. And blue’s always been my favorite color.
Your album, 'Significance' is out now. What was the writing process for the
collection of songs?
About half the songs were started from snippets of ideas that I’ve had on my hard drive
for 20 years. The basic riffs for “Vanish,” “Executioner’s Song,” “Senseless,” “Amplify Me”
all were written around 2005ish, and just sat there languishing, as I was tying myself in
knots with self-doubt. I just had some sort of block about expanding on these snippets
and turning them into full songs. But working with Marty Willson-Piper really helped me
to get unstuck and create actual songs.
There’s a couple covers, “Bravado” and “Train in Vain”. And then the rest of the songs,
“Supernova,” “Kick My Tires,” “Come Alive” and “Finito” were totally new. The songs
generally start with a guitar riff that I’ll just record on my phone so I don’t forget it, then
I come up with a beat and basic bass line for them, layer in some other guitar parts and
build from there. Lyrics and melody for me are pretty much always last for some reason.
Marty’s a terrific arranger, and he really helped me get the songs into shape from the
initial idea. I usually don’t start with an idea of what I want to write about. But in the
case of “Supernova,” that started with my trying to write something happy and upbeat,
which is always a good challenge to take on. Easy to get into “Shiny Happy People”
territory if you’re not careful. “Finito” was written specifically to end the album, with a
sort of soliloquy from me on my deathbed someday (hopefully a long time from now!),
reflecting on what it all was.
Is there a track on the album that is a personal favourite?
It changes, but I always come back to Vanish. I’m very proud of the middle acoustic
section, and the vocal hook. Marty’s lead playing on it is brilliant. It sounds like the
culmination of a sound that’s been in my head with my older projects but never fully
expressed. One of my buddies who I played with in a band called Rule of Order in high
school said Vanish sounds like “Rule of Order, if we’d been any good.” And it definitely
to me feels like finally achieving the sound I wanted to do with The Reach, my band
from the 90s.
What can new listeners expect from listening to 'Significance', is there an overall
I think lyrically, the album hangs together nicely, in that each song is really coming from
a character who’s wrestling with the desire to have their life mean something, or to have
their voice be heard, to be significant. And yet, it also touches on the theme that
nothing we do can ever be significant, because eventually, if we survive long enough as
a species, the Sun will explode into a Supernova and destroy everything. Quite a
Musically, we’re definitely steeped in 80s and 90s alternative, with lots of lush guitars, a
sneaky synth here and there, and aggressive drumming. And that’s what we set out to
do because that’s the kind of music I love (Marty loves pretty much all music). We did
hire a younger engineer to mix the album, Ben Etter, who brought a more modern feel
to the whole project as he’s not as steeped in the 80s as I am, and has mixed some very
modern sounding records for Deerhunter and Hazel English among others. My early
attempts to mix the songs myself all felt a bit dated. But Ben brought us into the new
Which other artists are you listening to at the moment, who can you recommend
to our readers?
II’m late to the party on this one, but I just discovered Alvvays. I also recently discovered
A Boy and His Kite, which is a guy named Dave Wilton out in Colorado. His new record
The Path Became a Ghost is terrific. Enjoying discovering Mitski, Julia Jacklin, Middle
As well as being a recording artist you perform live. What are some of your most
memorable shows and where can we see you perform next?
Well, Blueburst at the moment is just a recording project. But we are hoping to play live
soon. The logistics are tough because I’m here in Atlanta, Marty lives in Portugal,
Michael Jerome is in LA, Ryan Kelly is in Savannah. But it’ll happen at some point. Stay
But my favorite memory was when my 90s band The Reach opened for The Samples in
around 1995 in a big venue in front of 2500 or so people. We played great, and it was
the first time I’ve ever had anyone carry my gear for me.
What's next for Blueburst?
I’m already working on a new album! I’d definitely want to make that happen in 2024,
hopefully around September. We’re going to release some singles in the meantime,
including the aforementioned John Denver cover. I’m going to do some more “live in
the studio” stripped down performances online. And we’re going to work to get the whole band together for a show sometime next year.
I’m really excited about making more music, and can’t wait to get it going full blast.