David Michael Miller wrote “Rise” — the video for which is premiering exclusively on Billboard today (March 26) from an upcoming EP of the same name — “a little selfishly,” from the perspective of a fledgling musician battling to get to the next level.
He’s since found that it goes deeper than that.
“‘Rise’ was written as a self-encouragement thing, the idea that these things get hard and you’ve got to push through — whether it’s a relationship or a career, any kind of goal,” the Buffalo singer, songwriter and leader of the Other Sinners tells Billboard.
“As the song’s kind of worked its way out I realized there was a lot more to it. It’s a little more universal. When we started playing it out for people, that was certainly the response we got.”
Some of those stories are reflected in the “Rise” video as well, the first clip Miller has ever directed himself. The band’s charged performance in a church — a nod to Miller’s gospel singing past — is interwoven with vignettes including an empty nester mom contemplating her next chapter, a disaffected office worker and a shut-in senior citizen.
“I’ve heard stories from fans as we’ve been gigging [‘Rise’] out, so we just built these stories into the [music video],” says Miller, who included a version of ‘Rise’ on his 2017 live album 3 Nights at the Strand. “I’ve never directed, never made an attempt at writing a storyboard, so this whole thing was a new adventure for me. It really went from the original, ‘Hey Dave, keep at it, buddy’ to ‘Hey, everybody, find your dream and bring meaning to the world and let that be your rise-up moment.’”
Miller, in fact, has only been doing music full-time for about seven years. A software designer by trade, he’s played in a variety of bands before, including Painted By Moses, Beautiful Bones and Dive House Union. His self-titled first solo album, 2014’s Poisons Sipped, introduced him to the Campbell Brothers, some of whom are part of the shifting lineup of the Other Sinners, which were part of the live album though the Rise EP, due out April 17, will be the group’s first studio release.
“I reached this crossroads — I can keep doing [music] half-assed or give it my all and see what happens,” says Miller, who still does some software work. “And it’s not easy. ‘Rise’ was written looking at the first four years of doing this and the struggle of it. It was one of those self-evaluations — Can I stay the course? Can I keep doing this? This is something that means so much to me that nothing else matters. So can I align my heart with my head on this?”
Produced by Miller himself, the Rise EP features six originals and a brassy funk take on ZZ Top’s “Waitin’ For the Bus.” Having had to scratch some shows, including a planned release concert during mid-April in Buffalo, Miller is using the time to do a better rollout for the EP. He’s also starting to plan for his next album, which will be produced by Neil Giraldo, Pat Benatar’s husband and musical partner.
“Neil has been working with me quite a bit,” says Miller, who is a brand ambassador for Giraldo’s Three Chord Bourbon. “I’m putting together material for that and sending it off to him. We’ll do some remote work and then hit the studio, probably next year sometime. I’m excited to have him and his input and experience. That’s a special opportunity.”
The video for “Rise” is below.