Beard connoisseur, father, “wicked-awesome” guitarist and composer. Tim Millar, from Protest the Hero, has 20/20 vision after living and breathing the music scene for sixteen plus years. With some Canadian dates, including two nights in Saint Catharines at Warehouse and a new album on the way, we had some time to sit down and ponder the history and future of the band.
You have been a band for sixteen years, which is a feat considering artists these days. What do you attribute your longevity to?
The main reason is we continue to enjoy what we are doing, so there is no reason to stop. Throughout that time period things have changed but it has gotten to a point where we can continue to do what we do because in the beginning we put in the effort and time; so now we can pick and choose what we do and just be more selective.
So when Protest the Hero officially started, being renamed from the previous Happy Go Lucky, how old were you all?
Probably fourteen, maybe fifteen. I remember doing a battle of the bands at E.P. Taylors and the advertisement said our old name but we had announced the show under Protest The Hero so people were confused, like, “Are you guys not playing the show?”
I know the genre question can be difficult but lets say with just a heavier style of music there is an ingrained seriousness that seems par for course. With Protest, though, there always seems to be a great sense of humour, whether in your videos or the live show, that really compliments the content of the music. After all of these years does the sense of humour still exist?
Absolutely. There is a fine line about being serious about the music you write, while maintaining that everything else around it not be too serious. We don’t want it to look like we don’t care but if there is too much of a direction or a vision for the band, I feel like that is when it loses its’ fun. I get some bands want an image; back stage they are joking around but on stage it is all mean-mugging. That is cool, it is just never something we have discussed; how we want to look or how we want to come across. We don’t have an image that we are trying to portray. We have always had a hard time doing photos. Like, are we going to stare at the camera and cross our arms or are we going to get ridiculous costumes and just make a joke of it. How do you capture what the band is?
Not sure how much of this you can answer, so I will be as vague as possible. Being in the music industry as long as you have, you have dealt with various labels, you have done crowd funding, the last release was a song a month over six months through Bandcamp.com, what are the ups and downs and what is the next incarnation of new material?
When we worked with labels, we were just like what exactly are they doing that is helping our career? A lot of the time we felt like a small fish in a big pond. When we first did the crowd funding we realized that there is a new way where we can directly connect with people. Which, put us to the test because it became, can we come through with all of the stuff we had promised. There is something nice to having a partner where you turn over the album and you don’t have to think about it. If you want to do something outside of the music, with crowd funding, we have seen the benefit in that. One major thing is you own the music that you create and you can exploit it however you like. So, the fact that you might just turn that revenue over to a label as opposed to taking fifteen minutes to upload it to a website seems pretty crazy. With the new album we have debated whether we will partner with a label or do another crowd funding. It is hard to want to go anywhere else because of the musical and financial freedom.
Again not to get into specifics but you have had some things happen with labels that were negative. It is understandable that it could leave a bad taste in your mouth for future endeavours.
I don’t doubt that there are people and labels out there that could help our band get to the next level, where they have the right connections; which may be one thing we don’t have. We may not have the connections that can get us bigger tours or more exposure and better visibility. We’ve just yet to find that.
Is that a struggle of being a Canadian band? Or, is it the style of music? Not to say any artist cannot become the biggest thing but with the genre some would say there is a glass ceiling to success.
Yeah exactly what I was going to say. You are lying to yourself if you think that you are going to explode and become this anomaly. It is a very specialist type of music. The one way that it does help is that people who do like this style of music that we play are very dedicated and loyal. They love coming to shows. They love buying the merchandise. It is one of those harsh realizations where as you get older you think, this band isn’t going to be the next big rock band; whether or not we aspire to be that. There is definitely a cap.
Pacific Myth came out the start of 2015 and was released on song a month for six months. Have you started writing the new album?
Yeah we have been demoing and hope to be recording by the end of 2017. I can’t tell you who we are recording with because we haven’t announced it yet but we are excited about it.
Protest the Hero are set to perform at Warehouse on September 30 and October 1. With night one being sold out grab the few tickets left for night two.