Ian Miller of Kowloon Walled City on Baseball, Day Jobs, and Touring on a Budget

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Shannon Corr
Ian Miller (on bass) with Kowloon Walled City
Welcome to the first installment of 2 Minutes To Midnight, a regular series that will go behind the scenes of the Bay Area's world-renowned heavy rock scene. We'll be checking in on topics like the realities of touring in a recession economy, the social media tempests in virtual teacups that shake up the metal world, and the notable extracurricular activities of our native sons and daughters.

In the case of Ian Miller, bassist for Kowloon Walled City, he's nearly in need of clones. His band's last release, Container Ships, was one of our favorite local metal records of 2012. And while the members of Kowloon Walled City juggled day jobs to bring their Low-meets-Godflesh post-hardcore melancholy to the rest of the nation, Miller was also attending to his true love: baseball.

What are your non-music day jobs?

I work at UC Berkeley in advancement communications. There's really not much to say about it, frankly. It's incredibly tedious. I also write about baseball on the side [for Baseball Prospectus.] I'm working on some player evaluations for the Giants and Astros right now. It's fun but also pretty weird; I really stick out in a locker room or press box. Everyone else is in golf shirts and Oakleys and I'm ... not. The most interesting thing, though, has been finding out how many musicians and other heavy-music types are into baseball, and vice versa. I mean, we started an entire joke band (Puig Destroyer) about baseball, and it kinda blew up in its own small way. I never could have predicted that!

You also have a popular baseball podcast with Riley Breckenridge from [seminal hardcore band] Thrice, right?

Guilty as charged. Riley and I have known each other for more than 10 years now. We were both pretty active on Twitter and noticed that many of our music followers were getting bummed out when we tweeted about baseball. So two years ago we decided to start a joint, baseball-specific twitter feed called @ProductiveOuts. We started to podcast a little over a year ago as an excuse to talk about baseball more. If anyone listens to it, that's gravy. Every week or so I call Riley on Skype and we talk baseball and music for a couple of hours. People email us and ask tangentially baseball-related questions and we try and answer them. We also have a segment where people ask for musical advice. We have a musical guest each week, and we play songs from a recent release from a band we like. We usually have an interview segment as well--typically a baseball writer, or player, or a musician.

How do you manage the music/work balance?

We tour as much as our schedules will allow, which ends up being not that much. We're all grown-ups (LOL) and we have to coordinate work vacation schedules and stuff, which basically lets us do like one run a year. We've had good luck with fly-ins, especially on the East Coast. The markets are so much closer together back east, so we get better bang for our buck that way, as opposed to out west, where you end up doing a couple of 15- or 18-hour drives and burning entire days that way. Our last run with Zozobra, I think we actually broke even! Pretty amazing, what with gas being $75 a gallon.

2012 was a busy year for Kowloon Walled City. What was a personal highlight?

Man, 2012 was so great that I have a hard time picking just one thing. Playing a handful of shows with Sleep, including the one at the Fox Theater, would have to be on the list, as would the completely unexpected acclaim that met Container Ships.

Where are we most likely to find you around town?

Timeless Coffee on Piedmont with my vegan hardcore brethren, at Francisco Studios practicing with Kowloon Walled City, or in my home studio writing stuff for Puig Destroyer or my various solo projects that never seem to get finished.

-- @AOKarim



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