Q&A with Nick Miles of the Photo Atlas

Nick Miles, drummer for the Denver-based band Photo Atlas (courtesy photo)
Nick Miles, drummer for the Denver-based band Photo Atlas (courtesy photo)

Billings native Nick Miles began his musical career in the halls of a Billings high school, a path that led him to drum for the Denver-based dance punk band Photo Atlas.

Still riding the high from 2009’s successful release of “To Silently Provoke the Ghost,” The Photo Atlas has been working on new material and will hit the road in October for a national tour.

Before they head out, the band is stopping in Billings Friday night for a musical reunion with long-time friends and musical peers. With a lineup of Montana, Wyoming, and Colorado bands, the concert features 1090 Club, Flowers From Her, Photo Atlas, and The Front.

Miles took some time to discuss the band and his experiences since moving to Denver to drum for the group full-time in nearly three years ago.

How has the 2009 release of To Silently Provoke the Ghost been received?

Pretty well, as far as we’re concerned. We self-released the five track EP in April of 2009. Digital sales were good, and illegal downloads were through the roof (even before the actual release date). The track “Class of 2012″ was used in the video game SBK X Superbike World Championship for Xbox360 and Tap Tap Revenge 3 for the iPhone. We also have some people working on making it a downloadable song on the Rock Band Network. We sell the EP in CD and 7” Vinyl form at shows, as well as mail order online.

Let’s talk about touring, because in Denver it seems the band is revered. How is the band received in other places?

We definitely have a firm grip on Colorado. Cities like Denver, Fort Collins, Boulder, Colorado Springs, Greeley, Vail, and Aspen are all great markets for us. They also happen to be very short drives, however, it seems we spend the majority of our time touring the rest of the country. I’ve been in the band almost three years, and half of it has been spent on tour outside of Colorado. It seems like every time we revisit a place for the second, third, tenth, or twentieth time, it only gets better.

Is the band touring now or just playing shows regionally? Do you have plans to tour?

We’ve been touring pretty hard this summer. We’ve done everything from the east coast to the west coast. We just got back from a couple week stint through California and Nevada where we took some time to record new tracks in LA. Right now we’re in the middle of booking a month-long tour to get us to and from New York City for the CMJ Festival in October.

Tell me about your ties to and history with Billings.

I was born in Billings and lived there until I was 18 years old. I started playing in bands and promoting shows around the time I entered high school.

What about 1090 Club and Flowers From Her? What is your relationship with these bands?

The Photo Atlas had toured with 1090 Club long before I was even in the band. I’ve known (1090 Club’s) singer, Sean Lynch, for a while through the 11:11 Club, later known as the Eleven Café, and his recording studio, which a couple of the bands I played in recorded at frequently. He’s the one who approached me about playing in the Photo Atlas. He had been in contact with the band when their former drummer quit mid-tour, and recommended me as a replacement. I’ve also got close ties to everyone in Flowers From Her. I spent plenty of time in the Billings music scene and all of them were there as well.

What are you looking forward to about the upcoming show with these bands? What makes it unique among others?

It’s kind of a reunion of sorts. We know everyone pretty well and haven’t been to Billings in a while. I’m stoked that The Front are playing as well. It should be a big party.

What comes next for the band?

We’re working on some new tracks, spending time in the studio when we can. As I said, we’re working on a tour, which will span all of October and cover everywhere between Denver and New York, then down to Florida and back. Check out www.myspace.com/danceatlasdance for constantly updated tour dates.

The Photo Atlas, Flowers from Her, 1090 Club and The Front come together for a Sept. 10 concert at the Railyard, starting at 9 p.m.

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