Quirky trio strives for universal appeal

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Ben Miller enjoys the immediate feedback that comes with his job.

“There’s nothing like it,” he says during a recent interview from New Orleans. “Being on stage and performing is all I’ve wanted to do. I feel blessed that I get the opportunity to do it night after night.”

Miller is the singer for the Joplin, Mo.-based, trio The Ben Miller Band. The band is known for its combination of bluegrass, delta blues and Appalachian mountain music, as well as its eccentric and out-of-the-box appearance and use of homemade or modified instruments.

“We’re not some kind of gimmick band,” Miller says. “Just because we use junk to make music doesn’t mean we aren’t serious about it. We are legitimately making real music, and when you hear us play I think you get that.”

The band, which also includes Scott Leeper and Doug Dicharry, released its most recent album, “Heavy Load” in 2012. For nearly a year, it has been touring in support of it and Miller says it won’t stop anytime soon.

“We’re about to get busier and head out for another two months or so,” he explains. “We’ll go from New Orleans to Chicago and then out to the rest of the country.”

Miller and his band tour for nearly 200 shows a year; that’s been common since the band’s inception in 2004.

Along with touring, Miller is constantly writing material, which eventually he takes to the band.

“When I’ve got a lot of songs, I take everything to the guys and let them help me sort them out,” he says. “I have bits and pieces of songs everywhere in my house and it takes a lot of work to keep them all in order.”

Yet, while Miller is a prolific writer, he admits to having difficulty keeping himself writing freely.

“I write from an honest place,” he says. “As I do that, I have to keep it out of my mind that what I’m writing is personal. There are some songs that will never see the light of day because it’s too obvious who they are about. I don’t really think people want to read my diary, though maybe after I’m gone it will become a best-seller. I think they want to hear songs that are more universal rather than specific situations.”