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Old 97’s Rhett Miller calls one song his ‘thesis statement’

Americana band Old 97’s is back with a new album called “Most Messed Up.”

Americana band Old 97’s is back with a new album called “Most Messed Up.”

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Music has been good to Rhett Miller.

In fact, in the song, “Longer Than You’ve Been Alive,” Miller actually says “rock and roll’s been very very good to me.”

“I wrote that song very quickly and didn’t rewrite one word of it,” Miller explains during a recent interview. “It’s sort of a thesis statement not just for this record, but for my life’s work.”


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Miller and his band Old 97’s are out on tour in support of their latest album, “Most Messed Up,” which was released in April.

The band, which includes Murry Hammond, Ken Bethea and Philip Peeples, have been making music for 20 years by blending rootsy, country-influenced songwriting with punk-rock energy.

They’ve even had a shout out from “Breaking Bad” creator Vince Gilligan, who has said that he put the band on a continuous loop on his iPod while writing the show’s final scene.

“It’s amazing to see how far we’ve been able to reach with music,” Miller says. “It’s important for us to keep that moving.”

He often writes about men who possess an appetite for indulgence.

And he’s never been one to let a few bad decisions get in the way of a good story.

“A few people in my life said, ‘You can’t sing ‘Let’s get drunk and get it on,'” Miller says. “I said, ‘What do you mean? I’ve been singing that sentiment for 20 years! I was just never so straightforward about it.'”

Miller wrote many of the songs in Nashville, Tenn.

“For me, this record really started in Nashville on a co-write session with John McElroy,” he says. “I really admired his wheels-off approach to songwriting. And I liked the idea he had for how he thought I should interact with my audience. It was liberating. It reminded me that I don’t have to be too serious or too sincere or heartfelt. I just have to have fun and be honest.”