Travel through time with Milwaukee's Dorian Gray

Atmospheric Milwaukee guitar band Dorian Gray has been on the scene for quite a while now and to herald the release of the third disc, "Listen With Mother," released recently on their own Starry-Eyed Records imprint, we decided to pose a few questions. Singer and guitarist Maria Miller talks to OnMilwaukee.com about the band's past, present and future.

OMC: How did Dorian Gray get together?

MM: The band started in the fall of 1994. I was in a prior band with our old bass player, He played drums and I did bass and vocals. We wanted to work alone and felt we worked well together so I went to guitar and he went to bass. We found a drummer and another guitar player and that lasted about eight months. Our drummer moved to Germany and the other guitarist was just not working so we found Dan Niedziejko and Gil Petrovic in the next year. In love with The Cure., Slowdive,Seefeel,Cocteau Twins, Ride and The Verve, we thought we could bring something interesting to our parts.

OMC: What's it like being the lead singer in an otherwise all-male rock band?

MM: Well, I know vocals are my strongest attribute but I am also a guitarist and I must say I do not get intimidated by much. I am a fairly confident person. I have three brothers and mostly male friends. The guys have a great deal of respect for me and I owe a lot to them.

OMC: You have achieved a lot of success in Milwaukee, a town not known for being easy on local bands. To what do you attribute your success here, and how do you hope to translate that to a national level?

MM:I'm not sure I feel we have success in Milwaukee. We feel successful as a band in the way that we feel complete with our lives in general. We have staying power because for us it is about the music first. In Milwaukee, bands have followings based on how many friends they have. People in Milwaukee still need to take interest in what goes on in their city. This city is hard. I have over time been able to overlook this, realising we are a good band and I don't give up on that. On a national level, I am not looking for MTV (but) I wouldn't mind a little following. We do have fans all over the country and in other parts of the world thanks to the Internet. We get requests to come to New Mexico, L.A., Boston, etc..

OMC: You are releasing a new six-song CD, "Listen Mother." What is the significance of the name?

MM: The women in the car in the desert is my mother; a picture my father took when they where moving back to Chicago. When I was born my Mother died. I have lived my life in wonder and awe of her. She was from a small town in Mexico and by strange chance met my father who at the time was in the army. My father has had a hard time in sharing who she was to me so I have relied on dreams and feelings of her presences in my life. I took the pictures of the crosses in Mexico three years ago. The pink cross in front is the grave of my older brother who died two years before I was born. Our bass player Michael and I have an extreme spiritual connection and he came up with the name. It was the name of an old British radio show that his mother used to listen to when she was a little girl. When Michael saw the art work, he was with Gil and said it on the spot. Gil didn't need to think about it they both know me, and knew I would have no hesitations. They where right, it fit. I wanted to do an album that encased the memories of the mother I didn't know in this world.

OMC: How would you compare the album you're working on now to the band's past work?

MM: This album is our strongest collective of songs. Our last album "Stellar" had some great songs on it. However, I do feel they were songs of transition, meaning my writing was changing, band members were leaving, our old bassist wanted a song on the album that totally did not fit. "Stellar" had moved itself away from the first album. So many people loved that (first) album. It was innocent and I was innocent about writing. I don't think they knew what to think of "Stellar." I love the new album; my songwriting has taken a step forward and that's the key to staying power.

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