Don’t let the Hofner that Jordan Miller, DerPot’s bassist/frontman, holds in publicity photos fool you into thinking he wants to be the next Paul McCartney. His ambitions are slightly louder and darker than that, and his increasingly popular Charleston-based band is probably more akin to Black Sabbath than the Beatles.
“My main influences were Geezer Butler, Jack Bruce, Geddy Lee, and Les Claypool,” Miller tells the City Paper. “I play the Hofner because its hollow body allows for more resonance, and its short scale neck allows me to attack it with more precision.”
Coming of age in this area, Miller was not the least bit interested in writing songs about sunshine and sweetgrass or any other Lowcountry pleasantries. “I grew up around the Bosch plant, and as I saw more places like that popping up, I wanted to make music that reflected the heavy doom and gloom of machinery and factories,” he said.
Miller’s bleak concept for a band led to the formation of DerPot, a hard-hitting, melodic trio, a few years back. Alongside Miller is Montez Drayton on drums and Dylan Wood on guitar. This tight-knit group of friends has been gaining momentum within the scene ever since, and, in Miller’s mind, they couldn’t be any closer as collaborators.
“They’re my brothers. I’ve known Montez since 2011, and I started hanging out with Dylan in 2016. By 2017 we decided to start a band. Montez didn’t even play drums when we asked him to join, but he picked them up and ran with it, and I’m so proud of him for it. There’s no one else I’d rather be in a band with.”
On Jan. 9, DerPot celebrated the release of not one, but two new albums: an LP titled A Bridge to Light and an EP called Pothead. “We wanted to be able to give our fans as much new music as possible,” Miller says, adding that there was also “a little bit of procrastination” involved with the group not recording and releasing the songs that comprise the EP sooner.
Miller explains that while the songs for both projects were recorded all at once, the EP is comprised of material they had written earlier, under slightly different circumstances, giving it a distinct vibe of its own. Understandably, Miller is excited about the recent recording process and the resulting products.
“The recording session was amazing. We had more of a say this time in the way we wanted the final product to sound. We also helped with production a little, as well, which was very insightful.” Interestingly, Miller also contributed the cover art that adorns A Bridge to Light. Both releases are already available through all the usual streaming services. “We’re working on getting hard copies,” Miller says, “but for now everything is solely digital.”
Miller feels that these records demonstrate just how far they’ve come as a creative unit in such a short amount of time. According to Miller, the DerPot songwriting team has been stretching out of late, inserting more structural changes into their compositions, giving the individual songs more weight, and bringing more breadth of style to their collective body of work.
For example, “there’s an acoustic song on the LP I wrote for my lady, and it’s great because, being an acoustic ballad, it shows our versatility as musicians,” Miller says. “Then there’s a nine-minute jam on the EP that shows our improvisational skills.”
Although this outrageous outfit is well on its way, Miller acknowledges that the band still has a long journey ahead. “We just want to reach the point to where we can live off of performing, and our long-term goal is to bring relevance and substance back to hard rock.”
“I would love nothing more than to be the next Sabbath,” Miller says. “They are one of our biggest influences, but of course there’s much more to us than just that. We eventually want to be in their position, though, and we’ll get there. These things just take time and dedication.” Ultimately, Miller believes that, “Rock ‘n’ roll is here to stay, and if you believe in yourself and work hard for what you believe in, you’ll be rewarded in time. You just have to stay persistent.”
And you can’t be more persistent than dropping two records at once.