It's been a big year for metal mainstay Deron Miller.
Newly minted as a member of death metal outfit Malevolent Creation, Miller sat with Metal Injection earlier this fall to hype the release of his post-CKY project 96 Bitter Beings, who uncorked their latest studio effort Synergy Restored on November 4 via Nuclear Blast.
"It's not reinventing the wheel. It's just keeping the wheel that I guess I helped start, keeping it full of air. Keeping it topped up," Miller shared during our lengthy sitdown in advance of the album's release, diving into the formation of 96 Bitter Beings following his hiatus after exiting CKY.
"Well, I stopped playing with CKY… I had kids really young as opposed to a lot of people who have them older now," Miller reflects, explaining that his self-imposed hiatus didn't last long.
"I took a little break and then I just couldn't handle it, so I dove right back in. I did an acoustic record. I did a 20th anniversary album of a death metal band that started the whole thing. So I've known these guys since 2015, and basically we just worked together nonstop, like working out the kinks and all the problems that we started with together with these new guys, and then just perfected everything and we just tightened everything up. And those guys were CKY fans as well.
"And it was just easy to collaborate and get that going again. But this time it was just all about being professional, getting the music done and not about really anything else. So both of those records were recorded around the same time. It was just the act of dividing them into two different records, according to how they should have been prepared and completed … and I just wanted to give everybody proof that what they loved about us in the past was still going to continue. And it's just a continuation of what I would have done had I stayed in that band."
Reflecting on the 20th anniversary of CKY's seminal sophomore album Infiltrate Destroy Rebuild, and Miller has nothing but positives for the period of his life and career that fans still cling to two decades later.
"I just remember, when it was about to come out, there was this calm before the storm feeling. I was only 25. We lived in Hawaii for three months working on it. You know, our A&R guy at the record company pretty much said if you go to Hawaii and record your album we're going to have a blast. So a lot of the things that happened in Hawaii are things that should stay in Hawaii. And it was just a time where it was like 20 years ago, and it's just so much different now. The fun that we had, I can't imagine anybody having that much fun today and not getting shit for it. It was just an exciting time," Miller shared enthusiastically, going on to mention the September 2002 release brought its fair share of anxieties.
"September 23rd, I was gnawing off my nails, you know? What's going to happen? Is this going to be a big hit? And we were on tour at the time, so it was like this huge thing. I remember when it came out we went out and we bought out the store of all their copies. And it was just something that hasn't happened since. And it wasn't a success right away, which was interesting. It was kind of like, okay, what's going to happen? It just started. It just built and built and built. And it was word of mouth. And every album of ours, believe it or not, has not been okay, this single has come out and it's a hit, now the album comes out and it's going to take off."
The album steadily grew to become a bonafide hit for the underground turned mainstream sensations. Infiltrate Destroy Rebuild became CKY's highest charting album to date, clocking in at 99 on the Billboard 200 and selling over 300,000 copies, opening the Pennsylvania rockers to massive touring opportunities with genre legends ranging from Guns N' Roses to Metallica.
"As far as Infiltrate, working on it was so much fun. All the things that happened while we were making it, there's a billion hilarious stories that I don't think anybody would believe actually happened. And the album came out, and we just toured and toured and toured. Didn't have much time to sit down and think about it after it came out," Miller recalled.
"We were so busy, and then touring with Guns N' Roses and opening for Metallica. All this great stuff happened because of word of mouth. You know, it wasn't like the record company said, 'we're going to pay Guns N' Roses to take CKY out on tour.' Axl chose us because of the music and the label didn't even want us to go. They thought 'Guns N' Roses that eighties band? Like they were big in the eighties. Why would you want to go on tour with them now?' They didn't understand it? Look at Guns N' Roses now. Everything comes back around. If it's awesome, it'll come back around. If it's lame, it doesn't come."