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Fred Mills

Fred Mills

Fred Mills lives in the western mountains of North Carolina in Asheville - home to numerous arts and music festivals as well as a healthy helping of independent musicians of all stylistic persuasions - where he sincerely hopes that his 4 - year old son will pick up the music bug. "He's already memorizing Beatles lyrics," Mills says, "and to be honest, I don't care if he gets into bluegrass, rock, pop or heavy metal - just as long as he doesn't turn out to be a Republican."


Mills entered the world of journalism in modest enough fashion, helming a punk fanzine called Biohazard Informae in the late '70s and early '80s and being active on the Chapel Hill music scene during that time. Later, after moving to Charlotte, he became the first Music Editor for that city's alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing, a position he held from 1987-92. After that he lived for a decade in Tucson, Ariz., where in addition to writing on a freelance basis for Spin, Magnet, The Bob, Option and other publications he served as senior buyer for a regional CD store chain. In 2001 he moved back to his home state of NC because, in his words, "You just can't get decent barbeque in Arizona."

Reflecting on over a quarter-century of misadventures in the world of rock journalism, Mills notes that his first "professional" interview went so astoundingly poor he almost chucked the career before it ever got started. "It was John Cale on the 'Mercenaries' tour," he recalls, "and I'm ushered into the dressing room of this towering guy who's clad in army fatigues, smoking a cigar and scowling at me. I'm so intimidated that I forget all my questions and wind up asking him why his solo career hasn't been as successful as Lou Reed's. The batteries on my tape recorder started dying, too." (Nowadays Mills makes sure he brings to interviews extra batteries and a pint of whisky to calm his nerves.)

In addition to contributing to this website, he writes for Magnet, Harp, Stereophile, No Depression, ICE, Detroit Metro Times, Stomp & Stammer and others, additionally contributing liner notes to numerous records and CDs over the years. His favorite band of all time is The Who, his favorite solo artist is Neil Young, and his favorite song is 'Shake Some Action' by the Flamin' Groovies - his family is under strict instructions to play that at his funeral when his time finally comes.

Contact info: PO Box 8789, Asheville NC 28814 USA

List of articles in the library by artist

Arcade Fire: Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, Asheville, NC

Live Review by Fred Mills, Harp, May 2007

WHAT A difference a couple of years makes. Or do they? ...

The Beat Farmers: The Beat Goes on

Retrospective and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, April 2004

It was a small but ultimately influential early ’80s scene: the back-to-roots movement spearheaded by the Blasters, Rank and File, Jason and the Scorchers, Long ...

Big Star: Star Power

Profile and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, November 2005

MEMPHIS, TENN., April 2004: Inside Ardent Studios a band assembles in the control room, where the engineer has just cued up a playback. It's a ...

Andrew Bird: The Mysterious Production Of Eggs (Righteous Babe)

Review by Fred Mills, No Depression, March 2005

VIOLIN VIRTUOSO (and whistler extraordinaire) Andrew Bird never really goes easy on you, but on a purely musical level, The Mysterious Production Of Eggs is ...

Black Merda: It's a Detroit Rock Thing

Retrospective by Fred Mills, Harp, November 2005

THEY RUBBED shoulders with the cream of the Motor City, including Funkadelic, the Temptations, Edwin Starr, Bob Seger and the MC5. They recorded for the ...

Black Merda: The Merda Files

Retrospective and Interview by Fred Mills, Detroit Metro Times, December 2004

DETROIT, CIRCA 1969: The house lights of the packed Casino Royale dim. The club's vibe is electric, the fog of cigarette and reefer smoke thicker ...

Can: Recycled Cans

Retrospective and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, May 2006

Among the great German bands of the '60s and '70s – kosmiche avatars Amon Düül and Ash Ra Tempel, motorik pioneer Neu!, synth wunderkind Tangerine ...

Captain Beefheart: 55 Years Of Goin’ To The Toilet: Captain Beefheart

Interview by Fred Mills, Zia Zine, April 1996

NOTE TO THE PURIST OF HEART: Please take the date of publication into account as you peruse this piece. And no, Don Van Vliet did ...

The Clash: Vanilla Tapes

Report and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, November 2004

THE VANILLA material is clearly aimed at Clash collectors who routinely snap up underground recordings of the band. As Simonon himself freely volunteered, he’s not ...

The Clash, Joe Strummer: Up In Heaven: Joe Strummer, 1952-2002

Obituary by Fred Mills, Seattle Weekly, January 2003

Why should we assume people get worse [with age]? I think you should just get on with it. Look at Paul Newman. And the Sufis ...

Cowboy Junkies: The Cowboy Junkies: A Holy Ghost Feeling

Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, March 2008

CHARLOTTE, NC, 1990: The Cowboy Junkies have just taken the stage of Spirit Square, an old church renovated into a performance venue. ...

The dBs: Spies In The House Of Pop: The dB's and their star-crossed third album, Like This

Retrospective and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, June 2006

BY THE SUMMER of 1982 things were looking a bit grim for the dB's. ...

Delta 5: Delta Force

Profile and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, March 2006

WHILE three-gal/two-guy outfit Delta 5 didn't exactly fly under the radar, its relatively brief tenure (1979-'81) meant the Leeds, England, band never got its proper ...

The Dream Syndicate, Steve Wynn: The Defiant One: Steve Wynn

Report and Interview by Fred Mills, Seattle Weekly, May 2003

After ushering in a double disc of Miracles with his last album, underground icon Steve Wynn explores his troubled soul on the new Static Transmission. ...

Let's Active, Mitch Easter: Let's Active: Re-Activated

Retrospective and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, October 2003

Along with R.E.M., Athens based Let's Active ruled the college-radio airwaves in the mid-80s. ...

Let's Active, Mitch Easter, R.E.M., Sneakers: Mitch Easter Interviewed: Perfect Sound Forever - The Director's Cut

Retrospective and Interview by Fred Mills, unpublished, Summer 2007

NOTE: This is a vastly expanded version of the Mitch Easter feature, "Perfect Sound Forever," written for issue #76, of Magnet, published summer 2007. Interviews ...

The Ettes: Joli Rouge, Asheville

Live Review by Fred Mills, Harp, January 2007

L.A.-BASED three-piece the Ettes surfaced last year with their official full-length debut Shake the Dust, issued by the ever-reliably maverick label Sympathy For the Record ...

The Flamin' Groovies: Flame On

Retrospective and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, December 2005

July 4, 1976: America is knee-deep in Bicentennial festivities, but across the pond in London a celebration of a different sort is underway. ...

Gang of Four: Rare Essence

Profile and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, July 2005

TWO SPOTLIGHTS of solar-white intensity arc downward, one aiming stage left, the other to the right. A sudden jerk of the guitar from the illuminated ...

The Go-Betweens: Their Back Pages

Profile and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, June 2005

IS ROCK 'N' ROLL just a fairy tale? Once upon a time there was a magical group called the Beatles. We thought they'd last forever, ...

Robert Gordon: (Still) Red Hot

Retrospective and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, September 2007

IN 1977 a skinny young man with a gravity defying pompadour and a room-filling, Elvis-worthy voice kicked off his solo career with the old Billy ...

Grand Funk Railroad: Train in Vain?

Report and Interview by Fred Mills, Seattle Weekly, August 2002

APRIL 26, 1996, the State Theatre, Detroit: Grand Funk Railroad are onstage together for the first time in two decades, accepting a Lifetime Achievement Award ...

Grand Funk Railroad: Still In A Grand Funk: How The Boys From Flint Exploded, Imploded & Still Haven't Patched Things Up

Retrospective and Interview by Fred Mills, Detroit Metro Times, August 2002

IT'S A SUNNY spring morning in the Motor City but the wind whipping across the Detroit River makes it feel a lot more like winter. ...

The Gun Club: Gun Club: Members Only

Retrospective and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, January 2005

AAHHRRROOOOUUUUU!!! All heads in a Chapel Hill, N.C. club jerk stageward as the frontman for L.A.'s latest punk export summons up an ear-splitting howl. Part ...

The Hoodoo Gurus: Be My Guru: Back to Bedrock with Stoneage Romeos the Hoodoo Gurus

Retrospective and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, January 2007

THANKSGIVING EVE, 1984: Your future Harp correspondent is front and center at a packed Charlotte, NC, punk club, literally hanging on to the monitor of ...

Mark Lanegan: Bubblegum

Review by Fred Mills, No Depression, September 2004

IF YOU HAVE no tolerance for revolving-door "recovering" addicts who feel compelled to chronicle, on record after record, every opium-drenched near-death vision and every groveling ...

Loretta Lynn, The White Stripes: Honky-Tonk Grande Dame: Loretta Lynn And Jack White On Country’s Favorite Daughter

Report and Interview by Fred Mills, Detroit Metro Times, June 2003

SOME MIGHT SEE it as a generational passing of the torch: an established music icon sharing the stage with a younger rising star, and there’s ...

The Minutemen: Men At Work

Report and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, September 2005

DECEMBER 13, 1985: I'm backstage at the Park Center in Charlotte, N.C., where, about an hour ago, the final concert of R.E.M.'s Fables of the ...

Sinead O'Connor: Sinead O’Connor: Saint Sinead

Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, November 2005

SINEAD O'CONNOR'S career to date has included at least two major artistic peaks separated, significantly, by 12 years: 1990's I Do Not Want What I ...

Dan Penn & Spooner Oldham: Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham: The Grey Eagle, Asheville, NC

Live Review by Fred Mills, Harp, April 2006

"THIS IS rock 'n' roll for the older set – we're all sitting down, reading the lyrics..." ...

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers: Album Retrospective: Tom Petty

Retrospective by Fred Mills, Harp, July 2006

...

Robert Pollard's Art of Confusion

Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, January 2006

IN MID-2004 Robert Pollard announced he'd be shutting down his band of 21 years, Guided By Voices, following the release of the group's fifteenth full-length, ...

Rainer Ptacek 1951 - 1997: A Remembrance

Retrospective by Fred Mills, harpmagazine.com, November 2007

HUMANS SEEM to have a genetic predisposition towards the marking of anniversaries, either on formal, outward terms (celebrations, vigils, family gatherings, etc.) or on subtler, ...

Pylon: Everything Is Cool: Form Followed Function For Athens Postpunk Legends Pylon

Retrospective and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, December 2007

CARRBORO, N.C., 1980: An enthusiastic new wave crowd, including your future Harp correspondent, jams into a tiny club in Carrboro (near Chapel Hill) called The ...

Rank and File: Twangbearers

Retrospective and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, August 2003

IN THE early ’80s, some called Rank and File "cowpunks" – others called them just plain revolutionary. ...

Rank and File: Western Union: Rank And File

Retrospective and Interview by Fred Mills, Seattle Weekly, May 2003

A new archival set revisits Chip and Tony Kinman’s pioneering alt-country outfit Rank And File, as the brothers continue to expand their Cowboy Nation. ...

Rockpile: Rock Steady

Retrospective and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, July 2004

THEY CALLED it rock, and boy, did Britain’s Rockpile rock-brashly, boozily, and in one regard, too, belatedly. ...

The Slits: Girls Together Outrageously

Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, March 2005

"You haven't said yet how good I look on my Web site!" ...

Spacemen 3: Medicine Show: The Spacemen 3 fill out another Perfect Prescription

Retrospective and Interview by Fred Mills, Seattle Weekly, June 2003

RUGBY, ENGLAND, SPRING ’87: Four scruffy twentysomethings are sprawled across secondhand bed mattresses arranged at asymmetrical angles on the floor of VHF Studios. The ...

The Stooges: Raw Power Revisited

Interview by Fred Mills, Detroit Metro Times, August 2005

Warning: The following article does not constitute an endorsement of current phonographic products. – Editor ...

The Stooges: Real Cool Time

Retrospective by Fred Mills, Harp, September 2005

"MUDDY, BRUTAL, ecstatic music that grabbed anyone in its path roughly by the scruff of the neck and hurled them headlong into the very wilderness ...

Television: Richard Lloyd: TV Personalities

Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, December 2003

RICHARD LLOYD entertains no illusions regarding the estimable legacy he, fellow guitarist Tom Verlaine, drummer Billy Ficca and bassist Fred Smith forged in Television, both ...

Television

Interview by Fred Mills, Detroit Metro Times, October 2003

"'JAM PUNKS'?!? Uh-oh..." Is the guttural noise coming over the phone line a mock groan or the sound of genuine exasperation? I honestly can't tell, ...

The Three Johns: Three Johns: Dada for now

Retrospective and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, September 2004

NOWADAYS, The Three Johns are often recalled as a side project of Mekons/Waco Brothers instigator Jon Langford. But during their 1982–91 tenure, the hard-rocking 3Js ...

Tom Waits: Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, Asheville, NC

Report and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, August 2006

HE CAME, he saw, he conquered. Meanwhile, he hoisted that rag, he got behind the mule, and he tangoed until we were just about sore. ...

Wire: Not About to Die

Retrospective by Fred Mills, Harp, July 2006

IT'S SOMETIME in late '77 or early '78 and yours truly is toiling away at the distribution center for North Carolina record store chain the ...

Wire: Pretty in Pink

Retrospective and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, June 2006

APRIL 1, 1977, LONDON: Onstage at punk venue the Roxy is a young quartet nearing the end of its 17-song set – which, in a ...

List of genre pieces

Joe Boyd Discusses His Book, White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s

Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, May 2007

AMERICAN-BORN, England-based producer Joe Boyd, who discovered Nick Drake, Fairport Convention and the Incredible String Band, oversaw key recordings by Pink Floyd, R.E.M. and others ...

Terrastock Festival: Providence, Rhode Island

Report and Interview by Fred Mills, Harp, March 2006

THE SIXTH Terrastock Festival--that bastion of psychedelia, nu-folk and experimental music that grew out of Britain's revered Ptolemaic Terrascope magazine--will take place April 21-23 in ...

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