singer / songwriter / band leader / multi-instrumentalist / recording engineer / producer / videographer
Laurence Bond Miller was born and raised in Ann Arbor Michigan, and as youngest in a musical family of 5 was exposed to many types of music during his formative years: Romantic Classical and Modern 20th Century orchestral music from his father, 50s Classics and 60s folk through his older siblings, and finally drowned in "British Invasion", pop psychedelia, free-form Jazz and New Wave Punk from teens to twenties. This variety of influences has been evident in his songwriting throughout his career.
Miller had formal training in piano and clarinet during grade school, playing in school concert bands. At age twelve however, with Beatle-mania in full swing, he began to quickly pursue the new R&R music of the time; Syd Barrett’s PINK FLOYD, JIMI HENDRIX, PROCAL HAREM, SOFT MACHINE, CAPTAIN BEEFHEART & HIS MAGIC BAND, SILVER APPLES, SRC and THE MC-5 to name a few.
One fateful night, Laurence and his two teen brothers Roger and Ben, found themselves in the basement improvising in high energy free form R&R. This so inspired the three that they set out to form an original band, FREAK TRIO with the full intent to produce ground breaking "space music". By 1969 a trumpeter was added (Harold Kirtchen ~ brother to Commander Cody of the Lost Planet Airmen of Hot Rod Lincoln fame), now calling themselves SPROTON LAYER. Their final recording in 1970, "With Magnetic Fields Disrupted", was later released in 1991 on New Alliance Records, a subsidy of SST, receiving rave reviews. More recordings have been dislodged from the archives (1969 to 1971) with plans for another release in 2011.
Though primarily a drummer in his early youth, he also taught himself how to play the guitar. Being left-handed and unable to afford a "southpaw" model, Laurence learned how to play his brother's right-handed guitar upside down. Songwriting began, and soon after, recording on the family's analogue stereo tape recorder.
Sadly, R&R devolved back into the mainstream as jocks and hillbillies began smoking dope and dropping acid. Discouraged then as the 70's progressed, Laurence threw himself into contemporary orchestral music, free-form jazz, and music college. During his discontented experience in school, Miller continued to write, working with instrumental horn oriented ensembles focusing on open ended improvisation. His signature at the time was to use musical notation mixed with "staff art" to express his original ideas. With the advent of sound on sound multi track processing, Laurence was able to experiment with his compositions, all by his lonesome. He became comfortable with this recording process and managed to document many works, crude as they were. First thru the simple 2-track method using both channels of a stereo tape deck, learning the art of doubling vocal tracks, and later learning the ins & outs of sound on sound, as mentioned. A facinating documentary collection of these solo tapes can be found on his absurd 2002 release, "Turn a Left, and Down the Hall".
NOTE: By the mid 80's Laurence learned how to produce full multitrack solo recordings using 4 and 8 track analogue machines, documenting much of his music again, by himself. A learning curve he continues to roll out today.
By 1976, as interest in college waned, Laurence moved back home and formed a psychedlic noise band called EMPOOL. It was this NE-side A2 band that melted into the SW-side A2 band, Destroy All Monsters, which later made history with Ron Asheton and Michael Davis.
By 1977, as the Punk Movement began taking serious root, Laurence (now having dropped out of the school scene) and his twin brother Ben, became instrumental in the makings of DESTROY ALL MONSTERS. D.A.M. were then considered to be Detroit’s first punk band, featuring X-STOOGE guitarist Ron Asheton and X-MC-5 bassist Michael Davis. Opening up for the likes of THE RAMONES, PERE UBU, and DEVO, Laurence & Ben left their mark on D.A.M.’s first two singles; “You’re Gonna Die b/w Bored” and “November 22nd 1963 b/w Meet The Creeper” released on their manager’s private label IDBI Records. These were later released in FRANCE on Revenge Records (1989) on vinyl and CD along with other singles and out-takes entitled “Nov. 22nd 1963 / Singles & Rarities”. There were two other songs recorded during that studio session, both penned by Laurence and Ben. Broken Mirrors and Taken For Granite. To this day they have not seen the light.
Though much fun and initial opportunity sprang up, Laurence and Ben’s interest with D.A.M. did not last long before personal, financial, and musical confilcts developed. The twins left the band in October 1978 to pursue more creative projects. XANADU, an X-D.A.M. recording collective, quickly formed producing an interesting 4-song 7" EP entitled, "Blackout in the City". This was released in January 1979 on Black Hole Records and featured compositions by Laurence, Ben, and Cary (original founder of D.A.M.), with drummer Rob King (D.A.M.) supplying the back beat.
NOTE: In 1978, Laurence met Donna Sevakis and by 1979 were well on their way creating a family together. Despite their rough domestic terrain, there were successes shared in the process, including three beautiful daughters, Tara, Ashia, and Brittany. Another child, a wonderful son named Brenten, was fostered later in another relationship of Donna's, after she and Laurence went their separate ways. Donna's voice is heard on the title cut of XANADU'S "Blackout in the City".
Laurence continued working with his twin brother during the first half of the 80's, co-leading Ann Arbor’s post-punk bands THE SAME BAND, THE OTHER BAND, and NON-FICTION. NON-FICTION, a well rehearsed power-trio mixing hard pop with the avant-garde, was one of 12 bands picked for Ann Arbor’s 1st compilation LP “Cruzin’ Ann Arbor” (1982). This featured a song written by Laurence entitled Walkie-Talkie and received favorable reviews nationwide. In 1984, after reaching local notoriety, co-billing with such bands as DREAM SINDICATE and THE REPLACEMENTS, NON-FICTION released a half-live half-studio double LP cassette called "Walking Sideways, Talking Backwards", considered by The Metro Times as “...best local release of the year!..” The band, disheartened by local club politics, then broke up in Spring 1985.
As a side project during this time, Laurence formed RADIO SILENCE, a "relief" from the sometimes boring head banging results of gigging with NON-FICTION. RADIO SILIENCE considered themselves punk-jazz, however that was highly debatable . No real claim to fame there, however they did release a selftitled cassette featuring a "live" set on side A followed by obscure home studio recordings on side B.
During this same time period he also worked, if not briefly, with his twin bro's side project, G.K.W. (standing for God Knows Who). This truly avant gaurde band was not everyone's cup of tea. Laurence's acting role in the band amounted something a kin to spoken word. G.K.W. released several low budget cassettes over the course of the mid-80's, of which Laurence was on a few, under the moniker Larynx Bond. G.K.W. was later recognized by Laurie Anderson in the world of performance art.
For the remainder of that decade, Laurence continued as band leader / songwriter for THE EMPTY SET (an offshoot of NON-FICTION). Networking out of L.A., THE EMPTY SET recorded extensively, show-casing in LA., Chicago, Detroit, Boston, NYC, and Toronto. In 1986, they released a 4-song 7” EP entitled “Wandering In Wonder”, and again in 1988, their full length LP “Lost In a Ryptide” hailed by Detroit Metro Times as “...a ten-song work of art!...”, both on their private label, LALA Records. (During that time, Miller performed many of these songs unplugged on 12-string acoustic guitar, as LAURENCE BOND, releasing a handful of self-produced cassettes, locally.)
In the fall of 1989, Laurence and his two brothers Ben and Roger (as a departure from their priority projects) formed the recording collective M3. The Millers Three began recording a wild collection of original compositions and improvisations, later to be released in 1993 on SST’s subsidiary label, New Alliance Records. This selftitled Cd, "M3", was reviewed in GUITAR PLAYER Magazine (June ‘93) as “...one of the richest guitar albums to emerge this year… Later in the year, Roger was hailed as “one of 30 most original American guitarist of the ‘80’s…” M3 survives today with their 2nd Cd, "Unearthing", released in 2001 on Sublingual Records, and a 3rd Cd rumored in the works.
By early 1990 Laurence had and got sober & cleanr via AA's 12-Step Program . He then formed his own record label & publishing company; FarFetched Records & Bond Voyage Music and soon parted ways with THE EMPTY SET. In his home studio, performing all tracks himself, Miller began recording and releasing fresh, maniacal camp-rock originals for his brand new right-brainchild, LARYNX ZILLION'S NOVELTY SHOP. Remaining as an obscure local cult phenomena, LARYNX ZILLION’S NOVELTY SHOP has 5 releases to it's credit. Three versions of their manifesto "Southpaws Unite!" (1) A 7” one song picture-disc flexi sporting a special larboard mix (2) A 9” six song flexi compilation (3) And last but not least a cassette comp version with 2 bonus tracks. "Songs of Recovery (from anything or anyone)" (transparent vitamin piss yellow vinyl 7” single), and "Queen of Queens", a 4-song special mix preview to their still unreleased upcoming double-length feature, "Hotter Than The Dickens!" With nearly 24 tracks in the can, the future still looks bright for THE SHOP. It's just a matter of time...
NOTE: For a brief time during ZILLION’S reign, Laurence returned to his roots, dabbling into the Power-Pop Trio genre. Miller put together a three piece called GORDON GIGANTIC. Although short lived, GORDON GIGANTIC’S self titled cassette, hit Top 10 on the Ann Arbor ‘zine, AGENDA’s List of “Best of ‘95”.
In the summer of 1996, shortly after regrouping LARYNX ZILLION’S NOVELTY SHOP for one last blowout, Miller chose to hang up his electrical performances for a good long time. As in the mid-80’s, he again paired down to solo acoustic guitar, nervously hooking up with the New Folk revival. Unplugging the cream of his older crop, mixed with a handful of recent material, LAURENCE BOND MILLER began playing out the local open mics and coffee shop venues in the Detroit/Metro area. In the fall of that year, Miller recorded 10 originals, titled Laurence w/ a “U” as his first self-produced acoustic release in ten years. Sadly, today’s Folk audience had a greater need for rehashed 60’s sentiments and politics than the landscape Laurence set out to offer. Bitingly beautiful introspection, somewhere between Slyvia Plath and Robin Hitchcock.
It should be noted that there was a period in the mid 90's where Laurence put together a mock lounge act, called MEZZANINE. We won't bore you with the details, though like other creative projects of his, this one was clearly misunderstood. Over time -- into the new millennium -- it evolved into a more sophisticated amalgamation entitled VELVETEEN BLUE . A cross between a bloody Blue Eyes and The King on bad acid... but we won't get into that here quite yet.
MISTER LAURENCE: In 1998 Laurence created a music program for children and began to teach in the local preschools. His immediate bonding with the kids inspired him to continue. Laurence soon came to the revealing conclusion that his real target audience was children. As all teachers in the preschool community are addressed by their first name, Laurence had the chance to reinvent himself yet one more time, this time as MISTER LAURENCE. Over the next 10 years, with the help of The Play Money Band, his prerecorded backup group, "Mister Laurence" single handedly wrote, recorded, and released over 10 CD's, produced 2 award winning children's music video collections, developed his own radio personality (WCBN 88.3), and produced a cable TV kids series featuring yet more music videos. Go figure?
MEZZANINE and VELVETEEN BLUE
Meanwhile, In 2003 Laurence brought back his tongue n' cheek vision of MEZZANINE, renaming the outfit after David Lynch's film, Blue Velvet, VELVETEEN BLUE. Though managing a gig at the prestigious Ann Arbor jazz venue, The Fire Fly Club, VELVETEEN BLUE quickly transgressed into an existential stand up comic routine -- and from there, returned to star dust. They did however claim Finalist Award at The 2004 Philo T. Farnsworth Festival for their music video, SHOOT THE PIANO MAN. End of story.
Though children's music remains Miller's main focus to this day, the idea of getting into FILM had been swimming in his head for decades, and in 2004 the itch finally took root. Laurence began having fun producing short experimental narrative films, soon receiving attention and awards from various national festivals.
Laurence Miller had another itch needing scratching, as well. R&R. So, Miller formed a new R&R band in November of 2007 called MY BIOIGRAPHY. Named by his drummer (the same cat who drummed and named his 90's band, GORDON GIGANTIC, MY BIOGRAPHY is a cross between Miller's earlier bands NONFICTION and THE EMPTY SET. Demo recordings and community television music video productions were made, but no CD product. They are currently hybernating.
THE COLOR OF WATER
And, it was around this time too that watercolor painting became a passion of his. Miller had dabbled in art in his youth with scribbly two-dimensional designs and color drawings using pencil or pen, and always excecuted under the influence. Now long since sober and clean, Miller began to rerender the most inspired of these on a far larger scale using water color. In 2010 he began working on a visual/audio art film project with twin brother, Ben Miller. Filming himself as he painted, Laurence later edited the footage into a surreal visual presentation with Benjamin recording a textural soundtrack underneath. 2011 saw the end result of this joint effort with three DVD's. Plans are to hit local galleries in 2012 using mixed media.
THE MISTER LAURENCE EXPERIENCE
2009 was a big year that saw "Mister Laurence" expanding his children's presentation from a solo karaoke styled performer, into a duo with the beauty & brains of his new love, Ms. Princess Melinda on the keyboards and vocals. Producing an award winning community television kids show, MISTER LAURENCE'S "Enchanted" GREEN TREE FORT (1st Place NATAO Award, fall 2010) with multiple award winning music videos STAR FISH and THE SKY IS IN THE SKY as well as releasing their new Cd MARMALINE (My Music Machine) with a debut fall performance, Mister Laurence's "expanding experience" began to take hold!
In 2010 a third member was added to the band, making it a full blown kiddie-rock power trio. OSO the Drumming Bear (animatronic brainchild of Ms. Princess Melinda) hit the scene kicking royal butt in their award winning music video "I'm GLAD at You!" with a real life debut performance in December of that year. The band continues to produce wild kids music videos including HOW NOW BROWN COW? and TEDDY BEAR'S PICNIC.
For more info: www.misterlaurence.com
(in the process of re-editing)
From 1969 to 1971 (Ann Arbor, Michigan) Laurence played drums in Sproton Layer, a psychedelic rock quartet with brothers' Roger (Mission Of Burma, Binary System, Alloy Orchestra) and Benjamin (Destroy All Monsters, Nonfiction, degeneration). With all band members still in High School, Sproton Layer opened up for both Commander Cody & The Lost Planet Airmen and Carnal Kitchen (with sax player Andy Mackay). "With Magetic Fields Disrupted" was recorded in 1970 and initially released on New Alliance Records in 1992. The group was described as "Syd Barrett fronting Cream" in the book Our Band Could Be Your Life by Michael Azzarad. This obscure recording has been remastered and re-released 2011 on the German label WORLD OF SOUND with a 20+ page fold-out.
In 1976, Laurence and twin brother Ben joined with Cary Loren's Destroy All Monsters. In
as Destroy All Monsters' second incarnation, Ron Asheton (The Stooges) and Michael Davis (The MC5) joined the party, and for the next two years this Ann Arbor/Detroit-based punk band pumped out a haphazard wall of sound opening up for Sonic Rendezvous, Pere Ubu, The Ramones, Devo, Lydia Lunch, Suicide, The Romantics, The Stranglers, and many others. Laurence and Ben left the band late 1978 due to creative differences, but before doing so left their mark on the band's first two singles; “You’re Gonna Die b/w Bored” and “November 22nd 1963 b/w Meet The Creeper". There were two songs recorded during that studio session, both penned by Laurence and Ben, which to this day remain unreleased; Taken For Granite and Broken Mirrors.
"... While not as well known as the Stooges or the MC5, Destroy All Monsters
were another Ann Arbor band whose influence far outstretched its life as an
active band. Combining art punk, free jazz, garage rock and lead singer
Niagara's histrionics, Destroy All Monsters were the hidden link between
the Velvet Underground and no-wave bands like Sonic Youth..."
Josh Steichmann ANN ARBOR CURRENT Sept. 2004
XANADU, an X-D.A.M. recording collective, quickly formed producing an interesting 4-song 7" EP entitled, "Blackout in the City" released in January 1979.
"...Black Out in the City begins with “No Change” as a pre-recorded toddler’s voice counts off “1-2-3-4”, but when the guitar bursts in like a twitching Ronnie Montrose overdosed on diet pills, the riffs come fast and furious and rock out to the max. As well they should, because they’re pushed up in the mix to dwarf everything but the Lou Reed vocals of Larry Miller who deadpans against his guitar riffs behind cool black shades. It really is one of the most unpredictable guitar lines ever as it stops, starts before it then begins all over again but never loses the rhythm for a second, which nearly herky-jerks itself off into a fit. It’s almost like Radio Birdman playing within a hollowed-out Rush exoskeleton -- but minus all the excruciating drum fills, temple bells, crotales and gong-a-gongs. The guitar is searching its pockets for yet another reason to riff on, and suspending disbelief, it manages to in the most incredible way. Miller searches his back pocket -- there’s another one! -- And from his left jeans pocket: another. It’s as though he had so many great ideas for riffs he couldn’t decide so compromised by chucking them all in and be damned with the consequences, which are awesome. Or he’s about to forget how to play guitar permanently by session’s end, so he’s got to get them all out right now. It’s a run on sentence of verbal guitar tersely reigned in against the pre-recorded rhythm guitar and faint drumming, which is bulldozed to the back wall. What did they treat the water supply of Michigan with -- amphetamines?!! Miller’s still singing behind his shades, interrupting his previous guitar line with yet another different one, and never once does it scatter into discord, but it dares to at any moment. Under-recorded handclaps then go neck and neck with an ever-stinging solo that stretches beyond the limits of its capabilities as it reaches out and throttles it out to the horizon of its eternal tangledness far beyond the fade out.
The Seth Man, Book of Seth / Dec 2000
Laurence continued working with his twin brother during the first half of the 80's, co-leading Ann Arbor’s post-punk bands THE SAME BAND, THE OTHER BAND, and NON-FICTION.
NON-FICTION, a well rehearsed power-trio mixing hard pop with the
avant-garde, was one of 12 bands picked for Ann Arbor’s 1st compilation
LP “Cruzin’ Ann Arbor” (1982). This featured a song written by Laurence entitled Walkie-Talkie receiving favorable reviews nationwide.
is perhaps the most creative and exciting band in Ann Arbor. An outgrowth of
the Same Band, Nonfiction is composed of Ben Miller, his twin brother Larry and
former Confessions drummer Bill Frank. Drawing upon influences as rich as Eno,
Hendrix, MX-80 Sound and Pere Ubu, the trio has come up with an unusual fusion.
In live performance, Nonfiction is simultaneously danceable, intelligent and
funny. Though they are the supporting act on the bill, their set should be the
musical highlight of the night..."
Bill Brown, The Ann Arbor News / 21 August 1982"...There are questions that other musicians would answer until they were blue in the face (like ‘How did you come up with the name for the band?’) that the members of Nonfiction will answer in a few short sentences or a sincere ‘I don’t know.’ The bottom line is that they have no need of the gift of gab. Fluent in at least four different musical languages (jazz, rock, classical and experimental), they play what they need to say. And, on a good night, Nonfiction says it so well that the air can be filled with that electric sense that you were there when something exciting took place..."
Bill Brown, The Ann Arbor News / 20 November 1982
"...aggressively avant guarde pop - one of the few bands that can handle atonality and a beat at the same time..."
The Ann Arbor News / November 1984
In 1984, after reaching local notoriety, co-billing with such bands as The Replacements, Dream Sindicate and Lydia Lunch 8-Eyed Spy, NON-FICTION released a half-live half-studio double LP cassette called "Walking Sideways, Talking Backwards".
“...best local release of the year!..”
Detroit Metro Times Dec 1984The band, disheartened by local club politics, disbanded in Spring 1985. Miller then decided to do the next best thing. Go solo. This was when he first began writing and playing out "unplugged", opening for established local groups like RHYTHM CORE and MAP OFTHE WORLD. Without a record label behind him, Miller was forced to go it alone and record his self-produced four-track cassette tapes on his own. Vinyl was too expensive, and Cds were beyond affordable, unlike today where one can record and burn them at home a dime a dozen. The best of these recordings made it to his CD collection, "DEMONSTRATION". This new acoustic direction helped fuel the softer side he'd lost. A year later, and for the remainder of that decade, Laurence continued as band leader / songwriter for THE EMPTY SET (an offshoot of NON-FICTION). Networking out of L.A., THE EMPTY SET recorded extensively, show-casing in LA., Chicago, Detroit, Boston, NYC, and Toronto, opening up for such bands as Hoodoo Gurus and NoMan. In 1986, they released a 4-song 7” EP entitled “Wandering In Wonder”, and again in 1988, their full length LP “Lost In a Ryptide”
“...a ten-song work of art...”
Detroit Metro Times / June 1988
In the fall of 1989, Laurence and his brother, Ben and Roger (Mission of Burma) formed the recording collective M3 and began working on a
collection of original compositions and improvisations, eventually
released in 1993 on SST’s subsidiary label, New Alliance Records. This was the first time all three brothers worked together since their late 1960's acid rock band, SPROTON LAYER.
"...M3 self-titled debut CD; one of the richest guitar albums to emerge this year…
Guitar Player Magazine / June 1993
Being that no brother lives in the same state, this long-distance collaboration is infrequent at best. A second CD was recorded late 1990's and released under the name UNEARTHING in 2001.By 1990 Laurence formed his own record label & publishing company; FarFetched Records & Bond Voyage Music, parted ways with THE EMPTY SET, switched gears and began recording and releasing maniacal camp-rock originals for his brand new right-brainchild, LARYNX ZILLION'S NOVELTY SHOP. Remaining as an obscure local cult phenomena, LARYNX ZILLION’S NOVELTY SHOP and it's various band mates aquired 5 releases to it's credit. Three versions of their manifesto flexi-disk "Southpaws Unite!" , 45 rpm "Songs of Recovery (from anything or anyone)", and "Queen of Queens" - a special mix cassette preview to their still unreleased double-length feature, "Hotter Than The Dickens!"
"...Disneyland on fast-forward, spinning out of control...”
Decontrol (Alabama) / June 1991
"...probably won’t be understood by the American listening public until late in the 21st century...”
Ann Arbor CURRENT / March 1992
“... * * * * 4 stars ... David Bowie at his most glam and experimental...”
Ann Arbor News / May 1996
“...some of the most multi-layered twistedly complex rock and roll to ever spring from this city. Whether it be Steve Reichian time signatures, stereo headphone freak-outs, science fiction psycho ward confessions of a religious vision with a band that crashes the wall at 180 mph, Zillion is a master of bizarre timing, maniacal ravings and guitar solos from all-night radio stations, blasting from the boom boxes of hell! In a world where most “R & R” bands are more concerned about THE BIG RECORD DEAL, Larynx Zillion’s Novelty Shop is cause for celebration!...”
Agenda - Ann Arbor’s Alternative / June 1996
"...Ann Arbor’s Mothers Of Invention..."Jam Rag (Detroit) / December 1996
Miller put together a short lived three piece called GORDON GIGANTIC in 1996 releasing a self-titled cassette.
"... Top 10 Best Local Releases of 1995"
Ann Arbor AGENDA’s / January 1996
By the time the new millennium arrived, Laurence had reinvented himself as MISTER LAURENCE and his Play Money Band. A unique class of children's entertainment, performing along to his original recorded backing tracks to kids of all ages. He has continued with this persona to this day, along with his solo-singer-songwriter performance and various music & film projects, including a short-lived rock band called MY BIOGRAPHY.
SPROTON LAYER 2013 Reunion mini-tour
"... A decade ago Mission Of Burma bucked the trend and became one of the rare instances of a rock band - one which had disbanded at the peak of their powers - reuniting and not only not sucking but going on to a whole second act, no less creative and vigorous than before. This year Roger pulled yet another neat trick, reuniting the high school band he had back in Ann Arbor with his twin younger brothers Benjamin and Laurence, and doing some select club dates that were not only not embarassing, but a positive revelation.
Sproton Layer at N.Y.C.'s Mercury Lounge this evening showed that the teen trio's sources were pretty close to the surface - lots of Interstellar Overdrive, some jagged Crimson riffing, a little 'out' jazz and plenty of late psych flourishes, including some Forever Changes trumpet blasts - but they made them into something of their own and delivered them with the benefit of 40+ years worth of hard-earned chops. It's definitely music of its time (1969-70), but you could hear plenty of premonitions of what they would go on to do in MOB, Destroy All Monsters and their other projects over the years. It also sounded convincingly contemporary for 2013, and how many people could say that about their high school band?
In a perfect world Sproton Layer, too, would pick up where they left off and carry on for a few more great records, but who knows if their other projects will allow that? In any case, if you get the chance to see them by all means go, you're in for a treat..."
John Neilson - CREEM, Option, Matter, NY Rocker July 27th 2013