summer 2017, thirty-something lead singer/guitarist Miles
Baltrusaitis hadn’t played an original note of music for an audience
in nearly a decade.
Surprising everyone around him, he went on an intense songwriting
flurry fueled by a broken heart and a suburban life rattled out of
cruise control. After a month’s time, 9 deeply personal chapters of
a complete narrative emerged in need of a band to bring the eclectic
story songs to life.
After a chance encounter, he enlisted the help of fellow Williams
College football teammate and drummer Matt Stankiewicz and his
keyboardist brother Dan when their neo soul band My Blue Valentine
split. The three agreed to launch the band Miles Maxwell (using
Miles’s middle name) when they met bassist Steve Kingwell – a
veteran of numerous suburban Chicago cover bands – through a mutual
friend and the lineup was complete.
Genre-wise, the members have a wide range of influences including
everything from pop-folkies Steve Goodman and Harry Chapin,
alt-country rockers Uncle Tupelo, and the Americana legend Steve
Earle. As a songwriter, Miles is a graduate of the Williams College
Singer Songwriter program that also produced Molly Venter of Red
Molly and Caitlin Canty.
Matt and Dan’s father was a music teacher in Western Massachusetts
where he encouraged them to pursue an education in music. Matt
completed his degree in percussion at Williams while Dan inherited
his father’s passion for vintage electric pianos.
Album: Red Ghost (2018)
The nine compelling tracks on Red Ghost
are lyrically witty and decidedly quirky, but also have a heartfelt
confessional intensity that Miles never could have shared back in
his 20’s. The band’s chief songwriter had to live the pain of
falling for someone and watching that “girl become a ghost” (a lyric
in the rumbling, Prince-styled country rocker “Something New,” which
colorfully weaves the basic story) to write the tunes about it.
Another gem is the tight, edgy blues-rock ballad “She Says (Whiskey
Down at 4 am),” which chronicles a sleazy confrontation in a Vegas
bar where secrets are revealed, true feelings are exposed and a
conversation unravels a larger story.
Title aside, the first release “Terrible Song,” is a mid-tempo
pop/rocker with an irresistible guitar hook that examines how it
feels to pursue a fling that shouldn’t have happened and couldn’t
last. Though it’s the final song on the album, the Fender Rhodes,
organ and guitar-driven blues ballad “Red Ghost” is the album’s
emotional centerpiece. As Miles says, “It’s a song about trying to
close the chapter on a story that is blurry and fading in the rear
view mirror. Trying to make sense of the unknown, like why didn’t
things work? What was wrong with me? What was wrong with her? Where
do I go from here? It’s not a happy ending but an ending
When speaking of the recording process, Miles added “I love the
dynamic we have where I can bring in a crazy idea, riff, lyric or
story to Matt and Dan and they instinctively know how to give shape
They’ll improve on it with extended vocal harmonies, or use their
deep understanding of tempo and change the rhythm scheme to make it
Then we put Steve on top of that and we’ve got something pretty
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