Catching Up With Miles Nielsen, Who’s Got a Big Guitar Pick to Fill

By Patty Wetli | Monday, June 11, 2012

Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts perform at Ribfest. Credit: Patty Wetli

Miles Nielsen, who performed at Ribfest Sunday night with his band the Rusted Hearts, knows his way around a melody. Not surprising given that his dad is Rick Nielsen, lead guitarist and primary songwriter for Cheap Trick.

Those are some big footsteps to follow, which might explain while Miles is carving a different path, eschewing his father’s power pop/rock for a sunnier sound that features tight harmonies and a rootsier feel grounded in the singer’s Midwest background. We caught up with Nielsen for a quick chat as he set out t-shirts and albums for sale at the fest.

CSJ: To an up-and-coming band, what’s the value of performing at a venue like Ribfest?

Nielsen: It probably allows us to hit a lot of people who wouldn’t gravitate to our shows, people just passing by. People are here to have a good time, it’s up to us to take advantage of the folks paying attention.

CSJ: What do you make of the current indie, folk and roots revival?

Nielsen: There’s substance to it. For a little while there, we lost a little of the heart. Band aren’t going for the record deal, they’re going for the fans.

CSJ: You’ve played as a solo artist and as part of a band. What does the band bring to your work?

Nielsen: You have a lot more drivers in the van.

With a song, it can get to a place that’s orchestrated. When I hear a song, it’s usually full produced. Knowing these guys can play a bunch of instruments, these guys can play it how I hear it in my head.

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