For most, taking on one too many projects can trigger panic-inducing overwhelm or the sensation of being buried alive. For guitarist Miles Dimitri Baker, on the other hand, multiple undertakings are a mere balancing act – an opportunity to juggle interests and obligations like flaming chainsaws.
From presently touring alongside Metallica with Ice Nine Kills to filming a Nashville slasher wherein he may or may not meet his demise, Baker both defines the rockstar lifestyle and defies the limited hours in a day (admittedly at the sacrifice of sleep). SPIN caught up with the fast fingers at the forefront of heavy metal bands Interloper and Voidbringer to understand how he does it and what life’s like for the hands-full thrasher.
SPIN: What does a day in the life of Miles Dimitri Baker look like?
MDB: I try my best to wake up before noon. I don’t always succeed [laughs], but from there I try to get all of my social media stuff and messaging out of the way. Then, I’ll make my bed so it feels like I’ve done something [laughs] – this is a new development. After that, depending on the day, I’ll teach about five or six guitar lessons. I try to moderate the lessons so I don’t get burned out on playing.
I’ve been living this strange nightlife for, like, 10 years and I’m getting tired of it. I want to have a little more of a normal schedule, so I’ll try to get my guitar playing, practicing, and all that stuff out of the way early on, because as the day goes by, I get tired and I’m less productive. That leaves time for things later on like streaming, which is something I’ve been getting into recently.
That’s what my life looks like usually, but I’m about to leave on tour with Ice Nine Kills, so that’s made my days look a little different. With rehearsals going on and getting ready for the tour, you know, I’ve been spending time working on these tunes and making sure I’m good to go.
Tell us a little bit about your involvement in the forthcoming slasher, Deathwoods. Could you ever see yourself seriously getting into acting?
I was at Silver Scream Con which is the Ice Nine Kills horror convention, and this guy comes up to me and he’s like “Hey man, I’ve got this up-and-coming horror film. Would you want to be a part of it?”
It’s a super indy thing, which is cool because a lot of those slasher-type films are supposed to be like that. I don’t know how I’d feel seeing a slasher film that’s super high production. There’s just something about them that’s supposed to be kind of shoddy [laughs]. It’d be like listening to a super underground punk rock band with a million-dollar record production.
Yeah, I think I can see myself doing that. I’m definitely open to it. It was fun.
What’s your favorite horror movie of all time?
Picking a favorite horror movie is so tough because I swear there are movies I’m forgetting, but I’d put this one on the higher end of the list: Train to Busan. Another one I’d put up there is probably The Devil’s Rejects. That’s a good one.
You recently got a Half-Life tattoo and we know your band Voidbringer’s Wasteland EP cover was kind of inspired by the videogame Fallout. Tell us a little bit about your affinity for video games and tattoos…
I’m not a horror buff, but I love horror games. I have a particular interest in post-apocalyptic and dystopian games like Dishonored and Bioshock. Half-Life is a big game I grew up playing, also Quake and Doom, Duke Nukem, and Left 4 Dead. I’ve always liked games like that a lot – games like Outlast; that’s a horror game for sure. That game is terrifying. There’s also a new one called the Outlast Trials. I’ve got all this stuff going on [with music] and I’m doing streaming now, and I’m like, “All I want to do is play video games. I’m never gonna play guitar again [laughs].”
But yeah, back to tattoos, I’ve got Gordon Freeman from Half-Life on the front of my arm and I’ve got a Headcrab Zombie from the Black Mesa Research Facility on the back. They’re done by a Russian photo realism artist named Inal Bersekov who works in New York. He’s wild.
Video Credit: Chris Bower
How did you link up with Ice Nine Kills?
Dan Sugarman, [lead guitarist for Ice Nine Kills], is a friend of mine, and he hit me up one night like “Hey man, would you be interested in filling in for me with Ice Nine Kills on this Metallica tour?”
I didn’t really know what was going on, but I was like, “Of course.” So we started talking more about the situation and it turns out he has a cancerous tumor on his thyroid that he needed to get taken care of.
Dan sent me the Assault & Batteries solo, the Funeral Derangements solo, and the Welcome to Horrorwoods solo and was like, “Can you learn these by Sunday and send them to the guys?” I did it right away, sent them a video at probably four or five in the morning, and eventually got a call from their attorney Eric – a very nice guy.
After asking me a bunch of questions – basically vetting me because Ice Nine isn’t just some small band, you know, everything has to be pro – he says, “Alright, I’ll give you a call back later.” I’m like sweating bullets, you know? He gives me a call back a little bit later in the day, around evening time, and he says, “You got the gig. Everyone I reached out to about you had nothing but good things to say. Rehearsal’s on Monday.”
So I get the Ice Nine setlist and it’s 15 songs and it’s Thursday and rehearsal is on Monday. It was like 18 hours a day, I’d wake up and immediately start learning the songs. There was a lot of stuff that needed to be done – Dan isn’t your average player – and I wanted to not only make sure I was doing it the right way but doing Dan justice. The following Monday we flew out to Europe and I just never went home [laughs].
What’s it been like touring with a legacy band like Metallica?
Playing some of these massive stadiums has been [crazy]. It’s pretty unbelievable playing in venues that are holding, like, 100,000 people. Also, something awesome about Metallica is how friendly they all are. They’ve gone out of their way to introduce themselves and even took us out to dinner in Paris and New Jersey. There’s no ego with those guys. It’s also been cool to see how such a massive production happens. With Metallica, there are tons of trucks and people, it’s like a small city working to put these shows together.
What are some touring tips you’d offer having been doing this for the last decade?
It’s a common one, but I’d recommend keeping all of your stuff in one place. God forbid you go out and have some drinks or something and you come back and it’s like, “Where are all my things?” Trying to rest and sleep is another huge thing. It’s nothing groundbreaking, but it’s important. So is trying to maintain a normal schedule and stay productive. You have all this extra time; it’s not good for the human body, the human mind, to just kind of coast for that long.
Any good gear recommendations for touring?
A piece of gear that I absolutely have to have with me on tour is a practice amp. I have a Boss Katana – it’s a little rectangle thing that’s nice and small, you can put it in a checked bag or backpack. It also makes it easy to have your tools with you, so things like extra sets of strings are good to have. I like the NANOWEB Coated ones from Elixir Strings; they’re incredibly soft on the fingers and they sound great.
Photo Credit: Adam Reed
You’re clearly a busy dude. How do you juggle everything?
This is uncharted territory for me having this many things going on.
Before the Ice Nine gig, I was gone for most of the year in Asia, Australia, and New Zealand – just so busy. So Andrew Virrueta has taken the reigns with Interloper and he’s been crushing it. I’ve been fortunate in that way, having someone who is so equipped to do this when I’m like “Hey, sorry. I’m gonna leave our band for the whole year.”
It’s really about time management and trying to sleep, which I don’t do much of, but I should [laughs]. I try to get the little things out of the way so I have time for the big things. I take a deep breath and try to prioritize the things I’m in control of.
What’s a genre of music you could see yourself being a part of in an alternate universe, something completely removed from the sounds of Interloper, Rings of Saturn, VoidBringer, etc.?
Country. I like country music. I was just in Nashville – the Deathwoods movie was shot in that area and a buddy of mine who I grew up with lives out there – and we went to the downtown area where all the bars are and all the country music was playing and it was just so sick. Some of it’s super honky tonk and I’m like “This is a bit much,” but as a whole, I’m into it. I like the music. It’s fun. And some of those guitar players really rip.
What are you up to next?
By the time this goes live, I’ll be on the Kiss of Death Tour coheadlining with Ice Nine Kills, Avatar, and New Years Day. Outside of that, I’ve got some stuff going on next year with a few other bands, so keep an eye out.
So, yeah, I’ve got tours, I’ll be teaching in between tours, and stay tuned for my streaming stuff. I’ll be streaming a lot of horror games, Call of Duty, and some guitar. That’s all I’m up to. When I put it that way, it doesn’t seem like that much, but it feels like a lot [laughs].