Morgantown, West Virginia’s Worst Kept Secret is an aggressive, punky southern metal band with many accolades to their credit thus far in their short career. The group combines the best elements of Pantera, Every Time I Die and Killswitch Engage into their own, particularly accessible brand of heavy music, thanks to sing-along choruses you’d expect from a punk or pop-punk.
With two EPs and 2017”s debut full-length, Confidence|Arrogance, already under their collective belt, Worst Kept Secret are set to release their third EP, aptly titled III, tomorrow, April 19th (which you can pre-order on iTunes among sites). In addition to their musical resume, Worst Kept Secret have various endorsement deals, including a whiskey endorsement with Coldcock Whiskey, a clothing endorsement with Collar X Elbow, and a string endorsement with GHS strings.
Aside from music though, perhaps the band’s largest venture is their custom beer called the “Dyrti Blonde” which is brewed by the Brewstel in Elkins, West Virginia. We spoke with Worst Kept Secret guitarist Jared Miller about their hometown, their beer, the new EP III, and loads more. Check it out!
There’s no better evidence of the band’s accessible sound than their cover of the Goo Goo Dolls’ track “Broadway.”
Congrats on your new album, III. Tell us, are there any themes or key topics highlighted throughout the record?
Jared Miller: First of all, thanks for taking the time out of your day to do this interview. As far as themes go, I’d say that this record is our “growing up” record. The lyrics and the musicianship reflect that in my opinion. If you compare this to our last release (Confidence|Arrogance), in 2017, III is just all around more mature. The songs on III reflect things that members of the band and many people we know have experienced. Each of the three songs is meant to have the message of hope. That was the goal. That there’s always hope. Whether that be dealing with losing a loved one (“Suffer”), breaking free of a toxic relationship/drug addiction (“Leech”), or finding hope and positivity in a negative situation (“Fight”). But we hope the songs mean something different to everyone.
Speaking of the new release, the album cover is awesome. How did the artwork come about?
Miller: We have always used a “Bear” logo and this was kind of the evolution (and I guess decomposition) of the original logo. We wanted to make something that we can be identified with, without necessarily having our name on it. You see a Nike logo and it doesn’t say Nike, but you know what it is. Not that we are near that level, but that’s the goal. Just branding. The original logo was designed by Jennifer Johnson (@jenniferss06) and then kind of tweaked by Michael Fowler (@functionless_art).
We can already see fans getting the album cover or the skull as a tattoo. What’s the new album’s merch situation going to be like?
Miller: If anyone gets a tattoo of our logo they can come to our shows for free for life. Merch, hats, shirts, stickers, pins, beer…
What is Worst Kept Secret’s worst kept secret?
Miller: That our name came from Fall Out Boy’s “Nobody Puts Baby in the Corner” and that we actually don’t play that well while intoxicated.
Guess what? You lucky ducks get stream the full, three-song EP ahead of the public release date!
You’re from Morgantown, West Virginia. What is the scene like there and what about your hometown makes your rock so awesomely aggressive?
Miller: The scene here is great but it comes and goes. Three years ago you couldn’t keep track of all of the bands and now it seems like there’s only a few left, as far as rock, metal, and punk go. As far as the aggressive nature of WKS, I think it’s still stemming from when we started. We wanted to bring something different to the “scene” back then and it felt like most bands were pure metalcore or just really sad. We were like “fuck this, let’s have fun.” Then it was a matter of channeling all the frustration from our daily lives. Plus, when we first started some bands were very, very political, like “hey we are your friends unless you get something we don’t think you deserve and then we will cut your throat” so that really helped us (laughs).
What are your favourite and least favourite things about III?
Miller: My favorite thing is once again the maturity and accessibility of the music. We are all really proud of this. My least favorite is that it’s only an EP. But with the majority of today’s listeners’ attention spans no one wants to listen to ten songs. On our last record we thought the best songs were the last few on the album but comparing the plays for the last half compared to the first half was like woah, the first half doubled the second.
Your latest video is for the new single “Suffer.” Why did you choose this as your lead?
Miller: Quite a few reasons. It means the most and hits home to us. We wanted that big, catchy chorus. We thought it was our most different song. It was really our first song that was mostly clean singing and it’s long (nearly six minutes). We haven’t put anything out in a while and we didn’t want to put out something that sounded like older WKS. This was our introduction to WKS as a four-piece. Our previous releases had two guitarists, now I’m the sole guitarist.
There’s only one more day to go before Worst Kept Secret’s latest EP III is public!
What was the writing/recording of III like? Anything notably different from previous releases?
Miller: We all noticed that these songs just came organically. It wasn’t forced or sitting around being like “where do we go?” It was our first outing as a four-piece so we were all really excited and rejuvenated. It was like a fresh start. We kind of went through a dark period before continuing as a four-piece so again this was all exciting again. The most notable thing recording wise was that we switched producers. Our first two releases were done with Eric Kirkland of Gingerlair Studios and we decided to go with Luke Bowman of Slick Sound Recording for III. He was just a breeze to work with. We worked with him once before on a one-off for a “punk goes pop” cover of Goo Goo Dolls” “Broadway.”
How often do you get asked for cases of your “Dyrti Blonde” beer brewed by the Brewstel in Elkins, West Virginia at your merch table? Do we get beer for doing this interview?
Miller: Well, we haven’t been asked yet because it doesn’t come out until 4/19! But we are hoping the demand is there. Right now it’s only available on tap or in a growler but Big Timber Brewing is actually supposed to start distributing Brewstel’s beer, so maybe we can cause enough noise to get it canned.
Beer, whiskey, or both and why?
Miller: Beer for Ryan (drummer) and I because it’s cheap and it takes less drink tickets. Whiskey for Pat (bass), I don’t know, he’s a “whiskey guy” or so he says. Cider for Shawn (vocals) because it tastes good and not like beer.
“Suffer” is the latest track to be released from Worst Kept Secret and here is the lyric video.
Give us a rad “gear gone wild” gear failure story.
Miller: To be honest, I haven’t (knock on wood) had a really bad one but I can tell you one time we were playing in Cleveland and the second band on the bill broke a guitar string (and) stopped the set. (He) changed his string on stage, tuned it and then finished the set and then the third band broke the head on the house kit’s bass drum. (He) stopped the set, drove across Cleveland and got a new head. Changed the head on stage and finished their set. So they were on stage for like an hour and 45 minutes and the promoter was too drunk to care.
What do you wish fans take away from your new album III?
Miller: I hope someone finds something in our music that inspires them the way underground bands did to us when we were growing up. I hope they can relate to the music and tell us and their friends about it. On a selfish note, I hope it opens people’s eyes and ears to West Virginia and erases the stigma that comes with this state some times. It’s a wonderful place and there’s a deep well of great music here. People just gotta find it. Hopefully, we can open that door.
Upcoming Tour Dates:
04/19 – Elkins, WV (record release show) – Brewstel Brew Shop and Hostel
05/09 – Pittsburgh, PA – The Rex Theater
06/01 – Morgantown, WV – 123 Pleasant Street