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Meet the young man with no time for national service, as he has at least three jobs

George Miller is an actor, musician, and lighting technician at 53two. Is he the ultimate creative all-rounder?
George Miller

George Miller, like many creatives is often working on several projects at once. It is survival of the fittest, but it also means that you do not have to rely on waiting for that one phone call, when you think your life might change.

He is a guitarist and vocalist in the four-piece indie rock/punk band Sugarstone, which is a dream job because he gets to perform with his three bandmates who have been friends for a long time.

He is also an actor, and he has starred in a variety of plays, from the stark and intense Pornography to the light-hearted, funny and feel-good musical Bear Left.

This grafter is also a lighting technician and all-rounder at the Deansgate community hub which is 53two.

George has two important dates in the Manchester calendar coming up.

A gig at the iconic Deaf Institute in October and he is starring in Liam High’s new play Some Masterchef Sh*t.

It is directed by James Crave and it stars George and Callum Sim and it opens at 53two next month.

We caught up with this humble and talented young man who, like many people his age has no time in his working life for national service.

George Miller
Sugarstone with George centre

How did the band start?

Me and Joe (my band mate and best friend) were in a band since we were 11. At college we met Brandon and Ben.

We have been in in this line up for 7 – 8 years. All four of us live together.

We are a very different band than we were, but the fundamentals are the same. If we were going to fall out, we would have done by now. Famous last words.

Is it just friends jamming and having a good time and or are you seeking something else? And is that why you are still together?

Increasingly less so now that we have some sort of success.

The thing is this is our social life. We would be going out together and having a beer anyway.

It just so happens that we also play a gig. That’s how we looked it for years when I was at drama school, and they were at Uni.

If it wasn’t for the band, I would just be doing the acting. It kept me sane during periods of no work and it still does. To have another avenue when acting isn’t on the forefront is a saviour.

Do you have the same tastes in music?

We have similar tastes, the four of us. But at the same time there might be stuff that Joe listens to that is a bit much for me.

We go quite heavy when we gig and that is because we realised, we are a live band. The harder stuff is influenced by some of the stuff that Joe listens to and Ben.

He is a Bring the Horizon fan. We started doing ‘Tunes with a Brew’ on social media, where we sit down and play vinyl and talk about it. We’ve done one each I think, now.

Mine was a Radiohead one, Joe’s was a The The album, Brandon’s was Fat Freddy’s Drop and Ben’s was a Wolf Alice album which is quite eclectic in itself.

We do have similar tastes, but I am a bit soppier than Joe, I think. Hence you can tell which songs I am the main writer of, as they are a bit soppier.

Do you feel you are willing take risks and be vulnerable because you act?

I think so. On the last EP we did a song called Can’t Help My Machine which is a bit slower and a ballad-y one. These lyrics were written in the midst of a hard time for me.

We have played it live a fair bit since and I still can’t open my eyes when I sing that one. A lot of the stuff that we write, you can take what you want from it.

Whereas with Can’t Help My Machine, I’d hate to think about people listening to that and knowing the situation because it is pretty obvious what it’s about.

The Author is Now Dead is what I wrote for my dissertation at drama school. And I sort of take on a bit of a character for that song, slightly.

I think the two roles do play into each other, but they do for Joe too because he could have acted if he didn’t do music.

Can you tell me about your new music and how it showcases the sound of Sugarstone?

In Tatters is our latest release and it is in the first in the EP. It is quite short and to the point and it’s heavy and loud and we had been playing it live for a while and then we went to record it.

A lot of our fans and people who come to our gigs know this song already and we open with it so it’s a good indication of where we’re at.

We have a nice mix on all of our discography because we have genre jumped quite a lot since we started, as you do. We have found something we like doing now.

So, I am happy to say that most things on our Spotify, we will play live. In Tatters is a bit more visceral than the others and that was deliberate. It is the start of the set, and it feels like the start of the set.

What are you most looking forward to about touring, in particular performing at the Deaf Institute, where so many great bands and artists have played?

We are really excited, as it is somewhere we go a lot and went a lot. It seems to be a slight tick in a box on a press release and also, it’s a really really beautiful room.

We have played it twice and it is such a beautiful space. We are really excited to get in there and perform as it will be our biggest date ever, so far anyway and it feels like a real milestone for us.

The Deaf Institute is one of those venues in Manchester that people know, and it seems a bit like an immoveable object.

It feels like a staple. When the idea was mooted, we were like wooh. We want to sell tickets.

Where do you want the band to get to?

It would be amazing to make a career out of it. But we would love to be touring a lot. And being able to make a living out of it and it still being as fun as it is now.

We have been doing it for so long, that it feels a bit jammy to have been doing it for this long.

We are doing alright, and the live show is becoming an event that people want to come to and they want to listen to the tunes.

We really see ourselves as a live band. We want to continue to play good shows and keep doing what we do.

Grassroots artists and venues have it tough, as many people do not realise how much you pay for yourselves. It would be nice to be able to make this viable in the long run.

I believe we are getting better and better each week. We are building the fan base, and the more the merrier.

George Miller
George (r) performing at 53Two

Is variety the spice of life? Does one job take you out of the other one?

It’s honestly not a deliberate thing. It’s just something that’s happened. It has happened very organically.

Having the one keeps me sane for the other. I do tech and acting. I feel like with the acting I very much just play myself in a lot of things.

It’s great to do so many things and 53two is great for that, as I would not be doing half the things I do, if it was not for this place.

Pornography and Bear Left are my two favourite acting jobs. In Bear Left I was wearing many hats. I was in it, and I was on the band on stage.

And I designed the lights which was silly really and I am not sure I would do that again. But it was the most rewarding job I have had. And there is that saying ‘the more you put in, the more you get out of it.’

That could not have been truer for Bear Left. The wearing of many hats comes naturally, as everyone knows that acting is ridiculously hard and unpredictable job wise.

I am used to rejection and the two main careers that I want to go into are the two most difficult. I have been this band longer than I have been an adult, so it’s a given.

As is acting, as I have been doing that since I was tiny.

Is it quite lonely when you finish a job, like Bear Left?

I have not done long runs. But with the end of Bear Left, with it being a Christmas pay – that January, we were all thinking “Why do I feel so terrible.”

Myself, Kelsea (Knox) and Simon Naylor had been there since day one and we felt so strongly about it. We were there for the late nights and then it was over.

The post show blues never gets easier.

Some Mastechef Shit is your next play, can you tell us a bit about it?

It started life as part of the Offcut Festival at 53two. It is curated by the brilliant Daniel Brennan and co-produced by Offcut and 53two.

In the festival itself, you get 15 minutes and the writer and actors come together and go on. And it’s an audience vote as to who gets to the final.

There were five heats, and the best runner up gets to the final and the winner gets a full-length version put on in 53two’s next season.

Me and Callum Sim and Liam High won and the whole thing was written back then. It is really hard to talk about it or explain any of it without giving it away.

It is a two hander and a comedy, a dark comedy. It’s about consent, it’s about friendship, it’s about love and it’s not about Masterchef!

It is a dark comedy, and it is frustrating in a good way, as it nearly gets to the point and then off it goes again. It’s also about men’s mental health. It starts as a pure comedy and hopefully you will get messages from it.

If someone has not stepped foot into 53two, why is it so magical for you?

When there is no show on, we are branded as a hidden gem. We have our regulars, but we do a good job of welcoming everyone.

And people seek it out for refuge. It seems that some people are in here more than they would be at say, Costa.

I think that is because they can chat to the people behind the bar, and it is very accepting. It is also a really beautiful building.

We have a sense of community here, and we often make the joke here, that is like the famous Cheers bar.

People come in and once you have been in here a couple of times, everybody knows your name.

It is essentially community hub then; how would you define that?

People now think of the place when they want to do something new, or they want to do something different.

The amount of people that get in touch with me (as I run the tech emails) and they get in touch about trying it out. They are sick of waiting for the next job.

If that many people are coming in and wanting to be involved with tech or this place, work in the bar or be a volunteer, or they feel safe here, it proves that people want to be here.

We put out a post for people to get involved with the tech side with or without experience. The number of emails I got was amazing and it proved to me that people are unafraid to fail here. And that is the reason that me, Kelsea and everyone that works here is that you are not scared to fail. You learn by doing.

Our mantra is “Ready, Fire, Aim” and that comes from Simon.

Tickets to see Some Master Chef Sh*t

The more I have worked here, that is how the place is built. We do it and we think about it afterwards and everyone needs a little bit of that to a certain degree, it is how people succeed.

Some Masterchef Shit is at 53two from 17th – 20th July and it can be booked here

Tickets to see Sugarstone at the Deaf Institute

Sugarstone play at the Deaf Institute on 11th October and you can book tickets here

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