One of the best perks of being in a popular band is traveling throughout the world and performing for thousands of fans.While Nick Miller, the rhythm guitarist of post-hardcore sextet A Skylit Drive, utterly fancies his job, he also enjoys sightseeing—including visiting some of the most legendary training facilities in mixed martial arts.
On the music troupe’s recent trip to Riode Janeiro, Brazil, the 22-year-old had the opportunity to swing by a couple of the country’s most well-established gyms, including Black House, where he saw a few up-and-comers sparring. Miller, who was merely standing in the same dojo where the UFC Middleweight Champion Anderson Silva divides his time, nearly lost his breath.
“There are so many gyms in Rio,” Miller says. “It’s gym after gym. It was cool to watch the fighters train. It was a great experience. If I had seen Silva, I would have passed out. I would have been so stoked.”
Although Miller maintained his cool, there’s a deeper reason why the experience meant so much to him. Like many other diehard aficionados, the guitarist has been an avid follower of the sport ever since he was a kid. His parents ordered the UFC pay-per-views when he was younger, and he would watch home-state favorites Frank and Ken Shamrock dominate their opponents in the Octagon.
While Miller wouldn’t be knocking out neighborhood bullies or slapping leg locks on schoolmates during gym class, he got his first, and only, formal martial arts training when his parents enrolled him in karate.
The young guitarist escalated up the ranks, but his tenure didn’t last long. “I stopped doing it before I could even reach my black belt,” he says. “When I started playing other sports, I didn’t have the time, but I wish I would’ve stuck with it. I still like karate because of Lyoto Machida and some of the other guys who use it.”
Miller may have his heart in karate, but his eyes are on two other martial arts that he believes are more to his liking. “If I had the choice, I’d wanna do Muay Thai and BJJ” he says. “I think that would be awesome. I love both those fighting styles, especially BJJ. I think it’s more intricate and cool.” Despite how cool looking those fighting styles may be, he doesn’t have the time to concentrate on either right now because his band is inconstant demand.
Formed in 2006, A Skylit Drive immediately set up shop in Lodi, CA, and dropped their first EP, She Watched The Sky, the following year. In 2008, however, they restructured their lineup and the collective—comprised of vocalist Michael Jagmin, lead guitarist Joey Wilson, bassist Brian White, keyboardist Kyle Simmons, and drummer Cory La Quay—was rushed to the studio to record their debut album Wires…And The Concept Of Breathing.
A Skylit Drive went out on the road to promote the full-length effort, but they had a very quick turnaround. The post hardcore sextet signed with Fearless Records, returned to the studio to record their sophomore set, Adelphia, and released the offering in 2009. Then, it was back to touring around the globe.
Typically, Miler meets with fans after concerts, and, sometimes, the conversation turns to MMA. “I actually know a lot of people who are into it,” the guitarist says. “The sport is one of the biggest now. A fan will come up to me who is really into it, and we love talking about fighting. It never gets old.”
Ironically, when Miller was home from tour last year, he was the one who began an MMA conversation. While mingling at a local bar, he ran into Nick and Nate Diaz—fellow 209 residents, who are a stones throw away from Lodi. This time, the guitarist approached the fighters and introduced himself. “I’d see them hanging out and going out,” Miller says. “So I just went up to the dudes one night and told them I love their fights, and they acted all normal. They’re really cool guys. I told them I wanted to make them a song, but I told them I wanted to make them a song, but I don’t know if they had heard of the band.”
Even if the Diaz brothers aren’t familiar with A Skylit Drive, it isn’t too big of a deal. Thousands of people across the world are, and thousands more will become familiar with their new album Identity On Fire. Throughout this stellar 12-track collection, the post-hardcore band convey the message of creating one’s own identity, becoming the person you want to be, and inspiring those around you. Singles like “XO Skeleton,” “Ex Marks The Spot,” and “Too Little, Too Late” help echo those sentiments.
Perhaps for Miller, Identity On Fire could give him the strength and motivation needed to start training in MMA. “I think I can do