Rhett Miller is best known as the guitarist for the Old 97’s, but on May 12, he released his first solo album.

The Traveler captures Miller’s memories and observations of life on the road and, like much of his music, incorporates themes of drinking. This is a musical departure for Miller, who got some help with the album from Portland band Black Prairie (most of whose members are with the Decembrists), as well as Peter Buck of REM, who contributed guitar.

Recently, Chilled asked the musician to share some of his thoughts about music, food, and drink.

Chilled: Tell us a bit about the projects you are working on or have coming up.

Rhett Miller: My new solo record The Traveler came out a couple of weeks ago. I’ll be touring behind that for the rest of the year as well as doing a few tours with the Old 97’s. I’m also in the midst of compiling songs for the next 97’s album. I am like a shark, in that I must keep swimming or else I will die.

Chilled: With your busy schedule, what do you like to do with your down time?

Rhett: I love to read. I’ve also been doing some writing. I’m working on doing a larger project that stems from the piece I did for sports illustrated chronicling my families ownership of the first ever professional football franchise in Dallas. Spoiler alert: it was a massive failure. Also, I just built a huge tree house for my kids, although I think I’ve ended up using it more than them. I like to hide there.

Chilled: When you go out to eat, where do you like to dine?

Rhett: I love to find good restaurants on the road. Not necessarily fancy restaurants, but good mom-and-pop places. I love locally sourced, farm to table food. I don’t mind eating an animal, I just like to know that the animal lead a happy life before he sacrificed himself for my meal.

Rhett Miller

Rhett Miller

Photo Courtesy of Eric Ryan Anderson

Chilled: What types of dishes do you usually order?

Rhett: I love spinach. I love quinoa. I’m a sucker for Mexican food, especially Tex-Mex, having grown up in Texas.

Chilled: Do you cook?

Rhett: I am a great breakfast shift. Eggs, pancakes, waffles, bacon… When it comes to breakfast I kill it. The other meals, not so much. Although I make pretty much the best grilled cheese sandwich you will ever have. The secret is, as with everything, lots of butter.

Chilled: What types of drinks do you order when out?

Rhett: I am and always have been a whiskey man. Jameson, Powers, Redbreast if someone else is buying. Though, that said, there is something inherently awesome about margarita night.

Chilled: Do you prepare drinks at home?

Rhett: Yes. Emphatically yes.

Chilled: Do you own a home bar?

Rhett: I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but I have a pretty sweet tiki bar in the cabana adjacent to my swimming pool.

Chilled: If you own a home bar, what is it stocked with?

Rhett: It would be easier to list the types of alcohol we don’t have in our home bar. Although my favorite whiskeys are always best represented. One of my favorites is the line of small batch whiskeys from the distillery around the corner from my house in New York’s Hudson Valley. Tuthilltown Spirits is a source of local pride and a genuinely fantastic distillery. My favorite is their baby bourbon.

Rhett Miller

Rhett Miller

Photo Courtesy of Eric Ryan Anderson

Chilled: What is your favorite drink/cocktail?

Rhett: Redbreast with a big round ice cube in it. On my many travels to Japan, I got obsessed with their ice. So in my freezer I have some ice cube making trays that are very fun.

Chilled: Have you ever been a bartender?

Rhett: Only in the cabana at my own pool.

To purchase the album: RhettMiller.com/Store

UPCOMING TOUR DATES

6/11 – Fort Worth, TX – Shipping and Receiving Bar

6/12 – Austin, TX – Strange Brew

6/13 – Houston, TX – Mucky Duck

6/15 – Seattle, WA – Tractor Tavern

6/16 – Portland, OR – Mississippi Studios

6/18 – San Francisco, CA – The Chapel

6/19 – Los Angeles, CA – Hotel Café

6/20 – San Diego, CA – The Casbah

6/21 – Hermosa Beach, CA – Sainte Rock

6/24 – New York, NY – City Winery