Christian Miller, also known as Stig da Pig, Stigus Maximus, or simply Stig, was a founding member and guitarist of legendary underground bands Amebix & Zygote.
Most recently, Stig has been working on his own solo project and artistic collaborations. These new tracks have been characterized by his deep voice vocal signature and dark vibes coming straight out of the Amebix notebook, but in a less deafening sonic approach—driven along mainly by the sound of his guitar and ambient sound bites attached to it.
As this past year was challenging and a very long journey for all of us, I was more than excited to have a brief chat with Stig about his most recent endeavors, as well as touching on Zygote’s LP reissue and the lasting legacy of Amebix to the DIY punk community.
Hello Stig! It’s great speaking to you! What did you spend your time on last year? I’m sure it was a weird time for you as well, so I’m curious to hear from you. Do you already have some new year’s resolutions for 2021?
Stig: Well, I have been working on a few things musically in the last few years but this last year, I’ve been involved in a new collaboration with some friends although it’s still on the QT. So that’s all I can say about it at present.
Yes, “Weird” times indeed, but to be honest, I was already fairly “socially distant” anyway.
Well, I thought staying alive and staying as strong and creative as possible would be a good thing this year and every other year. To that end, I have been teaching myself some basic engineering / recording skills and various other ‘life stuff’.
Zygote’s sole release A Wind of Knives was recently reissued on vinyl by Pine Hell Records in the States. Can you walk us through the history of the band and how it came to be a part of your musical journey? What was the reception to your sound when it came out after Amebix? Were people into it?
Stig: As far as I can remember, Zygote started around 1987 after Amebix stopped. Myself and Spider were without a band so we decided to start something new to keep us going and started to rehearse with George and Tim in the same place we used to rehearse with Amebix in Bath, the so called “Stote Hall” (the basement room wallpapered with egg boxes). It was where most of The Smartpils lived at the time. We didn’t know anything about ear protection back then and we played very loud. Even at rehearsals, the whole house would shake, and your ears would ring for days afterwards.
I guess it was like starting again really. So, we played anywhere and everywhere as much as we could until people became “into it”.
You’ve been talking about discovering punk and underground music early in your life in numerous interviews throughout the years. Do you think punk was the most liberating thing ever imaginable when it first happened in the late ’70s?
Stig: When it first happened, it was very exciting and was liberating for someone like myself to see and hear people that felt like I felt. Punk made me feel less alone and trapped in the horrible reality laid out for us back then.
How did you manage to move from the Crass and Discharge sounding hardcore and anarchist punk to a more gloomy, dark and melancholic form of music, blending post-punk and metal like never before? What brought about this change?
Stig: I thought Crass were great and Discharge still are great! But we were doing our own thing too, not trying to sound like anybody else and that was important back then to be “original”. It is still important to me to be as original as possible with what I do, even my solo stuff has to not sound like anyone else.
Ironically, this kind of outsider art you were creating with Amebix, and later on with Zygote, was considered as the rise of the crust genre, a subgenre of punk and metal, which was way more political and activist-oriented than your bands ever were.
Have you ever considered Amebix a political band at all? I mean, besides the obvious influences from political bands, being part of the squatter movement, and playing with leftist / anarchist bands.
Stig: Well, we didn’t write songs going “Fuck Thatcher, she’s a cunt!” or “War! War! It’s not very good!”, etc. Although we did benefits for various political causes, we were aligned to Anarchist ideals to an extent and we played with a lot of the bands from that time, we were interested in the Human condition—“Why are we here? What’s is it all for?”, “Are we in Hell? If so, why?”—more an esoteric type of politics, I guess. (He says trying not to sound too pretentious)
Despite this dark music and imagery represented by all your musical projects, you’ve always been making fun of the punk scene and all its tropes ever since. We’ve also republished this old interview of yours on our website. Do you find it hilarious to read such masterpieces after all these years?
Stig: Hahaha! Now’t wrong with a bit of levity… laughter during shit times is essential. Life was fairly shit back then and let’s face it, life is even more shit now! (unless you are a Billionaire Silicon Valley Tech turd)…
When they’ve stopped you being able to laugh at it all, they’ve won! Re-affirm your Humanity, scream! shout! laugh! be kind! create! make Art!
What does punk mean to you today? Fascism is on the rise. The climate is striking back against selfish Humankind. There’s a global pandemic going on…
Stig: To be creative, to be original. To think for yourself, to question. To be true to yourself.
I’ve been watching some documentaries about punks in South-East Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar, and the Philippines. It looks like poverty, alcoholism, drugs, homelessness, and a total no-future attitude is still a thing for punks in many parts of the world.
While it’s totally great to see these people embodying the total punk spirit, solidarity and DIY attitude to fight for their sole survival on the streets, it’s also sad to see anyone living such a kind of life on the fringe of society, today.
Any opinion as someone being part of Thatcher’s no-future years in the UK (not that things are much better now, though)?
Stig: Yeah, I do speak to quite a few young punks from Indonesia, Malaysia, and The Philippines on social media and email, and they do seem to be up against it most of the time, but they also have a total love for their scene and are excited about it and give it full support as the “normal” World has little or nothing to offer them.
I understand that… And it’s a harsh life that you can only really survive while you are young and have a network of friends to live it with… It takes its toll on you though and leaves its mark for sure.
Are there any modern bands you are excited about? Do you have any favorite records of 2020?
Stig: I’m always up for hearing something new and exciting but nothing stood out in 2020 for me. I think file sharing is going to be essential to music making in the coming times so we should all get good at that!
Thank you so much for your time! Anything else to add?
Stig: No, not really! I think I’ve covered it all above… Cheers!!
P.S. Big thanks to Val Klp for getting me in touch with Stig!