Ask Dominic

This is where you have the chance to ask Dominic a question. Please contact Dominic under contact@dominicmiller.com. Please understand that Dominic has a busy schedule and although he would love to answer all of your questions, he can only manage a few per month.

Question:

How does your monitor mixer cope with you and Lyle switching places several times during the show? Do you miss your backline 'over there' at the other side? How large is the difference in working with Lyle Workman and Abe Laboriel Jr. compared to the 2005 band with Shayne Fontayne and Josh Freese? - from Werner

Answer:

When Lyle and I switch sides the monitor guy helps us with the side-fills. We can hear what's going on pretty well. He is a great guitarist to work with. Abe is perhaps the best drummer ever in this band.

Question:

Did you go on tour with other musician before you met Sting? - from Margitta

Answer:

I have toured with World Party, King Swamp and Julia Fordham.

Question:

I know you've recently been adding a second guitarist to your work with Sting, and that Lyle Workman is currently playing in the band with you. How has the addition of a second guitar player altered your approach to music you've played for many years. What is the philosophy you're using to allow room musically, and how are you being influenced as a player by this. Is your playing and your tone/ rig morphing as a result of this as well? - from Dennis

Answer:

Having another guitarist in the band has done nothing but improve my own awareness as a player. I am learning so much from listening to Lyle. He is a player with an enormous palate of sounds and styles. He has certainly made me think about raising the bar with my own playing. I am loving the experience of working with another guitarist, especially him.

Question:

I would like to know what make a big, fat sound of the guitars on gigs? Let's suppose we have very good sound on amp. Is it a good microphone or very good PA system? - from Jon

Answer:

This is a million dollar question which people have been trying to answer for decades. My feelings are to do with the way you set the amp up and your level compared to the band. If you are too loud on stage the sound man will turn you down in the PA which will give you a thin sound. To get a big fat sound on stage you almost need to keep your stage level lower than you think and just trust the sound man to have you in the PA. It's also a trick keeping it low because then the sound man will really want to hear what you are doing. This gives you control and not him. Finally, if you are really thinking about complimenting the song you will always have a fat (or phat) sound. The song comes first. Your parts come second. Your sound comes third etc...

Question:

I've read a number of articles recently focusing on hearing in today's day and age, and with devices such as iPods and other music players many people are at risk for hearing loss. While this may not be a huge source of concern for most people, how do you deal with it as a musician? Your career depends on your hearing almost as much as your skill with the guitar. Do you wear any sort of protection during the extended periods of time on tour with Sting? - from Gordan

Answer:

This is a good point although it doesn't apply to me because I am not fussy (touch wood) about my hearing. I accept the fact that some of my high end has gone, courtesy of Vinne Colaiuta and Manu Katche's cymbals being only feet away for years. Perhaps I should start considering taking steps to avoid injury. Thanks for bringing this up.

Question:

When you tour with Sting on various stages you have used the solid body nylon and or acoustic steel string for the applicable song. On his future dates,.. will you continue with the Guilds or go with your newer Flamenco? I also noticed that the P-project was used on the 'Third World' disc. Do you ever pick up this guitar anymore. - from Andrew

Answer:

I always keep an open mind with the guitars and change them at different times for different reasons. They all have different characteristics which are important to me. Currently my guitar of choice is the Kazafumi. When I am on stage with Sting I prefer to use the Guild Paloma. This will most likely change at some point.

Question:

When you first started performing on stage, were you completely nervous? - from Anna

Answer:

Yes, I still do get nervous but it's a good energy. Nerves make you respectful of what you are about to do as opposed to being too arrogant and then screwing up. What I have become better at is overcoming this feeling once I am on stage and then making it work in my favour.

Question:

Playing in Sting's band you have the guarantee that you can play with the best musicians around such as Manu, Vinnie and now Josh Freese. So what I was wondering is how do you approach your guitar parts every time a new drummer arrives at the Sting camp? - from Joshua

Answer:

I have been lucky to play with arguably the best drummers in the world and they are all different. I think I adapt my playing to their styles without changing the parts too much. Manu inspires me to take chances, Vinnie makes me play tight and Josh makes me want to rock.

Question:

Are you very excited before you have a gig? - from Jenny

Answer:

I do feel excited before a gig but also I feel in control because I am in good practice. But I do get a bit nervous which is a good thing because it helps me respect the two hours ahead instead of thinking I am too good. It's humbling playing in front of thousands of people. The moment I forget that is the moment I will stop.

Question:

How does it feel to be playing places like the Hollywood Bowl as a solo artist? It's certainly a far cry from the Bolivar Hall! - From Andy

Answer:

Playing the Hollywood Bowl is no better or worse than playing the Bolivar house. Every show is a new and learning experience for me. I have to admit though that the Bowl is a bit exceptional. Did I just contradict myself?

Question:

I imagine when an audience responds enthusiastically to a performance it causes you to enjoy the experience all the more, and respond in kind to the audience. If this is true, is the opposite situation true as well? Have you ever been disappointed in an audience's reaction to a show? How much is the show affected by the audience? - From Amy

Answer:

If the audience participates enthusiastically it does make it more fun but not necessarily better. Of course we enjoy interaction but we also play to each other even though we may not be looking at each other. If we can't make a connection as a group (like a team) there will never be a connection with the audience. It's a wonderful experience when it goes a bit crazy and fun but it can also be great when there is no reaction. Sometimes this means they are really listening which after all is what it's all about.

Question:

What kind of music do you make with the Tweeters together? Is it more jazz, more pop, or in this moment more classic? - From Edith

Answer:

The Tweeters music is based on jamming. We like to come up with some structures, some of which are my tunes from my previous albums and then just go wild. Manu is the real improviser while Pino and I hold down the riffs. I hope we can do some shows.

Question:

When The Tweeters perform, is it a mixed bag of music from everyone in the band or does it consist mostly of your solo material? Also, as Sting's tour comes to a close, will The Tweeters be making more appearances? - From Trish

Answer:

Thanks so much Trish for your note. The Tweeters' tunes are 'based' on some themes of mine but become unrecognizable after a few measures. That's how we like it. We hope to do some more shows after this tour is over. I will let the site know.

Question:

I've noticed at past Sting shows that you often pick out three or four people in the seats close to your section of the stage and really play to them, make lots of eye contact, throw picks to them, etc. How do you 'choose' the people? Are they the people who are obviously already into your playing or is it the people who aren't paying any attention at all (and surprisingly, there are a lot) and you're subtly trying to say 'Hey, focus people, focus.'? - from Maggie

Answer:

It would be hard for me to be intimate and make eye contact with people in the back. I don't consciously pick people out in the front whether they appear to be listening or not. I just can't help making a connection with whoever is there. Since there are people there and I am not in a Jazz band (where the musicians tend to look at each other) this is just a natural reflex for me.

Question:

I notice from pictures from the first leg of the tour that it seems like you and Sting have been pretty much wearing the same outfits throughout. Is that part of the overall stage presentation that's been planned by a stylist or can you guys wear whatever you want? - from Kevin

Answer:

We don't wear the same clothes every night although I often wear black because it's what orchestral musicians wear and I am kind of like in one. I haven't been paying attention to what Sting has been wearing. We wear what we want and nobody takes the slightest bit of notice.

Question:

Do you have any influence on the setlist that is played on the tour or is the decision made by Sting alone? In Cologne you mentioned you would like to reintroduce Hounds of Winter. Any chance to hear the song on this tour? - from Stephan

Answer:

Sometimes I do have an influence over the set list but Sting always has the last word. We have rehearsed 'Hounds of Winter' and hopefully will do it soon.

Question:

Having played all over the world, what are your top 5 favourite auditoriums to play in? Is there a particular venue you haven't played yet, but would like to? - from Kevin

Answer:

My top five venues are Plaza de Toros (Madrid), Albert Hall (London), The Roman amphitheatre in Verona, The Olympia theatre (Paris) and Joe's Pub (NY). But the truth is that it's down to the atmosphere and that could be anywhere.

Question:

How do you prepare to work with musicians you haven't played with before when you have to prepare for a gig on short notice (such as your TV gig with the Living Colour guys) Do you give them a setlist and your CDs to learn the songs? How much time and guidance do they have from you to prepare? - from Kevin

Answer:

To prepare for something like this is mainly to be mentally focused. This can be helped by having rough chord charts which I provided. These usually change as they are only a guide.

Question:

I believe it was during Forget About The Future that you inserted a riff from Jeremiah Blues during the spring tour. I also remembering hearing you do something similar with Spirits In the Material World during Roxanne last week. For me, this is the sort of creativity that makes your live performance so captivating - is this something that you tend to experiment with in soundchecks, and do you find that as a tour goes on, that you tend to do this even more? - from Jock

Answer:

Yes we do experiment a lot on stage (more than people realise). When we find a good idea we do it for a few shows until we find it's time to move to another one. This keeps it interesting for all of us. I like using different musical references in his songs.

Question:

I'm a piano-player from Berlin. I'm a big Sting-Fan and love the actual band and your guitar-style. The transparency of the sound of the band is great. Is there a special method, how you arrange the piano, keyboard and guitar parts with Jason and Kipper, that they don't 'clash'? - from Mark

Answer:

The key to using two different keyboard players is to have parts that compliment each other. Kipper plays the more 'produced' parts and Jason is more of a loose cannon. I also like 'Dienda'. I believe Kenny was a real genius. I miss him.

Question:

What was your first paying gig? Did it go well? - from Michael

Answer:

My first paying gig was when I was 16, in Wisconsin, at some kind of luncheon which I can't remember too well. I think I got $15.

Question:

You are obviously a great guitarist, but you also bring something else to the stage. The way you interact with the audience brings a dimension to the concert that has a way of making the audience feel like they are part of the concert. The way you make eye contact and are willing to interact is refreshing. Is this something you have developed or is it natural for you? - from Tammie

Answer:

One thing I can't tolerate watching is when musicians or performers behave as if they are superior to an audience thereby ignoring them. The reason we are there is because you are so interaction is only natural for me. I genuinely love the audience even if they are there not to see me but Sting.

Question:

You have been playing the same songs with many different but incredible amazing musicians as Vinnie Colaiuta, D. Sancious, Manu Katché, etc. I wonder if you needed to change your style or something in your way to play the guitar playing with different musicians. And I wonder if this has been an obstacle or it have been a great experience for you and why? - from Xaloc

Answer:

It is always a challenge playing with different musicians because your role, as always, is to try and compliment their playing in the way you do. This is something that is already known or felt with all the people you mention. I always learn by playing with different people. Particularly about my weaknesses which I work on.

Question:

What are you thinking about while performing? Is it about chords or notes you are about to play? Or is there a bit of fear - not to screw up some difficult part of a song? Or maybe you're not thinking about your own play, but rather something like: 'Wow! This guy (Sting) is singing really good!'? from Arturs

Answer:

I think about the strangest things like have I fetched the washing, or did I remember to call my daughter today to where are we to wow this sounds good!

Question:

What do you feel when you are playing in front of so many people? My favourite Sting songs are Fragile, Fields of Gold and Shape Of My Heart. What is the song that you most like to play? Some of the names of your songs are related to Buenos Aires. Why? - from Myriam

Answer:

I like those songs too. I co-wrote 'Shape Of My Heart' so that one is particularly close to my heart. To me there is equal merit to playing in a stadium or a club. It's all about the experience. The reason I sometimes use BA references in my tunes is because I was born there and lived in Hurlingham until I was 11. I went to school in Cordoba.

Question:

What's the funniest thing that's ever happened to you on stage? - from Kevin

Answer:

Hmmm, funniest thing... I think it must be when we played in San Francisco on the Mercury Falling tour and a fan came up to me while I was playing who was on the phone and asked me to say hi to her boyfriend (who couldn't be there) which I did and the audience noticed. He couldn't believe it was me!

Question:

I think one of the best skills you have is that you definitely know the value of letting some spaces in between a progression. I mean being aware that a silence can be as important as any other note on music. As it is an obvious temptation to fill a song with more and more elements when one plays it everyday, how do you avoid 'overplaying'? - from Julio

Answer:

With live playing it is important to know what your limitations are. Actually, limitations or restrictions can be quite helpful and creative. For instance if I have no strings I arrange the tunes differently. The songs must evolve to make them interesting. If you give an artist only two colours to work with he can sometimes do more or be more creative. Spaces are important when playing live because they give the listener a chance to use their imaginations.

Question:

I get quite nervous playing in front of an audience. As a seasoned performer, maybe you don't experience butterflies much anymore, but when it happens, how do you deal with nerves? Do you have a specific routine you follow before each show to mentally prepare you for those 2 hours on stage? I'm curious as to how various musicians spend those final 30 minutes before performing... - From Kevin

Answer:

Very interesting topic. Yes I still do sometimes get nervous. Actually, nerves is a good thing which shows a sign of respect to your surroundings. I can't tolerate anything more than seeing an over confident musician on stage. When you are nervous you play with more sensitivity. My secret, or formula is to be as relaxed as possible leading up to a show. Perhaps reading a book, practicing Bach or playing chess. Five minutes before I go on I do get butterflies which I deal with doing some stretches. All I do when I get on stage is just try to remember that I am here to provide pleasure, not pain. I find it helps to try and lose yourself in the music as though there were no one there. Once you conquer that, open your eyes and sort of look through peoples faces and into their hearts. It helps me play with more emotion. Everyone is different but this works for me.