Jamie Milliken plays Roger Oddcock, the protagonist, and sometimes antagonist, of HELL!. Roger is Jamie’s real life alter ego, honed over several years in solo shows and performances with his band Clamhawk Manor. He’s also one of the screenwriters and wrote / performed all the songs in movie. Plus we’ve been friends for more than thirteen years, which is the greatest gift of all.
I asked him some questions. He answered them.
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Where does Roger Oddcock come from?
Roger, the concept, he’s just dumb, someone who is self absorbed, he’s so into himself that he can’t see beyond his own little sphere, but maybe is slightly talented. He’s really a washed up musician, but in his mind he’s still huge. Spinal Tap was a real jumping off point, just in his being a vaguely heavy metal character but so dumb everything washes right over him.
How long have you been performing as Roger?
I came up with the idea in 2009. I was at kind of an unhappy place creatively and wanted to shake things up. The original idea was that he was more of a lounge singer and I’d write these songs and have these backing tracks and do karaoke of my own songs up on stage. I wanted to do something sort of bawdy and get into the burlesque scene in San Francisco, maybe even involve some aspect of burlesque like have tearaway pants, which I did once. But Roger evolved into a hair metal dude pretty quickly.
When did you first start playing music?
My friend Salad and I started playing music together when we were about 12 or 13. Neither of us knew how to play any instruments, but we both had casio keyboards. We’d program a little beat, hit some keys, and make up some words to go with it. Then we’d record ourselves doing it and try to get our friends to buy the tapes. That band was called the Gymnoblastics. It was actually around a long time, I started taking guitar lessons so I could function better in that band and my friend Salad continued to play the keys and we got a real drummer, played a couple of shows in high school, so that was my first main experience.
How many bands have you been part of?
Not a shit ton, but probably like ten or twenty.
Richard’s non-musician note: that sounds like a shit ton.
Some of them serious about playing shows and some of them just recording projects or like a one-off kinda thing. Closer to ten if you want to talk about bands that actually played shows and then quite a bit more with bands that were more of a concept than something you could buy a ticket to go see.
There’s definitely been some great ones along the way. I really like Clamhawk Manor and I felt for the first time that the band was a real incarnation of my vision, even though my vision of Roger had kinda changed along the way. I felt very proud of that. There was another band when I was in college, we were called the Meat Lincolns. We’d get together and come up with a song practically every night. We recorded a 14 song album in one day in my mom’s garage. It was a lot of fun. It was really stupid. It was pretty fucking out there.
What did you most enjoy about working on HELL!?
My favorite part about filming HELL! was probably the people we got to work with. I love doing scenes with Erma because we get along so well and make each other laugh so easily. It was a real treat to see Dan Sukara almost every weekend and we'd always try to out-pun each other. Working with Scott Vermeire made me have to up my confidence game. I think there were some other great people too who I would totally remember if I hadn't been drunk and/or hungover for the whole shoot. Wasn't there a lady in overalls?
My least favorite part may have been eating a half stick of butter in one go. Even though it was my idea. I get a little queazy thinking back on that.
Be sure to come out and see Jamie at one our shows!