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Lake Orion inspires band's album

Frontier Ruckus, now a Lansing-based band, is fronted by Matthew Milia. Their first album is “The Orion Songbook.” (click for larger version)
August 18, 2010 - Matthew Milia didn't grow up in Lake Orion, but that didn't stop him from discovering what locals already know.

Lake Orion is inspiring.

The area – including Orion Township, Lake Orion and Oakland Township – provided material for Milia and his band, Frontier Ruckus, in their first album, "The Orion Songbook," in 2008.

"I used the word 'Orion' because of the magical relationship I had with that area – up Lapeer Road, north of the Palace of Auburn Hills. My first love was from that area, so I mythologized the huge experience and memory pertaining to all of metro Detroit into something we called Orion Town," said Milia, who's from the West Bloomfield area.

"The Lake Orion area became the heart of this whole system I was so enamored with," he said.

Milia and his band mate David Jones, from Rochester, have been playing together since high school. Milia tackles vocals, guitar and harmonica, while Jones is on banjo and various other instruments.

Zach Nichols, of Milford, plays lots of different horns – trumpet, alto horn – and is "the master of the singing saw," said Milia. "He's the jack of many trades and plays the instruments that really flesh out the sound."

Ryan Etzcorn, of Kalamazoo, is the dummer "and really changed the rhythmic intensity that we played with – how loud and powerful the music got," Milia said.

Brian Barnes, of Canton, plays bass and is new to the lineup.

"Thank you for lending me the beautiful name Orion." - Matthew Milia
Frontier Ruckus' sound is certainly unique, says Milia. The band's Web site describes it as lyrically-intensive folk rock.

"It just happened kind of organically. Everyone who joined the band was a huge contributor to taking the band in a different direction. Everyone who joined brought all these different ingredients," he said.

Milia says he and the boys are "Michigan, through and through." They've been on tour since March, including a month in Europe. He said in their excitement to get back to Michigan, the band drove through the night Aug. 11 from St. Louis, MO to Michigan.

"We really haven't been home in Michigan since March, and we'll get to stay home through the rest of August, which is really nice," Milia said.

He describes life on the road as "pretty ordinary, pretty routine. It's a job like anything else."

He said while on tour, the band went to great lengths to teach fans the correct way to say "Orion."

"It's hard get people to pronounce it right. You hear people say, 'Oh, I love the Oh-RY-on Songbook,'" he said, adding, "Thank you for lending me the beautiful name Orion for this mythology."

Milia said the most exciting thing about being on tour was watching people from all over the country relate to Michigan in their own ways.

"What's important to us is conveying these unique and beautiful memories specific to landmarks and environment we grew up in, in Michigan. Michigan is very beautiful to everybody around the country," he said.

Reporter, Lake Orion Review
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