Orange County hip-hop artist T. Mills has been traveling across the country on the Warped Tour, promoting his debut Uprising Records EP entitled Finders Keepers, as well as doing occasional guest appearances with Attack Attack. Performing songs such as Rich Girls and Night Life several times during the summer at the Baby Cakes Clothing tent, we caught up with T. Mills in the press area at the San Diego, CA date to find out more about this up and coming talent…
Introduce yourself and tell me how long your project has been going.
Well, my name is T. Mills – my real name is Travis Mills – and the ideal concept started in January/February of 2008. Before Warped Tour, I recorded my EP and that was pretty much the first thing my project has done.
How did you wind up on Uprising Records?
I used to go to a lot of hardcore shows back in the day. And my friend Josh – he owns This City Is Burning – his hardcore label merged and became an affiliate label with Uprising. He was the one – we kind of started this together and he gave me the idea for it. And that’s how the whole project got rolling.
Where are you based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
I’m living in Costa Mesa, CA right now – in Orange County. We’ve got Chain Reaction – I used to go to a lot of shows at The Showcase – I was there every weekend – that closed down though. Lately all the clubs I’ve been going to are in Hollywood – like nightclubs. That’s kind of the route that I want to take this – like not so much like pop-punk shows – I want to go play nightclubs and dance parties – like Moscow, Heist, Cinespace – all those clubs. They do have people playing, and that’s the kind of market I’m trying to get back into when I get home from tour.
Were you in any other bands prior to this?
Yes, I’ve been in a lot of different bands. I’ve been in bands since I was probably 13 years old. I would say that probably the band I learned the most from and got the farthest with was an old pop punk band called Rome – we were based out of Riverside, CA. It was a 6 piece – that was in 2004 – we were a band for two years. It was cool – we did mini-tours and stuff. But this has been the first thing that I’m actually going out across the whole country and going to different countries with.
What made you follow this direction – as opposed to pop punk or hardcore?
To be honest, rap and hip hop – that was the first genre of music that I really got into when I was a little kid. I was like 7 years old bumping Tupac and Biggie. I just felt like a lot of the pop punk – all that music around me I felt was so generic. So many people were trying to do the same thing. And I just wanna be me and do something different. I’ve always rapped with my friends, but I never really started taking it seriously until this. I’m happy though – I like what I do.
How many Warped dates have you been on and what have been some of the highlights?
I’ve been on every single Warped Tour date. The highlights for me – Montreal – that was one of my favorite shows I’ve played – just because that was my first time playing in Canada and there were a lot of kids and they all loved it. It was really intense and really cool. And the first California show (in Pomona) – that was really fun – it was my first show ever, so it was pretty tight. I’m looking forward to today – and tomorrow as well – the grand finale – and that is what I’m basing my whole experience on.
Did you get to go to any of the rainy places of the country?
Oh yeah, we had rain like 8 days. Like Florida, it would be 100 degrees and pouring rain. But you gotta do it.
What’s worse? Extreme heat or rain on the Warped Tour?
I would have to say the heat, man. Because there’s only so much you could do if it’s raining. I could go chill on my bus or I could go put on two jackets and have an umbrella. But if it’s hot, you can’t take off and go jump in a pool when you’re on Warped Tour. So I’d say heat is worse.
So have you met any Rich Girls on Warped Tour?
Yes I have met some Rich Girls. (Laughs) I don’t know man – I’m just gonna leave it at that – just yes, I have met some rich girls…
Have you gotten any strange or different reactions from girls who are listening to your lyrics and then go Whoa!!!
Yeah, I was selling this girl my CD and she was listening to it on headphones. She was like, “Aw, that’s really cute!” And then something came on and she just totally changed her face and was like, “Whoa! What is this?” But I kind of like that about my music – how it can just be going one way – and then I’ll say something and totally throw someone off. I like that. But yeah, that girl freaked out – but it was tight.
Who are all those girls on the main picture of your Myspace?
For that photo shoot, we actually did like a little casting call. Some of them are friends and some of them just hit me up online. And then we had them come down and we just shot. It’s kind of random. We had a girl that I knew, and she’d bring three friends or something. It was fun though. We just had a big party at the shoot and it was crazy!
Have you met Jeffree Star, and if so, what does he think of your music?
I’ve been friends with Jeffree for probably about a year now. I don’t really know – he’s heard it – he bumps to it, but I don’t know if he hates it or loves it or anything. I could call him – do you want me to text him?
Tell me about the Finders Keepers EP and how long did it take you to record everything?
I was doing pre-production on that for what felt like forever. Recording itself only took me two days. But I came in there with a lot of stuff ready – and then some tracks I had were just bonus instrumentals that actually ended up on the EP – I just freestyled to them and we like what we got, so we kept them. But it took me like 20 hours altogether to record those five songs. But the writing process took six months to make all my beats. But I was finishing up school and had a bunch of other things to do – so like a month before Warped Tour was when my schedule was totally devoted to music – and this is all that I’m doing now.
When you sit down and write your lyrics, where do come up with your ideas?
A lot of times, I don’t even write dude. I don’t really write with a pen and pad or anything. I’ll go in to track something and I’ll just go off the top of my head. I’ll listen to it back – I’ll refine it and do it a couple more times. So it’s more just like free style – like a real like flow – so the direction could go anywhere. Sometimes I’ll write down a couple of one-liners on my phone, but it’s real loose.
So what’s the first thing that you’re gonna do when you get home from Warped Tour?
I’m going to sleep for a whole day – at least a whole day. And then we’re going to be practicing, cuz I’ve got some shows coming up that are going to be announced on the page once I get back. I’m going to catch up a lot online, because I kind of slacked this summer – it’s hard when you’re on tour. Get my merch store up – write new songs – all that good stuff.
Do you have any final words of wisdom to people who are reading this now?
As Bus Number 42 says – if it’s easy – it’s diseasey! And I’ll leave you with that.
T. Mills on Myspace (Interview and Photos by Kenneth Morton)