T. Mills participated on the entire Vans Warped Tour two years ago as an unsigned hip-hop artist working for the Babycakes Clothing line – performing in their tent and making a good deal of fans along the way. A lot has happened since then – T. Mills is now signed to a major label and he’s one of the performers featured on the House Of Marley Stage this year. Highwire Daze made a connection with T. Mills to catch up with current happenings, including his signing to Columbia Records, the upcoming Thrillionaire trilogy, discussing both fans and haters of his career, and other topics of interest. Read on as we interview the rapper from the Vans Warped Tour in Irvine, CA…
How has Warped Tour been going so far for you and what have been some of the highlights?
It’s been amazing! It’s only the fourth day and last night we played Vegas, and it was insane! We played at 10:20 so it was dark. My crowd was fucking insane. I signed for like 3 ½ hours – there was just so much love out there. And I would say that the highlight would have to be this morning, because I woke up with Chevy giving me a free car. I got a Chevy Volt today. And it’s a hometown show kind of – I’m in Irvine. A lot of my friends are out – my family is out. I’m playing at 6:10 today, so it’s going to be kind of cooling down, which is amazing. It’s going to be great man – I’m having a great day – and I’m just looking forward to the rest of the summer – it’s just going to keep getting better and better.
How does the touring on Warped this summer compare to when you did the entire run with Babycakes?
Well, I’m on a real stage, which is dope. I’m on my own bus, which is amazing. And I have a crew. When I did that, I was by myself. It was grinding, man – it was a lot of work! I was selling merch for someone else while I was selling my own merch and playing. I didn’t have a manager – I didn’t have a tour manager – I didn’t have anything. This year, I feel like a lot of the pressure is off me – and it’s cool to see all the work that I put in and seeing the kids coming out and seeing the big crowds at my stage. Warped Tour is not traditionally a festival for hip-hop artists, but I feel like I’m bringing a lot to the tour this year – just making it kind of interesting. A lot of my peers like Mod Sun, G-Eazy, Machine Gun Kelly and myself – there’s just a new movement for Warped Tour all in itself, which is dope to be a part of that. Even in 2009, POS and 3 Oh! 3 was on the tour. And Eminem was on the first year! I just feel like this year we have extra – there’s four and five of us which is dope.
How does the music on Thrillionaire compare to the previous releases?
It’s definitely slower – not a lot of fast paced shit. Just a lot of mid tempo shit. It’s melodic – and I just got like really high, went into the studio, and recorded a bunch of songs that I would like to listen to. There’s no single on Thrillionaire really – I’m just putting everything out together. Thrillionaire is actually a trilogy – there’s a Part 1,2, and 3. And yeah, it’s just me having fun man. It’s super cool. I have some Features on there, which I don’t usually do – I don’t usually have collaborations on anything, so it’s dope to put this out. It’s just something that I’ve had in my head for a long time. Some songs I’ve had for six months and then some songs I made just last week.
Tell me about the song Diemonds and what inspired the lyrics.
We were sitting in the studio and I was like, “Yo, like Diemonds. Not “dia,” like “die” – you know, like everybody dies ya know. But we’re going to do something that’s lasting – that’s timeless. I feel like a Diemond represents that. And I just kind of my put little tongue in cheek flip on it. It’s really a different song for me, because I feel like the subject matter is a little more mature. It’s a feel good track. I made it in a couple of hours and I really liked it, and I just wanted to put it out. And kids seem to really like it. And then I shot an unofficial music video for it with Red Bull – and I jumped out of a helicopter at Bamboozle – at 9,000 feet man!
What was that like?
It was amazing! It was probably like one of the best things I’ve even done in my whole life!
Were you scared at all?
A little bit. But the scariest part was riding up in the helicopter because it doesn’t have doors. So I front flipped out of it and the rest, I was just smiling man. So the video is on my Youtube channel right now – you could go see it. And that’s kind of what I had in my head, and everything fits.
How nervous are you about being on a major label now? It’s kind of like a big responsibility…
It is a big responsibility. The reason I signed with Columbia is because they “get” new artists and they get what I want to do. They’ve been nothing but amazing! They put out Leaving Home as soon as I signed – for a major label to invest money and put out a free album that they’re not selling is kind of – awesome! It doesn’t happen traditionally and they were really cool about Thrillionaire. I got the full-length album 90 percent done. I don’t want to put nothing out in the fourth quarter, so the timing lined up perfectly. Thrillionaire I want to drop in three segments and that will take me through to the end of the year. And then the full-length album will come out on the Top of 2013.
Do you still receive unusual reactions from people when it comes to some of your lyrics?
Definitely! Yeah! I love that shit man! Whatever man! I have fun with my shit. I have serious songs. A lot of people don’t know – maybe they’re not single or something. But if I make a song saying like, “Yo, I want to fuck you with my shoes on” and all this shit – it doesn’t mean I’m going to literally fuck you with my shoes on. It means like, yo, you could make a song saying anything you fucking want, and that shit could work. It’s about doing what you want to do and having fun and being young – and making mistakes and learning from them. That’s what I’m out here doing – I’m living! Not a lot of people do that.
Very true! So what advice would you give a kid who aspires to be on the Warped Tour? You’ve done it twice now!
Yeah, you’ve got to grind man! My first time I was selling t-shirts and all that shit! Just connect, man. You’ve got to connect with your fans – with the people who are listening to you, supporting you, buying your shit and going to the shows. If there’s no connection – if there’s no personal level there, I don’t see how it could really work. And that’s what you need in order to do this tour. And if it’s not there, go out and get it there! Go out and make it.
Do you ever read some of the obnoxious things haters ever say about you or your videos?
No, man. I’m having too much fun! I got a free fuckin’ car today! What the fuck do I care about some fool on Youtube sayin’ some shit! Ya know what I mean?
Do you have messages for your fans out here in LA and Orange County?
Yeah man, thanks for coming out. I feel like these are going to be a couple of my favorite days on Warped Tour. Your mind is a powerful thing man! Do what you chose to, and I’m going to leave with you with that…
(Interview and Live Photo by Kenneth Morton – Interview Photo by Adam Gendler)