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The NAMM Show 2017 Interviews – Mark McMillon of Hawthorne Heights and The Story Changes

The NAMM Show 2017 Interviews – Mark McMillon of Hawthorne Heights and The Story Changes

2017 is turning out to be a banner year for the hard working musicians of Hawthorne Heights.  In addition to a massive amount of time being spent on the road, Hawthorne Heights has been writing a brand new album!  And just recently, it was announced that Hawthorne Heights would spend their summer travelling across the country on this year’s edition of the Vans Warped Tour!

Prior to the Warped announcement, we caught up with Hawthorne Height’s lead guitarist/screamer Mark McMillon at The NAMM Show to find on about the band’s plans of 2017, news on the next album, Mark’s other long running project The Story Changes, musical instruments of choice, and a whole lot more!  Read on…

Introduce yourself and tell me what you do in Hawthorne Heights
My name is Mark McMillon and I play guitar and do a lot of the screamy kinda unclean vocals in Hawthorne Heights.

What are you looking forward to the most about this year’s NAMM?
I’ve never been so I was just excited to come. It seems like for whatever reason we’re always on tour this time of year or like just winding down after a tour. We still live in Ohio, so the thought of coming out right after tour, right after the holidays, is always hard, but we’re home this year writing a record, and I’ve never been. It just seemed like a fun thing to come out some gear. A lot of sponsors and stuff are out here this year, so it just seemed like a good time. I’m having a lot of fun.

What is your weapon of choice and why when you tour?
I grew up playing a lot of Gibson Guitars. The Gibson SG is my all time favorite guitar just from always playing that. We were with a company called Framus for a long time when they had a distro out in New York and we played their guitars for a while and they make great stuff. I fell in love with their guitars. There’s a company called Dream Studio Guitars that we’ve been playing lately that’s out of Apple Valley. Both our singer and I have been playing their stuff. They make some cool, neat offset guitars and stuff. So, we’ve been doing that.

What advice would you give a young musician seeking an endorsement deal?
It’s tough. I think everyone gets that mindset when you start touring like “I wanna get free stuff.” We’ve tried a lot of gear. Being a band for 13 years, you start realizing you play a lot of different stuff and you always go back to your favorites. I’ve learned getting an endorsement just to get an endorsement isn’t cool. It’s easier said than done. When you don’t have a lot of gear, saying no to free gear is impossible. These companies are looking for partners that love the gear. You’ve got to really like it. You can’t just like it because it’s free. you’ve got to like it because you really love the product and believe in it. It takes a lot of work to really rep the company. Work hard. Tour hard. Don’t be afraid to try to get sponsors and meet companies and meet reps. Just be mindful that, just because it’s free, it’s not necessarily what you want.

Hawthorne Heights

What has it been like to play these ten year anniversary tours of your various albums?
It’s been awesome. The last year we did a long year. We were on the road close to 200 dates last year for the 10 year anniversary of “If Only You Were Lonely” and it was cool. For the fans and the band, it’s a blast from the past to play the old record. We always joke that it makes it real easy to pick the setlist. We don’t argue a lot as a band, but that’s one thing we debate. Some people in the band are like, “We should just play the fan favorite hits”, then other times, we’re like, “We should mix in these songs that we never play”. A lot of the hardcore fans that come to everything will be excited to hear some rare songs. At this point in our career, we have so many songs from putting out a lot of records that it’s really hard to pick the setlist. It was kind of fun to just take that mystery of it away. We knew exactly what we were playing. If anything, there were 5 or 6 songs that, after for the encore, they was fun to throw in some different rare cuts.

As far as the touring aspect, it’s cool because we feel very fortunate this far in our career to still be able to go all over the world and do this for a living. Our fans have continued to support us, but to see their reaction, even online when we announced the tours, ” They’re doing a 10-year tour for that”, that’s awesome. There’s a lot of songs in that record that the band had never played live. That was kind of a challenge for us too. A lot of it was structured in a way with acoustic guitars, during the verse it’s quiet, then things come in kind of loud, so it’s just not an easy way to do it live, so the band just never played those songs live. They weren’t singles or anything. We had to recreate those live. It was a little bit of a challenge, but it was fun.<