An Interview with Chris Mills, Drummer of Harm’s Way
Utah is in Harm’s Way Sept. 24. Founded in 2006, this sXe band is from Chicago, IL and has been stomping around the world for the past year. They just recently finished a tour of Europe with Australian band Twitching Tongues and are now in the initial days of a West Coast tour with the bands Dead In the Dirt and Homewrecker. SLUG got a chance to sit down with Chris Mills, the drummer for Harm’s Way and talk about the band’s recent EP, Blinded, their deal with Deathwish Records, their transition into a metal/hardcore sound over the past few years and Chris’ dream tour destination.
SLUG: You guys recently signed with Deathwish Inc. How did that come about and how has it been so far?
Mills: After Isolation was done, we kinda sat on that for a couple years—did some touring and when it came time to put together a new a record, we were knocking around some ideas on who we’d like to work with and Deathwish came to mind. We heard in the past that Jake [Bannon, owner of Deathwish Records] was a fan of the band and so we ended up reaching out to Deathwish. I sent Jake an email; expressing interest in working together, he ended up replying saying he was really into the idea, and we took it from there. It’s been awesome—they’ve been really helpful, we have a bigger budget, we were able to do a music video they’ve been and willing to do anything we’ve really want. They’re really supportive.
SLUG: You guys recently released the Blinded EP, how long did it take you guys to piece it together and who did you guys work with?
Mills: The writing process took about a couple months, and then we went into the studio. We ended up recording with our friend, Andy Nelson: He works with a studio called Bricktop, it’s the same guy who recorded our last couple records, Reality Approaches and Isolation. It was a pretty comfortable environment for us. We know Andy’s style, [and ]he knows ours. We were on a tight time frame—we wanted the record ready for our European tour this summer—we recorded the album in Chicago. Since we’re all in school and have jobs, we were in the studio most nights [and early mornings]. It was one of the more unhealthier things we did as a band.
SLUG: Florian Bertmer did the cover art for Blinded, which is pretty fucking cool. How did you guys hook up with him? Did you guys give him direction or just let him go wild?
Mills: As far as working with Florian, Jake and I were talking about who wanted to work with, artwork-wise, for Blinded, and Florian came up. He is someone who we all really dig as an artist and Jake was able to bring that together. As far as the idea for the artwork goes, we had a basic idea for the horse head. We gave him that, some lyrics and he did his thing.
SLUG: What’s a place you’ve always wanted to tour, but haven’t gotten a chance to?
Mills: Right now, we’re really set on trying to get to Japan. We’ve been to Australia, been to Europe a couple times and Canada. Japan is next on our list, and hopefully, that happens. It’d be a dream come true—definitely not a place we thought about touring when we first started up.
SLUG: What is the most un-punk/un-hardcore about you?
Mills: Un-punk or un-hardcore… ? I guess, for me personally, I’m a graduate student in social work and pursuing a career in academia. So in some ways it’s un-punk and other ways it is punk. As a band, we’re all really into fitness and healthy eating. To some crowds, that might not be punk. A lot of people take shots at our singer for being bulky and muscular. It’s up to one’s own perception and one’s own definition of punk.
SLUG: Two years ago, a fellow SLUGger interviewed James about Harm’s Way’s progression into a more metal sound. Your most recent EP seemed to woven with metal tunes and hardcore tunes. What will your upcoming LP be like?
Mills: Its kinda hard to say, but I kinda foresee with the kind of stuff we’re writing now, but yeah. I can see it progress into the more metal sound. We all into industrial and electronic sounds as well, and there have been elements of that in Isolation and Blinded, so that sound may shine through with the next record, but its kind of hard to say because we’re in the early stages of the writing process. You want everything to come as natural as they can. I can see it going more into the metal route. Even if it does, as far as the hardcore or punk aesthetic, that is something we’ll hold onto, ideologically.
SLUG: How has the tour been going so far?
Mills: We are on tour with a band called Homewrecker and another called Dead In The Dirt. We’re about a week and few days in, and it’s been awesome. It’s the first time doing a West Coast tour in a few, and the shows have been really cool. A lot of the cities we’re hitting on this run we haven’t been to in awhile, and it’s cool to come back to these places and see the response to new songs and a new record as a whole.
SLUG: What is the audio in “Frontal Lobe” from?
Mills: It’s from the film There Will Be Blood. That’s a film we’re all really into and the book Oil by Upton Sinclair. We found that last minute, and it follows the themes of the record. The misanthropic thought set that runs through our head at times.
SLUG: Anything you guys working, like side projects?
Mills: The guitar player, [Bo Luexer] and I are in a band called Wolfnote. We’ve got a demo out right now. We’re going to start playing shows relatively soon. If anyone gets a chance, they should check it out. As soon as we get back, we’re going to focus on writing, doing some local shows and putting together a new LP, which should be out later next summer. Weekend Nachos have a new record coming out on Relapse, which should be great.
You can find Harm’s Way’s EP at their show on Sept. 24 at the Salt Haus, 6:30 p.m., and tickets are $10. When you do buy their EP, make sure to listen tracks “Blinded” and “Frontal Lobe,” as they kick ass. Expect an LP later on next summer, and in the meantime, pick up Wolfnote’s most recent album here. I expect this to be a packed show, and bring a mouth guard and athletic cup, because it’s going to get rowdy.
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