The duo taps into nostalgia and emotion, creating a sound that is unique and pleasantly familiar. (Press Photo Nathan James)
Zooming in from a non-descript hotel room— they are currently on tour with Pierce the Veil and The Used this summer—, both Travis Mills and Nick Gross are excited to be in the place that they occupy professionally. Fresh off of a European tour with rock icon Avril Lavigne and selling out venues along the East Coast for their own headlining tour, pop-punk duo Girlfriends have achieved the wildest dreams yet they have just scratched the surface of their capabilities. Energetic, fun, and positive, Mills, 34, was thrilled about recently selling out Baby’s Alright, an intimate venue in Brooklyn, and being able to “plant our flag in New York. We made a statement for sure.” Filled with cathartic post-breakup anthems, their new EP, Over My Dead Body certainly makes a statement with the revenge-tinged “Thanks Anyway, a country adjacent “Plastic” and the fun lead single “Life’s A Brittany”, proving they are capable of modernizing the pop-punk sound while ensuring it remains relatable — this is a band fueled by their love of the pop-punk that created them and the ability to connect with people through it.
Hailing from California, girlfriends came onto the scene in 2020 with their hit single “California.” Mills’ music career harkens back to his stint as rapper T. Mills who forged a path to music via MySpace and landed a deal and a spot on Warped Tour, releasing his debut album “Ready, Aim, Fire!” in 2010. Mills returned to music with girlfriends, releasing the pair’s self-titled debut in 2020, known for hits such as “Jessica”, and “Where Were You?” featuring Travis Barker, followed by their sophomore EP “Emotion Sickness” in 2022. Hits from their second studio effort such as the catchy singles “Tattoo” and “High Again.” showed listeners that the group knew how to make a great pop-punk song, but Over My Dead Body sees them paving their own path within the genre. Like Mills, Gross has had a connection to music long before the band: He is a founding of the music label Big Noise and the educational foundation Find Your Grind, having worked countless years in the music industry. For Mills and Gross, the band serves as a vehicle for emotional expression and catharsis, letting people know that they are not alone in dealing with break-ups, anxiety, or depression.
The prolific band sat down to chat with Substream about their new EP Over My Dead Body, released on May 12th, songwriting, touring, and ushering in a modern wave of pop-punk. Here are some highlights:
What is your songwriting process like?
Mills: I think when you take the pressure off… you walk into the studio a lot of times and at least for me I want to go in there and write the best song we’ve ever made. It needs to be really good and it needs to be smart. It needs to have amazing lyrics and a great melody. That’s a lot of pressure to put on yourself to make something in just a few hours with the bar set so high. So when you can go in and just be, I think it opens you to be more creative and do things at the moment, and that’s what we did with a song like ‘Plastic.” It’s one of our favorites on the EP for sure.
Gross: [laughs] It was a crazy experience making the song in the studio. I would say that the solo part of that song is amazing, coming up with that part. I think that was a song that came pretty organically for us.
You were both recently on tour with Avril Lavigne in Europe. What’s one great memory that you have from that experience?
Mills: Playing Blink-182 covers with her every single night on stage in front of 15,000 people
Gross: The fact that we got to play one of our favorite bands we grew up listening to with Avril Lavigne is so iconic. Both of those things coming together was really cool.