Photo by Morgan Schrader
Interview with vocalist/bassist Brenn Stark and drummer Brandon Millman | By Joe Fitzpatrick
Out of the thousands of bands that submitted to play this year’s Ernie Ball Stage, which has become a mainstay at the Vans Warped Tour for showcasing local bands and more, only four bands were selected to represent their area in each city. Bringing their catchy, pop punk anthems to the stage in Columbia, MD was the three-piece from Baltimore better known as 3PM. Consisting of vocalist/bassist Brenn Stark, guitarist Scott Montgomery, and drummer Brandon Millman, the band draws most of their influences from the legends of 90’s pop punk–Yellowcard, Blink-182, New Found Glory, and Green Day. 3PM is no stranger to the spotlight, and they bring the energy to match their experience. We spoke with Stark and Millman about their success winning the chance to play Warped Tour, their experiences playing with All Time Low and working with Paul Leavitt, as well as their plans for after the release of their upcoming sophomore album, Slow Me Down.
What were the keys to your success in winning the Battle of the Bands to play Warped Tour?
Stark: By far, treating it as if it was something more than just a contest. We all kinda pictured that we were in a political campaign, and we wanted to use any means necessary to win. We actually used a dating site to find matches, and asked them to vote for us. Most of the time it worked really well, and a lot of them were the ones that voted for us and left comments. So finding other ways and new ways to branch out to meet random new people is always good.
Millman: We have a lot of devoted fans, and we tweeted at every single day and posted every single day. We went down our friends’ list on Facebook. We asked everyone we knew in public, and there was just nonstop relentless effort.
Out of all the bands on the tour, who are you most excited to see today?
Millman: Definitely Yellowcard. I was hear two-years-ago, and I lost my crowd surfing virginity [during their set]. I plan to relive that moment.
I understand that you recently performed at a benefit show with All Time Low. How did that go?
Stark: It could not have gone better. It was for such a great cause. It was for the Center for Infant Child Loss because the guy who put on the show was Paul Leavitt, who was All Time Low’s producer and our producer. His infant son passed away at the age of one, and it’s a really sad circumstance but the show itself was not mourning. It was in celebration of his life.
What was it like working with Paul Leavitt, who has worked with bands such as Senses Fail, The Dangerous Summer, and All Time Low, on your upcoming sophomore album Slow Me Down?
Stark: Compared to our first album, it was a whole ‘nother world. [Paul had] so many new things to use, equipment-wise. The reason that a lot of our songs turned out so well were because he had so many amazing ideas. So if it wasn’t for him, a lot of our songs would have not come out they way that they did.
Millman: Paul was great. [We experienced] a whole new level of professionalism from him we hadn’t experienced before. Our last album we did with someone that worked out of UMBC (University of Maryland Baltimore County), and he was great. Coming in, we did pre-production, and we spent more time working on the tone than actually recording it. It was just a different experience.
When is your album set to release, and what can people expect from it to set your band apart from other pop punk bands?
Stark: We’re releasing physically on July 26 at Baltimore Soundstage with a big record release show, and digitally we are doing August 15th. People can expect to hear a much more mature side of us compared to our first album, Change of Plans. It was just a one-year difference in which we released it, but there is still such a maturity difference. Lyrically and musically, you can definitely tell that we have matured, and we have a lot more stuff to write about.
After your album is released, where do you plan to tour and for how long?
Stark: We plan to do a few tours near the end of August and then some in October. Our youngest member, our guitarist Scott, is 16-years-old, and he is still in high school so we have to work around that a bit. I know what it feels like because I just got out of high school , and we had to work around that too.
Millman: We plan to spend the rest of August bouncing around the East Coast. There is no straight path, but we will definitely be playing out of state a lot.
What are your thoughts on the current state of the Maryland music scene?
Stark: It’s definitely been improving with bands like Stacked Like Pancakes, Clear for Takeoff, and All Rights Reserved–all the other bands that won the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands and are playing Warped Tour today. The music scene is definitely being revived slowly but surely, and I hope to see a full revival within a year or so.
Millman: It’s a lot better than I thought it was. When I made the band, everyone was like, ‘The scene is dead, local music is dead, and no one cares,’ but once you get in there you see that there are a lot of people who are dedicated fans that want to be a part of it.