INTERVIEW: Upcoming EP ‘Over My Dead Body’, Touring With Avril Lavigne & Much More With Girlfriends
Pop-punk duo Girlfriends are quickly making a name for themselves in the music scene with their high-energy, infectious sound. Comprised of Travis Mills (vocals/guitar) & Nick Gross (drums) the band has been praised for their catchy hooks, relatable lyrics, and dynamic live performances. With their debut album Girlfriends released in 2020, the duo has been gaining fans all over the world and is poised to take the pop-punk genre to new heights. In this interview, we’ll talk to the band about their journey so far, the massive European tour with Avril Lavigne and their upcoming EP Over My Dead Body.
Strife: First and foremost: how are you guys doing?
Travis: Excellent, man. We just finished soundcheck and everything sounds incredible.
Nick: Yeah. We got a secret surprise tonight during the Avril set, which would be pretty fun. The first night was Travis getting kicked in the face for his birthday. The second night is going to be a little different, but it’ll be fun. Good night one for sure.
Strife: What was the first show like? We can imagine it being kind of insane.
Travis: It was my birthday. It was the first night of the tour, and it was our first time playing Europe ever as a band. So just a lot of firsts and like to walk out on stage and there’s 10,000 people is pretty surreal. It was insane.
Nick: Yeah, it was awesome. It felt like 20 years of building up to a show of that magnitude. With the kind of people that we’re playing with and this rad circle of music stuff we grew up on, back when we were teenagers kind of coming in. Now getting to go overseas to play shows in different countries and then you add the layer of Avril and all that. It’s been pretty exciting.
Strife: You guys have been in the industry for a while. You’re seniors, so to speak. Is there a particular artist that you’ve toured with that really inspired you?
Travis: I don’t know about people that we’ve necessarily toured with, but the Blink live album is one of the best live albums I’ve ever heard. The Mark, Tom and Travis Show and like, I know that record front to back. I know every kind of break. I know every banter in between songs because when I was a kid, I used to lay down in my room and look up at my Blink poster when I was falling asleep and put that record on and pretend I was like going on tour with them. And it was crazy because after Paris, we all went out and we were with Avril and Phem and we put that record on and we were just listening to it and quoting it. And it’s just wild, it’s like a full circle moment.
Strife: You guys have released two albums in the three years that you’ve been a band. That’s quite a lot. We’re on 39 songs, including the most recent release, Life’s A Brittany. Can you tell us something about that?
Travis: We started the band in December of 2019. That’s when the idea of girlfriends formed. We got into a studio and then the world shut down and we kind of used it to our advantage. Obviously it was horrible that no one was able to leave and stuff like that. But in a way, it was a blessing for us because it forced us to really go inward and focus on who we were as a band and what we wanted to sound like. And we got to take something really negative and come out on the other side with an album and start releasing music that people connected to during a really dark time. And Nick and I just haven’t stopped.
We were one of the first bands to go back on tour. We were kind of like the science experiment, August of 2021, no one really knew what tours were going to be like and how to do it.
Nick: We were doing that one show, I think in June 2021, in that downtown warehouse in LA.
Travis: Our first show was in this underground warehouse in June of 2021, super weird.
Nick: We played it 2:00 in the morning. It was really weird, sweaty.
Travis: It was crazy, but it was cool. We just made the best out of our situation, when the world kind of changed, we just adapted. And I think that’s what Nick and I both do really well in our personal lives too, and stuff outside of the band. It makes sense that we did it with girlfriends and yeah, we’ve just been focused on making music. I think the songs come first.
Strife: Now that you have to tour again and life is back to normal, is that why this is an EP rather than a full-length?
Nick: It felt too soon to put out a third album and we just wanted to give fans something to have during the cycle of when we’re touring for the next four months and using this year to kind of put out new music that we’re super excited about that we were working on all of last year. I think taking the time to really focus on a potential third album for 2024 after this touring cycle is kind of done for us at the beginning of the year. We’ve worked on a couple of songs with our friend Andrew Goldstein and they turned out really great and we just thought “let’s just put it on an EP”.
Strife: Do you also write on the road or do you keep it very strictly apart?
Travis: We haven’t really on this. We’re only on day two into this, but we were talking about it. We have a lot of touring ahead of us and if we want to start writing songs on the bus, we could bring some stuff back here. But that’s not something we’ve really done in the past. It seems like we make all of our records at people’s houses, which is kind of a throughline that we noticed today, which is cool. We just crash on their couch and make records.
Strife: Speaking of creating music, you’ve worked with John Feldmann in a different capacity, but now he’s also producing your album. What was that like?
Nick: Working with Feldy was another one of those full dream come true things, we always grew up watching that first initial Ooze DVD, the Maybe Memories DVD and watching The Used make that record and Feldmann being such a big part of that first record for that band and to see how that was documented and shown to the world. That was my first introduction to John Feldmann and back in 2018, I would do anything to meet John Feldmann, trying to figure out who was within his circle just to meet him and talk to him.
And I did a first initial phone call with him for a previous band and I was pitching him on a song that we did. And he just shut me down. He said “no, I wouldn’t work on something like this. This isn’t my thing.” And I was so bummed. But then we figured out a way to meet each other through something else and then ended up starting a record label with him, which was just a super cool, surreal kind of a thing because he’s never had a label for himself. He’s always just signed bands to other labels and worked on those projects.
And so when he approached me with the idea with one of his other partners, it was just a cool moment where I was like, “Dude, I would love to do that with you.” And so that was just a surreal thing.
And then I started playing drums a bit with Goldfinger. Travis saw me playing with Goldfinger, I think at a show, he hit me up and said he wanted to start a band in 2019. And then we started our project and Feldmann did the first album right in 2020 with us. So it’s just been a cool universal thing where Feldy just got brought into our world, I think through our energy around wanting to attract that. Seeing that kind of happen was really cool.
Strife: What other band did you have that wasn’t in his corner?
Nick: It was a band called Half The Animal, it was an alternative rock project. But I think the style was just a little bit different than the stuff that he normally likes to work on.
Travis: I worked with Feldy on my solo project, which was crazy, back in 2015 too. That’s right. Which is nuts.
Nick: So he had already been in his universe.
Travis: Then when we started this we were like “let’s work with Feldy.”
Strife: Going through some of your songs, you pointed in the direction that it was created during a very weird time in the world. In the lyrics, you come across as a bit frustrated and angry maybe.
Nick: Why are you so angry, man?
Travis: Dude, I wake up angry. I’m inherently negative. I’m an inherently negative guy, and I have to do a lot of things to get myself out of that. And writing music is one of those things.
Strife: So it’s cathartic? A way to give it a place?
Travis: Yeah, 100%. I think I say things in songs, so I don’t say them in real life. That’s where I can truly just say anything that I really want to. And writing is definitely one of those places that I go to when I’m either in a dark place, in a frustrated place, in a weird place, I can always turn inward and reflect on how and why I’m feeling certain ways. And I think the cool thing about having music as a vehicle to express that is that other people can connect with that as well.
Strife: What kind of other themes can we expect on the upcoming EP?
Travis: Our most recent song, Life’s A Brittany, that’s the most fun that I’ve had writing a song in a really long time because it felt wrong while we were writing it. It was too easy, if that makes sense. It was just something that came out of my mouth, you know? Life’s a bitch, her name is Brittany, like, And I thought sorry, but we can’t say that. And Andrew Goldstein looked back from his chair and was like, “Yeah, you can. Why can’t you say that?” So that’s the song we wrote and we wrote it in like 30 minutes. For me that song is a testament to me getting out of my own way, getting out of my own head and having fun with music, which is why we started making music in the first place.
Strife: You guys have a certain kind of vibe surrounding the artwork as well. Funnily enough, with the Barbie movie coming out.
Travis: Dude, we didn’t plan it. Everyone’s been asking us.
Nick: We didn’t plan it.
Travis: That was like the universe either being like, “you’re in the right place.” The movie didn’t pay us to do this or anything.
Nick: Yeah. All we need now is Margot Robbie to come on our bus for two days and we’ll be all right.
Strife: So how did you come up with the idea of this kind of artwork for this EP?
Travis: There’s a song on the EP too, called Plastic, that kind of feeds into everything. Nick and I wanted to create a world that was cohesive around the music. And we felt like telling the story through inanimate objects was the way to do it. We didn’t want to do another photo-based cover. And so we just started throwing things at the wall and turning us into dolls is what stuck nice.
Strife: You guys are creative, but you’re also business oriented. How do you maintain the balance between the two?
Travis: I don’t think there’s a balance, dude. I mean, Nick has the dude from his company on the bus with us, I’m doing my Apple music shows from the bus. Everything in our lives starts with music and ends with music. It’s just who we are. That’s just inherently who we are as humans and entrepreneurs and musicians and creatives. And I think that’s how it has to be for us to be able to do all this stuff right. If we were to sit here with calendars try to schedule out times and do all this stuff. I don’t know if it would work. A lot of people wouldn’t be able to do what we do. And I think that’s what makes it so cool that we’re able to do what we do.
Nick: I think it’s a kind of personality as well. Not everyone has to feel like they have to do five things at the same time. At least for me and I know for Travis too, we like being busy with different things and having multiple fires happening at the same time and seeing where things can help each other, like his Apple Music Show, helps girlfriends so much. Whenever we release new music and his MTV show influencing stuff that we have going on as a band and just trying to see how our universe of things that we have can help the project. It’s recording at my studio or putting the records out through my label and having the creative freedom to do what we want with that. So it’s cool to see it all work together in the same kind of ecosystem.
Travis: I think, for us too, it’s also being the most unconventional, going against the mold. A lot of people think that if you’re in a band, you’re just going to be wasted all the time and sleep till 3 p.m. and we’re the exact opposite of that.
Nick: Got up at four instead of three.
Travis: But why can’t we show people you don’t have to fit into one box of thing. You can do multiple things and do a really good job at it.
Strife: Does it ever get overwhelming at all when you’re on the road and you don’t have everything?
Travis: Sure, but I mean, people get stressed out driving. You know what I mean? It’s part of life. Life is fucking stressful. We were just talking about this because we chose to do this No one’s forcing us to be here. We get to do this every single day. All these artists that bitch and complain about touring and how hard it is for them, I don’t get it. You literally wanted this your whole entire life. And, now that you have it, you’re complaining about it.
Nick: You gotta figure out a way to make it work. Everything has downfalls, you know? Nothing’s perfect out here, but it’s worth it at the end of the day to play shows.
Travis: The most annoying thing that happened to me today was I had to walk 50ft to go to a shower that wasn’t at my house. There’s definitely far worse things that could be happening. Or maybe I had to sleep in a bunk on a moving vehicle or eat food out of a microwave. But life is very good, right now. I’m not going to complain about it.
Strife: To just stay that humble and grateful, isn’t that hard sometimes?
Travis: Nick and I, this isn’t our first band, you. Life is long and a career span in music is very short. So the fact that we’re able to be here right now, 34 years old, it’s rare, man. There’s so many people that we came up with, touring and stuff, that are out in the real world, not doing music because they had to what society would call grow up. The fact that we get to keep doing this, we’re so incredibly lucky. It’s insane. So I don’t want to fuck this up, you know, we’ll fucking work harder than everybody else. And I think that’s why we’ve been able to have a lot of success for a relatively new band. And I don’t feel like we’re successful. I think we’ve done some cool things, but I want to do more. That’s what motivates us. We just want to fucking help people. People have a connection with the music. We want to break the mold.
Strife: We got a lightning round now. The first one would be: favorite song to play live?
Nick: I’ll go with Jessica.
Travis: I think on this tour it’s a new song, this is the first time that we’ve been playing it. But Brittany is really fun. Jessica and Brittany.
Strife: What band do you listen to most right now in your spare time? Which one is being most played?
Nick: Pierce The Veil. New album.
Travis: Uh, I’m going to go with Drain. They’re a hardcore band from California. They’re about to put out a new record, but I’ve been listening to the first one. It’s called California Curse. It came out in 2020. Army of One’s a really good feel. The whole album is great.
Strife: Artists you’d like to collaborate with as girlfriends?
Travis: Yungblud, I think would be super sick. Yeah, it’d be cool to collaborate with Dom. That’d be awesome.
Nick: I want to do a collaboration with Tame Impala.
Strife: What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?
Travis: Coffee for me.
Nick: Cookies and cream. That’s mine for sure.