It’s hard to find time to be in a committed music project when you are a full-time college student. However, Chris Mills is doing it all by taking on a sociology degree at Northeastern Illinois as well as a fairly successful hardcore band. Harm’s Way formed in 2007 as a fun side project for drummer Mills, guitarist Bo Lueders, and James Pligge’s intense vocals. “All of us were together in a band at the time, and for the fun of it we wanted to do a power-violence/grind influenced band in the vein on Crossed Out and Infest,” Mills says.
Mills first became interested in the hardcore and punk genre because it was different than what everyone else was listening to and playing. He said, “At the time [growing up] mainstream music sucked to me, and the people who liked it sucked so when I heard bands like Black Flag, Fugazi and the Descendents, it clicked.”
To give a taste of what Harm’s Way’s music is all about: The band currently has songs on their MySpace page entitled “Imprisoned”, “Pure Hatred”, “Repression”, and “Delusion.” According to Mills, this side band actually started as a joke for the most part with “over-nihilistic lyrics about hatred, stomping out frat boys, and destroying the world.” Eventually the guys started taking Harm’s Way more seriously and they have found more success and a bigger following than their original band. So far they have released records on various labels and have “hit both coasts multiple times.” This “side” band has become their main project.
Chris isn’t the only band member who has to balance his everyday obligations with his love for music. Pligge recently graduated from Northern Illinois University with a degree in physical education. Lueders supports himself by working full-time at a call center. “[Lueders] stopped going to school ‘cause he wasn’t feeling it,” Mills explains. No matter which way you look at it, whether you have a full-time job or are going to school, it’s difficult to tack on a commitment to a serious band.
I asked Mills how he and his band mates work around their busy schedules. “College and careers definitely limit us from being a full-time band. We schedule our tours and shows around time off from school and work.
Practices are usually after hours from our daily routines.” He says that balancing the band with other commitments generally works out fine because it is a “serious hobby” for the members. Even though Harm’s Way is not the main obligation in the lives of any of the band members, they still commit themselves to the band and to producing music.
Mills explains how keeping up with the band is worth the minor difficulties because it has given them some great opportunities to travel around the country and meet new people. He also mentioned that playing shows allows the band to tour for free, which doesn’t hurt either.
While discussing touring and shows, I had to ask Mills what was the craziest thing that happened to the band while on tour. “Getting pulled over by boarder patrol for driving a suspicious looking van…and almost getting deported back to Mexico, even though we’re all documented residents of the United States. Thumbs up for profiling.” Maybe Mexico just wanted Harm’s Way to play a few more shows?
As for the future of Mills and Harm’s Way, they don’t plan on separating any time soon. Come May, Mills will have completed his undergraduate work at Northeastern Illinois and will be applying to graduate school for the fall. He is going to continue with his music but does not see it becoming his main priority future. “Being a punk/hardcore band, it’s quite difficult to ‘go full-time’ and be financially successful. I guess I’ve never even looked at the possibility of using punk rock and hardcore music as a career.” Musicians from more mainstream genres may have an easier chance in becoming successful enough to live off of their music, but when it comes to the hardcore genre the path is more complicated due to the smaller following. He says that the band will remain a hobby for the guys because “It helps combat the monotony of everyday life.”
Harm’s Way will be releasing a new 7”EP on Closed Casket Activities in March before heading out on a 10-day spring tour of the east coast.
Be sure to see Mills and the rest of Harm’s Way on February 28th at 6:00 pm at Subterranean playing with Blacklisted.