The two young dudes at the center of girlfriends — Travis Mills (musical artist, Beats 1 Host, actor) and Nick Gross (Big Noise, Gross Labs, Find Your Grind) — have packed several lifetimes’ worth of success, heartbreak, and redemption into their first couple of decades on earth. Now, they are bringing it back to the start, with their debut single release, “California.” Produced by the legendary John Feldmann,the track is fueled by the caffeinated pop-punk style that first inspired them and pulls from influential artists like blink-182, 5 Seconds Of Summer, The 1975, Phoenix and All Time Low.
“This song is a tribute to where we grew up. I have seen LA eat and spit people out and I’ve seen it make some incredible things happen. There is such a duality to this amazing place,” shares Mills on the debut single.
Fans can stream “California” today via Big Noise at https://bignoise.ffm.to/girlfriends.
Gross and Mills first walked right up to the edge of rock stardom before either of them had even left their teens. The brash and catchy hip-hop Travis made in his Riverside, California bedroom and posted on MySpace as “T. Mills” led to a major label deal, a spot on the Warped Tour, and an electric buzz, presaging the era of SoundCloud emo-rap and laptop hooks that was to come. At 17, Gross found himself in New York’s Times Square playing MTV’s TRL, in a pop-punk band featured prominently on Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County, with a major label contract of their own.
In recent years, Travis experienced the loss of his close friend Lil Peep and the very public dissolution of a romantic relationship. He knew he needed a new creative vehicle to exorcise his demons. After seeing Nick drumming in an Instagram story, he called him up. It was a serendipitous conversation, as Nick (a multimedia CEO) also felt the urge to give a new pop-punk band his focus.
“I just had so much to write about,” Mills says of the sessions that turned into the girlfriends debut. “It came from a genuine place. I’d be stressed out, or bawling my eyes out, and the songs would come very organically. If we ever spent more than an hour trying to figure out a hook or a verse, we scrapped it and just kept moving. This project is different from anything else I’ve ever done.”
Like the punk rock music that first inspired him as a teenager, Mills sees girlfriends as an outlet for soulful expression and emotional catharsis, a means to process his feelings of grief, uncertainty, and renewed vigor for life, in a way that’s likely to connect with others who struggle. Nick is equally enthusiastic to have another crack at pop-punk, the genre that first set him on his career path.