What does it actually take to be successful in the music industry?
I interviewed 3PM, who are learning the answer to that question first-hand, to find out. Hailing out of Baltimore, Maryland, the savvy pop-punk trio is composed of Scott Montgomery on guitar, Aaron O’Connor on vocals, and Brandon Millman on drums; and they are a total force of nature. Combining rebellious undertones and head-banging tunes with their passionate exteriors, it’s no surprise that their social media bio includes: “the band you want to take home to your parents.” 3PM has racked up quite a following thanks to years of promoting themselves; they have 22.1k on twitter and 12.3k on instagram to show for it. They also earned themselves a spot as the catering band on Warped Tour back in 2015, which is a pretty impressive thing to put on a resume.
I first met 3PM in November of 2015 at All Time Low’s Back to the Future Hearts Tour in Highland Heights, KY, where they handed me a free bracelet that read their band website’s URL and convinced me to buy their CD. I was immediately impressed with their charisma and persistency, and also that they were so similar in age to myself. I was even more impressed to find that their music was really good. Following up a year later, I ran into them in Atlanta at Sleeping With Sirens’ End The Madness Tour, and was really surprised to see them much farther south from where I saw them last. (I bought their CD again; they’re really persistent). Later on the drive home, I checked their twitter to find out that they have been following entire tours for years promoting 3PM’s music. Talk about determination! Thoroughly intrigued at this point, I actively started keeping up with posts and YouTube videos. When I found out they were going on their very first tour, I bought tickets immediately.
Interested, both as a fan and a musician myself, I caught up with them on the #OMGTour to find out just how they were doing it all.
The second I walked in the door at Rocketown in Nashville, I was informed that 3PM’s bus had broken down, but they had rented a car and were going to be there soon. I was already aware of how, the day before, a rock had smashed through a window in the bus. Despite all of this trouble they were still doing everything they could to make it there; which they eventually did, to everyone’s relief. The set was short because Aaron was sick and losing his voice, but they still put on an incredible show. The energy in the room was high despite the crowd being small and it was extremely evident that the stage is where they belong. After the show, they worked the merch table, selling t-shirts, signing posters, and taking pictures with people. After most everyone had left, I was able to sit down and have my interview with 3PM.
This is what we talked about:
K: How did you guys meet?
Aaron: Social media!
Brandon: Well, I knew Scott’s older brother and like six years ago we started a little band, and five years later we found Aaron on twitter.
Aaron: Then I moved, I was in college at the time. I dropped out of college and I moved to Baltimore to be in a band! Best decision I ever made.
K: How did you convince your parents to let you follow bands for weeks at a time?
Brandon: It starts slow, it wasn’t just suddenly at age 18: “see you mom, I’m going to rent a car and drive to California..”
Aaron: That’s what I did.
Brandon: Well you did, but we had a little something different going here. We would start in the area, so if a band came to Baltimore we would drive down to the show. And we didn’t even promote very well at first, we brought flyers and would hand them out to people. Then you start getting a little more brave and introducing yourself and really trying to push your music, Then that becomes, oh well let’s go to somewhere in Pittsburg, let’s go to somewhere in New York, and then somewhere in Ohio, and then, well let’s just follow a whole tour! And thats how it kind of came to be.
K: What are some experiences you have had? Are there any favorite memories?
Scott: This tour has been great so far, we’ve had a couple vehicle troubles; but other than that it’s been really cool to, as we’ve done a lot of the promoting that we’ve got so many fans that we can actually play cool shows for them. And them coming out and supporting us has been really awesome. Getting to travel has been awesome too. When we were the catering band on Warped Tour, it was two months in the summer, around the entire country. So yeah there’s been a lot of cool things.
K: Do you guys ever want to do Warped Tour again?
Scott: Absolutely, yes! It’s a great place for bands to get their start.
I’m calling you out Kevin Lyman, let’s get these boys back on Warped Tour.
K: I saw in your bio that you guys are working with Matt Squire (He has produced, engineered, or written tracks for artists such as: One Direction, Good Charlette, All Time Low, Panic! at the Disco, 3OH!3, Taking Back Sunday, and Boys Like Girls), so what’s the process behind that? How did you meet him?
Scott: We played this small little showcase in New York City we actually weren’t sure if we were going to make it to, and we ended up getting there and playing a show, and we met one of his A&R people and they just talked to us, they really dug our sound. And after that we started working because absolutely we wanted to do an album together. So we just wrote like crazy, I think we were at like 30 songs before we got into the studio, and then we picked the best and perfected them. He knows what he’s doing. He’s put out some really good albums and bands have really got their start with him, and we’re really excited to be able to do that too.
K: What are some hopes or goals for the band’s future?
Scott: To just keep doing this.
Aaron: To really just be able to support ourselves. At some point there’s really a turning point between a hobby and a career, and so to make it a career you really have to work hard at it. And that’s what we’ve been doing. It’s why we follow all the tours.
K: What advice would you give to a young band about surviving in the music industry?
Scott: Just keep your head up, because there’s always going to be haters and people telling you you’ll never be able to make money, Which it might be true, but if you don’t try you’ll never know, and it’s always better to do something fun so just keep with it, keep writing your music and getting your name out there in person…
Aaron: Social media!
Scott: Social media too, but you know get your name out in person, like with other bands, other fans, and other promoters.
Brandon: It’s like how we’re doing this interview because we met you at an All Time Low show.
K: Do you have a date or a time range of when to be expecting new music?
Aaron: We have an area…
Scott: We’re looking to release a new single in about a month or so.
K: You knew this one was coming. Will you ever tell anyone what 3PM stands for?
Brandon: You have to legally join the band for us to tell you that.
Scott: But now that you want to know so badly we definitely won’t tell you!
Aaron: Ambiguity is our…
Scott: It’s our middle name.
Aaron: See if our band were an ice cream sundae, not saying what 3PM means is like the cherry on top. Like it’s there, and it’s the first thing you go for when you meet us, but you don’t actually get to eat it.
I think 3PM are a great example of not only how tough it can be to pursue music as a career, but also how rewarding it can be. Keep an eye out for them, they just might be the next biggest thing.
You can check out their website here.
Featured Image Credit: Liz Peterson