Sat with his back to the hustle and bustle of Lakewood on a cool Tuesday afternoon, Harrison Mills, a first-year Master of Legal studies student at Cleveland State University, patiently sat at a table inside of the equally happening Root Café waiting for his meal.
His laptop, which is decorated with stickers from various punk bands scattered over the front, was left sitting off to the side, the work he was once doing soon forgotten as his order arrived at the table.
With his meal now at the table and the afternoon crowds coming and going from the café calming down, Mills soon jumped into a 40-minute conversation about work, school and what all of that means when it comes to being in his band, The Grievance Club.
Starting off his schooling at Kent State University, Mills worked on getting his bachelor’s degree in criminology and deviant behavior with a minor in applied conflict management. The major, while not something he’s dreamed of doing since childhood, was something that he found best suited his interests.
Having always expressed a natural inclination towards social politics and justice, in addition to his love of crime shows like “Criminal Minds” and “SVU,” he knew that he would eventually want to work doing something along those lines.
Upon graduating with his degree from Kent, he was left at a crossroads trying to decide where to go from there. While he didn’t have a burning desire to continue his studies by going to grad school, he soon realized that the field he wanted to go into — victim assistance — would require him to either go into a master’s program or get a certificate of some sort.
Opting for the master’s program, he began looking for programs that would help with the type of career he wanted to get into while also being close. With an idea of what he didn’t want to do with his major, which he maintains was helpful, he set out looking for programs that fit into his growing list of needs.
“I came across the master of legal studies program, and reading about it, it really stood out to me,” Mills said. “[I realized] I could get a foundation in law, that I think would be beneficial from the victim assistance point of view, but still have the flexibility and part-time schedule that actual law school wouldn’t allow.”
So, with all the boxes checked, Mills applied for the program and got in soon after. Fast forward to today, his first semester at the university has proven to be somewhat manageable. While the workload hasn’t been too difficult, that doesn’t mean finding ways to balance his workload and his other endeavors have been easy.
Juggling school and work is a difficult task for anyone, but Mills has another responsibility that keeps him pretty busy during the week. Not only does he deal with the typical duties of a college student, he’s also lending his vocals and playing the guitar for a local melodic punk band, The Grievance Club.
The first incarnation of the band began somewhere around 2010 when he was a sophomore in high school. As the years went on, with a few lineup changes along the way, the band soon finalized their lineup, became a recently touring band and figured out all of the small details that people don’t tell you about when starting a band.
Comprised of Mills, Kevin Cappy on bass and vocals, Steve Perrino on guitar and Dan Roberts on drums, the quartet has all found ways of making their personal lives work with their responsibilities in the band.
“We’ve been active for long enough where I think we’re kind of used to it, and we’ve built our schedules around [band-related things],” Mills said. “We’ve all had to learn and adapt in order to be able to balance it. But I’m proud of the way that we’ve managed to that so far.”
So far, their time management has been pretty efficient. As Mills notes, the band officially started touring sometime last year, and with 2018, they’ve been scheduling a few shows here and there.
Before the year is officially over, the band scheduled a few one-off dates with a Chicago-based alternative punk act, Out The Car Window, set for later this month. Additionally, they’ve also got a few local shows at Lakewood’s retro bowling alley slash concert venue, Mahall’s.
While this year has been more tour-centric than years past, that doesn’t mean the band hasn’t been focusing on writing. With two EPs under their belt, including 2016’s “Being of Sound Body & Unsound Mind” and this past June’s “Hive,” the band has been hard at work getting more music out there.
While they just released their newest EP, that doesn’t mean they haven’t thought of what’s to come. Operating on a pretty “easygoing sense of organization,” the band completed their latest effort last year before beginning the writing process all over again for what Mills hopes to be a full-length debut.
Having six or seven songs already completed, the group has been hard at work making that unspoken, yet eventually spoken, goal a reality. Until then, they have been touring around the area and getting a better sense of the music scene that’s present in Cleveland.
Coming from Solon, Mills believes that the music community in the area was in large part thanks to the band’s current guitarist Perrino’s consistent involvement. The group has had an interesting relationship being in their area’s punk and alternative music scene.
Between Perrino being in multiple bands at a time and kickstarting the tradition of library shows. Thanks to his past job at the library, the scene that was created in Solon made Mills, and a few other people, realize that being in a band could be a reality.
“[Steve] kind of helped start this tradition of having library shows two or three times a year, and that kind of helped to establish somewhat of a music scene in Solon,” Mills said. “So I think in terms of me, and for a lot of other people, I think that kind of showed us that we could actually start a band and have like an outlet where we lived to use it.”
While the group has ventured into a much larger music scene by diving into the Cleveland area, they’ve seemingly stuck with their roots by maintaining their strict work ethics while also finding people in the area who are as passionate about the things they’re creating.
Whether it’s playing shows at a venue that they feel comfortable in or seeing other groups, who are trying to do the same things, start to achieve their goals, Mills notes that the Cleveland music scene has been a welcoming environment for the group, and their friends, to integrate themselves in.
“We are really grateful to be involved in the Cleveland and Lakewood music community in any capacity,” Mills said. “Right now, we’re in a place where we feel like we really click and have chemistry with the people we know, and we kind of have a little more control over who we play with and who we associate ourselves with, which, is just a really good feeling.”