The Story Changes at Jimmie’s

The Story Changes (L-R) Mark McMillon, Christopher Popadak, and Chris Serafini

By Allyson B. Crawford

“I fly the Dayton flag all over the world every time I do an interview!” The Story Changes singer and guitarist Mark McMillon tells the Dayton City Paper. “To be a band in Dayton you have to create the scene and make it happen for yourself. So many great bands have come from here because they’ve had to work for it.”

While post-hardcore stalwarts Hawthorne Heights might be the better known of his two bands, McMillon’s The Story Changes has been part of his life for 15 years. McMillon, along with bandmates Christopher “Poppy” Lee Popadak (drums) and Chris Serafini (bass) make up the power trio. The band gigs and writes whenever there is downtime from Hawthorne. Over the past year, The Story Changes has worked on enough songs for a new album, which should be recorded and released sometime this year.  For now, the band is looking forward to a special show at Jimmie’s Ladder 11 (936 Brown Street, Dayton) on Friday, Mar. 23. The hometown band hasn’t played a local show in awhile. The late March date will give the band a chance to catch up with friends and fans in the city McMillon loves so much. The Story Changes will be joined by Goodnight Goodnight and Sidekick Complex, two bands that McMillon regards highly.

“Goodnight Goodnight is really great and Sidekick Complex is one of my favorite newish acts in Dayton. Everyone in that band is doing something unique. I’m excited to slip new songs into the set and to play some old ones that we haven’t been able to play in a while,” McMillon adds eagerly.

Some of the excitement stems from the news that Hawthorne Heights will release Bad Frequencies on Apr. 27 and head out on a tour in support of that album. The trek will have the band roaming across America, even touching Hawaii and Alaska. Alaska is a bucket list destination for McMillon, making that stop extra special. Another first will be a slot at the massive Rock on the Range festival in Columbus, set for May 18-20 at Mapfre Stadium. Previous scheduling conflicts meant the band never made it to the biggest festival in the Midwest until now.

“I’m really excited for the show. Rock on the Range will be a nice break for Hawthorne smack dab in the middle of our tour. We’ll be able to be off that whole
weekend at home!”

Now a seasoned road warrior, McMillon has fond memories of the days when he was learning to both play his guitar and do shows. Those earliest memories come from venues around town.

“I started playing music with friends within months of owning a guitar. I wasn’t very good and had no business playing shows. I think the first real show my friends and I played was at the basement of a bar called Hummers… I think it is now Lilly’s. If memory serves me correct, we were underage and had no business being in the bar but a friend snuck us in before we played.”

There are special memories of Dayton music legends, too, including the late Mick Montgomery, owner of the now-defunct and still beloved Canal Street Tavern.

“Mick Montgomery was so awesome to us. It was an eye-opening experience. He showed us the right way to play and put on a show and I attribute a lot of early knowledge of learning how to be a band to performing there.”

The Story Changes found its groove as a duo and stayed a twosome for years. Popadak also drums for Hawthorne Heights, so the men pretty much work together full-time. Two years ago, The Story Changes rounded out their lineup with Serafini. McMillon and Popadak met Serafini years ago on tour and stayed in touch. At the time, Serafini was in a punk band called Pollen. Years passed and Serafini found himself in Arizona-based Gin Blossoms, the ‘90s hit makers famous for songs like “Hey Jealousy” and “Found Out About You.” Years pass, and Serafini left the Gin Blossoms and Arizona, moving with his wife to Pittsburgh. Still a commute to Dayton but definitely much closer than flying in from the Grand Canyon State.

“The joke is that Chris left the Gin Blossoms to join The Story Changes! Never in a million years did I think there would be a band with two guys form Hawthorne Heights and a guy from the Gin Blossoms!”

The Mar. 23 show at Jimmie’s Ladder 11 has a $5 cover and is 21 and up. For more information, visit or To see the dates for the Bad Frequencies tour, visit

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About Allyson B. Crawford

View all posts by Allyson B. Crawford
Allyson B. Crawford lives in Kettering and writes about ’80s metal bands on her daily blog You can usually find her at all sorts of metal shows around Ohio and across the country. Allyson can be reached at

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