The Ice Cream Militia is lickin’ good

Band plans to expand to Cleveland, Akron, Columbus area

Jake Cassidy, Jarod Schmitmeyer, Alec Blake, Patrick Dillinger, Dondre Cook, Michael Borjas, Kyle Polok, Zach Bodenmiller and Tanner Wertz of Ice Cream Militia

The story behind the name of the band, The Ice Cream Militia, told by member Jake Cassidy, goes like this:

“It’s kinda of a funny story. When we first started playing we were waiting outside one of our buddy’s houses for practice. An ice cream truck rolls by and we motioned for the driver to stop. There were about four or five kids who came over to buy treats from the truck and they had to wait while the band made their purchases, so the kids were upset.” 

Cassidy explained that the band members were a group of 20-somethings, and the kids thought they were too old to buy ice cream. “And when we walked away, it was just such an awkward thing that we said ‘[the kids] must have been the ice cream militia.’”

Basement Band
The Ice Cream Militia (the band, not the kids) got its start back in 2015 playing college house parties. The five members, who play three guitars, a bass and the drums, all played in the Toledo Rockets’ marching band. All of the members got together to play at parties and for the neighbors as well. It got to the point where people would wonder why the band wasn’t playing if they took even one night off.

Their first real “gig” was at Frankies, on Toledo’s East Side, and then the local band Tropic Bombs basically took the Militia under its wing. The Ice Cream Militia has since played in Detroit, Bowling Green and plans to branch out to other areas. Because of Tropic Bombs, The Ice Cream Militia has expanded its numbers, as well, adding a brass section which includes a trumpet, two trombones and a tuba. Now there are nine band members. 

Their first album, Chocolate Covered Nonsense, was released in 2017. The second, Moose Tracks, was released in 2019. They have 18 songs available on all streaming platforms. “A lot of us have day jobs. That’s a major scheduling factor,” Cassidy said, adding, “There are a few engineers. A few people involved in the music business in general. We have two or three who are still students and one guy who just graduated with a degree in chemistry, so we all come from very different backgrounds.”

Writing the music is definitely a collaborative process, Cassidy said. Most of the creative force comes from Cassidy and Tanner Wertz, who are the two main creative forces behind the lyrics, but then the band puts their own spin on a song.

Time to Branch out
“Toledo has always been our home base. We love playing for Toledo and Toledo loves hearing us play so we truly have the utmost respect for the Toledo scene.” Cassidy said the time has come for the band to branch out to other areas, including Cleveland, Akron, Columbus and Ann Arbor. 

“We have been doing our best to get our names out to those cities and to make sure Toledo is covered with its regular dose of Ice Cream Militia.” The band recently played at the Ottawa Tavern and the Village Idiot in Maumee. They’re performing in Ann Arbor soon, where they’ve never played before, and they’re excited to move into new territory.  

Make it an open party
Cassidy gives credit to their marching band roots for the way they conduct themselves. They always try to make it a party, he said, with an open door policy. “We want to foster a community that is very collaborative and open to discussion. When the doors become closed and everybody isolates, ultimately, the show can suffer. We want to foster a collaborative effort.”

The Militia tries hard to maintain a good relationship with its fans. They stay after shows to talk, sign albums and just foster the connection. Perhaps that’s why they’ve been such a success.

“We try to stay as involved with our fans as possible,” Cassidy said. “Keeping connected with the fan is a very important prospect of being in the Militia. With nine people, it’s become easier to share a Facebook post, so hopefully, nobody thinks we’re spinning our wheels.”

facebook.com/IceCreamMilitia