(You can read more Warped Tour coverage at MXDWN Music Magazine!)
With over 90 bands performing over 40 day long, festival style tour dates across the entire Summer, Warped Tour has evolved into a well oiled machine in its 18 year existence. It’s no secret that it is the longest running tour, however, the intricacies of what goes into keeping it that way are much more than a massive fan supported flute.
Another year, another new generation of music appreciators. While there is a growing stigma that Warped is primarily for youth at a High School age, through really experiencing all that the Tour has to offer it becomes clear that the reality of the situation is that Warped Tour transcends age groups and a finite target audience. Kids as young as 6 months old rock out from their strollers. For many teenagers decked out in the height of punk, goth, or alternative fashions, this is their first Warped Tour and they could not be more excited about it. Men and woman in their 30s and 40s don their favorite concert T-shirts and wonder from stage to stage in anticipation of their favorite bands. They are not here with their kids, but their own musical appreciation. In fact, I spoke with one couple who had to get a baby sitter just to attend Warped Tour.
Founder Kevin Lyman summons a Warped Tour committee together, consisting of long time contributors, musicians, and sponsors, once a year. Like old timer punk rock knights of the round table, they discus methods of improving the nation-wide tour (as well as Canada and London this year!) that spans nearly three months. For long time attendees, these improvements are obvious…
The Constellations Interview
Elijah Jones and Wes Hoffman, two of the musicians in the five piece Constellations, are touring machines. Not only are they playing the entire Warped Tour, but their hip-hop, rock n roll band spends a majority of the year traveling from city to city playing shows. In an interview at the Pomona Warped Tour, the reveal their secret to this fast paced lifestyle: a sense of humor and alcohol.
Tell me about your new record.
Elijah: “Do it for Free”! it cover a couple different aspects. The little man being trampled on, being looked over. It’s a statement about politics and how we function as a band. The artist is the last person to see any kind of financial gain from what we do. You can either be really bitter about it or say fuck it and do it for the love of it. We’re not necessarily giving an answer to the problem, we’re just pointing out that there is an issue.
Wes: it’s an issue in America. The people that are the salt of the earth trample of the people who serve your food and they continue to get trampled on while the rich get richer. At some point in time we need to figure out that the majority of us are getting fucked. There are more of us than there are of them, so let’s take this shit back. Burn it down.
Be it folk or hip-hop or punk, the message of the counter culture is immortal.
Elijah: don’t get us wrong, we like to have a good time. Oh, we definitely like to have a good time, but we also party with our eyes open.
How hard do you think it is for artists to make money from their creations today?
Wes: well, to this younger crowd walking around, I would say that your dollar is your vote, you know? If you’re sick of Justin Beiber and the Top 40, then buy a record you believe in. That goes back to “Do it for Free”.
Elijah: We’ll do it regardless. Do it for the art.
I think that’s what we’re seeing a return to now that music production utensils have become so easily accessible. Anyone can sit down and make a track or-
Elijah: Or a dubstep remix of “Tip Toe Through the Garden”
Wes: We’re actually working on a cover of that.
[Everyone bursts out laughing. Elijah starts singing “Tip Toe Through the Garden.]
Senses Fail Interview
Being a drummer is tough work. Despite being the backbone of the band, drummers are scarcely seen on stage and only recognized by the most dedicated of fans. More especially when you drum in a breakdown centric hardcore band like Senses Fail. It’s not a glamorous job, but for Dan Trapp, the unsung hero of hardcore drumming, it is a passion. Before their set at Warped Tour Pomona, Dan graciously takes some time to speak with us.
Do you have anything in mind for new content this year?
Yeah, we’re writing as we speak. The very back end of our bus is a very makeshift studio. It’s awesome, we have roll in V-drums back there, so we can play as organically as possible under the circumstances. That’s been really cool. We are looking to record around Thanksgiving time. It will be out, hopefully, by early spring.
Describe the direction in which this new album is heading.
It’s hard to describe, especially since we’re still writing. We’re never going to change who we are because people like us for who we are. I think people miss step when they do that and alienate fans. If you want to change who you are and play a different type of music, I can’t understand that. We just want to do what we do. I think it will be a heavier record. I think there will be a lot less garbage going on. A lot more raw and… energy is the key word. We want good energy, and that doesn’t mean fast or chugging breakdowns, just good energy.
How many Warped Tours has Senses Fail played?
This is our fifth Warped Tour.
How do you see it evolving?
It’s hard to say. It’s definitely evolving. There are different bands and different types of bands are now headlining that wouldn’t have been in, say, 2003.it’s cool – you have a lot of band like the New Found Glorys and the Yerllowcards as well as The used – all of these bands who have done the tour over the years come back and do it again. The same goes for us. It’s definitely broadened. The acoustic stage is a cool thing they are doing. It’s cool, but it’s definitely changed. It’s like anything else, the climate changes and the music changes with it.
How do you adapt to that change?
I don’t know. I think we’ve always been doing what we do. Hopefully not in a way that is stale to anybody. We aren’t the type of band that will change what we do to fit in with what is hot for the minute. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t work and you have to feel good about what you’re doing and doing the right thing for the right reasons. We have fans who have stuck with us, fans who are 40 and fans who are 13. It’s cool to see that we’ve been evolving and progressing doing what we do but not totally changing what we do or who we are
Senses Fail, as well as some of the other bands out there, it’s crazy to look into the crowd and see the diversity of the fans. You have 40 year olds and 14 year old both rocking out and they are loving it on the same level.
It’s great. We do signing on our merch table everyday and we tell people to come over and say hi after our set. It’s cool – yesterday we were in Irvine and there was an 11 year old kid there with his dad getting an autograph and behind him was someone in his late 30s saying, “I was listening to you guy right out of college and now I have kids.” It’s cool to see that diversity in fans. Definitely cool.
We the Kings Interview
Never one to wax ungrateful, Travis, the guitarist and vocalist for We the Kings, is proof that hard work and determination can accomplish anything. Presently, he is living out his dream of touring alongside many of his favorite bands as a kid. In an interview at Warped Tour Pomona, he talks about realizing that dream and giving back to a new generation of fans.
What new projects are you guys working on lately?
We have a new song we are doing on this tour. The first time we played it was two or three days ago. We have a new record we are going to record once we finish Warped Tour. That will be our fourth record. After that we will be touring again to support this new record.
How did the other Warped Tour react to this new song?
It was amazing. When you play a new song you have no idea what to expect. I expect them to just stand there and not know what to do.
Did they just stand there with arms folded judgmentally?
They are hearing it for the first time. They’re supposed to judge it and decide whether they like it or not. People instinctively resort to jumping up and down and running around in circles and going crazy if they don’t know what to do.
Sounds like a church.
Hah! It actually worked out in pretty well.
Mayday Parade Interview
Mayday Parade’s Alex Garcia talks to MXDWN about their unique process of making records and his crazy days on the road making their fan’s dreams come alive during an interview at the Pomona Warped Tour.
How many warped tours have you played?
This is our 3rd time headlining, our fourth time playing, and our 5th time if you include us selling CDs and shirts.
I’m not sure I’d call that playing.
Yeah, we just followed the tour and sold CDs.
You never hopped on stage and did an impromptu set?
Actually, we did Battle of the Bands in Jacksonville in 2006. That was probably the worst time of my entire life.
Oh, wow. Why is that?
It’s already taxing on you to sell CDs. Then you add pushing gear on stage and playing a 30 minute set, then loading it back and selling more CDs… it’s a bitch! That is a long day, although there are bands doing that here. When we’re just selling CDs that is easier since we have one goal.
What is the craziest thing that you guys have done at a show?
At one show in Dallas, Texas, there was a guy holding a sign that said, “Let me play guitar for Alex.” We were like… alright, let’s do it. It was completely unplanned. None of us had seen of spoken to the guy before, but it was one of those fuck it moments on stage. Unfortunately, and I don’t even know if the guy knows this, but it didn’t work out. It is by no means his fault. We play in a different tuning than you might be used to. We didn’t have any time to talk about this or go over this. Also, our other guitarist plays different parts. I don’t know what part the guy was planning on playing, but when the song started… it was bad. It was really, really bad. I got to the point where the guitar tech was like, “We’ve got to make a move.” So when the time was right we muted the guitar pack on stage and I played my guitar behind stage. I guess there is no harm, no foul. I don’t even think the guy knew what was up. He seemed to enjoy it anyway.
You made that man’s dreams come true.
Man, I hope so.
For Bayside guitarist, Jack O’Shea, the world is not enough. He sees the opportunity in everything, from teaching kids guitar before their set, to tending the bar at a Warped Tour after party. “It’s all about getting the Bayside name out there.” The soon-to-be-newlywed tells me at Pomona Warped Tour. As his new family life is quickly approaching, it’s clear he wants to be doing this for a long time.
Jack, how has your Warped Tour been thus far?
It’s going really well. We had a bit of a rough start. He had bus issues and we ended up playing catch up, but we are catching stride and the four of us are staying real busy now. Anthony is doing a solo acoustic set, if course the Bayside set, Chris and I are both giving instrument lessons, Nick has his clothing company out here, and we’re doing the after party goodnight bar. We’re hustling this summer, but it’s good to get our names out there and increase Bayside awareness.
Are all of those activities carrying throughout the entire tour?
Yeah. It’s something to be on the tour and take it easy and have a good time, but our band has traditionally tried to do a little bit more than what is expected. When we were planning the tour we were talking about stuff we could do to stay busy and work as much as possible. More than anything this is a huge opportunity. When we’re playing our own tour, you know, those people came to see us specifically. At Warped, who knows how many people haven’t even heard your name or seen your logo. We’re just out there trying to work it.
I think Bayside is among the bigger names on the bill this year.
Possibly, but we’re just trying to get it up there.
You’re underselling yourself, Jack.
We’ve never made advertising a major priority. I feel like a majority of the recognition we got is just us continuing to do what we do. There is no point in letting up now.
What are your plans after the tour?
After the tour we plan to start writing again. Killing time has been out for a year and a half now, so it’s about time to get something else out. We will decompress after the tour and… well, I’m getting married like a week after I get home.
Thanks. Actually, I met my fiancé at Warped Tour Pomona in 2007. She was working for Skull Candy and I met her right over there. [He points to an empty length of asphalt 15 feet away.]
That’s crazy! I was at that show, too.
Yeah, it’s really weird. I’ve been on the phone with her all day and I’m like, hey I’m at Pomona Warped Tour. Crazy. So, I got home, get married, then we buckle down and get a new record together. Hopefully early 2013.
Tonight Alive Interview
Australian five piece, Tonight Alive, has been making waves from down under since the release of their debut album in 2011. Although they share the same producer as Blink-182 and Jimmy Eat World, their style of pop-punk ain’t your girlfriend’s style of pop-punk. They explain during an interview at Pomona Warped Tour, in which Jenna, Jake, and I cozy up on a shady length of blacktop and discuss the band’s future, poker, and unicorns.
Tonight Alive plays a very diverse style of music. Where are you drawing inspiration for these songs?
JENNA: Thanks for recognizing that.
JAKE: We’ve all got such different influences. We’ve done jazz, punk, and hardcore. There are so many influences because we listen to such different music.
JENNA: If I wasn’t playing this kind of music I would love to be doing pop-folk. I love the Script. I just appreciate all kinds of music because I can see where people are coming from as a writer. Anything that makes me feel. I know that sounds really dorky. If it makes me angry, if it makes me happy, if it makes me sad, then they are doing their job. That’s what I want to do with our fans – I want to write something that makes them feel something.
That’s beautiful. Hey, do you guys prefer dancing or moshing?
JAKE: I’m more of a dancer.
JENNA: I can’t mosh. I’ve never actually been in a circle pit. I’ve been in a mosh pit, though. You know what’s cool is in Sydney, where there is a big metal and hardcore scene, our fans again come from diverse backgrounds, and we get a lot of kids moshing. I love that!
You’ve got to feel good when you’re playing on stage and people start crowd surfing.
JAKE: That’s the best. It’s an awesome feeling.
JEENA: That’s so bold, isn’t it? I’ve never crowd surfed, either.
It can be pretty dangerous. Dangerously fun.
JAKE: Hah! Yeah, on one of our headline tours, someone got on stage and decided he wanted to crowd surf. He’s a big guy and no one caught him.
JENNA: The crowd just parted. It was really scary.
JAKE: We had to stop the set.
JENNA: He was okay; unconscious though.
Who are some good up and coming Australian bands?
JENNA: We just toured with Friendly Unicorn. They are from south of Sydney and they are freaking awesome. It’s hardcore but their time signature changes every few bars. It’s angry and aggressive, but they are singing about funny stuff.
JAKE: One good show, the singer was wearing a one piece tie-dye suit. He takes it off mid set and he has tie-dye underwear on.
JENNA: He jumps off shit and he’s hardly stays on stage. Half the time he’s in the crowd pushing people around. It’s not an aggressive kind of way, but he keeps you on your toes because every time you watch it is different. You want to look away but you just can’t. It’s awesome.
The post-hardcore group Vanna has its roots steeped in attitude. Their music is beautifully brutal and their fans eat up every circle mosh, every wall of death, every bang of the head. They are also one of the most grateful bands I have ever interviewed, whom have love for all of their Boston area brethren, singer/screamer Davey Muise explains in an interview at Pomona Warped Tour.
What projects are you guys working on?
We recorded a record called “And They Came Bearing Bones” and put it put last summer. Since then we’ve been touring non-stop. We’ll be putting it out on vinyl in a couple of months. We just recorded a DVD in Massachusetts awhile ago so that and the vinyl should be out at the end of summer. We did two video cover sessions in Boston so we filmed live performances of Nirvana’s “Breed” and NIN’s “Perfect Drug”. Those videos will be on iTunes. After that we will be touring until Christmas time and after that we will be back in the studio.
Are those covers on your Warped set list?
I want to play Nirvana today. I want to play Nirvana every day. It’s just a matter of getting everyone on board to do it. We’re talking about doing it as the tour goes on.
So your set list is constantly evolving?
Yeah, we play with it here and there and switch things in and out depending on the location or whatever. I would just like to play Nirvana every day.
We would like to hear Nirvana and NIN everyday!
For real, man! I’ve wanted to cover a Nirvana song in every band I’ve been in since I was 11 years old and for some I reason haven’t done it until now.
Why “Breed” of all songs?
It’s punk rock and it’s fast. It’s also very up our alley for the type of music that we play.
What is one of the craziest things a fan has said to you?
A friend once said to our guitarist that he wishes he could peel off his skin and wear it on him and have sex with his wife wearing his skin.
Very creepy. He preceded that with, “Will you have sex with my wife?”
Our guitarist was like, “No, I’m all set man. Thanks” Sorry, weird, creepy fan, whoever that was.
Vampires Everywhere! Interview
Embodying all that is shock rock, Michael Orlando personifies all of the Alice Coopers and Marilyn Masons for a new generation. In an interview with the head vampire himself at Pomona Warped Tour, we discuss Vampires Everywhere’s new album and the root of all evil.
How do you guys bide your time on these long ass tours?
Drinking and debauchery, mostly.
Is there any better way to spend your free time?
I don’t think so.
You guys probably have among the craziest fan base out here. What is some of the weirdest shit you’ve seen at your shows?
I once got a blood vial. Some fan just handed it to me. I see a lot of intricate tattoos of myself.
Now, I know you just came out with an album, but is there any lingering material for future releases?
This last album was kind of a bridge for things that are to come. We are excited for the next thing we are working on. People should expect the album that is out plus more. Basically, as loud and evil as I can get without sounding like a vacuum. We are trying to bring back a 80s shock rock element to things and we can’t cut off someone’s head on stage so the next best thing is to throw a gimp up there.
From where does this evil inspiration come from?
I had a couple of muses for the last record. My fucked up head usually. I am dealing with a lot, especially living in LA.
There are a lot of fucked up muses in LA.
There are a lot of fucked up people in general, everywhere. The whole world was on my back for this record. Everyone who I thought believed in me at the time didn’t. it was one of those things where, the whole time I was writing this record I had the middle finger up going, you can sit on it whether you like it or not. That is where my inspiration for this last record came from.
Polar Bear Club
Where does that name come from?
We got the name from a song we all liked by Silent Majority, a melodic punk band from Long Island. Obviously, there is a Polar Bear Club that is an actual thing as well. We also liked that it was kind of ambiguous. You can’t tell what type of band it was by looking at the name, which is something we could grow into.
What is the actual Polar Bear Club?
Have you seen the episode of Seinfeld where Kramer joins the Polar Bear Club?
I have, but let’s pretend that I haven’t.
They [Polar Bear Clubs] are all over the world, but the main one is in Coney Island, where people in the winter months go to the beach and jump in the freezing water and then have a BBQ on the fucking snowy ass beach. We’ve never done it, but it’s a cool society of weird people who like hurting themselves with freezing water.
I wish there was something like that here at the triple digit heat of Warped Tour.
I think that would defeat the purpose of their motto, but that would be fucking awesome to have right now.
Tell me about your road to the Warped Tour. How did you first jump on board?
We did half a Warped into 2010 because we weren’t sure what to expect, but by the end of that we wished we did the whole thing. So we are doing that this year. I like Warped because it is very different than a normal tour. On a normal tour there is a lot of sitting in a car, unloading the truck, waiting to play, yadda yadda yadda… at Warped Tour there is always something to do. In my mind, I like that a lot. It’s healthier for me.
What is your favorite activity to occupy yourself with at Warped?
I love doing interviews, but I love being able to play and then doing signings. That’s really fun because we meet a lot of kids who have never seen us before and just want to say hi and appreciate what we do.