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13 is easily one of the most superstitious numbers out there. It could be considered good... Say, to bet on in gambling. And it could be considered bad... Like Friday the 13th. Well as far as Warped Tour is concerned the number 13 is Lucky. For "Lucky 13" good fortune came in so many ways: luck that the tour lasted 13 years, luck that over 80 bands graced the 9 stages on this insane day and luck that I once again had the opportunity to attend the Tour as press. However this year was especially lucky for me, for I was the only press person attending the KC stop. For three hours I had reign of the press room. It was excellent. When the day came to a close, I had talked to 10 crazy bands. Discussing an array of topics from new albums, to future plans and current struggles. Of course, just like last year, I had to throw a fun question into the mix, really giving the bands something to think about. Therefore just like last year, some interesting alliances of superheroes were formed:

Space Ghost and Mighty Mouse- The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus call their home lair Jacksonville Florida, which was probably not any cooler than Kansas was that day. So perhaps part of their super-powers were the ability to battle through the heat. Either way, they so graciously took time out of their busy day to sit down with a humble press person as myself and talk about the finer points in life:

Hybrid Magazine: In a time when the industry is over-saturated by alternative bands, how do you manage to set yourselves apart from the rest?

Red Jumpsuit Apparatus: I'd actually have to say that there's a lack of rock music right now. If you're a band and you're real and you basically weren't just put together, then you have a fair shot of making it right now. That's how we made it.

HM: "Face Down" is easily your biggest song right now and understandably so. Although the theme addressed is not typical, it's still an important one. Do you think it's fate that your first single came from a not-so-typical song? Have people been looking for something different?

RJA: It's not fate that we chose that song, though we did choose that song as a risk. It wasn't one that was going to be readily accepted by the media. Our label understood that this was the song and accepted it as our single. Fate was definitely the fact that it became so successful.

HM: Don't You Fake It has been out for about a year, with a few releases associated. Is there any talk of the next album yet?

RJA: No, there's no targeted date right now. First we're going to finish up this tour and then head overseas. We'll probably start writing towards the end of the year. This record's definitely not done, so we're going to take our time.

HM: What are some challenges that you are running into being a "new-band-on-the-block"?

RJA: Most of the time we don't really get a lot of crap for that, and never really have. "Face Down" was originally released in '04, so we've actually been around awhile. Even though, we get asked daily "when does your cd come out?" We just don't let it bother us.

HM: Warped Tour is now in its 13th year? What do you feel are the pros and cons for a tour this huge?

RJA: I think Warped Tour is kinda like the Bible for punk rock. If you're a young aspiring punk band of your time, you've definitely played the Warped Tour. Is it the best tour to live on 24 hours a day, 7 days a week? No definitely not, not even close. But it's definitely worth it because of the shows. It's the people and the exposure that make it worth it.

So, even the biggest stars can want to be mice (Elias-guitar) for a day. Why they both chose smaller superheroes, I'm not sure. But small or not, and invisible (Ronnie-vocals) or not, they've still proven that they've got what it takes to be a band that will give us hits for quite a while. Their live performance met and exceeded my expectations, though I'm sure the super-human heat resistance aided in some way
.
Tom Sawyer- The Fold
Probably the most creative of superheroes that emerged that day came from The Fold. I mean who would have considered a redheaded orphan from the South as someone to look up to? Who? Well Dan (vocals), that's who would have. His pick went very well with the down-to-earth interview we had. Fresh off an adventure on the Mississippi River and a new album Secrets Keep You Sick, we had lots to talk about:

HM: Secrets Keep You Sick is brilliant. How has the industry response been?

Dan: It's been a little strange so far, because we're really proud of it and it's been a slow build. But a part of us knows that if x-amount of kids have it, then that's all we care about. It's not a record that's going to go away. So as long as we keep working hard, the industry will be forced to respond.

HM: What struggles have you had to overcome over the past few years?

Dan: The last year has definitely been the hardest. Our vegetable oil bus died not too long ago, almost at the same time we lost our drummer. Working on touring has been a struggle. We definitely need encouragement to keep going. So anytime someone buys the record or says that they enjoy it, it re-energizes me to keep doing it.

HM: What is the song "Revisited" discussing?

Dan: It's the oldest song on the new album and probably one of our oldest songs period. It was about my cousin who committed suicide. We were really close, so I kept having these dreams about him after he died. Which is probably normal for people who've lost someone. So "Revisited" is about his ghost revisiting me in my dreams and how he was a big part of my life.

HM: What was the reasoning behind your album artwork? You can barely read the song titles.

Dan: Don Clark at Tooth and Nail keeps getting nominated for grammy's, so he just wanted to try something way over the top. On the album, he put all the text all invisible, white on white. It made people really mad, so we posted all the lyrics on our website, to quiet them all down.

HM: Besides maturing in your music, what is different about this album?

Dan: The main thing was we knew what we wanted. We wrote the kind of songs we wanted to write, we knew more of the kind of band we are, and we knew more of who we wanted to work with us. I think it sounds more like a cohesive record.

For the second time in the past 4 months I missed The Fold's performance. They played practically first for the day. Needless to say, I was sad. Their albums are brilliant and moving. It would only make sense that superheroes could create this music. The insight Dan gave me made me look at Sawyer again and possibly in a little different way. If he looks up to him, maybe we all should.

4 Men, a Woman and Mr. Fantastic- The Starting Line and The Spill Canvas
Last year this worked so well that I decided to do it again this year: when I have two bands scheduled at the same time, I have them interview each other. So, I gave Nick (vocals- Spill Canvas) the questions for The Starting Line and gave Kenny (vocals-TSL) the questions for The Spill Canvas. What's with the 4 Men, a Woman and Mr. Fantastic, you may ask? Well, there were 4 version of "man": Superman for Nick and 3 Batmans in TSL. We had a Catwoman, yes Catwoman and finally a Mr. Fantastic. The interview was entertaining, as you can guess:

HM: There has been such a change between your first album and Based On A True Story and now Direction. What went on to contribute to these changes?

The Starting Line: We've always tried to take the next step forward as a band and challenge ourselves as musicians. Try to evolve as much as we can. As we did that, our music changed naturally with us. To the sound that we have now on Direction.

HM: Your live show has such intensity, how do you feel you fit within the realm of Warped Tour?

Spill Canvas: The live show is something that we just let happen, more than planning everything out. In a way you kick it up for Warped Tour, because of the type of festival it is. And feeding off the crowd, contributes to how you play.

HM: It's a new album that still pulls from some of your earlier sound, yet do you believe that this could be a new turning point for the band, new label, new members?

TSL: It's definitely a bit of a turning point or a "fresh start." Especially with the new label, there's a lot of life in this band now. Moral is at a high.

HM: Denial Feels So Good is an EP with songs that will be included in the new album correct? Was there just so much attention on the new album that you had to give audiences something to mill over until it was out?

SC: That's correct. That's also true. The EP was something to bridge gaps between albums. We wouldn't have any new stuff to give to fans at Warped Tour. So we came up with the EP to have something to offer and keep everyone entertained until the new album.

HM: If you could put on your own festival, who would you pick?

TSL: The Roots, Radiohead, Biggie Smalls, Van Halen.

SC: U2, Pink Floyd.

HM: There have been rumors about guest appearances on the new album, is there anything official you can tell us?

SC: There has been an assortment of guest musicians that have played on it. Like Anthony Green and a guest keyboardist that has played with the Wallflowers and The Foo Fighters. We also had a horn section made up of some great artists that played on a few songs.

HM: Every band strives to be on a major label, you've now been on two. Is there any advice you'd give one of those bands?

TSL: You should be looking for people who care about your band on the label. Not what other bands that they have, or whether they're major or independent. It really matters more how much they're willing to do for their bands.

HM: What are you hoping this new album will do for the band?

TSL: We're hoping to keep the fans that we already have. We're also hoping to try and give people something that they appreciate from our old sound, but also try to introduce some new stuff. Get some new fans that didn't like us before.

HM: You began as an acoustic set, did you ever think of sticking to the acoustic sound? It would probably make touring easier.

SC: The acoustic thing started out more as a necessity. Because where we're from, there wasn't really a thriving pool of musicians that wanted to start a band. It took awhile to find the right people with the right attitude about the band, to really get it going.

I'd have to say that this interview was the one I had the most fun at. Of course it helped that I'm a long time fan of TSL and had enjoyed the Spill Canvas so much at SXSW, that I saw them twice (in 2 days). This time however, I was only able to catch the live performance of "the Batmans," though I know "Superman" put on a great show. With infectious melodies and lyrics that are on eternal repeat in your head, both of these bands are worth every penny spent on their albums. I'm glad that they left their capes in the van and sat down with me for a short time. It was "Fantastic."

Superman- Cute Is What We Aim For
It's a bird, it's a plane, nope it's Tom (drummer) from the band Cute Is What We Aim For... A mild-mannered drummer by day turned man-of-steel at night. He may look smaller, or shorter than Clark Kent, but trust me, it's Superman. Because only a superhero like that could speak by himself for an entire band that's winning over thousands of fans everyday. Between rescuing people and saving the world, he sat down with me for a quick chat:

HM: Your name is so long, why did you decide on this name and not a shorter one?

Tom: I really don't know. I think the reason it hung around, is because it sticks out the most.

HM: You've had more line-up changes in your band within the first year than most do in their entire reign. How have you battled to keep your image clean through all of this?

Tom: We just more went with the flow. It helped that everyone left on good terms. Which is what we liked. Everyone's that's joined now has made it better than ever. This is absolutely the line-up that's finally going to stick.

HM:.In '05 you were on Fueled By Ramen, now you're on Atlantic, still with the first album. Was there a specific reason behind moving to Atlantic before even the talk of a second album?

Tom: We just up-streamed. If some bands sell a certain amount of records, then they up-stream. And since Fueled By Ramen is affiliated with Atlantic, it just naturally worked out.

HM: The audience of this years Warped Tour is younger, as is generally your fanbase. Do you feel this might give you an advantage over groups like Flogging Molly or even Bad Religion?

Tom: No, they've been around way too long and are way better than us. We could never have an advantage over groups like that.

Just like Clark Kent, Tom was very soft spoken and gave pretty quick, straight-forward answers. My attempts to open up the mighty superhero were brushed off. Perhaps the next time I can delve a little deeper into what makes him tick. But for this year, I was simply happy for the opportunity. Of course I made sure to enjoy their live performance which, naturally, won over hundreds more fans that day. I would've expected nothing less.

Batman- Amber Pacific
I know what you're thinking: "another Batman"? Yes another Batman. I have no idea why the "bat" was so popular with the bands this year. But Will (guitar) was dead set on being the masked superhero for a day. Unfortunately for the interview we didn't have any of his "wonderful toys" (reference for all those original Batman movie fans) to play with. So instead we decided to focus on his wonderful music:

HM: You pride yourselves on having a one-on-one relationship with your fans, which may be more difficult if you ever went major (tour schedules, appearances, etc). That said, is there ever any talk of going to a major label?

Will: Yes and no. Right now there's really no need to, but we've definitely considered it as an option. We just have to wait it out and see how things settle with what this album will do.

HM: Do you think your personal relationships with fans goes hand-in-hand with writing your music? Does it have any influence on your lyrics?

Will: It didn't on our first record, but this last album was definitely all about the fans and all for the fans. I kinda wrote it as though it might have been the last record I'd ever get to write. Because our contract with Hopeless is done. I didn't want to assume I'd get another chance, so it was kind of a big thank you for people who've supported us.

HM: So you stuck with the same sound for Truth In Sincerity, but how does this album differ from The Possibility And The Promise?

Will: We've all grown as musicians and gotten better about what we do. In the off time a group of us took vocal lessons. We had a better understanding of how to write songs and I think it shows.

HM: If you could put on your own festival, who would you invite?

Will: Blink-182, that's it.

HM: What do you feel are the pros and cons for a tour this huge?

Will: The only cons of it, is that's it's really physically demanding. It's probably the hardest tour out of the year. The pros, there's so many. It's a great way to get your music out there. It's been the main reason we have a lot of fans.

Corny references aside, the time spent with Will was enlightening. He was one of the few artists that gave me truly detailed and thought out answers. Which is refreshing and welcomed by members of the press. Amber Pacific's music is musically solid. Skilled guitar solos and a sound that's so unique it seems to create it's own genre. I only wish I could've seen them live.

The Hulk- As I Lay Dying
When Jordan (drummer) first walked into the press room, he literally plopped on the couch. Having just finished their set within the hour, exhaustion was setting in. At first I wasn't sure he was going to stay awake for the whole interview. But The Hulk will accomplish any task, no matter the circumstances. The interview must go on and it did:

HM: In researching your band I found a new genre that I had never seen before: metalcore. Genres have become the most difficult issue for a band. So if you had to describe yourself to someone new, what would you say?

Jordan: Freak out, melody. Talking about our new record, there's a lot of thrash elements, a lot of melodic elements that are darker and slower. It's kind of all over the board as far as metal goes. We're a metal band, but our roots are in hardcore. Hardcore is more in how you play your music and how your represent yourself.

HM: There's speak of a Christian influence, what are your thoughts? Are you guys a metal Christian band?

Jordan: While our belief is the focus of our lives, our music is separate. Obviously it comes out in our music and lyrics. I guess you could say that we're "Christians in a band" rather than a Christian band.

HM: An Ocean Between Us is your new album that is coming out this month, can you tell us what we should expect from this new adventure?

Jordan: It's a lot more diverse than our other records. A lot of 80's thrash elements were added in. We're still the same band. It felt like our last record was very focused, aka the record sounded all the same. So, on the new one, we made it so each song captures you, pulls you in and makes you feel a little different. Spent a lot more time writing for this one. .

HM: It's always refreshing to hear a band thats members speak of other members like they were famous guests, having the privilege to work with them. This is such a great attitude to have and keeps band moral up. What would you suggest to a band that might be struggling?

Jordan: Everyone's different and has their moods. It's more a matter of dealing with it and understanding each other. It's something you have to work at and be willing to change yourself to accommodate the other person. Get yourselves on the same stage.

HM: Lyrics most of the time are simply what the band members are feeling. Going from band to band you tend to get the same emotions. How do you keep your fans coming back for more, when they may get similar stuff from another band?

Jordan: Keeping true to who you are as a band. Though a lot of bands will progress and it's up to the fan to decide whether they like it. All we can control is what we write. There's no sure way to keep your fans all the time. As long as you have integrity in your music, then people can see that and that's all that you really can do.

I suppose it was appropriate that he took his picture practically asleep, minus the huge grin on his face. The green however, never did show. But the inside of a very popular band did. So much was talked about that I had to cut out some in order to fit. Back to California the superhero will go, now having left his mark on the citizens of Kansas.

The Justice League- A Static Lullaby and The Almost
Ok, so they didn't uphold any justice or capture any villains during the interview. They did however, let us all in on the secret lives of rock stars. Between Nightcrawler (Dane-ASL), Wolverine (John-ASL), Michael Jordan (Kenny-The Almost) and Choda Boy (Dusty-The Almost) from "Orgazmo," we had one strange alliance in that room. Again I attempted the duel interviews. Though not quite the same as the last time it still made for a different kind of press experience:

HM: A brand new band on the scene and brand new addition to Warped Tour, how are things going so far? A little overwhelming?

The Almost: Everything has been splendid. It's moved so fast, but in general it's been a great experience. And yes, very overwhelming at times.

HM: Do you think that the turmoil between band members had something to do with the harder sounds on the next album?

ASL: Yes it has definitely affected things. Everything has just made us riff out that much harder.

HM: There's obviously a shadow of Underoath hanging over you guys, a common question I'm sure. But after awhile do you just get tired of it? Tired of Underoath talk?

TA: We definitely deal with it everyday, though as time passes it becomes less and less. It was something that we knew we were going to have to deal with from the beginning. But it will be nice to one day be known on our own.

HM: You went backwards from Columbia to Fearless. What were the dominating reasons?

ASL: When we were originally on Columbia we were really unhappy. It seemed like they didn't care and like they didn't know how to promote a band. We've been much happier on Fearless.

HM: In this genre it's difficult to make music that sounds like more than just an angry person screaming. How do you find that perfect level of emotion and music?

ASL: Mostly we just try to distance ourselves from hardcore and metal. Giving us a chance to really figure out our own sound. The more that happens the less we'll sound like everyone else.

This group was definitely a unique one. I had to actually cut out a couple questions for The Almost, since I had accidentally made them specifically for Aaron. Even though Dusty so kindly spoke on Aaron's behalf, I decided to leave them out. There was such a mixture of not only in superheroes, but influences, tastes and music styles. I don't think I ever would have guessed that I would have been able to get these two bands in one room. Let alone, interviewing each other. But that's the beauty of Warped Tour!

Ultimate Alliance - Evaline
Their powers were so unique and their alter-egos could never be matched, that I could only label them one thing: Ultimate Alliance. Evaline was definitely formed out of a secret society, under that watchful eye of Mr. Allman (The Used). In preparation for their highly-energized show, the Alliance sat down with me for a little interrogation:

HM: Having worked with Quinn (Allman) must have been a great experience. Can you give us a little insight?

Evaline: He's a genius at arranging songs and keeping them interesting the whole way through. It was an honor to work with him. He's so talented in so many ways, and has such a love for what we do. It was nice to have a producer that didn't want to want to tamper with where we are going. In the end he had a lot of constructive criticism.

HM: Ok, you're brand new on the scene and so is your album. How has everything gone so far?

Evaline: Places that we've been before, we've seen the benefit of touring and hitting places multiple times. So those cities, we've had great response.

HM: If you could put on your own festival, who would you invite?

Evaline: Dredge, Smashing Pumpkins, Radiohead, Bjork, Blink-182, Rage Against The Machine, Sparta, The Police, they just kept going....

I could not divulge the identities of the whole Alliance, but I will tell you that we had a Quailman and an Airbud. Like I said, unmatched. They had so much to say, that I literally only got through about 3 questions. Next time, I'll try to keep them a little more focused. But, with the help of Quinn and some amazing talent, this band has entered the scene with full force (and an excellent EP). Their album still may be considered a little slower, but their performance was anything but.

The day ended in extreme heat. Whether you were in shade or not, you still were covered in sweat. Unfortunately, the weather affected how long the fans (including myself) could stand outside to watch the bands. So we had to cut our day a little short, missing out on Sum 41. That part aside, it was another successful year for Warped Tour. A lucky one for sure. I hope it has enough vigor to last another 13 years (or more).

-Rachel Fredrickson

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