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51 bands, 60 cities, 64 days, 8 stages, loads of sponsors and thousands in attendance. The Vans Warped Tour is a marathon tour to say the least, there's no sprinting allowed. It's been 12 years since its conception and the Tour is still going strong. Each summer it manages to draw in hundreds upon thousands of fans of all ages from pre-teen to adults, to spend a day with bands from all types of labels, from the majors to the indies. I've been going ever since it was its humble beginnings held in a small outdoor park in my hometown, where half of the venue was setup for music and the other half was setup for skateboarders. However, this was the first year I got the chance to attend as "press". And let me tell you it was awesome! Never before have I had the chance to sit down and really connect with so many amazing bands in one day. After it was all said and done I came back with having interviewed 8 different bands and spent a total of roughly 3 hours in the press room. To then turn around and spend another 4 hours out in the blazing Kansas sun, watching multiple bands play... like I said, a marathon. The bands that play on this Tour have one heck of a schedule and a summer, it doesn't take just any normal band to play everyday, in the heat, for weeks at a time. It takes a band of super-heroes and I talked to 8 crazy alliances (My last question to each band was a "fun" one: super-hero for a day).

Motion City Soundtrack (The Fantastic Five)

Hailing from the "City of Lakes" (a.k.a. Minneapolis), these five young lads have left their home for the travels of the Tour. The journey has taken them far from the "pleasant 78 degrees and sunny" climate, to a stifling 98 degrees and humid sauna that is Kansas. Yet the change has not deterred them from giving their fans an awesome performance. I managed to sit down with them in the cool air-conditioned cave, or Press Room, and get their thoughts on well, music (more specifically, theirs):

Hybrid Magazine: I'll jump right into it: After a slower start in the beginning, you guys hit the ground running with being asked to tour with Blink-182 and then to have Mark Hoppus produce your next album is quite awesome. How did this effect things for the band, being so young in the business, yet having a big name to back you?

Motion City Soundtrack: Definitely did help having Mark jump into the mix of things, it was a pretty big boost, being able to open for him, and play shows with him. It helped having us associated with him.

HM: Do you think that Hoppus influenced your music at all?

MCS: Don't think he did that much, if anything we influenced his sound.

HM: What initially drew you to Warped Tour?

MCS: Being accepted is what drew us here, the fact that they actually allowed us to play 3 shows the first year.

HM: Anything you guys would change about the Tour?

MCS: They should make it in a bubble with air conditioning.

HM: Anything wild happen on the road?

MCS: Jesse - This one time I wrote a book in my bunk, it's the "bunk book". Justin - This happened to us on one of our trips on Warped Tour: We were in a van and some kid threw a rock through our windshield, and woke up our driver. The driver ran, jumped the fence and chased the kid to his house where his mom, who was a police officer, was waiting. She was like 'I'll take care of this myself' and he was like 'no you won't', so he actually called the police over and she got in trouble for trying to take care of it herself. It was crazy, we're not actually bad kids.

The Fantastic Five- "The Shoveler" from mystery men (Justin-vocals), Blank Man (Matt-bassist), Pluto Nash (Tony-drums), Aquaman (Jesse-keys), and Wonderwoman (Josh-guitar) have made their presence on Warped Tour known. Not only by their music, but by their much anticipated "bunk book" due to be published in late 2007??? Hey, it's got me curious.

Senses Fail (Arc Angel)

Armed with magnificent wings with which to fly across the Great Plains to the aid of fans in trouble, Arc Angel (Buddy-vocals) also brings with him the powers of poetry, literature, comparative religion and excellent music. Taking on the task of speaking for an entire band with one man is tough, but this super-hero prevailed nicely.

HM: Your bio mentions being versed in poetry, literature and comparative religion, how does this play a part in your music?

Senses Fail: Immensely, if I didn't read that stuff or cover that stuff, I wouldn't be in a band, or pursuing it as much, or felt the need to have that outlet. It allows me to have a wider spectrum of things to talk about, instead of being waa, waa, waa, waa, waa. I don't just write a song about a girl, if I do, then it's really meaningful.

HM: You're playing two sets on this years Tour, one normal and one acoustic, this makes your schedule more hectic from day to day. Was there a specific reason behind taking on the extra load?

SF: Vagrant asked us to do it, and wanted to make it work so that it was something new. We really prefer the acoustic, people seem to like it, kids want to hear songs that we think will sound weird, but it's more laid back.

HM: Everything now-a-days is online or going online, this largely includes music, are there any fears or worries about this changing things for the music industry or your band in particular?

SF: No, the more people listen to you and then they come to your show. You don't make a lot of money on record sales, you make money playing shows and people coming to watch you. Yeah, it's going to piss of the record industry, there's so many other things you can do, but it's not going to destroy it, it's just going to make it change.

HM: The name Senses Fail, is it supposed to be taken literally, as in your senses fail you? Or is there a more specific theme you were trying to get across?

SF: I guess I didn't have a set goal in mind; I just read it in a book. There was this quotation in a book about philosophy and eastern religion, it was talking about how certain guys would go out in the woods and not eat and not do anything, just deprive themselves of everything because they felt that was material in this world was stopping their ability to be released from the cycle of death and rebirth. So I really got into that, and it was the beginning of the idea of Senses Fail. The idea to find true happiness you have to give up everything, and just go for it.

HM: Is there anything you'd change about the Warped Tour?

SF: Less bands, it's good and bad, but a little less bands. Other than that it runs as smooth as it possibly can for something this big.

A smooth interview all together, in and out with the greatest of ease. On to the next press person he flew, leaving behind his mark on society with his lyrics and none of those "waa waa, waa waa" songs about girls (he left so quickly, I never got a chance to snap a picture).

The Academy Is… (Superman and Wolverine?)

"If it was just for a day I'd be Superman, if it was a long-term thing, I'd be Wolverine". The only person I had the entire day that truly put some thought into the super-hero question and the only one that came up with a logical reason to be two. Since the Tour lasted only a day, I had the chance to talk to Superman (Tom-guitar). After tucking the cape away, we were able to get down and dirty:

HM: Originally from Illinois, you can definitely be considered a "Midwesterner". Do you ever find yourselves hanging out with other Midwesterners or Illini?

The Academy Is... : The Plain White T's we've know for a long time are from Chicago and June we've shared a van with before are also from Chicago. So yeah, we've been hanging out with a lot of bands from Chicago, there are just so many cool bands and cool people on this tour.

HM: Where does "the butcher" come from?

TAI: "The butcher" was a vegetarian butcher for a long time. We had a different guy doing the drums for awhile and that wasn't really working out. "The butcher" used to be in another band from Milwaukee, who broke up around when we were starting. So, we knew he was free and asked him to join the band. On stage and off stage he's "the butcher", no one ever calls him by his real name, I don't even think I know what his real name is off-hand.

HM: Is this your first year on Warped Tour?

TAI: We did two weeks last year, living in a van. It was a rough tour.

HM: How's it going so far this year, now 4 days into it?

TAI: This tour is great, lot of cool bands and a lot of good people. Pretty laid back, this tour's a little different from our typical ones. A lot less crazy, it's more just hanging out with friends. We could use an easier way to shower each day without having to wait in line.

HM: Fueled By Ramen is a slightly small and newer label, is there any anxiety with being under them?

TAI: No, Fueled By Ramen is really growing. There is a new breed of bands coming out of FBR, it's a unique thing, and really fits with our sound. It's a great label, I couldn't be happier with anyone else.

HM: Any thoughts of going major in the future?

TAI: We have… FBR is still very involved with everything and everyone. There just got to a point where the label thing was no big deal.

A laid back "Man of Steel" could be seen lounging in the press room as we delved deep into conversations of vegetarian butchers. Although perhaps, had the interview carried on, the atmosphere of the room may have become a bit more intense. As the hair started to grow (more than it already has) and the "Steel" started to protrude from the skin. Lucky for me, there was no such intensity. Therefore, we made our way to the Hurley Stage for their performance. With fellow super-members in tow, The Academy Is.. put on a rock performance the kept the audience humming their songs all night long.

Paramore (The Mod Squad)

Now, I realize that the Mod Squad wasn't composed of super-heroes, it was rather crime fighting members. But, it also had a unique group of people in it. That's the only way I can describe the super-heroes I had in this band. There's one Séance (Haley-vocals) courtesy of Gerard Way, which has the ability to steal everyone else's powers. Then we have Spiderman (Josh-guitarist), Aquaman (Hunter-guitarist), The Tick (Jeremy-bassist), and an undecided hero: either Fat Albert or Jimmy Neutron (Zac-drums). As you can see, they have quite a uniqueness to them and a lot of creativity flowing. Which is can be seen not only in their imagination, but their music as well.

HM: Being a band that is fronted by a girl automatically places you guys in a category, before people even get a chance to listen to the music. How have you dealt with that?

Paramore: There are a lot of female fronted bands, but we're totally different as far as our music goes, we're just really energetic. There's a lot of emotion mixed in with that, so when you see us live, it won't be what you expect. You see a girl singer and you automatically put the band in this different category. We can change that. It starts at the source, we don't consider ourselves a female fronted band, we're just a rock band. That helps a lot.

HM: You have some young members in the band, where the rest of your age bracket could still be in high school, has that ever presented any problems?

P: Zac - I have my permit, I can drive, but I'm only 16. Haley - We're a completely different band than we were when we started. It's evident in the way we look and act, but in the music we're writing now. We just shot a video that can really show people how much we've grown. It's somewhere we've all wanted to be, but it seems we've gotten there a lot faster than we expected it to.

HM: All We Know Is Falling is your first album and really first appearance on the music scene, how has the response been from the industry?

P: We've had a ton of good and bad, but the bad comes with everything you do. We all kind of knew coming into it, what we would be compared to and who we would be grouped up with. The industry has been cool, for the most part, they've had a lot of good things to say and give us a lot of compliments that we appreciate. But, at the same time they're the reason that we do get those comparisons to the obvious artists.

HM: Warped Tour is a unique tour for most bands to go on, how do you like it, has it been enjoyable so far?

P: We played last year for a month and this year we've only played for like 4 days but it's already been such a great experience. Last year was kind of draining, we didn't really know what to expect going into it. And this year we were just ready for it, this was our second summer. It's been amazing, this is like summer camp. The most fun we've ever had on a tour.

HM: You're currently signed with Fueled By Ramen, how did that all fall into place for you?

P: Through management, got hooked up through a friend-of-the-family. We recorded some demos; he flipped out over them, just loved it. So, he came to visit one day and watch us, and that was it, he wanted to put out the album.

HM: Is it a perfect fit or are there thoughts of going major some day?

P: Yeah, perfect fit. We can't imagine being on another label.

In the end Zac decided on Fat Albert, and Hunter still couldn't figure out the name of the one superhero with the long white beard who lives in the water. Even though we're all convinced he secretly wants to be the king from The Little Mermaid. Whether water bred or land, and cartoon or real, this band has something to offer the industry. Put aside the fact that a female is in front and really give them a chance. Besides if you don't, you better watch out, the Séance might be watching!

From Autumn to Ashes and Moneen (The X-Men)

No, Wolverine didn't make it to this interview and Cyclops called in sick. However, we did have another Wonderwoman (Brian-guitar/FATA), a Dreadlock Fiasco (Chris "The Hippy"-guitar & vox/Moneen), and two "Kenny's" (Josh-bassist/FATA & Kenny-guitar & vox/Moneen). Ok, so no one from the actual X-Men showed up, but these four guys were so crazy, making up some of their own superheroes that I just grouped it all together in "X". Let's see, well Dreadlock Fiasco was given powers in his hair that allowed him to climb walls, grab things and fight people all without lifting a finger. So, then Kenny was so insane that they thought he could just be his own superhero, complete with banana and dad's swim trunks. Not really having any special powers, except for the fact that everyone wants to be him, like Josh. This interview was one of the most entertaining, it took about 20 minutes to answer the first question and come to think of it, I don't think it actually got answered. After that, the two bands basically interviewed each other, we were just the spectators.

HM: For Moneen - online you're classified as both emo and rock, how do you manage to fit two distinct genres into one album?

Moneen: Well, you got to make them small enough to fit on the press machine when you press the CDs, you got to stick in there and shove it in there, kick it. Then take a lighter to melt it a little bit to make it squishy, then BAM press, done. New album, rock and emo, rockemo!

HM: Everything today is going online, are there any fears that this will drastically change things for your bands or the industry in general?

M: I've never been pissed, ever, for touring before a record comes out and kids are singing along to a song that hasn't been released yet. (On this question we had a guest speaker, Rick from The Casualties) Rick - in the future there's not going to be CDs or records, people are going to buy something online with the artwork. I'm bummed in that fact that there might not be physical music anymore. I hope that doesn't happen. But any way people get your music is going to reciprocate in some way, they're going to come to your shows, they might buy a t-shirt, or come jam out with you. Real fans will buy it 'cause they want the artwork.

From Autumn To Ashes: If that many more people know us for some reason or another, which will generate something for more kids coming to shows. To us the artwork has been almost as important as the actual music.

HM: For Moneen- "If Tragedy's Appealing, Then Disaster's An Addiction" is not only quite a song title, but it also demands a lot of the song itself. Is there any specific theme or message that you're trying to get across on the album?

M: Last year, when we were writing it, so many bad things were happening that we really couldn't get away from. It was like the whole world was falling to pieces. We didn't want to sing about girls, because I've been with the same girl for ten years, and what the hell am I going to sing about? Nothing. So we tried to look for other things. It got so bad; I had to write about it. We wrote about things that felt relevant to everyone. In the end we felt better about this record than any other, because it felt like what we were singing about had much more of a message.

HM: There are so many stereotypes associated with this style and genre(s) of music, how do you guys combat those or try to break free of them?

FATA: It's pretty ridiculous; it's just a different costume than everything was 5 years ago. Everyone thinks that they're doing something cool cause they got their punk-rock studded belt on, when really that's just uncomfortable. The whole segmented genre thing right now is ridiculous, cause it's the same dudes, and same music.

It was probably one of the least productive interviews of the day, yet one of the most enjoyable. To hear the wild stories that came out of Brian's head kept us all laughing, from: the days of unlimited limo service, to flying on a plane with "new guy" Bon Jovi, and starting his whole career at the age of 7. After awhile you had to ask yourself, "Is any of this true?" Whether or not it was true, these four guys were hysterical! It was nice to have an interview that really wasn't that professional, rather it was relaxed and unscripted. I didn't get a chance to see either of the bands perform, due to being trapped in the press room. However, I am making it a point to make sure that I catch them the next time either is in my area. You can be sure that sticking Wonderwoman and Kenny on one stage, and then another Kenny and Dreadlock Fiasco on another stage will really give you a memorable show. It sure gave me a memorable interview!

Thursday (The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen)

Extraordinary indeed, this was certainly one of the interviews and performances that I was anticipating ever since I heard the line-up for Warped Tour. Not only did we have an excellent interview session (which ended up being more of a press conference), but I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go backstage with the band and hang out on stage while they performed. From mild-mannered guys by day, they transformed into: He-man (Andrew-keys), Skeletor (Steve-guitar), and Wonderwoman (Tucker-drums). Yes another one, what's the deal with all these guys wanting to be a girl? Though they would argue that they're just typical guys, having fun just doing what they want. The hundreds upon hundreds of screaming fans which show up at each stop on the Tour just to see them, beg to differ the mildness of their manner. Granted, it was an honor to be able to sit with them, like normal people, and talk:

HM: There's been talk that today there are bands coming out that tend to sound like you or consider you their influence. It has also been said that you guys can be considered icons of our generation, is it a welcome surprise to hear this or a bit nerve-racking?

Thursday: It's definitely a little nerve-racking. They go after specific records, not necessarily our sound. There's always going to be bands ripping us off. Although, I don't really see our new record sounding like anything else. But, it's definitely flattering. We've been influenced by other bands, so to have that happen for us is definitely flattering.

HM: Your band has been classified in places as "indie", now to some music enthusiasts the word "indie" refers to a band that is independent of a major label or currently signed with an "indie" label. Do you consider that label more of a style of music rather than a category that you're placed in because of legality?

T: For us "indie" means we started this band doing it ourselves, and we still do it ourselves. We make decisions and have everything go through us. We'll always be independent band; we don't really follow the major label standards.

HM: There are so many other tours to be going on. Why the Warped Tour?

T: Well, in our first year, which was 2000, we only did 3 or 4 shows and then 2002 was our first real tour. It's a crazy schedule; you never know what time you play each day which can get annoying. But in the end its cool, it's like rock'n'roll summer camp, with all your friends.

HM: Anything you would change about the Tour?

T: More showers, less lines for the showers, less sun, more air-conditioning, lots of soap, longer set times, half an hour is good because you're usually exhausted anyways, but it would be nice to play for an hour or 45 minutes.

HM: Ever catch yourselves wishing you had chosen a different path, or wanting to be doing something else?

T: No…well, it would be nice to be a stay-at-home dad, but I have to have a kid first (Tucker). We're fortunate that we can make a living doing this. We never really call it a job, because it doesn't feel like one. We're just really lucky. The band's been together for close to 8 years, I think that once we hit that 10 year mark, Thursday has that chance to stay around for a really long time (Andrew). Being in a band there's a time and place for everything, you can act like a retard if you want to, and there's always the time and place to be grown-up. I wouldn't want to do anything else, it's the only thing that affords me to be who I am and not have to answer to anyone or have someone tell me what to do (Tucker). We have a lot of fun and act like little boys (Andrew).

HM: What's one thing you want people to get out of this interview?

T: Go watch Every Time I Die…get rid of your flat irons.

With there being two other press publications in the room, I didn't really get a chance to ask all of my questions. But, everything was made up when I got to go on stage. To see the faces of all those fans while they watched their favorite band perform, there aren't words to describe it. Extraordinary is really the best way to categorize them. You can stick in real and down-to-earth as well, because I got that sense as well. Are they icons of this generation? I'm not sure. What I do know is they inspire, they influence, they move and they excite their fans. They're in it for the long haul and will be around for sometime, with or without their super powers.

Rise Against (The Dynamic Duo)

With the absence of their fellow members, the two heroes represented their band well. A second Wonderwoman (Joe-bassist) was present and an intriguing Super Ex-girlfriend (Tim-vocals/guitar) accompanied. However my trusty sidekick (voice recorder) was already indisposed, recording a previous conference in another room. Thus, I had to resort to pen and paper. Therefore, the answers are not exact and I will do what I can to relay what was said.

HM: You guys are one of the few bands on this Tour who are under a major label, how does this effect things with other bands that are on independents?

Rise Against: Everyone started out on an indie label…we still have those friends that we made when we started out…the label stuff doesn't really make a difference when you're backstage.

HM: Your website doesn't really offer a "bio" section; do you think you can give me a brief run-down of what it might say?

RA: All started out in the Chicago punk-rock scene…through networking we were able to find our various members…went through countless drummers until the perfect one came along…now everything's come together.

HM: There are a lot of amazing bands that have come out of the Midwest, more specifically Chicago. Can you think of an explanation for the surge from Chicago?

RA: The Midwest/Chicago is such an outlet for music because it's able to maintain it's originality from either coast…it's become able to be independent of each coast as well…thus it's ability to keep growing and bringing in more and more talent.

HM: Why Warped Tour?

RA: The camaraderie of all the bands is awesome…so much fun for us.

HM: Anything you would change about it?

RA: Less cities!

Their powers are astounding; they have the ability to "rise against" or as Tim would say: "in true punk form, it's the ability to overcome anything that's in your way". It was their performance that closed out the day for me and was definitely one of the largest. Their incredible music pulsed through the giant speakers, causing all citizens in the way/ audience to jump to their feet in exhilaration. Though all our energy had been drained from not only the happenings of the day, but the intense, unyielding Kansas sun, we still managed to jam out for their show. Tim showed us his appreciation for sticking it out all day, over and over again.

By the end I had had one unbelievable day. I came out with some great interviews, even better pictures and a slight sun burn. Will I do another marathon next year? Heck, yes!!

-Rachel Fredrickson

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