WARPED REPORT: LAS CRUCES
Las Cruces, NM, EIY Chapter Member Chelsea attended Warped Tour last week and got to conduct a bunch of great, insightful interviews in addition to working the Feed Our Children Now booth. Here’s her full report!
It was a day unlike any other day I’ve ever experienced. It officially started off with helping Franny and KC from Feed Our Children Now (FOCN) set up their tent by the entrance of Warped. People started to get antsy and formed a crowd while we were setting up. Obviously they knew the perks of donating to FOCN. Donate five bucks, three cans of food, or a used cellphone and get in the gates early? Is there anything better than getting rewarded for helping charity?
A security guard came over and asked us if we needed people in a single file line. KC said that we did so Mr. Security Guard helped us out. It was a mad house for the whole time I was out there. I can’t even imagine how many Skip The Line wristbands I handed out myself, not to mention combined with the amounts KC and Franny distributed, too. After the initial rush (which left FOCN with a gigantic mound of canned goods, probably about 20-30 cellphones, and enough money to feed quite a few mouths for a while), I went over to the Press tent to meet up with Bethany Lynne.
I wandered around the bus area, trying to find the press tent. I couldn’t find it and figured that I had missed it. Indeed I had and it was because it was right in front of my face. Isn’t that how it always happens? I introduced myself to Bethany and she showed me the table with a bunch of pieces of paper. All of them had boxes with band names and then had a spot where the band would put what time they were available for interviewing and who was going to be there for the interview (sometimes the whole band isn’t available but a couple of the band members are). I was a bit overwhelmed at first. It was a system that I had never encountered before. After a while of trying to decipher what it all meant, Bethany helped me out.
She explained that not every box was filled in yet by the bands because they hadn’t made it over to sign up yet. Mayday Parade had their time listed so I signed my name and EIY in their box and made a note of the time on my papers. There were a couple of other bands I was interested in interviewing but they didn’t have a time listed so I asked her how that worked. She said that they should all be filled in by 11am but that I can put my name in the box so that I will be able to interview them later. I told her that I was supposed to interview Kevin Lyman, the founder of Warped Tour, and wasn’t sure where to sign up for that. She used her (handy-dandy) radio to ask him when he was available, he replied, and I got a time to meet with him.
After my interview schedule was pretty much set, I went back to the FOCN tent outside the gate. We got a couple more waves of people and got a bunch more donations. A few minutes later I went inside with KC to the other FOCN tent. She explained how much the shirts were, the stickers I was supposed to give out, and the basics of the tent. I was the only local volunteer for the day so it was up to me to spread the word of FOCN to the attendees at Warped that day. I made sure to stress the fact that the donations made to go to a local food bank, meaning that the food collected in Las Cruces doesn’t go to the next stop in San Antonio.
Every so often throughout the day I alternated between the Press area and the FOCN tent because I was not able to schedule my interviews back to back. My first interview was with I Fight Dragons. Going out to these interviews I was interested to see how many of the people on tour had gone to college for music. Out of the five members in I Fight Dragons, two of them have music degrees: Bill Prokopow has a degree in Composition and Packy Lundholm has a degree in Theory. They also have lots of experience under their belts, too. When I asked if they thought it helped them, Bill said “to each his own” and Brian Mazzaferri added that having a degree is “really good in some ways for learning tools, whether it’s being a better instrumental performer, learning about music theory, or composition or whatever. It’s great to add more tools to your tool box.” When I asked how they successfully got their name out there Brian replied they “treat the whole band as the art and present what we do in a larger picture, that’s sort of what we did at our first shows in Chicago, you know, try and make it part of the whole visual aesthetics and a larger story.” I Fight Dragons was super fun to interview. One of the things that they said that really stuck out to me Brian’s response to the question of how to get successful: “put yourself out there, you obviously have something in your head that you want to do, go out there and do it, see what’s working and what’s not.” Packy interjected, saying, “don’t be afraid to change what’s not working. Even if you’ve dumped so much into something, once you realize it’s not working forget it. Get rid of it and do the better thing.” Basically what they were saying was go with your instincts and also trust your audience: “Put yourself out there, then take a step back after you do that, stick with what’s working, ditch the stuff that’s not, improve yourself and what’s working, put yourself out there again, and keep going.” Perseverance, like the band said, is obviously key to making music.
> Watch EIY Chapter Member Chelsea’s interview with I Fight Dragons on YouTube.
Immediately following I Fight Dragons was my interview with Kevin Lyman. The first question I asked Kevin was how to get into the business side of music. He said you need patience and also the knowledge that the jobs that will be there are the jobs you create. Later in the day I interviewed Stephen Fowler from Echo Movement he said, “the music industry is very, very close and it takes a while to get into something but Kevin [Lyman] grabs from all these different areas and brings them into his camp and that is very proactive and it’s the way it should be.” It is obvious that Kevin has a very proactive attitude about music and that is how he has become so successful in the music business. You simply cannot sit around waiting to be “discovered.” He mentioned in the interview that he strives to be a “good, positive leader” and it seems like he is quite successful at it.
> Watch EIY Chapter Member Chelsea’s interview with Kevin Lyman on YouTube.
The next person that I interviewed was Bethany Lynne. She is the Press Manager at Warped and has been with Warped, in different capacities, since 2004. Her story in the music business can basically be summed up as “one thing leads to another.” Her path to where she currently is now is a winding road with many stops on the way. In a nutshell (or in this case a very long sentence), she started off in a “very bad” punk band (her words, not mine), which taught her things like how to promote; then she went to school for Studio Recording, but realized she liked live shows better; then she did live sound work, was mistaken as a stage manager, eventually went out with the Kevin Says Stage doing audio, and then there was an opening for Press that she fit. The main part of her job is to “help bands and press find each other.” Bethany helps bigger bands maintain their connection with the press but also helps smaller bands get their name out there: “sometimes press don’t know they want to talk to a band because they haven’t heard of them yet.” For example, “if they want to talk to All Time Low, I’ll have them talk to another band [in addition] that sounds like All Time Low.” I asked her how to gain contacts in the business and she replied that cold calling/emailing/etc. and volunteering are some things that have really helped her out a lot. The first year that Coachella did press on their own, Bethany cold emailed them and they replied to her the same day. The thing about cold calling/emailing is that you are putting yourself out there and showing who you are and what your abilities are. You cannot be passive in any business, but particularly the music business. Her favorite parts of the job are worth noting: getting “hugs and high-fives every day” and making connections between bands and other people. How cool is that?
> Watch EIY Chapter Member Chelsea’s interview with Bethany Lynne on YouTube.
After I finished my interview I went back to the FOCN tent for a couple hours until my next interview. It was a really cool experience to interact with a bunch of people and spread the word about such a cool charity.
My second round of interviews started with Elijah Jones of The Constellations. He asked where I wanted to do the interview and I said we could have it where ever. When he asked if it would be okay to conduct the interview in the tour bus I (internally) freaked out. How cool is that?! Elijah said that to be successful in your local music scene you’ve got to “work your ass off” and “do everything yourself, don’t expect anybody to give you any favors, get out there and play as many shows as you can and while you’re on stage sweat bullets and leave a quart of blood on the stage.” He also mentioned that you need to go to your merch booth after the show and say hello to everyone. Establishing a connection with your audience is key.
> Watch EIY Chapter Member Chelsea’s interview with The Constellations on YouTube.
After the interview I took my camera, audio recorder, and tripod with me and headed back to the Press tent. I had misplaced my camera bag and could not figure out what I did with it. I wasn’t too worried about its whereabouts, though, since it had about fifty of my business cards in there so wherever it was it would soon find its way back to me. I thought that perhaps it was on the tour bus, so I went back and knocked on their door. I could see my bag on the couch and explained how I left the bag behind. They were super cool and I got it back. Nothing quite like embarrassing yourself in front of awesome people, right?
Derek Sanders from Mayday Parade was my next victim… I mean interviewee. I have been a fan of the band since I first saw them back in March of 2007 in Omaha, Nebraska, so I was super excited for this interview in particular. In prep for the interview I logged on to MySpace (after many password attempts) and printed out some bad pictures I took from the show. I brought them to the interview to give to him because I thought it was a little funny blast from the past. Mayday Parade’s story is an interesting one because they got successful practically out of the gate. Don’t take that the wrong way, though. Derek and his friends had been in many bands throughout the years so by the time they got to Mayday they felt like they had the formula for making great music about right. Derek said that Mayday Parade basically went on tour right out of high school instead of going to college because they felt like that would be the best way to focus on the band and, obviously, that was the right decision to make. After only being a band for about seven or eight months they were signed to Fearless Records. When I asked if he had any advice for people trying to get successful in the music business he said that hard work, positivity, and staying true to what you believe in (as opposed to having other people influence you negatively) is key.
> Watch EIY Chapter Member Chelsea’s interview with Mayday Parade on YouTube.
My last interview of the day was with of Stephen and Dave Fowler from Echo Movement. When I asked for tips for people who are starting off in music Stephen said that it is smart to open up for people who are a lot like you and to be “mindful of your message as a musician and an artist,” which I thought was quite profound and unlike any other answer I had heard that day. I am not saying that other bands or people that I interviewed don’t feel the same way, but I think it is great how they explicitly said it. As we all know, Warped has quite a diverse lineup. Echo Movement’s sound is quite different from bands who are metal or punk so I asked them what the community feel was like. Dave replied, “there’s a camaraderie in music and even if we have nothing else in common at least we have music. And this is a music tour — that’s common ground enough for me, for us, for them.” When I interviewed Kevin Lyman he said that one of the ways to strengthen a local scene is to “stop the backstabbing because it’s such a detriment. That’s something we try to push out here on Warped, that you’re all musicians. I’ve been pushing that for like three years and I think you really see that now. Everyone’s hanging out, everyone gets along great, supporting each other.” Warped Tour definitely seems to have one of the best community vibes I have seen and this definitely confirms it.
> Watch EIY Chapter Member Chelsea’s interview with Echo Movement on YouTube.
It became apparent interview after interview that there are things that basically everyone can agree on when it comes to becoming successful in the music business. Patience, perseverance, instinct, experience and being proactive are all part of the formula of successful musicians and bands. It’s not easy in this business. Passion obviously plays a key part in the music business, too. “If you want to do something financially successful then do something else because we do it for the love, we do it for the exchange of energy with the crowd, we do it because we love writing songs and playing them live. It’s all about the love. And the record is called ‘Do It For Free’ because that’s what we do,” said Elijah Jones.
When 6:30pm rolled around, it was time to pack up at FOCN. We brought the chairs, table, tent, and everything else over to the designated spot to drop things off. It was a long, exhausting, and awesome day. I learned a lot about the music business and met some amazing people. I think one of the goals of Warped Tour is to expand the attendees’ music horizons and it certainly has for me every year I have gone.
I want to end with these two quotes from Stephen and Dave Fowler, respectively:
“It is hard work, but it’s also being a true and good artist and offering something to the world. Like a really cool message. Something that no one’s thought of before. Opening minds. An artist is supposed to inspire, and you’re not supposed to be a celebrity or look cool and make a lot of money and stuff like that.”
“Never lose sight of why you’re playing music. Are you playing music because you want to play music or do you want to play music with an ulterior motive?”
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