Lately, it seems that we are hearing more and more from new and unexpected partnerships between artists of different genres. This is why, through Superlatones, we are creating our very own directory”a musical wish-list, if you will”of artists who have yet to join the collaborative bandwagon.
It’s the middle of March and once again, St. Patty’s Day is just around the corner. Luckily for us working folk, this year the anticipated holiday falls on a Saturday, which means we are free to participate in the festivities and celebrate. So grab a buddy, pour yourself some Guinness and let this week’s dynamic duo start up your weekend with a little Irish flair.
The Dynamic Duo:
Kíla and Streetlight Manifesto
It’s hard to imagine that Reel Big Fish turned twenty this year. The ska superstars maintain a youthful sense of humor as well as a relentless touring schedule, and their energetic performances alongside bands half their age at Warped Tour are a testament to their timeless nature.
But while they’ve been together for two decades, it hasn’t always been easy. The group has undergone near-constant lineup changes, and frontman Aaron Barrett is the only founding member who’s still a part of the band. We sat down with Barrett to talk about the ups and downs, his fondest memories with the group and the current state of ska.
OS: You guys have been around for a while “ you’re currently on your 20th anniversary tour. What has it been like to be in the same band for so long and be a part of all the changes the industry has gone through in the last 20 years?
AB: It’s been pretty interesting seeing all the changes that have happened in the music industry up close like we have. Especially with the way MP3 technology took over and the way people obtain and listen to music now. The power went from being almost completely in the hands of the record industry to now being almost completely in the hands of the music fans. Also, it’s been pretty amazing seeing the band I started when I was 16 go from playing backyard parties to getting record deals and having hit songs on the radio and MTV and touring the world and then having a long lasting independent career years after that. It’s been a wild ride!
OS: And you’ve been touring nonstop that whole time. Do you ever start to feel worn down?
AB: We’ve pretty much been on tour non-stop since 1996, playing over 250 shows a year. Luckily I have OCD so I like to do the same thing over and over and over and over and it doesn’t get old! [Laughs] But seriously, sometimes the traveling gets a little tiring. But we get to play music we love for a living and we have so many amazing fans that come out to the shows to support us, so that makes it such a joy and a pleasure to perform almost every night of the year.
AB: Making the music videos has always been fun memories. Also, making Turn the Radio Off”our first real album in a real studio”was something special. We sang the national anthem at a Miami Dolphins football game in front of 50,000 people and that was pretty cool… and meeting the South Park guys [Trey Parker and Matt Stone] and being in the BASEketball movie was pretty surreal! We’ve been lucky enough to do a lot of very random and amazing things over the years. In fact, one time we acted on a sit-com with Andrew Dice Clay! We had lines and everything. The show was never a hit though… but it was called “Hitz.” [Laughs]
OS: Does it surprise you that you’re the only remaining founding member of RBF?
AB: It doesn’t surprise me at all that I’m the only original member to still be in the band. It was my idea to start the band, and it was my dream to do this for a living. I’ve always written the songs and been the “captain of the ship,” so to speak. So the people who didn’t want to make RBF their entire life for whatever reason have gone on to do other things that make them happy and that’s fine, I totally understand. What surprises me is that Dan [Regan, trombone] has put up with me for so long, almost 16 years! [Laughs] Also, I’m very happy with the line-up of musicians in the band right now. It seems like everyone is here for the right reason, finally, and everybody enjoys this music and loves to tour with this band. Things are good!
OS: Do you find it ironic that your most popular song is about selling out?
AB: Well, now-a-days I’d say our most known and long lasting fan favorite songs are: “Beer” and “Take on Me,” thanks to the continuing popularity of the BASEketball movie. But I always thought it was very ironic and funny that our big hit song in the ˜90s was “Sell Out.” We actually planned it that way. Our record label”Mojo” had a great sense of humor and actually suggested that song as a single!
OS: How did you decide which songs you wanted to cover on Fame, Fortune, and Fornication?
AB: It was just completely random, some songs we had already been covering, some I had always wanted to cover and a few were just songs that I was listening to a lot the previous summer.
AB: I think to the mainstream radio and music industry in the 1990’s, ska was just a novelty. Just a funny little joke that had run its course, so they moved on to swing and then to whatever else was new and different. I think to the average radio listener ska was just too weird and quirky, and it wasn’t as tough or as cool as other kinds of rock or metal or rap. But the ska scene continued to grow underground and it is still getting bigger all the time. From what we’ve seen in our extensive travels is that there are more ska bands and ska fans all over the world than ever before. We are playing in either the same size or bigger venues than we ever have ever all over the USA and now in more countries all over the world. Ska is huge in the underground in the USA, Europe, Australia, Japan, South America, Eastern Europe, and we hear that ska is now sweeping Indonesia and the Philippines as wel. The scene is definitely going strong.
OS: Are we going to see a new RBF album this year?
AB: Either late this year or the very beginning of 2012… we hope!
LCD Soundsystem announced their last show of their final tour a few weeks ago, as though you hadn’t already heard. On April 2nd, the band will grace the stage at Madison Square Garden for their sold out farewell show, capping off a valediction of both shocking and well deserved amounts of hype. They will play their swan song, they will leave the stage and that will be the end of one of the great dance-punk bands of our generation. We’re still bummed that we couldn’t get tickets to that show, or to any of the ever increasing number of gigs leading up to the MSG date (Side note: kudos to James Murphy for blasting the scalpers! Seriously, that guy is a class act).
But that’s beside the point. It got us thinking, LCD Soundsystem made a big deal out of this being their farewell tour but they hadn’t really earned their bonafides a live band du jour, as a touring entity, up until that point. Unlike LCD, there are some bands that have always made a big deal out of their live show, that seem to exist only to tour. Not that that’s a bad thing. Let’s take a look at some of the artists we hope never stop touring:
A rolling stone gathers no moss, and even though Dylan is old enough to have moss grow on him, there’s no stopping this man’s touring regimen. His tour schedule since June of 1988 has been dubbed the “Never Ending Tour“; this globe-trotting tour has Dylan performing around 100 days out of the year, and he’s kept up this pace in spite of the fact that he’s almost a septuagenarian. You’d think the man might want a break or a nap or something after so many years. Still, he’s already got April dates lined up in Australia. We should count ourselves lucky that we’ve heard so much from him, and we’ll probably be hearing more from Bob in years to come.
Reel Big Fish
These ska-punk workhorses have been at it longer than most of their ilk from the mid ’90s. You could’ve gone to see them at some festival in middle school, you caught them in the club when they headlined in high school and you went to their show again in college when you were feeling a wee bit nostalgic. They just wrapped up a tour with fellow goof-punk road warriors The Aquabats in January. So what do they have on their plate for the upcoming year? A European tour, you say? Suprise suprise.
This spot could have easily gone to Dave Matthews Band if they weren’t planning on taking 2011 off, kinda. And sure, some may cry foul as there was a long stretch when Phish didn’t tour, but we won’t count periods of band hiatuses/ breakups.
Phish’s reputation as a band is based off of their live show. Not only in how technically good it is or how “communal” (read: chemically altered) the atmosphere at one of their gigs is but also in how Phish fosters the live experience with their fans. For those who don’t follow the band, Phish’s fandom is reminiscent of the Grateful Dead’s and a lot of other prominent jam bands of yore. And a big aspect of that culture is bootlegging. I won’t go into the number of Phish phan phorums (I’m sorry) on the Internet; suffice it to say, they’re numerous. The online dedication to Phish is also unique in the number of ways fans can get their hands on live material from the band. You can find high quality audio recordings from nearly every live set the band has done on their Web site and the fan bootlegs and set lists for Phish shows spanning their entire career can be found all over the web.
The man has been in the solo game for about 5 years now and has taken to touring with a workmanlike approach. There’s no need to count his time in hardcore band Million Dead in his total number of shows played because his solo schedule is so impressive that it speaks for itself. Since Turner started flying solo, he’s played over 1000 shows at a rate of a little over 200 shows a year. And he’s still had time to record three LPs, a handful of EPs and demos on top of all that. I wonder if he’ll go out on the road behind his next album?
What artist would you add to this list? Let us know in the comments.
[As a kid], I was always terrified of Summer Camp¦but Warped Tour is a great place for me to [experience] ˜Summer Camp’ and kind of face those fears. They’ve created such a place where you can meet people and have fun with them.
If you read our review of the fan experience at Warped Tour, you know that the festival is truly a community experience. Moving to the backstage area, we wanted to get the bands’ scoop on this whole vibe.
There is a fantastic sense of friendship and kindness backstage; a sense of trust and loyalty to the cause of spreading joy on this tour, commented Andrew W.K, when we caught up with him backstage. It’s his first year back on the tour since 2003, and his first time touring with a full band for a few years. To hear support of the community atmosphere from a guy that truly embodies the Party Hard mentality of the tour really put the setting into perspective. He’s even set up his own tent this year called the Party Tent where friends and fans can come and hang out with Andrew W.K.
Many of the smaller bands on tour are experiencing this environment for the first time. In Fear & Faith are newcomers to the tour but were able to catch the ear of Kevin Lyman enough to be on the Skullcandy Stage. It’s basically like summer band camp for [crazy] band dudes, was their sentiment. There are no egos, no tough-guys¦there have even been circle pits at the band BBQ’s lately. It’s definitely the only party where there will never be any fights. After Midnight Project (Skullcandy Stage) also shares the community mentality, having made friends with many of the bands on tour.
The guys from Reel Big Fish consider it less of a “summer camp” and more of a “tailgate party”. “A bunch of dudes drinking beer out of the backs of their vehicles, commented lead singer Aaron Barrett. Greg Attonito of The Bouncing Souls thinks of the tour as a melting pot of sorts. All the genres are just thrown in together. [It gives it] that kind of punk spirit¦That’s what makes it interesting. Otherwise it probably wouldn’t be as interesting. Even Justin Pierre, lead singer of Motion City Soundtrack relayed the tendency for bands to just hang out and talk. He even said that he risks losing his voice before heading onstage, because he’s had so many awesome conversations with fans, vendors and artists.
Overall, crowds of new friends and passionate pit-hoppers were being received with a warm welcome from bands on every stage all day. The meet-and-greets, the merch giveaways and even Andrew W.K.’s party tent: everything added up to a true camp environment. However, we challenge you to find any other summer camp that offers almost 100 bands worth of live music.
It’s the day after the Mansfield date of the Vans Warped Tour and we’re still recovering. Yesterday, thousands of punk rockers, young skaters and teenagers flooded the gates at 11:00 AM sharp only to find themselves trudging out covered in dirt and sweat 10 hours later, all with excitement still on their faces.
After catching the end of Dillinger Escape Plan’s in-your-face set, a circle pit formed when Bring Me The Horizon came onstage. Set times are determined at the beginning of the day, and in this case it was surprising to find that many of the heavier, metal-based bands were scheduled early on”a bit of an unforgiving fact if you want to conserve your energy beyond these high energy, pit-oriented bands. But the fans, ourselves included, pushed forward with a smile on their faces. Later in the day, the main stage hosted acts like the pop-rock driven We The Kings and The All-American Rejects and Warped Tour veterans Alkaline Trio, The Bouncing Souls and Andrew W.K.
From a crowd perspective, the most interesting aspect of the tour this year was the diversity of the stages. From the huge crowds at the main Teggart Stage, to the mid-sized Skullcandy Stage, all the way to the undiscovered bands of the Ernie Ball Stage, we caught at least a few songs of every set that morning. The real kicker was that we were impressed by every band we saw. Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman seems to always be on the cutting edge of what music will really be popular that summer. He hand selects bands that will fit well on some of the smaller stages. He even had his own Kevin Says Stage this year to give the bands that he recommends a place to shine.
Of course, finding our way through crowds of music-hungry concert-goers, past merch-laden booths and around the vendors handing out random freebies, we arrived the indoor stages: the Glamour Kills Stage and the AP/Advent Stage. This space hosted some of the more subdued (The Cab, Sum 41, etc), but still attracted a slew of people to cram into the tiny area. Hundreds of people were even standing on seats around the perimeter that is normally the main stage at the Comcast Center.
It was at this point that the true community vibe at the tour became apparent. No one is concerned with how they look or how dirty they are. Every one is on this loud, crazy ride together. Clinging to bottles of water to keep themselves cool and making new friends. Warped Tour is truly a summer camp, and most of the bands we spoke with agreed. Stay tuned for the bands’ thoughts on this experience.
From the small stages, to the big ones, the “no-name” bands’ booths to the crowded headliners’ booths and meet-and-greet sessions, this years experience truly lived up to what we’ve come to expect from this “punk rock” environment. While today, fans are still nursing soar legs, painful sunburns and ringing ears, they undoubtedly couldn’t be happier to have walked away having once again participated in the summer’s loudest, fastest traveling rock festival. Here are some of the dates still to come:
7/17: Uniondale, NY, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum
7/18: Oceanport, NJ, Monmouth Park Racetrack
7/20: Columbia, MD, Merriweather Post Pavilion
7/21: Virginia Beach, VA Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
7/22: Charlotte, NC, Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
7/23: St. Petersburg, FL, Vinoy Park
7/24: Miami, FL, Cruzan Amphitheatre
7/25: Orlando, FL, Central Florida Fairgrounds
Ska is a genre that always seems to fall just short of mainstream. It’s already on its third wave of revival, and there is no shortage of bands that combine the traditional ska sound with a new, punk-influenced sound. The Action! is a band that does this in a raw and energetic way.
Sometimes artists get caught up in their image or popularity and lose sight of their original goals. For The Action! however, it’s been all about the music from day one. After taking a break in 2003, because their schedule didn’t allow them to focus enough on their music, the band got back together in 2006. Since then, they have fused an energetic ska sound that can be pitted against Reel Big Fish or perhaps even The Toasters. With jazzy intros, bluesy verses, and catchy choruses that just won’t leave your head, The Action! certainly deserves your attention.
The Action! is gaining significant credibility particularly in their home community and has been featured in local TV commercials. Gaining more widespread appeal, the group has also been featured on the internationally released ska compilation, How I Punked Out of Skallege (Red Dragon Records). Well known acts such as Reel Big Fish, The Toasters, Gym Class Heroes, and the Planet Smashers have noticed The Action!’s rising potential by offering the opportunity to open at their shows. Currently, the band is editing the footage for their first music video that will be released soon. Join their fanclub and be sure to check our their latest release, Exploding Radio.