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The Secret Rock Star On… Warped Tour

The Secret Rock Star
The Secret Rock Star 3 August 2017 at 16.56

Meet Rock Sound’s Secret Rock Star. A band member who’s toured the world, released albums on huge record labels, adorned magazine covers on multiple continents and seen it all, they’re here to lift the lid on everything you never hear about bands and the music industry.

This month? The Secret Rock Star takes on Warped Tour...


"The first time I became aware of Warped Tour was when Eminem did it. In the years that followed I heard so many nightmare stories about how hard it is, how much it’s moving your own instruments and amps around, but when we finally got there we were like, ‘Oh, it’s just like being on tour but warmer’.

Then again, it is warm. There’s a story about one British dude almost cooking his own head in the heat. He poured a bottle of water over his head because he was so warm in the midday sun and it dried almost instantly, nearly steaming his head. He was like, ‘I need to cool down. I’ll pour this water over myself... Oh no, I’m boiling my own head from the outside!’

You hear so much about the heat and dirt, but I’ve managed to shower every single day I’ve spent on Warped in my life. You just have to wait a little while.

One person on a bus we were once on hadn’t showered for six weeks or something like that. He was bragging about it, and then his girlfriend came and stayed on the bus for a couple days. I was like, ‘Your ballbag has got to be toxic, bro’. I don’t remember smelling him, I just remember him bragging about it and me being heavily disgusted by it.

On Warped your set time is randomly picked every day. One time I woke up and our set was like, 45 minutes later. I chugged a bunch of coffee flavored Monster, started the set and then started puking cream off of the stage. One kid in the crowd was like, ‘Dude, this is so badass!’, but it wasn’t supposed to happen! It was disgusting.

You get to mix with people you’d never meet on a regular tour, too. We were escorted to meet a big metalcore band one time. There, we met Slash from Guns N’ Roses. Well, it was either him or some dude sat wearing sunglasses and a hat on the bus.

He had some weed, and he looked us in the eye and said, ‘Do you smoke the devil’s lettuce?’ That was the coolest and non-coolest thing I have heard to this day. Hearing it come out of young Slash’s mouth was absurd.

A buzz band of the time were on the tour with us one year. I think their drummer was maybe one of the most drugged-up people I’ve ever met in my life. Every night after the shows, we’d be at the barbecue or be hanging out on the buses or whatever, and there was this little guy who would come around. He was wearing the tightest skinny jeans I’ve ever seen with flip flops, and that was it mostly. He had long hair which looked like he’d literally been dragged out of a bush and he was constantly gurning. He made most alcoholics look straight edge.

One tour, I watched a band who were really popular at the time. They had a screamer in the band who was miming screaming. Things like that never really bother us we always try to put on the same show whether we were playing to one person or a hundred thousand people. But I remember losing a lot of heart after I saw them mime everything and have 500 kids adoring these fucking guys with their neon rave t-shirts.

That may have been the beginning of my fury towards ‘musicians’. Warped Tour is meant to be punk rock. These are the people who four or five years before that were saying, ‘I don’t like pop stars because they don’t play their own instruments’, and now you’re watching bands mime. If your screamer can’t even scream live, split up. It’s fucking cheating.

Another day there were 500 kids in front of us. I was like, ‘Oh! We’re huge in this town and I never knew!’ But it turned out Emmure were on after us. If I’d known I’d have been a bit more disrespectful toward women and children, I guess...

I think each tour we make the most of it and meet people, but a lot of it is boys trying to get sleazy with girls. Some of the lifestyle can be really horrible and populated by jerks, but some it is really awesome and full of amazing people. You get to meet bands and play cornhole and hang out.

I also saw a friend of mine laugh the hardest I’ve ever seen a human being laugh in my life. Our merch guy was running along the sidewalk one day - I still don’t know why he was running, to be honest - but he inexplicably slipped, fell over and skidded along on his stomach to the point where he nearly scorpioned the back of his own head with his legs. My friend was so excited by this that he jumped on top of a wall, pointed at the poor dude and was laughing so hard I thought he was going to pass out. Our merch guy wasn’t happy, but the rest of us were in tears.

Another thing Warped Tour is great at is keeping you grounded. The fact that you could have nobody watching you one day (one time our stage directly faced a wall!) but then have lots of people the next keeps you fighting.

What I love about Warped Tour is going on stage - no matter how many people are there - and seeing people’s faces knowing that they might not have seen us before now, and whatever is going to happen in the next half hour is going to leave a mark; put an idea in their head about who we are and what we do.

Not everybody has the same approach, though. I remember the singer from an exceptionally popular band being one of the most miserable people I’ve ever met. I was with a friend one day and said singer came over. They’d just played and I said, ‘Good show. Did you enjoy it?’ and he was like, ‘Ah, it was alright.’ I was like, ‘You’ve just had 2,000 people jumping up and down, you miserable shit’. He seemed to be like that every day I saw him. Strange.

It’s a long, hard tour. And some days you’re just unlucky. I remember one year the head of our record label travelled hours just to see us. It was the hottest day of the summer and a few of us had walked two miles to a mall just because it had air conditioning. We had to, we thought we were dying.

When we got back and started the show, the head of our record label and three other people were watching us play. We were on at exactly the same time as another really popular band and it was their hometown show. Everyone was over watching them, and only the guy who’d flown in to see us and three other people were watching us. Awkward.

In truth though, we’re just stoked to be meeting new people. I can see how a lot of people would get disheartened and not be happy with how it’s going, or feel like they might have wasted money or time, but we’ve met some cool people on Warped Tour over the years, and I have the tour passes next my bed that I’ll keep forever."

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