Warped Tour 2018 is underway, and we're feeling nostalgic.
With the final ever cross-country Warped Tour underway, we were feeling a bit nostalgic. So nostalgic that we took a trip to the Rock Sound archive, and reminisced about the time we spent 24 hours out on Warped Tour 2016 with Against The Current. It was an exceptionally good time- check out the full story below.
Rock Sound is lost. Actually, Rock Sound is really lost. Somewhere in the middle of a parking lot filled with gleaming silver buses is one of the hottest bands on this year’s Warped Tour, and we would very much like to find them.
We sidle between the vehicles parked behind the main stage on a baking Boston morning, soaking in the sights as our scene’s biggest, weirdest and warmest travelling festival wakes up to start day 18 of its mammoth 42-date tour. Kyle Fasel from Real Friends hurries past with a box of merch lodged under his arm. A bleary-eyed Tyler Carter strolls around with his hood up. The Ghost Inside’s Jim Riley walks by – working this summer as a tech for Falling In Reverse on his first tour since his band’s horrific bus crash – and members of Mayday Parade and The Maine emerge into the light in various states of wakefulness.
After what seems like an age, we happen upon Bus 81 – parked between Issues and Whitechapel – where we’re greeted by Against The Current guitarist Dan Gow, welcoming us aboard his band’s plush, (thankfully) air-conditioned home on the road. We take a seat on the lounge’s comfy white leather couches where the softly-spoken, darkly witty guitarist is catching up with the band’s irrepressibly chirpy vocalist, Chrissy Costanza.
Yesterday brought a long-overdue break for Warped Tour after 12 straight days of shows, and with the tour still being in the north east of the U.S. near Against The Current’s home in upstate New York, Chrissy and Will took the opportunity to head home for the day to recharge batteries, see family and take care of the most important thing of the summer, Pokémon GO.
“I was rollerblading around home catching Pokémon!” she beams as she flashes a screen filled with Rattatas, Pidgeys and Drowzees.
“And I got to shower! In fact I showered twice it was so awesome. No three-minute military shower,” she adds, gesturing towards the Grumpy Cat poster that covers the transparent door to the cramped bathroom they have on board. Dan, on the other hand, stayed on the bus last night.
“I don’t like going home in the middle of a tour,” he says. “It feels weird going home for 24 hours and then getting up for the bus at 6am to go again.”
Instead, he took the opportunity to do laundry, he explains – pointing towards his cupboard in the back of the bus, filled with still-a-little-damp clothing – and ate at his favourite American restaurant, Chilis.
Drummer Will Ferri is still en route with his parents, while the band’s tour manager Lloyd is hunched over a laptop and phone booking flights for yet another stint of the band’s trek around the globe. Touring guitarist Roo Buxton (formerly of Summerlin, UK pop-punk fans) plays Grand Theft Auto in the front lounge while touring bassist Joe Simmons, the band’s touring photographer and the rest of the crew prepare for a long, long, (long) day in the heat. A little behind schedule, Will Ferri rolls in with a suitcase of laundry, a sheepish grin on his face, and parents David and Debbie.
The tour is still waking up when we step off the bus. Issues guitarist AJ Rebollo zooms past on a scooter, Sleeping With Sirens’ Jack Fowler paces along the chain link perimeter fence talking on his phone, as Real Friends draw the first big singalong of the day in the distance.
Dan emerges blinking into the sun. “It’s all-day every day,” he grins as he joins a crowd of people around the back of the trailer attached to the bus. They’re trying to fix a mini bike, which it transpires belongs to Will.
“I was like, if we go Warped Tour the first thing I’m gonna do is buy a mini bike,” he chuckles.
“I didn’t end up doing it because I wasn’t sure if I was gonna be that asshole, but then day one rolled around and everyone’s cruising around!”
He bought one on Amazon and had it delivered to a venue two days later, becoming a Warped Tour pro and every parent’s worst nightmare in one hit.
“I’ve always wanted one since I was little. It’s so exciting!” smiles the chatty, perma-stoked drummer.
Their all-black getups make the summer heat extra punishing, but Will, Chrissy and Dan start to look at home here as they sip from Monster-branded Warped Tour water bottles and pose for their Rock Sound photoshoot.
It’s weird to think that this isn’t really home at all.
“We didn’t think we would ever play Warped Tour,” Chrissy later confesses. “Not because we didn’t want to, just because we didn’t know if it made sense for Against The Current.”
“Then we looked at past people who had broken out on or after Warped tour like Katy Perry, Eminem...” adds Will. “Echosmith did it a couple of years back. We’re in a similar situation…”
Against The Current sure are different to every other band on the bill this summer. They don’t sound the same, dress the same or act the same.
“We don’t want to be seen as a pop-punk band,” says Chrissy. “We don’t want to be locked into one scene. We’ve spent so much time cultivating our fanbase, and we don’t want to ever lose that.”
“We’re not trying to be a Warped Tour band,” she continues. “We’re not trying to do anything like any other band. We’re not trying to fit the mould. We’re just Against The Current and what Against The Current has always been… just on Warped Tour.”
A photoshoot and several bottles of tour water down, the band take their seats in the stifling heat of their TEI tent next door, to teach a class on networking; to educate gathered fans about how they managed to cultivate that diverse following largely on their own. And to discuss Pokémon GO, naturally.
They talk to the assembled crowd about YouTube, social media and how to build a band from the ground up as Four Year Strong riff loudly in the background.
“The workshop is a great place for anyone that wants to learn how we did it,” says Dan.
“We talk about the value of being genuine, being yourself and sticking to your identity. We can’t bash that into people’s skulls enough. It’s the most important thing you could possibly do!” adds Chrissy.
“Even just being a girl in a band is not as common this year, but in previous years I’ve seen girls in bands kind of retract from who they are, wearing jeans and cut-off tank tops every day. They lose their spark because they’re trying to fit in with the whole scene.
“It’s like, no, you should stand out! You should be yourself because people are attracted to people who are confident in themselves. Not in a cocky way – just people who know who they are.”
Chrissy is practising what she preaches on this tour, setting up a “glam box” in the back lounge of the bus and going all-out each day, especially when it comes to stage gear – heels and all.
“The other girl I see like that is Jenna McDougall from Tonight Alive. She’s the embodiment of being unique and genuine. Nothing is forced or contrived – she just is what she is,” says Chrissy.
“She came over and introduced herself when I’d just gotten offstage. I was in the back of our trailer sweating and she was like, ‘Hi!’ She’s gorgeous, she always looks flawless, and I was melting like, ‘Hey!’”
The DIY ethic Against The Current cultivated throughout their early days on YouTube and a bloody-minded determination to be exactly who they are still comes in handy now they’re on a record label, too. That mindset has rarely been more important than when they were called up to play Download Festival at the last minute in June.
“We hadn’t played in two months,” says Will. “We got a group text from our manager saying something like, ‘Holy shit I know this is crazy but we just got an offer to play Download Festival.’ We instantly got into the mode of thinking about everything we needed to do to make it possible. We called up our drum tech in New York and were like, ‘You want to hop on a flight to London tonight?’ And he’s like, ‘Yeah, I can swing that, I’ll call into work.’”
UK-based live guitarist Roo was already at Download driving and tour managing metalcore band Wage War, so he just brought his guitar along and played the show, too.
“I wonder what it was like being that band when your driver is just like, ‘Okay, I’ve got to go play on that big stage real quick. I’ll be right back to drive you guys where you need to go,’” laughs Will.
“I asked around, ‘Do you think people will throw things at us? Will they boo us?’” Chrissy says.
“And everyone was like, ‘I can’t guarantee anything!’ So I was like, ‘We’re a pop band. We’ll get ripped to shreds!’”
But they pulled through and they won over a mostly metal crowd who had never heard of their band before. Because they’re Against The Current, and they’re not ashamed of that fact.
Lunch comes next (hooray for taco day at catering), and then the trio head straight to a meet and greet at the band’s merch tent, which is where they really come to life, and their hard work on Warped Tour pays off.
“I can’t sleep at night if I feel like I didn’t give 110 per cent to every person,” says Chrissy of the sheer amount of time she, Dan and Will put into meeting their fans – it’s almost two hours today alone.
That said, as the queue snakes forward, almost every excitable fan makes a beeline for Chrissy – sometimes ignoring Dan and Will altogether.
“It sucks,” she sighs. “Unfortunately it’s just one of those things. It’s the same with lead singers in general, but it’s worse for girls. It’s a shame because the three of us are equal pieces of this band. We all do equal amounts of work. I don’t ever want them to be underappreciated, because they do so much and so much of this band wouldn’t exist without them. I don’t think all of our fans realise or completely appreciate that fact.
“I might be the face of it, but these tours wouldn’t happen without Dan’s planning, and the songs wouldn’t come together without Will spending hours writing them. It is disheartening sometimes.”
To get a true scale of the disparity between how the band’s members are treated, you need only go online. For example, Chrissy has twice as many Twitter followers as her band’s account, let alone her peers.
“I want it to be equal,” she says. “It makes me uncomfortable, because I don’t deserve more attention. I haven’t done anything other than be a girl and a lead singer. I’ve done as much as they have.”
“You’ve got to take everything with a grain of salt,” says Will, who’s been playing music with Dan since the guitarist moved to his school a decade ago.
“They’re not doing it on purpose, but it’s always been our goal to do everything as the three of us. We try to portray ourselves as a band, it’s just there aren’t as many females in the music industry, so people gravitate towards that too.”
“I can’t let it eat me up and lose sleep over it, because the world is the way the world is,” surmises Chrissy. “You can’t stress about things you can’t change, but I hope over time the true Against The Current fans respect all three of us.”
The fact that it’s 2016 and it’s still a novelty that Chrissy is a both a girl and a singer is a sad one, but it doesn’t look like getting better any time soon.
“Even looking at the Warped Tour line-up, I think there are a total of 10 females in bands on this tour. It’s not Warped Tour’s fault, either. There are just fewer in girls in bands,” argues Chrissy. “Even in local scenes there are less girls, sadly. I don’t know why that is necessarily, but it is.”
“I want there to be more Lynns, more Jennas, more Tays and more Hayleys out there, because they’re all so cool,” she says.
We bump into ROAM frontman Alex Costello at Against The Current’s merch tent, who tells us he’s being taught baseball by Camp ATC. The Eastbourne pop-punk crew are some of Against The Current’s closest friends – that’ll happen if you tour together for half a year – but due to the incredible amount of headlining they’ve done over the past 18 months, Chrissy, Will and Dan haven’t made that many friends.
And even the bands they have supported aren’t going to be out on Warped Tour. The likes of All Time Low and ONE OK ROCK have long outgrown summers in baking hot car parks. It’s just another example of how different their world is to the one that most of the bands on this tour live in, and led to a jarring realisation for Dan on the first day of the tour in Texas.
“My phone broke, so I couldn’t text anybody. It was literally just me staring out at all these bands saying hi to each other!” he laughs.
They’ve since started to tentatively mingle with bands like The Maine and Mayday Parade, but “We’re all very shy people and very introverted,” Will explains.
“So when you’re thrown into this situation where you’re living in this shanty town of people you could just easily go say hi, but it’s like the first day of school.”
They do seem to be getting there, mind.
“The other day I said what’s up to Dave Baksh from Sum 41.’” says Will.
“We hang our clothes out to dry at the back of the trailer, and Chrissy had all of these little Chrissy things hanging up, and Dave was just like, ‘What are these?!’ I was just like, ‘Those are mine.’ A lot of the metal and harder bands will chat to us too, and be like, ‘We love your record so much. I play it all the time man, it’s awesome!’ – like a couple of the guys from Chelsea Grin.”
Those aren’t the only random encounters Against The Current have had this summer – Chrissy even ended up tattooing Travis [Clark] from We The Kings.
“I’m going to be singing on a song with him soon so I went to his bus to hear the music and he was getting his sleeves touched up in the back lounge. He was like, ‘Hey, you want to add a piece?’ so he gave me gloves and I gave him two little rocks under the tyre of the Jeep on his sleeve,” she explains. “It was so terrifying!”
After the meet and greet, it’s back to the haven of the air-conditioned bus for a half-hour of rest before the reason why every band is really here – playing a show!
The trio have played a lot of shows this year and haven’t had much time to breathe. Between arena tours with All Time Low and Good Charlotte, a European run and a whole bunch of globetrotting promoting new album ‘In Our Bones’, Against The Current haven’t stopped. Having waited five years to release their debut album, they’re hitting the road hard. Maybe too hard at times.
The band had to cancel a Japanese tour after Chrissy got sick with glandular fever, tonsillitis and an ear infection for a month, forcing them to take a much-needed break before embarking on Warped Tour – which incredibly only signals the beginning of their ‘In Our Bones’ World Tour.
“My throat swelled to the point where I couldn’t eat. I was spitting out saliva because it hurt so badly to swallow,” says Chrissy. “I could only eat pudding. I ate so much pudding!”
Too sick to stand up straight, let alone get on a plane, she’d wake up every morning, eat oatmeal and eight or nine pills for breakfast, then do puzzles all day.
“I was like an old person,” she laughs, before assuring us she’s sleeping and eating better these days, in an effort to stay healthy on the most gruelling tour of all.
Before we know it, it’s time to hit the stage. Dan is at the bus bar making a Disaranno and coke for Will’s mum, while the drummer changes into his stage gear in the packed front lounge of the bus.
“I’m gonna get naked right now,” he proclaims. Rock Sound makes a conscious effort to maintain eye contact.
Backstage at the amphitheatre that hosts Against The Current’s stage, Will paces around playing with a hula hoop, and when The Interrupters finish on the adjacent stage, Will, Dan and Chrissy blast straight into their performance and suddenly make it crystal clear why Against The Current are here.
They romp through an arena-sized set and their half-hour whizzes by in a flurry of chants, singalongs and a feisty crowd giving it their all in the heat.
“On a hot day there can be hundreds of people sitting in the stands. My goal is to win over new fans. It’s about making that connection,” says Dan.
And before they know it, the set is complete, fans have been won and Against The Current head back to the cocoon of their bus to reflect on another day of hard graft.
“Warped Tour is a grind. People do things here and I’m like, ‘Where do you find the time?!’ People work out, they do yoga, they read… and I’m like, ‘How?!’” shrugs Chrissy.
“I feel like we’re running around all day like a chicken without a head!”
“This is your world,” adds Will. “It’s not like a normal tour where you can go into the city. Your food’s here, you have no reason to go out and it’s hard to get out. The other day we took an Uber to a Wawa [U.S. convenience store]. It was like a mile away from the venue and Zack [Sandler] from Falling In Reverse was there, and it’s like, ‘You got out too?! This is so good, it’s the real world.’”
But you can only hang out in the real world for so long, and right now, Will is in Warped Tour land watching Falling In Reverse close out the main stage with his dad.
“Ronnie puts on an incredible show. He owns the stage, and the fact that my parents love him says it all,” he laughs.
It seems that a family connection exists throughout the whole of the Against The Current camp. Some bands keep themselves to themselves and barely know their crew, but as Dan explains, “It’s not like that for us. If we ever got to the point where we separate buses for the band and crew, I would be on the crew bus every night!”
Despite all of its trials and tribulations, Warped Tour has helped the trio grow closer together.
“We’ve learned a lot more about communication, about getting to know each other and about not being passive aggressive when we’re in bad moods. It’s about talking to each other, because we are family, especially when we’re on tour,” explains Chrissy.
“This means everything to us,” she says. “The most important thing in the world is being in this band and making this work. Nothing’s going to get in the way of that – not our stupid egos, personality issues, fan reaction, or harsh words. Nothing’s going to get in the way of what we’re trying to achieve here.”
You’d be foolish to bet against them, and one thing is for sure – Against The Current are going to do this their way.