Plastered next to other summer tours/festivals, the Vans Warped Tour is one of the few events that takes artists from the edges of one vast section of music and tightens the bonds between them. Relatively known in the hardcore scene for being astounding performers, we met up with BLESSTHEFALL’s BEAU BOKAN and EVERY TIME I DIE’s KEITH BUCKLEY at the Toronto date to discuss the general community the tour creates, what it’s like behind-the-scenes for the vocalists and their bands and how when it comes down to it, only “the four-year-strong survive”.
Music wouldn’t be the same if you couldn’t build a sense of community and form new friendships; do you agree?
KEITH BUCKLEY: Yeah, this would be a fucking free-for-all if we weren’t friends. A million bands would enter and only one band would leave.
BEAU BOKAN: A post-apocalyptic underworld!
KEITH: Every Time I Die is sharing a bus with Blessthefall and we never even met them until the first day at Warped Tour. Now we’re like the best friends ever.
BEAU: We have hockey tournaments everyday and I share snacks with Keith. He’s on some kind of weird diet kick. I don’t know what his deal is as it always seems to change, but I’ll walk by with a big bag of treats – which I enjoy myself every night and want my friends to enjoy as well – and I’ll shake the bag at him. He always refuses so I shake the bag a little more and then he just can’t resist. He dives right in every time.
KEITH: He knows how to get to me. He knows the way to my heart.
What’s it been like sharing a bus as you’ve just recently met each other?
BEAU: It’s been awesome as it’s always a party. It’s never empty and you always have friends around. Every Time I Die have been touring for almost twice as long as we have, and as Blessthefall’s been touring for a while, we have a sense of respect for space. Sometimes I’ll catch one of his Toms in my bunk though and it’ll smell really bad.
KEITH: Just terrible.
BEAU: That’s the worst.
KEITH: It’s kind of cool because it’s like when I first moved out of my house and graduated from college and moved in with my friends into an apartment. Living with your friends is so cool because you come home and someone will always be there and you can talk about the day…
BEAU: Make macaroni and cheese together…
KEITH: Yeah, and do things together.
BEAU: Watch River Monsters and Storage Wars…
KEITH: It’s like having roommates and being fucking 20 years old again. It’s awesome.
But of course there are bad habits, right?
BEAU: Lazy drinks are the worst habit.
KEITH: Yeah, like when someone takes a drink, doesn’t finish it and then puts it down. You walk around the bus and when you find all these half-empty drinks, what do you do? You don’t drink them and you can’t put them back in the fridge, but you don’t want to throw them out.
BEAU: And you don’t want to walk around to each and every person to ask if it’s their Diet Pepsi.
KEITH: So you just get a table full of half drinks.
BEAU: That’s the worst habit on our bus and everyone does it! Everyone hates it and everyone does it.
What is it about touring, or more specifically being a part of Vans Warped Tour, that makes it so easy for bands to connect with each other?
BEAU: Just because we’re all in it together, we’re all doing the same thing; you wake up to be told you’re playing in an hour, or you’re playing last. Everyone is on a pretty even playing field.
KEITH: It’s no one’s headlining show so it’s not like everyone has to tiptoe around the headliner. Someone could be headlining one day, and opening the next.
BEAU: It’s all even, so it’s awesome.
KEITH: Except for us, we just get a little bit extra of everything else.
The tour is great because it brings together bands from all different sub-genres, but has this diversity caused any tension this summer?
KEITH: There are definitely some bands we would have never toured with and that goes for every band on this tour. But even around those bands everyone converges to watch them perform because it’s a totally new experience. No one is an outcast; everyone will go around to see what others are like and that’s because we’re here to be a part of new experiences.
Is that the reason you support others through certain things, like helping them with the tour lifestyle and even wearing someone else’s merch?
KEITH: No, that’s because the merch is free.
BEAU: Yeah, you think to yourself, “I’ve been wearing the same shirt all day. I’m just going to go grab a Chelsea Grin shirt on the way back to the bus”.
KEITH: We’re on our 11th straight day so doing that on the Warped Tour with no laundry facilities… things get pretty haggard. You have to sleep in something, wear something and play in something so everything’s going to get really dirty, and by that point, you’re like, “Man, I love your band! Can I have one of those shirts?”.
With set times being shorter, what do you spend the rest of the day doing?
BEAU: This (laughs).
KEITH: I thought Warped Tour was canceled today when there was that hurricane so I got super hammered.
BEAU: Hurricane Warped came flying through.
KEITH: Then I found out two hours later that it was still on, so I had to start sobering up, which is why I’m drinking Red Bulls. I get drunk a lot.
BEAU: There’s a lot of hanging out, video games, seeing your friends’ bands and trying to get rides to Starbucks.
How about your days off?
BEAU: On one of our days off we went to a water park. On another day off I flew here to Toronto to surprise my wife.
KEITH: We spent the Fourth Of July at that water park and we got a camping spot, had a barbecue, fireworks and jumped off a bridge. Tomorrow we have a day off in Buffalo so the wife and I are doing…
KEITH: No, some sort of manicure/pedicure massage and day spa thing…
BEAU: Maybe a double date?
Are there any bands on this tour, aside from each other’s, that you feel absolutely amazed to be playing with?
BEAU: So many! Four Year Strong…
KEITH: Make Do And Mend, Polar Bear Club…
BEAU: Motionless In White…
KEITH: Title Fight are great. The Ghost Inside too. There’s this band called Dead Sara, which I had never heard of until the beginning of this tour and I am completely awestruck by them.
BEAU: He’s seen them every night.
KEITH: And Blood On The Dance Floor! They are such a spectacle, unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Here’s the thing, a lot of people will be like, “Fuck that band, they shouldn’t be at Warped”, but for us, it’s such a relief to see something like that because you really don’t see bands like that everyday.
BEAU: You don’t just leave your house to go to the local club to see Blood On The Dance Floor.
KEITH: But we get to see it, and they’ve got foam, drill saws that shoot out sparks and violinists – it’s something you would never normally see and we get to watch it here.
Well even Alice Cooper said he’s impressed by them.
KEITH: I didn’t say impressed, I said entertained. If Alice Cooper wants to be impressed he should come by the Monster Energy Stage and check out Every Time I Die and Blessthefall!
Beau, I understand this is your first Warped Tour; were your first few shows difficult or intimidating at all?
BEAU: It was a whirlwind. I’ve been going to Warped since 1997 and stepping into it and being behind the scenes I was like, “What? Where do I eat? Where do I poop? Where do I shower? Where’s my stage? What’s happening?”. It was a whirlwind during the first few shows but now it’s gotten comfortable and I’ve calmed down a bit.
KEITH: Coming to Warped Tour and being a part of it instead of attending is like getting a job at Disney World, where all of a sudden Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck take their heads off and you’re like, “Oh my God! The things I look up to are people, they’re human!”. When you’re around backstage there are all these humans. It’s weird.
BEAU: It’s like exposing the Wizard Of Oz, pulling the curtain back.
KEITH: You see Kevin Lyman winding gears behind the curtain on the main stage (laughs).
Would you then say Warped is an opportunity for musicians to learn new things and improve as artists or is it more of a test of one’s endurance?
BEAU: It’s absolutely 100% both, so 200% in total.
KEITH: It’s definitely a matter of whether you can hack it or not.
BEAU: Bands lose members!
KEITH: Yeah, bands are already losing members this summer and we’re only half way through!
BEAU: It’s because they can’t handle the heat and the pressure. Also, there’s the humbling part of it – where musicians have to accept that they’re not the biggest band in the world and they don’t get treated like a princess. On the tour, you have to go out there and bust your ass off just like everyone else.
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