Reflecting on the Vans Warped Tour…
I am finally back home in Venice CA after two months of summer madness. God damn it feels good to be back! As I sip a Pacifico, my favorite beer, on my beloved balcony… I reflect on this summer and what it meant to me.
Honestly, I was very skeptical about doing the Vans Warped Tour. I was in a very good place creatively back in LA as far as writing music, and since I am really behind on putting out new shit, I was bummed about halting my recording operations. Also, I wasn’t convinced that the kids who attend the warped tour were the right audience for me. Due to the cynicism created in my mind by those facts and thoughts, I decided that I would do the tour with only one purpose… to have fun. I wasn’t going to worry too much about business and I was gonna smell as many proverbial roses as I could. In hindsight I am thankful I looked at it that way, and from now on I am gonna look at everything in my life in a similar way. In the past I have done amazing things and not enjoyed them as completely as I should have. NOT ANY MORE GOD DAMNIT, I AM A NEW MAN AND I (insert some affirmational quote from a self help book)!!!!
For real though, every day I got to play a 30 minute set for a bunch of people that were singing along to my songs, as well as a shitload of new faces who had never heard of me. I was lucky enough to have an amazing group of musicians on stage with me, and I feel like we put on a really good show. After the show every day I talked to people who had really nice and interesting things to say to me about my music or a wide variety of other topics. Strangely, the comment people said to me most often in the post-set signing line at the merch tent was “damn dude you are way taller than I thought you were”… I don’t know if I look short on the stage or if people think the youtube screen is proportionate to actual life, but it is a fact that a ton of people said that every day. Most actors are actually shorter than they appear on screen, so I will accept that since the opposite is true with me, I must just be a fucking beast son. If you are reading this and you came out to watch my set, thanks so much!!! I appreciate you rocking out with us.
The Warped Tour is very appropriately named considering that it seems like I am back from some type of strange time warp. Whereas all the other tours I have done you actually see yourself moving from place to place out the van window, this one you just wake up in the morning and you are in a different place than yesterday that is still kind of the same as yesterday (the bus drives from city to city at night while we sleep). You get up at 7:30 in a parking lot and go unload gear in the same way as yesterday then get the same breakfast as yesterday then do a bunch of other things that were very much like yesterday…. Of course there are slight differences, but they become trivial after about 10 shows (we did 42). This nature of the tour made me feel very disconnected from reality, in a good way, ala a kid at summer camp. By the middle of the tour my crew and I were basically carnival workers. Unfortunately it did end up making me slack on things like posting on social media, recording my podcast, talking to family and friends, etc…, but it was well worth it due to the family-like relationships I ended up forming with other people on the tour.
In order to combat the mundane nature of circus life as well as stick to my rose-smelling mantra I mentioned earlier, I made sure to try and take advantage of any interestingness that life had to offer. I went skateboarding a lot, hung out on various riverbanks, partied at a casino in Vegas, played frisbee golf in a random field in wherever the fuck that was, and did too many other extra curricular activities in various towns across America to name right now. Like I said, it was like a weird time warp and it is all kind of a blur right now as I sit at home for the first time in months. I will say that (high school graduation speech voice)I had a lot of good times and made a ton of great new friends.
In case my travel crew is reading this i gotta do some motherfucking shoutouts!
HUGE SHOUT OUT TO MY CREW!!!!
Chukwudi Hodge on drums: a maniac behind the kit. I don’t think it is a coincidence he sits on a throne because he is a king on so many levels. A great friend and extremely talented musician…. An intelligent ass dude both intellectually and socially, Kwudi is the dude that should be doing the talking when it comes to dealing with authority figures. He will get you out of trouble but is not afraid to get into some trouble, as long as it is not too fucked up on a moral level!
Kurt Blankenship on bass: one of my best pals! Kurt aka the beastmaster would not only never hurt a fly, he will literally befriend any insect in a very meaningful way. He is a lover of animals and even more so of certain types of plants… He will out skate you, out hacky sack you, build better paper airplanes than you, walk further on his hands than you, and basically do anything better than you as long as that activity can’t actually get you “ahead” in real life. One of the best showmen in our whole crew, he plays bass like his life depends on it. Props to my man Kurt!
Max Miller-Loran on keys/trumpet: although he would never phrase it this way, Max is the hipster of our warped tour crew. He hates bullshit and loves real shit! He respects strong opinions and I respect him for that. This man is dedicated to his craft, but also extremely selfless and will help others at the drop of a San Francisco themed hat. A brilliant musician with a great sense of humor who I hope to have the luck to play with in the future.
Pat Dimitri aka ICEPACK P on guitar: taking guitar shredding to a whole new level, Pat will most likely be on the cover of Guitar World magazine one day. You will know it’s him because he will be wearing and promoting his new line of wrist guards for guitar players that he is coming out with soon. He is a kind hearted dude who talks shit out of love. As a shit talker myself, I respect that. If only he didn’t suck so terribly at the video game Tekken, which I beat him at several times.
Kim Moriarty on merch sales: Kim is a ray of sunshine. Not only did she help me make more money which is all that I truly care about, she enjoys an ice cold beer at the end of the day with the passion of a construction worker. I can understand that considering she had to be outside all day every day slanging t shirts in the heat and humidity of Florida/Texas while many of us had the luxury of dozing off in the air conditioned bus. The contagiousness of Kim’s glowing smile definitely helped us all get through many rough days. Thanks Kim!
Kristin Schaefer on “girl that rented out our spare bunk”: when we decided to rent out our spare bunk on the bus to make some extra cash, we had no idea that the universe had sent us a wonderful human being and had sent me a late night drinking buddy. A master at overusing the words “like” and “whatever”, Kristin is now a great friend who I will be kicking it with often in dive bars throughout the city of Los Angeles. I miss you already Kristin!
Camila Recchio on “George’s backup singer”: the mother of our tour bus who reminded us that everything would be ok. An amazing singer/songwriter who will one day be headlining her own tours, Camila managed to keep a positive attitude at all times. She stepped out way beyond the call of duty and helped out in so many ways that she did not sign up for, making all of our lives easier with her never ending generosity. I would love to clown her for something but I can’t think of any negative qualities!
Ellis Stills on “George’s Photographer”: Many people such as Alicia Keys and Trey Songz have to change their last names to have it match their craft, not Ellie. “Stills” is her government name and she is a master of the still photograph. With her adorable high pitched giggle you wouldn’t realize that she has the ability to sneak up on you so stealthily while she is working, however she is not always so smooth late at night when attempting to do a pole dance move at the warped tour bbq (you probably thought we were too fucked up to remember that haha…. NOPE!)
Nils Montan on Tour Managing: Taking the stress of all of us combined and placing it directly on his own shoulders, Nils sacrificed himself for the good of the group on a daily basis. Due to his multi-tasking abilities, he is always on the verge of flipping out, but somehow he never actually does. An amazing man, team leader, and essentially camp counselor, Nils made everything run smoothly. Without him we would have been fucked. He also parties his ass off when the situation calls for it and I respect the fuck out of that. Props to you Nils!
George Watsky on “rapper”: As the most hard working musician I know, George was inspirational as fuck to me on a daily basis this summer. If anyone says that this man does not deserve to be where he is at, I will argue with them and possibly fight them physically. A talented wordsmith with a spectacular sense of humor who manages to be down to earth even though hundreds of people tell him how awesome he is every day, I am extremely proud to call this dude my friend, even though his personal hygiene is pretty damn subpar. Thanks George!
Lastly, peace to the one and only Daniel Carey aka EOM on keys, DJ, and hypeman duties. It has been a pleasure creating and playing music with you for the last six years man. You are a brother to me and I am honored to have travelled all over the world with you having crazy ass adventures. With every tour your amount of catch phrases doubles and your ability to talk shit about peoples’ moms gets better and better. You need to get your ears re-checked though considering you can’t hear for shit and also I want to reiterate that everything you say that contains statistics should be fact checked by whoever is listening because your information is never correct! (your voice) HA HAAAAAAA Just playing man (your voice again) you know the deal!
Also peace to our bus driver Jason who kept us alive and put up with my drunk ass bugging him late at night about stupid shit. Peace to the whole Beatport Stage Crew, the Bring it Back Stage Crew, and everyone else I met on the tour. Peace to Kevin Lyman and everyone who works under him making the tour happen every year. It was a pleasure!
Now that I am back, I am gonna see my family in San Diego for a few days then attend my friends’ wedding in Santa Barbara…. after that, I am gonna spend all day every day working on music and get new songs and videos out as soon as I can. Thanks for sticking with me yall I really appreciate it! I am blessed to be able to live this strange, amazing life and it is all because of your love and support!