Nevermind The Posers

See ya in the pit.

Vans Warped Tour Review at Monmouth Park Raceway in Oceanport, NJ September 20, 2011

Review by Angela Blasi

The 2011 Vans Warped Tour made its annual summer rounds and I was fortunate enough to have the chance to check it out.  I found myself one gray morning making my way to Monmouth Park Raceway ready to see the likes of A Day to Remember, Big D and the Kids Table, Less Than Jake, Tomorrow’s Bad Seeds and a whole host of others.

It would be next to impossible, or just a painfully long read, for me to sit here and list every single thing about each band that I liked and disliked.  I will tell you however, that I had the opportunity to catch the set of all but one band I was able to interview and that each group successfully stood and delivered both on and off stage.  With that, I’ll delve into some of the highlights of my experience at this years’ Vans Warped Tour.

Upon arrival and waiting in line to enter the venue, the crowd found the one and only MC Lars walking along the massed youth promoting his set.  I had no idea who he was yet, but I liked his DIY approach.  In just a few short hours I found myself sitting face to face with him and Josh of Weerd Science (formerly in Coheed and Cambria) as the two would be performing together as part of the tour.  In interview, Lars was quiet and thoughtful while Josh was the more animated of the two, energetically expressing his love and enthusiasm for music.  However, when it came time to catch the actual live performance, MC Lars seemingly crawled out of his shell and was absolutely spectacular.  Both performers gelled well together on stage, each with his own musical prowess.  It became clear quickly that the two were by no means all talk; they did in fact love every second of performing and creating music.  It was refreshing to see the happiness and passion still very much alive in artists who are no strangers to the music industry.

I ran into Patrick Salmon from Tomorrows Bad Seeds in the crowd and had a few minutes to catch up since I spoke to him last and his band mates the previous year.  Casually, we talked and he is still just as cool as he was last year and he brought me up to speed with the last 365 days and their continuing success.  I was able to catch their set and I’m pleased to report that they’re doing great.  Their live performance and sound quality coupled with the energy that is so unique to the band has not fizzled out despite rigorous touring and overall momentum.

The rest of the day consisted of back and forth from press to stage areas, interviewing bands I was familiar with and some I had never heard before.  I came out of this years Warped with a few new bands tucked away for further research and some of whom converted me to an instant fan.  From Sick of Sarah, who I might add are absolutely awesome, funny and badass on stage both in personality and musical styling, to the very theatrical and unique Venetia Fair, to one of my long time favorites Big D and the Kids Table, I was not disappointed with this year’s lineup.

Maybe it was just me, but I felt like this year’s show was more solid and musically diverse than last year’s event.  Did I mention Mr. Dee Snider of Twisted Sister himself paid a visit to this year’s event?  Yup, he did.  I have no idea why, but suddenly there he was surrounded by press conducting a group interview.

 

Interview with MC Lars and Weerd Science September 7, 2011

Interview by Angela Blasi

Ang:  So for the record you are…
WS:  I’m Weerd Science.
MCL:  I’m MC Lars, how are you?

Ang
:  Tell me a bit about what you guys what you do.
MCL:  We do independent hip-hop music.  We’re two different acts and on Warped, we teamed up to do a set together.  We have a label called Horris Records– punk based independent hip-hop music; really passionate, really independent and really dope.

Ang
:  How did you get into doing something that isn’t mainstream and makes you unique?
MCL:  I played in punk bands and then started MCing electronic beats and hip-hop beats.  In 2003 I started touring and have been ever since.  It was kind of an accident.
WS:  I was always a musician.  I was a drummer; that’s what I did as a kid.  I’ve been in a band my whole life.  I played in a band called 3 that was signed to Universal and like most young drummers, all I cared about was drum fills.  With hip-hop I always wrote rhymes as a joke; real gangsta shit.  I was a 13 year old fat punk kid and it started to become a real creative outlet.  Mobb Deep and Wu Tang’s records taught me a lot about the drums.  Then I went on to play in a band called Coheed and Cambria for nine years.  Hip-hop always played a big role in my creativity.  Coming from New York I guess that’s what kids did on the bus.  Once it became a real creative outlet, I took it seriously and it was a natural progression to make a record.  Eventually Equal Vision, Coheeds’ first record label, wanted to put out the first Weerd Science album and we did that still playing in bands.  I’m actually in another band on Warped Tour called Terrible Things.  I play drums and I try to work as hard as I can.  You know Lars heard Sick Kids my new record and put it out on his label Horris records.  Were one of the only groups that’s true DIY.  Lars has taught me a lot about that and I really believe in it.  What artist wouldn’t want to own their own record?  I might own pieces of 3 and Coheed and Cambria, but never do you own your own.  Horris Records are all about DIY.

Ang
:  What’s one thing you’ve learned from each other in this hybrid of a team?
WS:  Here we are on the same stage as bands with major labels, only we get to do what we want with the money and we funnel the money right back into the art.  I think Lars taught me that it’s very possible to take care of your art, do what you want to do and believe in yourself on the same level as the big boys but do it on your own.

Ang
:  Is it more liberating because you’re able to take your music places you might not have been able to without that kind of creative freedom?
MCL:  When you have someone investing in your music, that’s external; they always want to have the creative input, then they wanna make you feel small if you’re not delivering in a way that is profitable to them.  There’s a lot of manipulation.
WS:  With a major record label, you can never win.  I remember with Coheed we sold 100,000 records the first week and that it just wasn’t good enough.  The disappointment I felt from that felt like we let everybody down.

Ang
:  What do you find more satisfaction-wise in your own art, more personal gain or more personal satisfaction?
WS:  I definitely do every record solid.  It’s another person whose going to put it on and hopefully it touches their hearts.  That is deeply personal to me and I think it’s the way it should be.  I think the whole DIY thing can really be a convenient stance for a band.  It’s a lifestyle and it has more to do with art and creativity then being about a product.  It all comes down to creativity and I think that’s really important.  I could not believe in that more whole heartedly.

Ang
:  What can I expect to see on stage?  What kind of message and vibe do you try to send through your music?
WS:  For the Warped Tour set it’s short, so we try to keep it really high energy, do a nice mix of both our stuff and try to have fun.

Ang
:  Is it just you two on stage?
WS:  No it’s a full set; we’re trying to keep the rock alive.  We believe in this stuff and hopefully that translates to the crowd.

Ang
:  Do you guys have any influences that you draw from?
WS:  I mean, I still draw some of those records that became the foundation for me as a musician.  Wu Tang is a major influence and Snoop Dogs’ Doggiestyle got me into pfunk.
MCL:  I really like the independent people, like Atom and His Package.  He’s a huge influence and his stage show is so engaging.  He’s funny, tells stories and his songs were great.  Wesley Willis was this big keyboardist and his art was his sanity and his peace.  He was happiest on stage and everything is normal on stage.

Ang
:  What is your definition a poser?
MCL:  I feel like a poser is someone who buys into mass media and a corporate way of being different and maybe not authentically follows what’s in their heart.  I don’t think that kids are always trying to find themselves, so I don’t know if you can judge someone who’s trying to find themselves.  A poser is someone who is not true to themselves.
WS:  Especially out here with Warped Tour- it was supposed to be the sub culture and not pride itself on following the trends.  I really dig what Lars said, that kids are trying to find themselves.  It’s an evolution.

MC Lars

Weerd Science