Ten years ago, I embarked on the Vans Warped Tour. The tour that changed my life.
It taught me how to work hard because that tour was grueling.
We pushed gear through the dirt, uphills, through tons of kids, in 100+ degree weather and humidity and more weird and harsh conditions.
So in honor of the first tour I went on, I want to share with you this essay I wrote from my first book, I Could Be The President.
Through Sony Music and AbsolutePunk.net (the music website I used to work for), I met tons of people. One of those people was Nathan Leone from the band Madina Lake. I interviewed his band the previous year and had kept in contact for a while. At that time, I really wanted to tour because I wanted to get away from home for a little bit. Warped Tour was coming up, and I was emailing everyone I knew to see if anyone was looking for crew members.
I did this every year for about three years straight, trying to look for a job on the tour. Nathan replied and said their crew was already full, but I could come along for a month and blog/vlog the trip. He said they couldn’t pay me, but they would give me my own bunk on the bus. I obviously said yes. I had worried that they would change their mind at any moment, but they didn’t.
I met them at the Fairplex in Pomona, California the day before Warped Tour started. (It was also the day Michael Jackson died.) Everyone was really nice, and I was really grateful to them for having me on board. I was supposed to be only blogging and whatnot but decided to help out with other stuff as the days went on.
They were playing on the Ernie Ball stage, which meant they had to store their gear in their own trailer instead of semi-trucks like those performing on the bigger stages do. This meant pushing everything including their marquee lights and equipment, through the heat, rain, gravel, mud, uphill, etc. They had a tech and tour manager doing this along with the band members, so I decided to help them without anyone asking.
I had no idea what I was doing but did what I could and learned as much as I could, like setting up guitars, amps, etc. I did this for about a week when Nathan pulled me aside, saying how surprised they were at me for helping them and that they wanted me to stay on the whole tour. He said they still couldn’t pay me a salary but could give me per diems, which came out to $10.00 a day.
So now, I went from making nothing a week to a whopping $70.00 a week. I didn’t care because I was on Warped Tour and was traveling across the United States (and I guess, Canada).
After Warped ended, they asked me to go back out on tour with them on the Silverstein tour, but I couldn’t because I was still going to school. I told them I would be able to tour again the following spring.
They contacted me again a few months later and asked me to come along to document their European tour. I had no idea what I was doing, but I bought an expensive camera, hoping it would make me look professional. Matthew called me a week before we left and said the guitar tech they were sharing with Mayday Parade had bailed on them and they needed me to fill in for him.
I am not a musician nor do I know anything about it, so I was in over my head. I’d never tuned a guitar once in my life. I didn’t even know what an out of tune guitar sounded like compared to a tuned one, but I said yes because I was a team player. I didn’t care and didn’t complain because they were giving me the opportunity to visit a different continent and I could learn from this experience.
This is going to sound very stupid and they are probably going to make fun of me for this, but to this day, I am grateful for what they have done for me, bringing me out on Warped Tour and to Europe (about seven tours overseas so far!)
And not to toot my own horn, but I proved how hard a worker I was on Warped Tour by helping them push gear in the 100-degree heat every day for ten weeks.
I did it knowing I wasn’t going to get paid. If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t be here today. And credit has to go to Nathan, Matthew, Mateo, Dan, and Bob too because we had never met each other face to face before Warped Tour.
I had only talked to Nathan online. I remember their manager didn’t want me to come along because it would be a waste of money, which I agreed with, but they still fought to get me on. This was all before they knew how hard a worker I was, and I am glad they did it because they are all like brothers to me now.