SPAWN.COM AT THE WARPED TOUR
Read Interviews with Dropkick Murphys, Less Than Jake
Friday, July 25, 2003
McFarlane Entertainment staffer (and board moderator) Janet Armstrong recently attended the Phoenix date of the 2003 Warped Tour. Here’s her first-person take on the day:
1:37 p.m. I pulled into the Peoria Sports Complex, paid my 5 bucks to park and headed to the press will call area to receive my very first all-access press and photo pass!
While others were attempting to talk the nice lady into letting them in and trying to convince her that they were who they SAID they were (even though they didn’t have an I.D.), I just walked right up told her my name and was handed my pass and my ticket; it was fabulous.
Anyway, I was a little confused and had no clue where to go. I wandered around for about 30 minutes and finally found someone that could hear me and got directions. I signed up in the pressroom for my interviews and I was off to get photos.
Out of the 10 bands that we pre-signed up to interview -- Sum 41, Rancid, Dropkick Murphys, The Used, Andrew W.K., Simple Plan, Less Than Jake, Authority Zero, The Ataris and the Mad Caddies -- only two were available. So that bummed me out, but what can you do, right?
3 p.m. Time to interview Less Than Jake. But I was in front of the barricades waiting for The Dropkick Murphys to come on so I could get photos while the band was performing. I was having a hard time deciding what to do as the crowd was getting impatient and started chanting MURPHYS, MURPHYS, MURPHYS. Thankfully this sped them up a bit and one by one they graced the Brain Stage and totally kicked. I got my pictures, but unfortunately I had to race over to the pressroom to do my interviews so I couldn’t stay for the whole set. Duty calls!!
3:09 p.m. Two members of Less Than Jake -- Buddy, the trombone player and Roger, the bass player -- were still there and I caught the tail end of another interview, I waited while two other reporters asked their questions and then it was my turn. Here goes:
spawn.com: You guys are thought of as a ska band, how do you categorize yourselves?
LTJ: We are actually kinda ostracized from the ska scene.
SC: Why do you say that? Are you serious?
LTJ: Well, we don’t really claim to be ska. We actually don’t want to be labeled as any type of band. I mean, just because we have horns that doesn’t make us ska; the Beatles had horns that didn’t make them ska.
SC: OK, I can tell that’s a touchy subject. What’s on the agenda for the rest of the year after Warped Tour is over?
LTJ: We are actually still looking for bands to tour with for the rest of this year, so we’ll see. We don’t really know.
SC: Tell me about the new album
LTJ: Well, there are a lot of weird songs. Our lives are changing so our songs are changing. We wrote like 30 songs for the album and chose 15. There is a fast song, midtempo songs, there is a super-slow song. There is one with nothing but guitar and vocals, and then a song with everything from keyboards to drums and everything in between.
SC: There is a song on the new album that you have previously done ...
LTJ: Yeah, that’s because when we heard it, there were things about the song that we wanted to change. In the past we have had to record albums in like three days and you can’t always get songs just right. This time we had six weeks so we had time to perfect things and make the songs just the way we wanted them.
SC: What else about this album are you guys really proud of?
LTJ: We actually hooked up with some underground artists and sent them the lyrics of all the new songs and asked them to do a piece that reflected how they felt about the words. We got back some really cool stuff. It was interesting to see how our music was interpreted.
SC: OK now I have to ask a question for the fans of our Web site. I work for Todd McFarlane and we make comic books, toys, music videos, movies and Spawn the animated series and most of our readers are collectors. Do you guys collect anything?
LTJ: Yeah we have hundreds of PEZ.
SC: Do you have a favorite?
LTJ/Roger: I have a psychedelic ‘60s guy that I dig.
LTJ/Buddy: I used to collect Simpson’s stuff, I had everything and then when they changed the packaging I stopped. It was getting a little out of control anyway.
SC: Have you ever been to the Pez Museum in Burlingame, CA?
LTJ: You know about that? Yeah we have our picture up in there.
SC: Right on! Well thank you so much for your time, it was great to meet you.
This is when a radio guy came in to get them to go live on the EDGE, the "alternative" radio station out here in Phoenix.
After this, I had about an hour to play around and check things out. I took more photos and took full advantage of my backstage access and avoided the crowds. It was like 112 degrees outside and the last thing I wanted to do was be around thousands of sweaty people.
By 4:15 I was ready for the air-conditioned pressroom. I went over and chilled with two other guys waiting for Dropkick Murphys. We introduced ourselves and they freaked out when they heard what company I worked for. They started asking me all kinds of questions about Todd and telling me what figures they collect. Since I have only been with McFarlane for about three months, this was my first interaction with fans and it was cool to meet them and hear what they had to say about what we do and how much the really like the toys. I mean I hear it through the message boards but it’s a different feeling when you can see how worked up people get over our products.
Anyway, after the 944 Magazine guy tried to talk me into committing Todd to an interview with their "publication" (read: Phoenix club scene guide) Al Karr showed up, the lead singer from the Murphys.
4:36: The two guys I met start in on their questions, which were pretty similar to mine so we just did our interviews together.
SC: We asked how the band got their start and since Al wasn’t one of the original members he told us HIS version of the story.
AK: It’s true the band members met in a barbershop but they couldn't really play and didn’t take off until I joined the band (laughs). Seriously they started by playing at a local bar that is known for giving chances to up-and-coming local bands. The first vocalist quit shortly after their first record and I have been with them ever since for three of the four albums. Kenny called me and asked me to try out just as I was deciding to quit the band I was in, The Bruisers. We had a top-secret tryout and they asked me to be in the band.
SC: Why did you guys decide to do the Vans Warped Tour?
AK: Well, we were one of the first bands they asked and it’s a huge deal. It’s a great way to spend the summer and to be introduced to a new fan base. A lot of times kids will show up to see someone else they’ll hear us play and totally dig our sound. We already have the greatest most loyal fans and it’s always great to add to the fan base.
SC: What’s your favorite song to perform?
AK: "Freebird." (laughing) But from our new album, Blackout, I really love the way it feels when we’re doing "The Worker Song."
SC: What is your favorite city to perform?
AK: Sydney, Australia and Japan. And we have great fans here in the U.S., but the fans in Japan are just so intense and it’s such a cool feeling to be in another country so different from ours where they don’t speak our language and they sing every word. It’s a really overwhelming feeling.
SC: Do you guys collect anything?
AK: I love the animated series you guys do. It’s kinda dark for a cartoon.
SC: Well, it’s an adult cartoon on HBO late at night.
AK: Well, I saw it on a rented VHS so kids can see it.
SC: OK, you got me. So do you collect anything?
AK: It’s funny that you ask that because I use to collect those little green plastic army men. I would organize them and paint them and make up battles.
SC: Cool, well that’s all I got.
AK: That’s it?
SC: I’m done. Can I get a picture with you and Spawn?
And he graciously took photos and signed a bunch of stuff and he was outta there.
I hope you enjoy the photos and find the interviews interesting. It was a great experience for me and hopefully we’ll be able to bring more stuff like this to the site as other concerts and things come up.