By Eric Kamm Published October 17, 2009
On yet another comical side note, while interviewing the drummers I noticed patterns in social skills that directly correlated to the popularity of a drummer’s group. Musicians from unknown groups were always incredibly grateful and humble, and were very fun to be around. Drummers from huge groups had absolutely nothing to prove, were the nicest people you’ve ever met, and were incredibly well spoken. About half the groups that were in between those two categories, who were in bands that were just breaking, had the biggest attitudes you’ve ever met in your life. When I asked one drummer how he warmed up, he responded “like all the greats,” and proceeded to place his name amongst Gene Krupa and Buddy Rich.
As the sun was setting and Whitney (the guitarist in Setoff and my cameraman for the trip) and I walked back to meet the others, we bumped into Kevin Lyman, the owner of the Warped Tour, and his very personable assistant. As I thanked him and told him how much we appreciated him letting us be there, he agreed to try and do a video interview later. Over the next two years, I can honestly say that throughout any day on the tour you’ll see Kevin Lyman walking around, talking to everyone. He’s incredibly personable, and never is in a hurry—it’s about the furthest thing you would expect from the owner of the festival. On this particular evening after he agreed to the interview, I was so amped that I bumped right into the aforementioned attractive assistant, where she consequently spilled wine on her dress. She tells me not to worry about it, and instead of tearing me a new one, invited me on stage to get some up close drumming footage of Pennywise. Now this was an amazing opportunity, since security and publicity had made it explicitly clear that my life would be extinguished if I even thought about such an act. She gets us backstage, Pennywise hits it hard, Brian Baker of Minor Threat and Bad Religion is standing directly in front of me, thousands of fans go nut, Byron is drumming his ass off, my heart is racing, adrenaline is pumping, and…the camera shuts off as the battery dies.
After the sun has gone down while the last bands were wrapping up their sets, thousands of people start to leave. That’s was our band’s cue to that we needed to start trying to sell records in order to make gas money. The trick was, you have to break down that wall between you and the person walking by, which meant going right up to them with a few copies of the record and forcing them to listen to an MP3 player with your music blaring. No one, I repeat, no one, will come to your booth if you’re an unknown band. This activity is great fun, and you meet a ton of awesome people. One person decided to help us sell by letting anybody sign his chest who purchased a Setoff record. We ended up selling around a hundred records that first day, and made more than enough money to get us to Portland.
There is a huge barbeque after each day of the tour, and each band takes turns cooking food for everyone else. On this particular evening there were two barbeques going. Felony Ron (aforementioned Road Pirate) was friends with the members of Pennywise and let us tag along to their shindig. A few of the members of Bad Religion were hanging out, and I got to speak to the legendary guitarist Brian Baker (who was also the former bassist of Minor Threat). As I asked him about what it was like working with The Draft (a band with three members of Hot Water Music), he told me that he could of, in fact, been a member of the band, but had unfortunately declined the invitation because he thought Bad Religion had a full calendar at the time. I got the opportunity to talk to Brooks Wackerman again for a little while, as I badgered him about the possible Wackerman Brothers tour, in addition to discussing his favorite Tony Williams record.
Toward the end of the barbeque Ron asked me to take a digital photo of him in between Randy Bradbury (the bassist of Pennywise) and Jay Bentley (the bassist of Bad Religion). I’ve never owned a digital camera, and I keep hitting the picture button, just like Felony Ron told me to do. I look at them confused, and mention “the camera keeps flashing the letters AF?!?” Jay Bentley, bassist of Bad Religion (one of my all time favorite groups of all time) looks at me with complete disgust. “AUTO FOCUS!!!!” An hour later I was asleep on the floor of the van.
We arrived in Portland at 4 A.M. that particular evening. At 7 A.M. sharp the alarm woke us up and we were back in the van.