I know you're probably right in the heat of getting the 2nd year of the US Taste of Chaos Tour underway beings it's about 2 months away. How is it shaping up as of right now?
Most shows are going on sale right now. They sold pretty well last year, and this year kids are saying it's a good line up. We’re really happy to get the Deftones on this run. Kids are wanting to come out to the shows. Ticket sales are looking good so far and this tour is going to be hitting a lot of markets that Warped Tour didn’t get to.
Are there any surprises or new plans for this year's run of the Taste of Chaos as opposed to last years'?
We definitely want to get more of the interaction between the bands and fans. We just want to get them out to meet the kids. We’re indoors, and there’s not as much open space as Warped tour obviously so we try to make use of the space as much as possible when it comes to booths and tables. I love independent music and independent labels and want to support them as much as possible and get them there for the kids to check out. We’re just all about giving the kids a value show at a good price.
For the next oversees run we’re planning a couple new countries. It was so successful the first time; 12,000 kids came out for it. They were very receptive and just had an amazing time. We want to continue to bring these artists oversees and make a career for them there as well. We’re also looking at sort-of a hybrid tour with Warped and Taste of Chaos in one.
What are some of your favorite artists on the alternative music scene of today?
You’re talking right now? I really like bands like From First to Last, Motion City Soundtrack, The Academy Is…, Bedouin Soundclash, The Tossers, Pepper,
I’m really seeing almost a resurgence of more ska music. I don’t feel it ever really went away, but people are getting into it a lot more and I’m glad to see that.
You've started a new project called Warcon and it's already taken off very well. How did the company come about?
Well, I’m involved with Side One Dummy Records, and I’ve known Bob Chiappardi for a while now. Bob is the founder of Concrete Marketing, the largest independent music/lifestyle marketing company in the music industry. My production company ran shows for him and he’s spent some time on Warped Tour with me. One day we talked about how I have all these bands and the things I do on the touring side, and how he does so much on the marketing side and we just said, “Let’s try a new business model.” I’m a huge fan of independent labels and what they are doing and just wanted to go ahead and come up with something that isn’t like a label at all but more of a family; we form partnerships with bands. Hell, with album sales, profits are split 50/50 after expenses. We’re not hiding anything or ripping anyone off. We have the contracts online for everyone to see. All these people say that I’m losing the whole punk-rock feel with Warped and Taste Of Chaos anymore. What is punk rock? Who decides this? If you ask me, the most punk-rock thing I could have done here is put my contracts up on the internet!
This whole label is a learning experience, we’ve made mistakes and we’re learning from them. We’re very happy with the bands we have so far, and they’re some of the hardest working bands we could have asked for. We want to give bands that are going to work extremely hard a home. We’re going to try and work as hard as anyone for them. So far, sales have been pretty good. Bleed the Dream has sold 20,000 records, My American Heart has done 10,000. Opiate for the Masses has done about 3,000. Recently one of our acts, the Street Drum Corps had the opportunity to perform Happy Xmas (War is Over) with Bert McCracken from the Used (featured on the Warcon Release, Taste of Christmas) at the Recording Academy Honors Charity Event in NYC. Yoko Ono said that was the best rendition of one her husband’s songs she’s heard. That just gave me goose bumps to see how amazing they did in front of those people and to have that kind of response. I don’t care if Warcon ends tomorrow, instances like that is why we’ve already had success, and it’s why I still do what I do.
What are your future plans for Warcon?
Well, we just recently signed Adair from St. Louis, MO. Their album is going to be coming out in late February. It’s really not about the first week sales. We hope to get them, as well as all our acts in the near future on that path of 20,000 records sold in a year. I definitely think it’s possible. Warcon is going strong and I hope to further it and show off a business model in which everyone is a part of a family and work hard for each other because they want to and they do what they love. If someone’s not happy we give them options to simply leave down the line.
Now, I have a couple questions submitted by readers of the website:
1.What steps or actions (besides the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands) should a local band take to try and get on a date or dates of the Warped Tour?
We get over 10,000 bands submitting online to get on Warped Tour. We got 300 bands from the Battle to play Warped. The Battle is really the local way to get in. By flooding my email with requests is the wrong way to go. It really detracts from your band by being overly persistant. I now offer the “Kevin Say’s” stage. I encourage bands to get on the ball early and send me an application in early January. Your best bet is to present yourself in the most professional way you can. I get demos from bands that don’t even put their name on it. How am I supposed to take them seriously?
2. Do you go on the road with every Warped and TOC tour?
I’m at every Warped date. I write up the order of the bands every morning. John Reese of Freeze Management goes on TOC. I’ve got a family with a 6 and a 10 year old. I’ve got to try and be home more when I can.
3. One reader has read some of your tour experiences and wonders if you have ever thrown around the idea of a book or sharing a journal on your experiences?
This summer I’m going to try and do an online blog. We’ve done a Warped book and it is available online. I’d like to do a book in the future, but if I did it’d most likely be a tell-all and I’d have to leave the country. (laughs) I hope to bring more to our website and make it much more interactive for the fans. Get them inside the tour more.
4. What is your favorite Warped Tour moment of all time?
I’ll have to take it all the way back to the first day of the tour in 1995. A little kid came to see punk rock. He was very young and had a Mohawk. He was playing on this climbing wall, and he ran into me and asked, “How much is this?” I said, “Free.” It really hit me then, and I’ve just been so determined to give kids as much value as possible.
Well that's about all the questions I have for the interview. Is there anything you'd like to say to all the readers out there dreaming of building something off of a dream or idea into something significant as you did with Warped Tour, Warcon and The Taste of Chaos?
Don’t mind the negative stuff. I deal with it all the time. People being negative just to be negative. Give suggestions. We all need input to come up with better solutions. If you love something, work hard at it.
*I recommend the following which were mentioned in this interview:*
i think that was my question at #2....so thanks for asking it!
I could've swore I saw him walk right by me at warped last year butI didnt know if he traveled with it or not. Now I know it was most likely him. Next time ask him what he was thinking wearing cutoff flannel.
That's really awesome that his favourite memory of Warped involved a little kid at a punk rock show. I don't know, but something about that just puts him in a different light than many put him in. Whether you like it or not, this guy is responsible for the success of a lot of the bands we all listen to now.