The Color Morale is one of those bands that continues to get better and better - every album manages to build on the last one and showcase the band's talent. For a band on the rise, nothing is better than playing the Warped Tour, and that's the position The Color Morale found themselves in this year. I caught up once again with vocalist Garret Rapp to get his take on the tour's progress, as well as upcoming album Hold On Pain Ends, out in September on Fearless Records.
First off, let's talk about the tour. What do you think about it so far? How've the crowd's been?
It's insane, the whole area has been packed. The energy has been through the roof, kids have been singing along, every word. It's been an awesome response.
Has there been a crowd so far that you've connected the most with in particular?
I had a good experience in Vegas, and it was my birthday - after the first break in the set, the crowd just started singing "Happy Birthday" and it was one of the coolest experiences I've had in my entire life.
I personally love seeing "Burn Victims" in your set on this tour - if you had to add one more song to the set, which one would it be and why?
I'd really want to play the new songs off the new record. We just finished our new album Hold On Pain Ends, I'm really stoked on every song off the record - first and foremost lyrically, but musically they're so much fun for me to perform and sing live. I'm excited to play them live.
What would you consider the band's biggest goal while on this tour?
Just connect as much as we can. I've got a pretty large platform to use every day for kids, and get them involved, that's the ultimate goal.
What's your take on needing wristbands in order to attend some of the signings?
I guess I understand when you have 20,000+ people packed into a festival, there's only so much time that bands have to do things, so I guess I understand why. I hate the VIP thing, I hate charging extra money to meet me. But to some degree with some bands I understand, because there's only so much time in a day.
But even the idea that say you're stoked to meet a particular band or artist and you wait months and months, and then when you get there, you're hit with some thing where it's like "To be part of this signing, you have to spend $15 for an AltPress subscription or a t-shirt."
I guess I can't speak for other bands, but for me, every day after our set I hop the barricade and I walk to our merch table and I stay there until the last person who wants to meet me is gone.
Who have you really enjoyed watching on this tour?
I really like watching Beartooth, Courage, My Love, I really like We Are The In Crowd, I finally got to see The Maine. There's just so many good bands.
How about someone new?
Finally got to see Bad Rabbits live, that band is phenomenal. Definitely one of the best bands on this tour for sure.
How have the Bandhappy sessions been?
They've been incredible, they've been so much fun. I kind of write my lesson day to day - the first thing I'll ask is what everyone wants to learn at the lesson, so I write my lesson based on what they want to know, whether that's vocal technique, lyrical content, life on the road, just so many depths of being a vocal that I can teach.
Now, do you take everyone that's interested, or intermediate and up?
I take everybody, you don't even have to sing, and that's the point. For someone that wants to sing, I can take the culmination of thousands of dollars of vocal lessons and teach exactly what I've learned and applied on the road.
I guess my point is that if you're a beginner, you may not know what you want or what you need. So is there that difficulty of knowing what you want to teach in that 30 minute window?
No. My classes are limited, so they're small enough to contain to get everyone to fit in and learn exactly what they want to learn.
How is the revenue stream been from Bandhappy? Has it been worth the time put into it?
Yeah, even if I wasn't getting paid, it'd be worth it to me. I'm actually probably going to end up donating most of the money I make through Bandhappy.
Is there a particular organization or foundation you have in mind?
I work with a couple organizations, Hope For The Day and Heartsupport. I don't really care about the money, I feel like I take away just as much as my students do. I learn something new every day - about myself, or maybe I re-evaluate something about myself.
Do you have any examples of that?
Yeah, I met a kid yesterday - it's funny you mention "Burn Victims", because that was their favorite song, and they wanted to know what the lyrics were about. There's a line in the song, "Hurting people will always be hurting people" and that song is about me being sexually abused my entire childhood and the resolution that I learned - "Hurt people hurt people" kind of gave me a lot of answers as to why I shouldn't keep hatred for other people in my heart, rather I should learn to forgive them, not as any kind of a Christian or spiritual thing, but as a morality thing. I could want to hurt somebody or kill somebody for affecting me that intently, but that's not my place in life, that's not who I am and that's not why I'm doing what I'm doing.
That's was something that they connected to, because they told me after the lesson that they went through the same thing as I did, and I was the first person that they ever told that to. I'm not going to say names or anything, but they know who they are. That made me really proud of putting authenticity in a song like that, it made it a really resolved moment again in my life, knowing I'm doing something to help somebody else.
When someone tells you something like that, do you have any sort of follow up or guiding them towards any resources? Warped is only one day.
There's only so much time in a day and so many things I can do, but when I work closely with organizations like Hope For A Day and Heartsupport, I can direct people to places that I know and trust. So for me, I can spend my time daily - this is what I do, and I'm literally at our merch table. Our signing yesterday was 2 and a half hours, so I try to make myself as available as I can daily. There's other resources that I've expanded upon to go to when I'm not there.
You do signings, performance, and then a Bandhappy lesson every day - were you a bit apprehensive towards adding that to your schedule every day?
No, the way I see it, my free time is when I get on the bus at 11pm at night until 8am the next day, that's when I have free time. The rest of the time is completely dedicated to everyone else, that's the only reason I'm here doing this.
Know Hope was such a big moment for you guys, it really defined the band. Do you have any pressure or anxiety about this follow-up?
Not at all. The cool thing about Know Hope was we didn't force ourselves to do anything, we put out a raw record that we wanted to put out with a producer that nobody knew and that we trusted and we understood and he understood us, and we did a great record together. It was very authentic, organic, and raw. It wasn't really cumulative of what was popular at the time - everybody had this sound that was coming out, and we kinda went a different direction and that's very stressful, but at the same time we didn't care, because we just wanted to do a record that we wanted to do. Being our third record and the fact that we hadn't done that yet, it was about time.
For reference, that producer was?
Know Hope was produced by Josh Schroeder at Random Awesome! Studios. He's a great friend of mine, and one of the best producers I've worked with in my life.
How did he push you guys into making the best record that you could at the time?
I think Josh let us be ourselves, but he challenged us and pushed me very hard as a vocalist. Essentially he let us make our own record. The sky was the limit with ideas with him, we tried everything. It was a big opportunity to work with a producer that let us be us.
Can you describe what the Hold On Pain Ends writing sessions were like?
Aaron did a lot of the writing musically, I did all the writing lyrically. We worked with a couple producers too - Eric Ron, Mike Green, doing some co-writes. There's a couple of pretty cool guest features on the record that you'll hear about soon.
On April 17th, you tweeted: "At this rate every track on this record might be about self sabotage and redundant, I don't care what gets said about it..." Can you go more into that?
When releasing a new record and trying to go the next level over the success Know Hope had, comes the stress of writing things to be catchy. For me, I can't write a song that doesn't mean anything. Know Hope was a very personal record for me, and Hold On Pain Ends is basically expanded upon the year and a half I did of touring in support of Know Hope, talking to kids at the merch table every night. For a year straight, every night of tour, I set up our merch; sold our merch; played our set; went back to merch; and then went outside and did acoustic songs. Doing that for a year straight and having hundreds and hundreds of conversations, that's what I wrote 12 songs about on the record. The cool thing is they mean a lot to me and they hit me authentically because they're the exact same things that I go through, and that everyone else goes through - I'm just being vocal about it, and being honest about it.
Let's talk about moving from Rise Records to Fearless Records. What influenced that decision? Was it simply the contract running out?
Yeah, we did our third record with Rise and our contract was up and we wanted to explore our options and find somebody that understood what we wanted to do, and understood the new avenues we wanted to explore and gave us the support system to do that. We're newly signed to Fearless and it's become a big family - "Fearless Family", that's what it is, a huge circle of friends that bounce off each other and push each other.
Is there something about Fearless that you guys really loved other than it feeling like a family?
I love the fact that our work with Sal Torres, a person friend that we've worked with in the past, there was just so much energy involved with Fearless. Bob flew us out to LA and we had a meeting in person, face to face, and that's a rarity for labels to fly you to their label to talk to you face to face, not over a keyboard. There were a lot of attention to detail over at Fearless, specifically exactly what they wanted and what we wanted.
Wrapping up, what can we expect from you guys after Warped Tour?
I know we're doing another tour in the works, I can't announce it yet. We plan on touring non-stop, wherever I wake up is home for the day. [Interviewers Note: It has since been revealed that the band will be support for We Came As Romans fall headliner]