EARN IT YOURSELF
Check out Indie Ambassador's interview with EIY founder Sarah Saturday!
Excerpt:

Sarah Saturday is an accomplished musician, web designer, and Warped Tour veteran, but most notably she’s the founder of the Earn It Yourself movement. As staunch believers in the DIY ethos, we’ve followed the evolution of EIY and were psyched to finally catch up with Sarah to talk about the project. Earn It Yourself, or EIY, is an ethical ideology used by Saturday in her work with alternative and DIY musicians throughout the country, to encourage these aspiring artists to develop communal roots and to “do the right thing” in regards to their motives and business practices. Since its inception in 2006, EIY has evolved from an online forum and resource to a full blown movement that includes workshops at Warped Tour and a number of local EIY chapters across the country.
Find the interview with Sarah below that covers her background, the EIY spirit, its connection with Warped Tour and where Earn It Yourself is headed in 2012.

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

Check out Indie Ambassador's interview with EIY founder Sarah Saturday!

Excerpt:

Sarah Saturday is an accomplished musician, web designer, and Warped Tour veteran, but most notably she’s the founder of the Earn It Yourself movement. As staunch believers in the DIY ethos, we’ve followed the evolution of EIY and were psyched to finally catch up with Sarah to talk about the project. Earn It Yourself, or EIY, is an ethical ideology used by Saturday in her work with alternative and DIY musicians throughout the country, to encourage these aspiring artists to develop communal roots and to “do the right thing” in regards to their motives and business practices. Since its inception in 2006, EIY has evolved from an online forum and resource to a full blown movement that includes workshops at Warped Tour and a number of local EIY chapters across the country.

Find the interview with Sarah below that covers her background, the EIY spirit, its connection with Warped Tour and where Earn It Yourself is headed in 2012.

READ THE FULL INTERVIEW HERE

VWT+ EIY Press Correspondent Report: Hillsboro OR w/ Martha Tesema

That was the first thing I noticed about the Vans Warped Tour when it rolled on by to Oregon on August 14th. As a Warped rookie, I was overwhelmed by everything this past Sunday—and fortunately, the heat wasn’t one of them.

The day started off with an endless line of confusion leading up to the closed gates. Even though I had arrived hours early, swarms of people were waiting in multiple lines ready to rush in once the clock hit 11:00 a.m. I had brought cans of food to donate to “Feed Our Children Now” in order to stand in a shorter line, and still managed to wait for a long time (in the wrong line). Regardless of the confusion, talking to strangers and peers who were passionate about music in the lines was exciting and rewarding. Even though Warped Tour is generally stereotyped as a punk rock tour, there were various people there from different backgrounds and cultures—yet we all shared and bonded over harmonies and melodies.

After entering the grounds, one thing I noticed was the smiles on everyone’s faces. The last day of tour was finally here and after a long two months of touring, everyone working the booths were exhausted but happy to be almost done. After making friends with the Fueled By Ramen booth and signing up for the EIY meetup, I wandered around visiting booths and buying merch.

There was never a dull moment throughout the day. Even while waiting for favorite bands to play, the variety of organizations that were along for the tour was amazing. One booth I found incredibly important was the Invisible Children tent. Invisible Children is a non-profit organization “seeking to end the conflict in uganda and stop the abduction of children for use as child soldiers.” I was moved by the videos I saw, and donated. Many other tents were equally as important, such as the Dear Jack Foundation which raises awareness for young adult cancer. It was amazing to see the different organizations that were involved.

Finally, it was time for the EIY meetup. Under the shade of a large oak tree, several other peers and I met with industry leaders to discuss and learn the insides of business within the music. The conversation was a bit depressing at times. The state of the industry is rapidly changing that it’s hard to know where it’s going. Some people voiced concerns about stability in the industry—one thing repeatedly mentioned was, if you are looking for stability then do not work in the music industry. Shelly, an industry veteran, told tales of jobs gone awry. Five firings in fifteen years, to be exact. With the economy trying to recover, labels trying to consolidate, dying radio, mergers happening, and the saturation of the internet—it’s hard to stand out and pave your way! However, one important thing mentioned was networking. You never know where your best job may come from, and since finding jobs within the industry is based on word of mouth and who you know, networking is key! I networked right after the meetup and talked with people who are doing similar things that I am pursuing! The meetup was fantastic and hearing the different ideas shared and questions asked was an incredible experience.

In my opinion, the best band of the day was Bad Rabbits, who put on an incredible performance on the Skullcandy Stage towards the end of the day. Their funk and hip hop sound with metal influences and choreographed dance moves blew everyone away.

Kevin Lyman, founder of the tour, said it best when he remarked that the Warped tour was like a giant tornado, and the last day was when it all “hits the wall.” That statement rang true throughout the majority of the sets played—each band giving it their absolute all and thanking the crew and everyone involved after each set.

EIY Press Corespondent Martha Tesema did a great job photographing Vans Warped Tour in Hillsboro OR on August 14th.

More photos from Press Correspondent Martha Tesema!

VWT+ EIY Press Correspondent Report: Phoenix, AZ w/ Kalani Pickhart

Now that the post-Warped depression is wearing off, it’s time for real talk.

One of the best parts about going to Warped Tour in Phoenix is that the next day you actually realize you’ve accomplished something: you, through all adversity, kicked the heat’s ass. Even Kevin Lyman tweeted, “Nothing beats a Phoenix sunset… you know you have survived.”

The desert weather has been a cruel mistress lately in Arizona — dust storms and winds topping 100mph have been happening on the regular, and she wasn’t tender to any of the countless fans that showed up to Warped Tour 2011 with her sweltering heat. I had gotten to the venue around 10am, but many eager fans had been there since 8am waiting for doors to open at 11:30. My weather app said it was 96 degrees outside, and it felt like 107.

Our faces were melting and we werent even in the freakin’ doors yet. I had my gallon of water about 1/3 destroyed already and the kids around me were losing patience quickly. Then, everyone cheered as the doors finally opened, and we all poured willingly into the belly of the pavilion.

I had a lot of stuff to do and not a lot of time to do it (so I thought). First things first, I got my map and made my way to the Kevin Says Stage. The band I was scouting on, Moovalya, was going to be playing at noon. I found their tent and talked to the band’s drummer, Mitch and introduced myself. He helped me find the Shut Up & Deal tent, where I checked in for the time of our Scene Meet Up.

This was all fine and good, because Moovalya jumped onboard the stage right at noon. Their dedicated friends, family and fans had come out to support them, and like they did in Phoenix for the Spring Into Action Tour, these guys brought the circle pit right off the bat — with beach balls! It was really awesome being able to see them on a massive stage instead of the Underground that they had played in for Earn It Yourself, and they brought the same positive, contagious energy that they had that night in May. And the fans were awesome — I even got a picture of them before the show as they watched their buddies in Moovalya soundcheck.

Little did I know that the warmth and support from the crowd, combined with those good, positive vibes from Moovalya would be the same materials that composed the backbone supporting the entire lineup for Warped this year.

Our Scene Meet Up didn’t start until later that afternoon. Selena Rox, Christian Wagner ( Absolute Punk, Give Blood Management), and Dakotah Cole (D.R.U.G.S Tour Manager) were leading the discussion.

There were actually only three of us in the meeting that were from Arizona, which is a testament of how badly our music scene needs supporters — the other three in the meeting were from Seattle (Rora, who was helping out Shut Up & Deal’s merch tent) and Tennessee (Kenny and Lee from a band called Farewell Fighter, that will be playing at the venue I work at in Mesa on August 30th!).

Most of the discussion that took place was about animosity between different scenes. Lauren and Amelia, the two other girls from Arizona, expressed their concern with the way that scenes were disrespectful and hostile toward one another. Having worked at a music venue for a year now, I can definitely attest to this. It’s hard to have one genre of music in one room without having trash talk in another. Selena shared some stories about going to hardcore shows on the east coast and how brutal kids could be.

Selena, Christian, and Dakotah encouraged us to just be that person in a crowded room willing to cross the social barrier and “be cool” with fans of that other genre. We found out that from last year’s Warped Tour, Kevin Lyman almost decided to call it quits after the way that fans and bands treated one another while on tour last summer. After he was swayed to keep it, Lyman picked each band for 2011 very meticulously in order to create a positive, awesome atmosphere for music.

And it definitely showed. Everywhere, all over the pavilion, you could see band members wearing a different band’s shirt from a totally different genre. After every single set, you could hear “thank you for coming out!” and “check out ________’s set, they are great guys!” It was awesome. Every band wasn’t just out there for themselves or their genre — they were actually trying to foster growth and support for the music scene in general.
Christian suggested that we create a message board or website in order to foster growth for our local music scene — which all of us agreed was a great idea.

Arizona has such an interesting problem: we have so many talented, amazing musicians and bands that have come out of our state, yet, the fans remain hidden until a show comes around. I always have a problem finding dedicated street teamers for our venue that will flyer to get into free shows — yet whenever The Maine, This Century, Fun., Jimmy Eat World, etc. come through town, you always see a MILLION supporters. If Arizonans love their musicians, then why don’t they want to help the venues, promoters, and local musicians grow? This is a problem. If we want more local bands to be successful (because I can think of a couple that deserve national attention) we HAVE to get out there and go to shows, flyer, street team and connect with other music lovers in order to make magic happen.

One of the best parts about my Warped Tour experience was meeting someone very special. No, it wasn’t a musician, a tour manager, or anyone on the tour (though, those people were really awesome, too). It was meeting the other girls from Arizona in that Scene Meet Up: Lauren and Amelia.

Lauren (14) and her friend Amelia (15) live in the north side of the valley, and Lauren’s favorite band is a local band from the east valley in Chandler, AZ. Both girls were wearing the band’s bracelets, and even had a song by them written on their hands. They’re not your run-of-the-mill fan girls though, either — they’re genuinely concerned about their music scene and want to not only see their favorite band do amazing things.

Lauren was one of Earn It Yourself’s top street teamers — which basically meant that she was getting the word out about EIY like a boss and Sarah Saturday took notice. She’s also one of the most mature young girls I have ever met — and after the Scene Meet Up, we hung out for the rest of the day and talked about ourselves, the music scene, and what goals we have within it. I wish I had been more like Lauren when I was 14 (I’m 24 now)— she’s level-headed and determined — she knows that she wants to go on tour, she wants to do photography, and honestly, I can see her doing it in a few years.

I have never met anyone like her. She’s probably been the biggest inspiration for me besides Earn It Yourself as I’ve been chasing my own dreams for music journalism. We’re friends on Facebook, and I think we’re actually going to make some great things happen for Arizona.

Anyway, from everything that I learned at Warped Tour, I believe that the best thing you can do for your music scene is to stop looking at borders between genres, age-groups, what side of town you’re from, what people are wearing, etc. and instead look at the things you have in common with one another — you love music and that should be the power that binds.

Lauren had said that Warped Tour was her church while we were sipping our “communion” of Coke and Powerade and we kinda laughed about it — because it’s true. Here we were with a ten-year age difference and we loved all kinds of music. We both could tune into the positive vibes from The Wonder Years and both got chills listening to A Day To Remember. We were all going to church that day to pay homage to something that we all believe in, no matter what denomination (genre) we listen to — music.

Just because I wasn’t wearing all black doesn’t mean I didn’t stop to enjoy a few minutes of Black Veil Brides. I even caught pieces of Against Me!, Lucero, Go Radio, Bad Rabbits, Gym Class Heroes, Neo Geo, The Wonder Years, Less Than Jake, Every Avenue, A Day To Remember, and more.

In fact, even though Arizona was probably one of the hottest places on the Warped Tour, A Day To Remember mentioned on stage that they always have the biggest, best crowds out here. They played two days in a row on their last tour here in April and sold out BOTH days. And The Wonder Years praised all our Arizona girls that were moshing and dancing in their pit. We have so many things to be proud of — I can’t count the numerous times that bands have come through my music venue and have said the EXACT same things about Arizona music fans. We just have to get them out of hiding.

So this is the most important lesson I learned for my Day In The Life at Warped: If you go to Warped Tour this year, and when you go to shows in your hometown in the future, don’t ever limit yourself to what’s out there. Don’t be afraid to try something new, to make new friends, to get involved with volunteering at a venue or helping out a local band’s street team. Don’t trash talk. And most of all, don’t limit yourself, because you’re only hurting your ability to grow and your scene’s ability to flourish.

We’ve got a scene out here on life-support. And we have to do everything we can to save it.

More than anywhere else, we know we can take the heat, so we don’t have any excuses.

Then, we can say we’ve really accomplished something.

Kalani Pickhart’s coverage of the 2011 Vans Warped Tour in Phoenix, AZ!

EIY + Vans Warped Tour Press Correspondent Photography by Max Giffin in Denver CO!

Max Giffin // Vans Warped Tour 2011 EIY Meet-Up in Denver CO

Max Giffin // Vans Warped Tour 2011 EIY Meet-Up in Denver CO

VWT+ EIY Press Correspondent Report: Denver CO w/ Max Giffin

"Denver, you crazy mother*****s!" - Jeremy McKinnon of A Day To Remember.

Jeremy’s exclamation was no understatement regarding the crowd of devoted fans that surrounded the stage. Despite overwhelming heat, thousands of music lovers came out to Warped Tour to see their favorite bands. Throughout the day I even met several devoted fans who drove from as far as Wyoming for the show.

When I arrived at the show the line went on for what felt like miles. Fans eagerly waited for 11 o’clock when the doors would open. One particular thing I noticed was how many kids brought cans of food for the Feed Our Children Now skip the line pass. For those who do not know what this is, it’s the opportunity to wait in a shorter line for kids who bring canned food to donate. It’s a wonderful program because it cuts the excruciating wait in addition to helping a wonderful cause. According to Warped founder Kevin Lyman, Warped has gotten several notes this year from food banks across the country saying that Feed Our Children Now has left the largest donations in their histories. Although bringing food does not completely eliminate the wait, it is worth bringing a 69 cent can of beans.

Once doors opened, the venue flooded with people. Most surrounded the vans inflatable tent scribbling set times on notepads or their arms. Many took advantage of Warped Tour’s free new app for Iphone and Android that provides a simple and intuitive set list builder. I personally use the app because it helps me stay organized and keep from missing any of my favorite bands. The vans booth was overwhelmed with people yelling out the daily ‘code word’ in order to be one of the first 100 people to get free Vans goodies. The Music Saves Lives tent also had an impressive line of people who donated blood to get a VIP Voucher that can be traded for a backstage wristband to the first 150 people. Even the people who weren’t in the first 150 got a wristband that would allow them into exclusive meet and greets and other VIP perks.

Shortly after doors opened, I retreated to the Label Tent where I volunteer to help hand out free goods such as stickers, fliers, beer cozies, posters, fans, and credit card sliders for smart phones. At the label tent there is also a daily drawing for a limited edition distortion pedal from Visual Sounds. Many people stopped by to enter the contest and pick up some free stuff. The Label Tent isn’t the only one on tour with free item available, the Keep A Breast Tent gives out things such as wallets and sunglasses in exchange for a donation and many other tents have free items for the first visitors. One way not to miss these chances is to follow the companies on twitter. By doing so I have gotten many things such as free tee shirts, tank tops, sunglasses, drawstring bags, and much more.

The first band that I watched was The Word Alive. They had an extraordinary live performance and the crowd went crazy despite it only being 12:30 am. After watching them play, I went back to the press area to sign up for interviews with bands. I was able to talk to JR who plays saxophone in the band. He was very friendly and didn’t mind at all when I realized 4 minutes in to the interview that my mic was off and didn’t record any sound. I tried to lay particular interest wit in what the bands would tell to young local bands who want to play music and are trying to ‘Earn It Themselves’ in my interviews. When I asked JR what he would tell to young musicians hoping to make it in the industry. He said, Stop. Quit. Sell me all your gear, I’ll buy it. And then after you quit go back to school and get a degree because your parents were right and it’s all just a fantasy. You know, you shouldn’t be here. I don’t know, the hardest thing to tell a kid that’ s 20 years old is that their dream is not gonna happen, you know? Because I was 20 years old and people told me that my dream wasn’t going to happen either. So, I would say that if I was going to tell somebody, if they wanted- if they really wanted to do this, then you better become serious about it. And not serious like: I need road cases, I need a crew, I need a record label. Serious like you better write good songs, you better learn how to play your instrument and you better fucking be good at what you do because there’s a hundred bands out here that are better than yours. Seriously. So if you wanna like real serious as a heart attack answer, that’s serious as a heart attack answer. Joking answer: quit now because it’s a lot more work than you think it is.” His response may have been slightly negative, but it was very honest. Many people think they want to play music but they don’t understand how much work it is. I agree wholeheartedly that being a serious band does not mean having professional gear or a record label, it means having true good music. The next musicians I talked to where Annisa and Alexia from Eyes Set To Kill. I asked them if they had any other advice for girls who may want to pursue a musical career in the metalcore genre and Annisa said, “Never give a crap about what anyone thinks about you, just care about what you think of yourself ‘cause there’s always gonna be people that judge you negatively and you should never let that change who you are. Because then you’ll start, end up like straying away from being true to yourself as an artist. So that’s my advice”. Alexia followed with, “Yeah that and just as long as you keep practicing and keeping your mind set on like playing music and keeping focused, you’ll make it”.

After my interviews, I went to the Earn It Yourself meet-up. There where about 20 attendees some of whom came from Fort Collins, Kansas, and even Minnesota. Kevin Lyman who founded Warped Tour was there and talked to us about the importance of working hard in this industry. He asked each person what they wanted to do in the music business. The answers varied from concert photography to band promotion to being a legitimate band. Everyone asked questions relating to their situation and got insightful and relevant information from Kevin and the other Earn It Yourself speakers. The meetup provides a rare opportunity to ask questions directly to the people in the industry who will have answers. Kevin explained what he has been trying to do lately with Warped, to bring it back down to it’s grassroots beginnings where what matters most is just the music. He told us how he picks the bands for Warped and that he looks past rumors and judges them based on if they are talented and if they can pull a crowd. The example given was a band that Kevin was told rapes girls. After some research he found out that this story originated out of the mouth of a 15 year old who when confronted by the police, refused to take the test that would prove her case. Therefor without legitimate proof of wrong doing, he booked them. The topic of musical diversity was brought up and Kevin told us how his goal is to have bands of all different types on the tour, including the more ‘out there’ bands such as Larry and His Flask. Kevin conceders them a success because before this tour began, they were no-names. Originally they were only supposed to play at the doors, but when an opening on stage came up they got it. Now Kevin feels that they could pull a large crowd and he plans to book them next year for the full tour on a larger stage.

I would highly recommend attending the EIY meet up to anyone who has even the slightest thought of joining the music industry in whatever way. Not only does it give the chance to ask questions to people like Kevin questions, it is also a wonderful place to make connections. For example, My passion is concert photography and I met several people at the meet up who either take pictures like me, or need people to take pictures. From this I will probably get several opportunities to shoot for bands and get press passes. It is a place for bands to meet future tour managers and tour managers to meet promoters and so on and so forth.

Throughout the day I was able to talk to other bands and get their perspective on how to start. I found this question very relevant to the message of Earn It Yourself and really wanted to hear what artists think new bands should know. Chapstick from Family Force Five had a lot of advice such as to “work your booty off”, ” just treat people well”, and to “know it makes such a big difference when you believe in what you’re doing and when you see it as something bigger than just you know, “I’m trying to make a living” or “I’m trying to get big” or trying to get famous. Like those, the people that I know that have that perspective always end up so sad and so lonely and so broken. You have to enjoy this and you have to truly be passionate about the music you’re making and what you’re shutting and communicating with the fans and along those lines, treat your fans like gold”. He also warned me that touring is much less glamorous than many people expect and that on Warped, “there’s like 2 showers and 800 people”. Despite the lack in abundance of showers, he still loves being on warped and feels that it is like a big family. The last person I talked to was Danny Worsnop of Asking Alexandria. He told me that the most important thing is, “Be unique, that’s how you get to the top.”

When I wasn’t doing interviews I saw several bands play. The performance that I enjoyed the most was A Day To Remember’s. Typically I’m not a huge ADTR fan, but what made their set incredible was not so much the band as it was the crowd. The sea of people stretched on as far as the eye could see. Everybody in the audience sang passionately along. I stood on the tips of my toes trying to get a picture to capture the moment. The guy standing next to me saw my struggle and offered to let me sit on his shoulders to get the shot. It really struck me that a stranger like that would offer to lift me up so I could take my picture. Sure enough, I got the shot I wanted and was delighted. That moment right there reminded me why I love going to concerts so much. It’s more than seeing a band or hearing some music, it’s a community. That moment illustrated Warped Tour’s slogan this year, “We are Warped”. I heard many times throughout the day from the bands that Warped Tour is a family to those who follow it, but I think even the kids in the audience are family at Warped. Hearing thousands of voices belting the same lyrics and swaying together gives such a powerful since of belonging to members of the audience, and that is what is most valuable to me.

After A Day To Remember finished up I went to hand out Victory Records Sampler CDs by the doors. As I handed them out I noticed the smiles across everyone’s faces as they left the venue. I saw sunburns, sweat, torn clothing, and messy hair, but everyone was smiling. That’s what Warped Tour is, It is a chance for music lovers to come together once a year and see their favorite bands. It is a place where everyone belongs and music is the heart.

VWT+ EIY Press Correspondent Report: St. Petersburg FL w/ Gabrielle Calise

Sunburn, mosh pits, and men in morph suits. Throw in eighty-four bands playing all day on eight different stages, and you get one of the largest touring festivals and (in my opinion) the best day of the year. This is the beast known as The Vans Warped Tour.

Let me begin by saying that navigating through dozens of merch tents in ninety degree heat while ducking past the crossfire of bearded men shooting each other with water guns was not exactly how I expected my day to begin. Somehow I located the Shut Up and Deal merch tent to sign up for the EIY meet up and had enough time to dash over to the Dzambo stage to catch one of my favorite local bands, Set It Off. If any band demonstrates the Earn It Yourself mentality, it’s these boys, who have spent the past three years working their way up from building a local fan base in Tampa through self-promotion to signing with Equal Vision records and becoming label mates with Say Anything and Pierce the Veil. Not only do SIO explode onstage, but they also stick around after every show to thank each of their fans.

Afterwards, I hurried across the venue to see the supergroup D.R.U.G.S. An acronym for Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows, D.R.U.G.S consists of former members of bands including Chiodos, From FirstTo Last, and Matchbox Romance. I had a lot of fun watching them. I still had some time to kill before the EIY meet up, so I took advantage of the press area and scheduled interviews for later with Family Force 5 and Dead Cat Lounge.

There were about twenty people at the EIY meeting, including guitarist Nick Martin and tour manager Dakotah, both of D.R.U.G.S, and of course, Kevin Lyman. Kevin began by saying that he was pleased to see a lot of girls at the meet-up. Dakota explained how people who tour have to sacrifice a lot to make their dreams come true. He described Thanksgivings spent in hotel rooms with cold turkey sandwiches, and missing out on countless Christmases and family events. Kevin, who has been booking tours and festivals for years, now has a lot of control over planning. He books the Warped Tour around his daughter’s birthday and nice fishing spots. However, as with other professions, you have to work your way up.

“It’s rough, but it makes you humble,” said Dakotah. He discussed the hardships of touring. Bands drive all night to make it to different tour stops, and then have to get up at six in the morning to load. When new bands are just starting to tour, they have to do everything themselves, including all the driving and loading. Yet despite the harsh touring lifestyle and missing out on things happening at home, those with touring experience agreed that the moments spent touring have been some of the best times in their lives.

The conversation shifted to a question and answer session. A girl brought up the fact that a lot of her friends don’t come to Warped anymore because they miss bands from previous years and don’t know any of the new bands.

“People tend to lock in their musical tastes at a certain age.” Kevin said. He went on to explain that if he booked the same bands, Warped wouldn’t have thrived and continued to grow or draw new fans. For many young music fans, this is their first taste of a large music festival. A lot of bands that people are surprised to see on a tour like the Warped Tour go on to play at other large festivals. “The lineup is very eclectic this year.” He continued. “I thought about it for two months before I booked the bands.” Kevin puts a lot into planning and booking. “Warped Tour is my heart and soul. This is the tour I live and die for.”

To work in the music industry, not only is hard work important, but a lot also depends on how you treat people. “You have a lot of people that run on ego.” Kevin said. “You never want to become ‘That Guy’. The person who treats you awfully, and then wonders why he never gets hired. ”People remember “That Guy”, the one who is drunk, rude, or violent, for all the wrong reasons. “Treat every person like they were you, and you bought that ticket today,” said Kevin. “Say hi to security…Be as upbeat as possible. Having all of these good people around me makes it easy.” Kevin purposely avoids having bands with bad reputations on the tour. And of course, “you can’t buy or bribe or ‘bro’ your way into Warped.” To get a spot on the tour, you have to earn it yourself.

The EIY meet up was an incredible opportunity, and anyone who is interested in the music industry and is attending one of the Warped dates left this summer needs to experience it.

Unfortunately, I had to leave the meet up a few minutes early to catch my interview with Family Force 5, a band that I’ve loved for the past five years. I sat down with Derek and Josh (known to fans by their stage monikers “Chap Stique” and “Fatty”) to talk about their Warped experience so far.

“It’s been amazing! Amazingly sweaty.” Derek said. “I’d say if I had to sum it up I’d say sweaty mustache.” Josh and I laugh. “Just to clarify why we’re talking about that, there as a party last night called the Mustasho Basho.” We take a moment to discuss all things facial hair—lead singer Solomon (Josh’s brother, aka “Soul Glow”)’s “nappy” mustache, drummer Jacob (aka “Crouton”)’s well kept beard, and their sound guy Chad’s curlicue stache.

Mustaches aside, I ask about preshow rituals. “We like to play basketball.” Josh said.

“Sometimes we watch Rocky 4.” Derek added. “That scene where he’s fighting Dolph Lundgren. There’s something inspirational about it.”

FF5 are known for crazy onstage antics. They released a music video shot during the 2011 involving lead singer Soul Glow crowd surfing inside of a giant hamster ball. “We prefer, well, to be more politically correct, it’s more of a gerbil ball.” Derek said.

“We call it the Soul Globe.” Josh said. “It’s the only way we can get him to shut up sometimes, [we] put him in a big plastic ball and close him off and say ‘You have fifteen minutes in here until you die.’”

“It’s been pretty cool. I mean, he gets inside that thing and rolls on the crowd. The crowd gets to punch the bubble,” said Derek. “The rest of us, the thing that we like about it is we go nuts throughout the whole show, and we realize that no matter what we do, if he’s in that bubble, that hamster-slash-gerbil-slash-rodent ball, nobody’s gonna look at any of us onstage, so we can just do anything.”

“Sometimes we sit down and we play checkers.” Josh joked.

So far, Warped Tour has been treating them well. “The catering’s always amazing.” Derek said. “I am a huge fan of that. I’ve also been doing some Muay Thai fighting, there’s a guy on this tour who just teaches it. It’s been really cool! I’m learning how to jab-cross.” I had to ask: Could I possibly see a demonstration?

“Sure! Mustache Muay Thai.” Derek said, laughing. I asked them about their favorite aspect of Warped Tour.

“[Warped] is like a big band hangout, you get to see a bunch of your friends, and just hang out for the whole summer.” Said Josh. “The staff, the people that work here, are all just wonderful people to hang out with, so it’s just as fun for the bands as for the people who come, so I think that’s probably just the coolest thing about it.”

Derek and Josh said that they’ll be sure to check out an EIY meeting in the future, and so after a quick Muay Thai lesson from Derek, it was time for me to see some more music. I decided to check out hip-hoppers Grieves and Budo on the Skullcandy stage. They put on a killer show, so I went to meet them at their merch booth after their set. I also saw Gym Class Heroes and the Ready Set before I met the members of the EIY band Dead Cat Lounge at their merch table for an interview.

I sat down with three members of the Tampa-based punk band to chat about their Warped experience, their crazy onstage names, and of all things, taxidermy.

“We haven’t played here before, so to be able to play and have all these people here, we’ve handed out a lot of cds, and it’s just really cool,” said Dead Cat Lounge bassist “Roach”. DCL gave out over 500 free cds with stickers over the course of the day, and they also have a link up on their facebook page for a free download.

“I’d been to a couple Warped Tours, and it was always like, ‘Man, that’d be a lot of fun to play!’ Now I got to do it,” said guitar player Aids.

“You know, I think we got a lot of passion, and I think there’s been a lot of old school bands who had a lot of passion,” said Cheese when I ask about DCL’s influences, which include bands such as Dead Kennedys and Black Flag. “It seems like punk itself has been the most fun for me to play.”

Dead Cat Lounge’s name is surprisingly literal, inspired by a taxidermy cat named Boney. “He’s right on the mantel. We all pet him before we go practice,” Roach explained. “He’s just lounging around!”

“Aids kisses him before shows, we only pet him,” laughed Cheese.

“We’ve had a great time. EIY was very cool, we want to thank them, and Sarah Saturday.” Roach added at the end of the interview. “Hopefully people will check us out. We’ve got a lot of shows coming up in the local area. We play a lot, from Miami to Tallahassee. We just want to shout-out to EIY!”

Dead Cat Lounge’s merch booth was right across from the Ernie Ball stage, so I decided to check out the band Victory Bound Rival after the interview. I’d never heard of them before, but they were a lot of fun to watch and photograph. I bought merch and got as much free stuff as I could carry before seeing Yelawolf and Bad Rabbits both put on amazing shows on the Skullcandy stage. My last two hours of Warped Tour were so much fun. I ran to the Nintendo 3DS stage to see Larry and His Flask’s erupt onstage with flailing beards and banjos. Afterwards, I enjoyed a dubstep set from Big Chocolate, and then it was back to the Nintendo 3DS stage to see Family Force 5 close out the day with a giant dance party.

I was reluctant to leave Vinoy Park at the end of the day, and miserably thought of the 364 days that I would have to endure until next year’s Warped. But on the drive home, I realized that this was the best Warped Tour I have attended yet. I learned so much from Kevin Lyman, got to talk with members of one of my favorite bands, Family Force 5, and had so much fun in shooting in the photo pit at Warped for the first time. I’m so grateful to Earn It Yourself for giving me this amazing opportunity. I also want to extend a huge thank you to the members of Dead Cat Lounge and Family Force 5, as well as my family, especially Lena Georges, for helping me out. If anyone has a chance to get involved with Earn It Yourself, I highly recommend it!