Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Eric Bifaro from Plates, I Object, Brown Sugar, and Feral Kid Records

Biff is a true punk through and through. One of he hardest working people with a true generous spirit that few can hope to obtain. He has a way of lighting up a room with his wild story telling abilities. I'm a better person to have befriended such an awesome person. So with that said, checkout his label Feral Kid Records!

1) The ability to tour has become easier for various reasons, what currently separates the whiners and the road dogs on a real level?

- things have definitely become easier with the insane level of "social networking" available to is in this day and age. Two summers ago I booked a tour for two bands. it was both bands first tour. This was during the height of the "gas crisis" and there were stops where we were paying almost $5/gallon. Believe it or not, this was the easiest tour I ever booked. The high gas rates made it seem less enticing for a bunch of chumps to half-assedly get in a van because they were concerned about losing money. Fewer bands on tour equaled better turn outs for those of us still risking it.

2) Van pride is something at least one person in the van has, whether that has to deal with any repairs themselves or just being responsible for anything of said nature. What gets you really excited about a van to take out on the road? How do you make your home on wheels the best place it can be?

-i am absolutely the "man with the van" in my band(s). theres something about it, i cant describe it, but i love it. my last van i had i ran into the ground. it was getting pretty bad by the end but it got me through every trip i attempted to take it on with very little issues. I kept in on the road and drove it until it wouldnt accelerate over 30mph. we both knew that it was time for it to go but i had a hard time admitting it to myself. I ended up scrapping it and actually stood and watched as it was smashed in front of me. more than one tear was shed. i have a new van now, but it doesnt seem like its going to live up to the old one unfortunately.

3)What was your idea of tour like before you actually started touring? and do you think you are still surprised after all these years getting in the van?

-the first tour i ever went on was easily the worst tour i have ever been on to date. it was very emotionally and monetarily draining, full US tour in 40 days, and i was just along for the ride, not even playing. the trip ended up turning into some sort of version of SURVIVOR. members of the band dropped off the tour, people were attempting to fill in on instruments that were not their main instrument. it was a disaster. to top it all off, we had countless van issues. our van was leaking 4 quarts of oil every 60 miles. we had to stop to refill oil more frequently than gasoline. after this tour finished, a band i was in had already had plans of doing our first tour and i was terrified by the thought of it. We ended up going on it and it was wonderful, no issues whatsoever. I think all in all it was good that I had a tour that was a non-stop disaster to start off my touring life. nowadays no matter what is thrown at me I feel like I'll be able to take it in stride.

4)What keeps you from giving up the road life? Why do you think it's so enticing for so many of us?

-There are few things in this life that we as individuals have full control over. Hitting the road and playing our crummy juvenile style of music for people is one of the few things that is fully ours. I don't get to tour nearly as much as I once did, but I still look forward to any opportunity that I get to do such things. There's truly nothing like it. Piling in a crummy van with your good friends and barreling down the highway towards your destination. The amount of incredible friends and great bands I've met while doing this for the past ten years is enough to keep me always going back for more. Touring for me now is a great excuse to visit friends from different cities, most of whom i never would have met were it not for such a thing.

5)What is your sleep situation on tour? Sleeping bag? Sleeping mat? Blow up Mattress? Pillow? I've heard some wild stories of people never bringing any sleep gear on tour, we all tend to lose everything we own at someone's house eventually, but should that stop us from some sort of comfort?

-Traveling with sleeping supplies is the second most important thing to bring with you on the road (the first being a travel coffee mug, think about it, $1 coffee refills almost EVERYWHERE, best thing I started bringing on tour). I bring a somewhat bulky sleeping bag with me which is rated down to -10 degrees F. I'm usually the van sleeper, gotta guard that gear, but if we're parked in a decent neighborhood and everyone is feeling good about it, I'm a sleeping bag on the ground kinda guy. When I am in charge of guarding the van and the weather is permitting it, I like to climb up on top of the van and lay out my sleeping bag on the roof of it. This is especially helpful when you're in the middle of a long drive and need to sleep at a rest stop with everyone in the van. Theres something about laying on top of your van while taking a break during a long drive, staring at the stars until you pass out that is making me miss life on the road right now.....

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Drew Wilkinson from Run With The Hunted

Sometimes things just fall through the cracks unfortunately, this blog kind of did that. Not because I wanted it to, I jut got side tracked with a bunch of other things and I haven't been on tour as much or hardly so it hasn't been a staple thought in my head. I have sent out some interviews though and this is one that I got back and just fell by the way side after I received. For no particular reason, I just didn't update the blog. Bummer I know. All of my loyal readers. I have fun with the questions and I think it's an interesting take on life on the road, so that's why I keep at it.

With that said, This is an update from Drew, he handles vocal duties for Run With The Hunted. They put out a record last year on Panic records. You should go check it out. I met Drew on tour when we got to play with RWTH in Arizona, very nice fellow and we instantly started trading back emails about various nerd type things, comics, fantasy/sci fi, and of course the every lasting conversation of how do you not lose your voice on tour. Enjoy!

1)How do you keep your sanity on tour? Do you find time for yourself or do you cope by just being around people?

Careful planning and preparation haha. As long as I get a solid 8 hours of sleep every night and eat adequately I can handle any tour. When I book our tours, I purposely route them to have the shortest drives possible so we can all stay rested and not get sick. Alone time is crucial as well and I try to make time for myself when I can. One person usually sleeps alone in the van; it’s kind of like having your own personal apartment for a night. I find that reading helps a lot too because for the few hours a day I can do it, it allows me to escape the reality of the tour – I’m stuck in a metal box on wheels for weeks or months at a time away from most of the people and things I love. Immersing myself in a good book is a nice break.

2) Has there ever been a situation when you've been on tour and you question why your even involved with what you surround yourself with? How do you deal with that?

Those moments do happen every once in a while. Usually they are the low points of tour when things are continuously going wrong and morale is low. Those moments are important in their own ways though, they really test your conviction and intentions. They bring everything into focus and purify the experience by boiling it down to its simplest elements. There have been times when I feel like the hardcore community has moved so far away from what it was (and what I would like it to be) that I feel disheartened and frustrated. I meet plenty of apathetic and ignorant kids at shows on the road. I guess I deal with it by doing my best to inform and inspire kids like that to look beyond the surface of things and try to extract a deeper sense of what’s going on in the world. I want to give people a different perspective and get them to question their own beliefs and create their own sense of reality instead of relying on other people to do it for them.

3) Tour magic, explain it's wonders and amazing results, or just one result. What I mean by magic is something happening that you weren't expecting, like someone getting you on a last minute show or showing up at a place to stay and someone made you food, or someone did something extraordinary for you.

We’ve been really fortunate as a band in this sense; more people than I ever would have imagined have taken us into their homes (as complete strangers), cooked us food, and just gone above and beyond to make us feel welcome in places that couldn’t be farther from home. We had a really bad show in Bremerton, WA last summer and we were on tour with a band from Sweden called Anchor, so money was tight. Our friend Brian put us up at his house and made us shit tons of amazing food the night before and then the show just tanked. I was starting to get sick and morale was really low, I think we got like $20 between the two bands. After the show, Brian just walked up to me in the van and handed me an envelope with some money in it and just said “Take this.” I protested and protested but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. It brought me to tears that someone would be willing to give us their hard earned money to help us chase our dream; that kind of thing just doesn’t happen every day you know? There have been a lot of people who have done extraordinary things for us on the road and we’re eternally grateful to all of them.

4) Do you see yourself touring five years down the road? Why or why not? Do you think touring is an essential part of being in a band?

Honestly no, I don’t see myself touring in five years, at least not full time. There are other things I want to do with my life most of which can’t start until the band ends. Right now I love touring and it makes sense for what I’m trying to do but I don’t know if that will be the same in five years. Who knows though, I guess it really depends on what happens with the band. If the opportunities are there, why not? Most of that is out of my control though. I think for certain genres of music touring is essential; punk and hardcore is definitely one of them. But I never want to be that band who keeps putting out music and touring long after their prime; I don’t want to outwear our welcome and beat a dead horse.

5) Do you ever stumble across things while on the road and try to implement them into your own life and or try to bring those great aspects back home with you and spread it around?

Occasionally yah. We meet and stay with a lot of really creative and progressive people and often times, they inspire us take some of their ideas home with us. We’ve stayed in some really awesome collectives and squats and that lifestyle is really interesting to me. Anchor loved to play Frisbee and now we never go on tour without one. As a vegan, I get to try a lot of new and interesting food on the road too, and I definitely implement new recipes into my life after tour. Some of the promoters and venues we play in are really inspirational too; oftentimes they exist completely outside of the control of any single person or corporation. The most inspiring thing about punk and hardcore to me is that it is (still) a community of young people who are creating and controlling something themselves. The goal isn’t profit or making a smart move for your future - it’s based purely on passion, on doing something you love for the simple fact that you love it. People who take that kind of control of their lives and make things happen for themselves really inspire me, and I try to take that attitude home and implement into my own life. DIY is a lifestyle - not just a way to book shows.