PropertyOfZack Interview : : Kevin Lyman Of The Warped Tour

by Zack Zarrillo - Jun 10, 2010


It brings me great pleasure to be posting the PropertyOfZack interview with Kevin Lyman. As many of you know, Kevin Lyman is the founder of The Warped Tour, the tour that has changed music forever and many people’s lives. Kevin and I discussed this years lineup, the future, and more. I cannot stress enough how nice Kevin was! Enjoy the read, it’s a good one.

The Warped Tour is starting in about 3 weeks from now. How do you feel about this year’s lineup compared to the past few years?
I mean, I don’t know. Usually the fans will let me know, but it’s diverse. I think people will say, “Hey, there are no punk bands.” And I’ll go, “Wait a second, what about bands like Alkaline Trio and Face To Face.” There are a lot of bands that are coming back to the tour that haven’t been there in a long time. There are new young bands; you’ve got Andrew W.K, who hasn’t been there in a long time, but he’s as popular as ever. I know that on the pop side sometimes people complain about that, but you’ve got bands like Mike Posner and things like that that seem to be appealing to that crowd. I think it’s a pretty mixed lineup. I don’t see like any grand superstars on there right at the moment, but I think there’s a little bit out there for everyone. I mean, it’s a little heavier with Whitechapel, Emmure, Suicide Silence. If you’re into the heavy side there’s some heavy music there.

Is it somewhat difficult to properly gage what fans in the scene are looking to see at the tour considering how much the scene itself has changed in the past 16 years that Warped has been running?
Well, I think it evolves. Now you break it down into increments. There’s always going to be the connection with the history of the music on the Warped Tour. Face To Face was there in 1995, so when there was interest in them coming back out I was really excited to have them. Because they’re kind of that connection that maybe people have associated with Bad Religion and NoFX. They actually played the Tour before those two bands.
POZ: They [Face To Face] were only supposed to tour for a couple of weeks right?
Kevin: Yeah, and then they wanted to decide to do the whole tour and of course I made room for them.

Do you mind having bands annually on the tour?
No, I kinda found they wouldn’t used to come back every year. But you know, if a bands starting to do some development out there and we’re starting to see them, why not have them back when maybe they’re a little more popular. So you can have a band maybe come back for a couple years in a row. I mean, it worked for a band like Paramore that we brought back 3 years in a row as they were developing.  Or a band like 3OH!3.

Last year, at I believe Cleveland’s date, Paramore showed up on an off day from their tour with No Doubt and completely took over the day. Do you see any surprise guests on that level this year?
I don’t know which cities, but I think we’re gonna see some surprise guests. I’m starting to get the emails now.
POZ: So you book guests that far in advance?
Kevin: Yeah, people start calling around June because they’re starting to get
their summer plans together and they start looking for Warped routing and
go, “Oh, hey Kev, what about us coming by here?”

How do you respond to fan reaction about bands in the past like brokenCYDE and Millionaires and bands similar to them that get bad reactions?
To me, Millionaires probably shouldn’t have been on Warped Tour. They weren’t ready for it. Trust me, they weren’t ready as a live band. You’re gonna put yourself out there you have to be able to pull it out there. But during that time period a lot of the people were talking about the band. And you know, I want to see the curiosity too; if that’s the way music’s going even if it’s not maybe the stuff I listen to. I felt bad for them in a way; they just weren’t ready to be out on that tour. And I don’t think we’ve heard much from them recently, have we?
POZ: We have not.
Kevin: I mean, artists should take it seriously. Like an artist, if you said, “Yeah, I want to be on the Warped Tour.” I think you need to be able to step up to play. Or say, “Hey, lets wait a year or two.” It’s like Katy Perry. Katy Perry stepped up and ruled that audience out there. She made a lot of long time fans. She worked really hard and was good live. You have to be good live. Millionaires were just not a good live band.

As time moves on, and the years progress, where exactly do you see Warped going?
I don’t know, people ask me that every year. I mean, it’s year 16, I suspect that if people come out this year…if they just shut down and stopped coming I’d stop it, I wouldn’t prolong it. This year we realized with Taste Of Chaos that there were a lot of tours like Taste Of Chaos on the road. So we pulled it back while it was still fairly successful. I had one down year with Thursday last year, but I thought that was a cool lineup. So now that goes on internationally. I’ve got my country tour, Mayhem and Warped Tour, but it seems like to me it’s hard to judge fans and when they’re buying tickets. But it seems that there’s still interest in Warped Tour. And I think taking Warped Tour down in a bad economy, because it gives 900 people a job during the summer time between truck drivers, artists, bus drivers. If you take that away I don’t think there’s someone else that’s going to step up and fill that void. I think some people thought maybe this Bamboozle Roadshow was gonna come out or whatever, and I only hear things in feedback, but they weren’t ready to, not on a big tour like that.

But with yourself obviously, you get older along with the years, and you have a family and everything that surrounds that. Would you ever see yourself stepping down?
I still feel like I need to be there every day on Warped Tour. I still feel I need to book it. Warped Tour is the heart and soul of my scene of work in my heart. That’s where I came from. People don’t really that I didn’t just start the Warped Tour; I worked 12 years in the clubs and the venues. When you start to look at it, I’ve almost been doing this for 30 years now and I still love the Warped Tour. Am I stoked to get in a bus sometimes and go down the road and sweat my ass off and hang out in dirty parking lots? You’d think that maybe that was gonna change, but you know, I was talking to my wife and this is what I do well. I still do that well. My country tour is nice because I fly in and out of that and come home during the week.

And in regards to that question, can you believe Warped has been going on for 16 years already and has grown into what it has become today?
Yeah, absolutely. I didn’t expect this. I was supposed to go out one year with my friends to do something different, and then I’d go be a schoolteacher. It’s funny, when you travel now or are talking to people and they know what the Warped Tour was. Or they come up to you and go, “Man, I went to the Warped Tour 16 years ago” and they’re there with kids at a show somewhere.

On one spectrum of this year’s bill you have Face To Face and on the other you have NeverShoutNever, would you be surprised if NeverShoutNever got more of a reception than Face To Face?
No. I think Face To Face will get the respect. NeverShoutNever’s hot right now. Never played 6 shows last year. They’re capturing that moment, you know? Face To Face, they’ve put out good music for I don’t know, 18 years? 20 years they’ve been around. But they’ve put out great solid music and this will be the bridge for maybe that kid who wants to come because they’re into NeverShoutNever and they’re gonna be walking by the stage and hear this great band on stage and a group of them are going to turn around and go, “Wow”. Right now they’re maybe going to go see the AP Tour with NeverShoutNever, but you know what, they’ve heard of Face To Face and this is a good chance to see them. It’s a good chance for a dad to bring their kid, who used to watch Face To Face. They could bring their 11 year old, 12 year old to see NeverShoutNever and have a good day of music.

What band do you see as being the biggest crowd attracter this year?
I think this kid, Mike Posner, all of a sudden. We booked him, and out of nowhere he has a big song. He has a few big songs. And I hear kids going down the street singing the songs. I think Andrew W.K is going to really surprise some people.

The Warped Tour has been branded as a “punk” festival since it’s start, but many people in recent years have commented on the fact that it seems to be getting away from that. Where would you say Warped stands categorically?
There are just as many punk bands as there used to be. I worked really hard, and on the West Coast I do those old school stages. I wish I could bring those bands on the whole tour, but man, they’re old too. They aren’t gonna do too well in St. Louis at 96 degree heat and 97% humidity. And if you really look at punk, punk was regionally coastal. It was always an underground. The Warped Tour is not for everyone. The die hard, die-hard kid that is only into punk rock…there’s a lot of basement shows. That’s for him. This is more for the music fan. If you look at ’95, how punk was the Warped Tour? Was No Doubt a punk band? Like, in the true sense of the word. Quicksand, I don’t know if they could be called a true punk band. But we definitely grew with Bad Religion and NoFX. I wish there were more big punk bands. It’s hard to find new punk bands, if you really think about it. We need some new bands. Bad Religion, NoFX, Rancid are 15, 20 years old. Name me a punk band that’s really broken out in the last 5 years.
POZ: Can’t do it.
Kevin: Can’t do it. I don’t know why. But that’s why there’s always going to be that connection to history on the tours.

Due to Nike buying out Hurley and rivalries between Nike and Vans, for the first time in many years Hurley will not be a sponsor and is being replaced by Glamour Kills. In the grand scheme of things how important do you see the sponsors of Warped being? In terms of identifying the sponsor and the tour together.
I think in some ways. I think it’s great. It sucks. Trust me, the Hurley guys are all good friends of mine. I helped start that company with those guys. But as the world changes and as companies are bought and sold, I don’t know. It was strange because on the other end I used to fight with Vans because they would say, “You can’t have Hurley, they’re Nike.” But everyone was cool with that. It was their boss, their bosses that decided to pull the trigger on them. The guys at Hurley didn’t want to not be at the tour, and I know that because I know all those guys. I’ve been hanging out with them all, but they work for someone else now. And it’s cool to change it up with Glamour Kill, I’m glad, it’s a brand. Warped Tour is a 16-year-old developed brand. I’m glad to see more people wanting to be involved in it.
POZ: And they’re certainly getting more popular among kids just like Hurley was.
Kevin: Yeah, exactly.

The Taste Of Chaos tour only happened in Europe this year, and you recently said that it would probably continue to be that way. How do you think it went this year?
It did great. We did arenas.
POZ: Will that be coming back next year?
Kevin: In the US? I don’t know. But we’re gonna do the Europe again.

In the next few years may you guys try anything new?
I think right now it’s more refining what we’re doing with the non-profits and the eco stuff we’re doing. But Warped Tour is not gonna change a lot from what you saw last year. I like going to the single main stage. I think it really helped all the bands on the side stage. It allowed those bands to play a little longer. Especially because a lot of the bands on the main stage have a bigger catalog now. I think it was a really cool show last year. It was really fun to be at the Warped Tour last year for an old man even like myself to watch the young kids run around and put stickers all over their heads.

How did the 15th anniversary show go at the stadium last year?
The show was fantastic that we did. Spent a lot of money on the DVD. I’ve got to stop making DVDs. But the show was great. We were able to donate $50,000 to music cares. I don’t think I’m gonna set out to do a 16th anniversary show. I’m just gonna put on a good tour this year, or hopefully a good tour.

Thanks so much, is there anything else you’d like to add?
No, I hope you come out and see the show this year. 

  1. juliaisaconny reblogged this from propertyofzack and added:
    Good interview. Last year was a blast. Even though I had the opportunity to go out on the tour again this year, my...
  2. propertyofzack posted this