How Kevin Lyman saved punk rock for the rest of us…

18 Apr

Our April issue focuses on festivals and there are few better authorities on the topic than Kevin Lyman, founder and producer of Van’s Warped Tour, Rockstar Mayhem Tour and the new Throwdown Festival for indie country bands. On Friday, we dispatched intern Heather McCloskey and Photographer Vanessa Bentley to meet Lyman at the Key Club in West Hollywood, Calif. to discuss the launch of Warped Tour 2010.

Bear with me here for a second, this is my first interview and I have no clue how this recorder works.

Don’t apologize! People bared with me for a long time, they still do.

When booking the tour this year what was your biggest challenge, who was the hardest group to get?  Did someone need any coaxing to book?

The hardest groups I got, I didn’t get.

Which ones were you hoping to get but didn’t get ?

I mean I tried really hard this year to try to integrate indie into the tour. The kids that are going to the Warped Tour have this gap, where I love bringing the history of punk, the Bad Religion, but that gap is getting very separated from the 15-to-19 year old that goes to Warped Tour.  So I tried really hard to get bands like Lucero, Matt & Kim and Tegan and Sarah. I really put a lot of effort into it. I see a lot of those bands play and I see a lot of those kids at Warped Tour that become maybe 19-20 that just decided, “Okay, I’m gonna go see them now.” And then the lineup just started transforming direction and things like Face to Face coming back and then Alkaline trio and it was, I thought Face to Face,  they’re almost as old as me and I was like “ Do you really want to be on the road the whole summer?” and they were like “You’re paying us enough money! We just want more shows!” and I was like, “Awesome!”  So they’re doing the whole tour.

You booked a lot of old school punk bands,  I mean, the Angry Samoans and…

Well the Angry Samoans were working at a restaurant that my partner Gerald Eaton was eating in, and he’s an old punk guy like me and says, “You guys are the Angry Samoans!” and they go, “Yeah.”  “Dude you should come play the Warped Tour!”  They said, “We’ve always wanted to play the Warped Tour,” so that’s how they got booked.

The old school stage, are you trying to use it to educate the younger group about what old school is like?

Absolutely. My background was working in these clubs and I worked the punk scene.  I was working at the clubs in 1981 — I worked the Roxy, The Whiskey, The Palace Palladium,  Fenders Ballroom, the Olympic Auditorium, all these places that these bands did. I think that’s part of what I wanted to do, bridge that history of where punk rock came from with these young kids and I think the Internet has allowed me to do more of that now, but now it’s fun because I do the old school stage and I see a lot of friends bringing their kids down and say “Hey I used to go see these shows 25-30 years ago in LA.” So they have kids now, you know like 10 or 11 years old. Last year was sweet Addicts shirts everywhere, so you see the Addicts shirts and then there’s the kid in the Jeffrey Star shirt.

You mentioned the Internet, how specifically would you say the Internet helped?

Well we could say “the Angry Samoans are playing on Warped Tour, and its not going to be just a bunch of old dudes up on stage playing and scaring people.”  Like the first time I brought TSOL they got up on stage and scared the hell out of  all these little kids. But now, if kids intend to go to Warped Tour they do their research. They can click on the Angry Samoans and see when their records came out, where they’re from, check out their music. iTunes allowed us a chance to go in and buy a track, learn a song.  So its funny how many kids will come down and be singing one punk rock song of Fear because they bought it on iTunes. They might not be able to get the albums anymore, they’re hard to find.  But you could buy a song for Fear, which is cool.

So you’d say the Internet ultimately helped?

It’s really helped me with that bridge. Cause that’s really my history, and I want to help those guys and most of those guys are the guys that told me I fucked up punk rock and I sold out punk rock when I started Warped Tour, and I got a lot of heat for  it. But now, that’s where I’m saying it took me this long but now I’m helping you guys. Bands that understand, like Bad Religion early on, were able to come out on the Warped Tour every other year and their careers have sustained very strongly.

What would you say for a punk band from the 90’s or 80’s, about their tour options?  Obviously Warped, but what else?

It’s hard to tour because punk rock was never that big off the coasts. It was a West Coast, East Coast there were pockets of punk rock, but punk rock never played. When bands went to Denver they’d be playing a house party, they’d be playing these places, they didn’t have venues.  So now for a lot of the bands, I’m able to give them maybe enough money to fly over here and then they can piece together a tour after their Warped dates.

How do you stay organized while your booking all these bands?

Its really simple, I still sit with a big piece of white paper in front of me and I start getting all the CDS and just put it in front of me and start playing it. This year, at one point in November, I had to go on business trips and I started booking and got home and I was in a little dark space in my life and I had all these heavy bands like White Chapel, Suicide Silence, which are awesome bands and they’re going to be great for the tour but I was like wow man I was in a dark spot I get me some pop.  Give me some All American Rejects and We The Kings and I got to balance the show out a little bit you know.

Did you ultimately feel that it was well balanced?

I think it’s a really well balanced show, yeah.

Last night was the Golden Gods awards for metal,  though you said punk was a smaller  genre and a coast to coast thing, do you think if you continue to educate the younger crowd about where punk’s roots are there could be a punk music awards someday?

I went to the closest thing to that so far, I went to the OC music awards, it was pretty awesome.  We’ll hold the punk rock awards in some retirement home that I’ll be living in someday.

And you’ll host them right?

Yeah.

And is there anything else you’d like to mention or that we didn’t cover?

Nope, good job on your first interview. Are you going to come cover Warped Tour this year?

I wish!

Well you should!

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