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So Sorry, Its Over: A Look At The Final Vans Warped Tour

So Sorry, Its Over: A Look At The Final Vans Warped Tour

All good things must come to an end. As cliché as that may sound, truer words have never been spoken. Often time long running events overstay their welcome and eventually become a shadow of their former self. Now, although many old school Warped Tour fans would like to say the tour was well past its prime, I would say that the tour was continuing to meet its purpose.

The Warped Tour was originally brought to fruition by Kevin Lyman in 1995, and received the official Vans sponsorship in 96. While folks will forever protest that the Vans Warped Tour has always been a “punk festival”, I’ve always viewed it as a celebration of alternative genres and a way for newer acts to reach an audience. While those early years focused on the punk genre there were also many notable acts from across the musical solar system. The “punk-rock summer camp” was more of a tag line than a focus on a singular form of music. Now, a history lesson on the Vans Warped Tour is a story for another day. All you need to know is that the Vans Warped Tour has been the launching pad for hundreds of bands and is a staple for music fans across the country.

My experience with the Vans Warped Tour actually happened a little later in life, my first show being the 2010 edition. The eclectic mix of punk and metal was, pun intended, music to my 18 year old ears. Why had it taken me this long to reach the “promise land”? Since that fateful day at Merriweather Post-Pavilion I’ve attended 6 out of the 8 tours that followed, alternating between the Columbia, Maryland and Camden, New Jersey shows. I’ve discovered countless bands throughout my years attending the tour, many of which have become favorites of mine. Bands/artists like Every Time I Die, Ballyhoo, Yelawolf, MC Lars, Vanna (RIP) and many others are bands I discovered on Warped Tour and bands that remain in constant rotation today. No matter the lineup, it was always important to make it out to the show as you never knew what you might discover. It was something to look forward to every summer.

On November 15th, 2017 Kevin Lyman announced that the 2018 Vans Warped Tour would be the final cross country tour of the brand’s lifetime. The reasoning behind this decision saw Lyman discussing falling ticket sales amongst the tours prime demographic (teenagers) and the fact that he’s just tired. This is completely understandable as the man has technically been doing cross-country tours for 26 years. The news was devastating. This incredible thing that I had discovered less than ten years prior, and others have been attending for over twenty years, was going away. It is truly the end of an era.

Fast forward to the summer of 2018. The bands, an eclectic mix of first timers and veterens, have all been announced. There was no way any sane person could miss this event. Even if you weren’t a fan of the lineup, the Vans Warped Tour had been a staple for all fans of alternative genres, how could you miss the LAST one. So, it was decided, I was adventuring out to where it all started for me. On July 29th, 2018 I attended the Final Vans Warped Tour at the Merriweather Post-Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland.

As stated earlier, I spent a few Warped years attending the Camden, NJ show as I found parking to be much easier and the overall aesthetic to be much more pleasing. However, with it being the last hooray I knew where I needed to go. As I pulled into the parking garage it was easy to see that today was going to be special. Thousands of “kids” were lined up to get into the venue, a number that honestly dwarfed the amount of patrons lined up in years prior. Sure, in years past the venue eventually filled out, but you could tell that this year no one wanted to miss a second. I quickly checked in, grabbed my photo pass/ticket, and retrieved a spot in line. For the first time that I can remember, the doors opened 30 minutes early. Now, at Warped Tour the doors are usually scheduled to open at 11:00. From my experience, this has always been true, not a minute before or minute after. I welcomed the 10:30 surprise and made my way into the venue.

I quickly realized just how different this show was going to be compared to last. According to multiple merch workers, the venue decided that it didn’t want anyone to use the “woods” area of Merriweather Post-Pavilion. This was mind blowing; they had always used the woods area and the field on the other side. This allowed for easy movement and 0 congestion amongst many of the stages. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, by removing this portion of the venue they’ve essentially halved the available space. It was noticeable. Overall many of the stages were cramped with the Monster Energy/Mutant Stages being placed on the parking lot, practically turning attendees into fried eggs. Listen, I understand these are small complaints, but I just can’t wrap my brain around why things worked a certain way every other year and were different this year. One attendee mentioned that it may have been a reaction based upon the pavilion collapse at the beginning of the year, however, the adjustments that were made were nowhere near where the accident had taken place. Nonetheless, these are all complaints about the venue itself and their handling of the event, not Warped Tour as a whole. So let’s move on.

For those of you unfamiliar with how the Vans Warped Tour works, let me explain. No one is aware of the set times until you arrive at the show. Once you enter the gates there is a big inflatable schedule in the center that displays the times. There are also multiple vendors selling schedules for about $2 each. It’s definitely a stressful method that always keeps me up the night prior. I always end up wide awake the night before, stressed I’m going to sleep through my alarm and miss that “one special band”. This has never happened, but I stressed out about it yearly.

Once I received my schedule my first destination was decided. I made my way over to the Mutant Red Dawn stage to catch Australian metalcore band, The Amity Affliction. The band got their start in 2003 and first popped on my radar in 2012 with the release of “Chasing Ghosts”. I admit my knowledge of the Aussie trio is very limited. I came across the boys around the time I was stepping away from the metalcore genre as a whole. I felt it had become a bit oversaturated with countless bands sounding too similar to one another. Unfortunately I didn’t give The Amity Affliction a fair shot at the time, but I am thankful to say that that has changed in recent years. Being the first band of the day you’d think it would take Ahren Stringer and Joel Birch a minute to warm up, but to hell with that. As soon as they took the stage they busted out into a blistering rendition of the title track off their fifth album, “This Could Be Heartbreak”. The rest of the set contained tracks throughout the band’s career, closing with one of their larger songs, “Pittsburgh”. The Amity Affliction have a new album, Misery, dropping on the 24thof August and you won’t regret picking it up!

At this point I took off towards one of the main stages, the Journey Right Foot stage in order to catch The Maine. Having played the festival 6 times, the Arizona band is always one I try my best to catch. Their infectious pop rock grooves are catchy enough to get even the hardest of metal heads dancing. Honestly, it is crazy how these guys having completely blown up. They’ve got the skills to write pop hits for days and damn do they know how to put on a show. Lead singer, John O’Callaghan always has the audience in the palm of his hands. He says jump, the crowd screams, “how high?!”. The band called The Maine played songs across their decade long career. The highlight definitely being when O’Callaghan pulled an audience member on stage to join him in singing “Girls Do What They Want”. Unfortunately I’ve never seen The Maine outside of Warped Tour, and that definitely needs to change soon.

During the show there was another festival happening in Philadelphia known as “This is Hardcore”. Obviously I wasn’t able to be there so I had to figure out another way to get my hardcore fix. Enter, Kublai Khan. Kublai Khan is a band I hadn’t heard much of in the past, but I knew I wanted to check out. Their downtuned guitars and slow, but heavy grooves had me two-stepping all over the photo pit. If there is anything that annoys me about being in the photo pit, it’s that everyone in there just looks pissed off to be there. What’s there to be mad about? You’ve got a front row spot, you more than likely were able to get in for free, and your work is going to get posted and recognized by other music fans across the globe. Hey, why not have some fun while you’re doing it!? That’s what I did. Kublai Khan put out their latest record, “Nomad” last September. Check it out!

Next up was hands down the wild card of the festival. The night prior I had been researching a few artists on the lineup I had never heard before. I came across the artist known as Yungblud. I was completely enthralled within seconds. Between the visuals, the lyrics, and the varying genres that weave in and out of one another, I couldn’t help but be fascinated. I can happily say that this was increased tenfold when I witnessed it live. I would describe Yungblud, real name Dominic Harrison, as Twenty One Pilots meets MIA with a big glass of IDGAF attitude. While Dom played one of the smaller stages of the day, you’d never realize it. The crowd was packed into this stage like sardines. The place went wild as the 19 year old hit the stage and there wasn’t a body standing still in sight. Yungblud just released his debut album, “21stCentury Liability” on July 6th. If you take away anything from this write up it should be to go pick up that album!

We’re a few hours into the day, but there is no time to rest. Next up we have Warped Tour legends, and one of my favorite bands of all time: Less Than Jake! Honestly, what can I say about Less Than Jake that I haven’t said before? They’ve been going strong for 25+ years and show no signs of stopping. They opened the show with “All my Best Friends are Metal Heads” and that was all she wrote. What followed was 30 minutes of ska punk greatness that only Less Than Jake can provide.

At this point I headed over to the second main stage, the Journey’s Left Foot stage which was for some reason not next to the Right Foot stage like it had been in years past. When I arrived at the Left Foot stage a wave of fear crashed over me. This was not enough room for the amount of people who would be filling this space later (which we’ll get to). Regardless, the next band to take the stage were some high school favorites of mine, 3OH!3. 3OH!3 is an electropop duo that got their start in 2004. They hit it big with 2008’s “Want”, releasing hits Don’t Trust Me and Starstrukk (both tracks having remixes that feature Kid Cudi and Katy Perry respectively). When I felt that some of their later albums started having a jokey vibe in the vein of The Lonely Island I stopped listening. That being said, Sean and Nat absolutely killed it. Much of the setlist focused on the band’s early work which was right up my alley. 3OH!3’s latest release, “Night Sports” is available now from Fueled By Ramen.

Now it’s time for a band I never thought I’d see on Warped Tour. I’ve covered them multiple times before, and it’s always a pleasure. I’m talking about, of course, the demented duo TWIZTID. If you’re a usual visitor here at Icon Vs Icon then you know my history with this band. I went into a long tangent of my experience in the Juggalo world back when I covered Twiztid’s Psychomania tour, check it out because it’s a great read! A quick refresher: since leaving Psychopathic records Twiztid has been doing huge things! They’ve received opportunities they could only dream of in years prior. Not to mention they’ve started their own label with some of the best names in underground hip hop. Twiztid is going strong, and they’re definitely not stopping. Also, no surprise here, they absolutely killed it! I was truly curious as to what tracks they would choose for the setlist. While the crowd was filled with juggalos it was also filled with people whose curiosity led them to the Mutant Red Dawn stage this afternoon. I was happy to see that they played tracks that spanned their entire career. Anyone that thinks the demented duo is hurting in recent years either isn’t paying attention or is in serious denial. The crowd was packed and I can’t wait to see where they go from here.

A change of pace was needed so I made my way back to the main stage for some ska goodness. The next band to grace my ears was The Interrupters. I’ve had the pleasure of catching this group of fine folks three times, the last being in Ohio at “Punk In Drublic”. While the crowd was a bit lighter, it definitely filled in as the band took the stage. Aimee Interrupter has such an infectious smile that it is impossible to be upset when they’re playing. Leave your cares at the door and get ready to skank because by the end of their set we were all one big family! The Interrupters just released their newest album “Fight the Good Fight” on June 29thfrom Hellcat Records.

What happened next is what I was worried about in this small space. The night before Warped Tour, founder Kevin Lyman had tweeted about Maryland having a very special guest. Well this was it. Maryland was greeted by hometown heroes, Good Charlotte. GC is no stranger when it comes to Warped Tour having played the festival 3 times prior. No surprise, they came out and the crowd went absolutely nuts. We were definitely at capacity when it came to this area of the festival, and it was definitely poor planning on the venue’s part. Nevertheless, Good Charlotte ran through every hit they could in their short time set. Joel mentioned after playing the opener, “The Anthem”, that they wouldn’t be talking much as they wanted to get through as many tracks as possible. They achieved just that. These guys haven’t lost a step. Good Charlotte has a new album out on September 18th.

During the Good Charlotte set, my younger sister had gotten hurt in the crowd. We went and sat down a little bit, tired and hungry. Unfortunately the next band that played would be the last I would see on the Vans Warped Tour, but how appropriate that that band would be Reel Big Fish. Reel Big Fish is a band I’ve seen over 15 times. I grew up listening to them and I’ve been attending their shows ever since I was old enough to go. There is nothing in this world like a Reel Big Fish show. While Aaron Barrett may be the only original member left in the band his eye/ear for talent has kept the band going for 27 years. They tour nonstop but play every show like it’s going to be their last. Here’s the thing with an RBF show, you know what you’re going to hear, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. Reel Big Fish played all of their well-known tracks, well…well known to their fans. I cannot recommend checking out Reel Big Fish anymore than I already have in the past. If you want an incredible time, go see Reel Big Fish!

So that was the end of it. No one in my party felt well after spending all day in the heat so we decided to cut our day short. The only band I am really disappointed I missed was Every Time I Die. So here’s a hypothetical review of that show: it was great, they’re always great, go and see them.

Well there it is! That was the Final Vans Warped Tour. Life will never be the same without this cross-country tour being in my life every summer. Kevin Lyman announced that something will be done next year, for the tour’s 25thanniversary, but this is the FINAL cross-country tour. It’s bitter sweet really. It’s sad that it’s over, but it feels great to reminisce about all the incredible memories. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

About The Writer: 
Dylan Lyles – Staff Writer
The Phenomenal Dylan Lyles is an obsessive fan of cinema, pro wrestling, horror, vinyl, and comic books. Bursting from the womb in 1992, Dylan’s surrounded himself with all things geek culture. Earliest memories include Wrestlemania 11, ‘The Death of Superman,’ and Jason popping out of the waters of Camp Crystal Lake. He worships at the alter of the the alter of Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla. You may see him sharing his opinion on just about everything on the internet or maybe even working the various pop culture conventions on the east coast. Most importantly,vyou love him and he loves you!
Twitter: @thedylanlyles

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SAVAGE: Diamante Discusses Her Blossoming Career, Bright Future And More!

SAVAGE: Diamante Discusses Her Blossoming Career, Bright Future And More!

diamante-feature-2013-2 A superstar in the making, Diamante emerged from the east coast to the entertainment capitol of the world, where she has taken the Hollywood music scene by storm. She breaths a fresh new style to the music and fashion scene alike and can be compared to a modern day Pat Benatar or Debbie Harry. Her unparalleled sound comes from an innocent, yet edgy vibrato tone, making her voice a rare diamond in music. She displays an unforeseen depth in her lyrics and a tiny crying cadence in her edgy voice that quietly screams experience beyond her years. Diamante may be young, but she is already one of the hardest working artists in the business as shown by her numerous awards. As her collection of awards continues growing, so does her fan base. She has also taken home the title of Best Rock Record at the Indie Music Channel Awards two years in a row, as well as wins in the categories of, Best Young Rock Artist, Best Rock Recording, Best Music Video for “Impossible,” and the coveted title of Teen Artist of the Year. Not only has she climbed the music charts and dominated the award shows, she has also wowed huge audiences with live performances at renowned Hollywood hot spots such as The Avalon, Key Club, House of Blues, Whisky a Go-Go, Roxy Theatre, Knitting Factory and more. Recently, Diamante has been back in the studio working on an EP and releasing a new single “Savage” produced by Kevin Savigar (Rod Stewart) featuring legendary Kenny Aronoff on drums. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up Diamante to discuss her blossoming career, her musical influences, the challenges of creating her new EP and everything she has in store for us in the months to come!



Where did you grow up and what are some of the first musical experiences in your life? I grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which is directly across the country from Los Angles. It was a completely different experience than living in Los Angeles. My Dad is Italian and my mother is Mexican, so it was a unique mix! I moved out to Los Angeles about three years ago. I actually started off doing musical theater. I was about ten years old when I did my first musical show. I was Cindy in “Grease” and it was really the first time I had ever been on a stage. I completely feel in love with the entire experience. Ever since then, I started doing musical theater all of the time. I took Broadway classes and singing classes. I was doing musical theater up until the time I met producers and started doing my own music and began performing live with a band. How are some of the influences who have helped shape the artist you are today? It is funny; my influences have completely changed since I was younger. I grew up singing pop music, only because I wasn’t really aware of rock music. I grew up listening to artist like Kelly Clarkson, Ashlee Simpson and Avril Lavigne. They are artist who were edgy but were still pop music artists. It wasn’t until I was thirteen years old and did School of Rock that I really explored rock music. I discovered Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath and The Rolling Stones. That was exactly when I knew I wanted to sing rock music! Was there a particular catalyst that made you know you wanted to pursue rock as a career, as opposed to going the Broadway route? I just knew that I loved being on stage but I also write a lot. To be able to write my own songs and my own lyrics and make it completely my own was something that really click inside of me. When I was doing School of Rock, I was able to perform these rock songs on stage; it was a completely different experience than doing musical theater. The songs were so strong and bold. Everything was very fierce and in people’s faces. It was something I found really amazing!



You mentioned writing your own songs. What can you tell us about your typical writing process and how you bring a song to life? There is not a specific process. It is never the same really. Sometimes I do melody first and then lyrics and other I do lyrics and then melody. It switches up every time based on each specific song. Every time I write lyrics, I do it based off of personal experience. I do that so I can really relate to the song when I perform it or record it in the studio. I really want to feel it is my story that I can tell people. Once I have the lyrics, I usually come up with a melody with my producer. I give him some Ideas and tell him what I want kind of sound I want. I also work with my guitarist, who gives me guitar ideas. It all comes together from there. Sometimes it can take a while but sometimes it is really a snap. We touched on you making the move from the East Coast to the West Coast. How has that transition impacted you as an artist? That impacted me extremely! The East Coast is an awesome place but I think had I stayed there I would be a completely different person. The whole atmosphere is completely different, as are the people. I think if you want to pursue music as a career, you really have to move where the music is really influential and the music industry is really big. You have been very hard at work on your upcoming EP. Did you have any particular goals or expectations going into the process? Yeah! I hoped that with this EP I would be able to go on tour, not just in LA or California but in other states and even other countries. I hope to spread my music as much as possible! You recently released a new song titled “Savage.” What inspired the song and made you choose it as your lead-off single? “Savage” is a really fun song. It represents the times you feel invincible, before the heartbreak or all the nasty stuff happens! [laughs] It is about the moment you feel on top of the world! I wanted this to be the first song since the earlier stuff I did when I was fourteen years old. I felt this was a coming of age song that would differentiate me as more of an artist to an older crowd than a tween artist that a lot of people assume me to be. For those who aren’t familiar with your work just yet, what can they expect from this EP sonically? There is no set genre but it is very edgy rock with some punk elements in it as well. It also has pop melodies. It is really a mixture of everything! There is even a ballad in there, which is going to be really cool!



What do you consider the biggest challenge in putting this EP together? I would say the biggest challenge would be sticking to myself. Working with different people, you can sometimes steer to a direction that they might prefer or they might think something else might work better because it is more marketable. Certain things are more marketable than others. You have to fight to keep your voice in your music, along with what you want to do with your style! You can learn a lot about your craft and yourself when you are putting a project like this together. What do you think you discovered about yourself during this intense process? What I learned was that I really don’t hold back! I love to be bold in my messages and I want to those messages to be able to change people’s perspectives on things. I want to make people take chances again and feel brave enough to do something again! It seems no one wants to feel or experience anything anymore! Doing this EP makes me feel as if I am on a mission to do that! This EP is definitely something to look forward to! When do you think it will be released? There is not a specific date at the moment but it will be coming out at the beginning of January 2014! What can we look forward to when it comes to music videos in support of the release? We are already working on the screenplay for the next video which is for the ballad. That is going to be released exactly at the same time the EP is released in January! You worked with some remarkable talents for this project. What was it like working alongside producer Kevin Savigar (Rod Stewart) and legendary drummer Kenny Aronoff? First of all, it was an honor to work with them! Kevin has worked with both Pat Benatar and Rod Stewart, so he really understands the rock side I want to put into my songs. He brings in a kind of classic rock vibe that I really love. Kenny was just incredible too! They both inspired me to keep following the path I was on.



What do you consider your biggest musical milestone so far in your still blossoming career? One of my best performances, one that I am very proud of, is when I was able to play on the Warped Tour last summer. It was super cool! Another milestone was when I was able to come up with my own melody. That was a huge step up because I was really afraid of it. Not afraid but I didn’t know how to come up with my own melody. I thought it was a huge, scientific, mathematic thing you had to figure out and study! [laughs] If you just put yourself out there and try, you can accomplish anything! You are a young artist and you touched on how your musical tastes have changed. What do you consider the biggest part of your evolution as an artist so far? I think the biggest evolution for me was finding and performing with a live band. That resulted in me having more of a live sound, as opposed to everything having such a production sound to it. I remember some of the first songs I did having an electronic drum on the track. These next songs, the ones I have done recently like “Savage,” have live drums. Performing live with the band completely changes the sound! I am sure you have plenty of goals when it comes to your music career. What are some of your musical bucket list items? That is a tough one! I am definitely looking forward to starting to tour. Touring is one of my favorite parts of this whole thing. I would love to pack stadiums in Europe! That would be the ultimate dream! I would also love to perform with a rock legend like Joan Jett! It would be so cool to share the same stage as her! Who are some of the bands you find exciting these days? Has there been anything that has really caught your ear lately? Yeah! Like I said, I am a huge fan of Joan Jett. She just released an album called “Unvarnished.” It sounds so cool because it literally sounds like it came out of the 80s, even though it is 2013! It sounds incredible! Fall Out Boy’s latest album, “Save Rock and Roll,” is another one that I really like. I love Paramore and Tonight Alive. There are a lot of really good bands out there right now! It is really cool to have people like them to look up to! I am sure a lot of young musicians can look to you as an inspiration as well! What is your best advice to people who are looking to make their career in music? My best advice, even though it sounds completely cheesy, is do not give up! Everyone says that but there are going to be a lot of things throw your way that might discourage you or make you question what you are doing. The truth is you keep doing it and believe in yourself, you can do it. The only person who can stop you from doing what it is you want to do is yourself! Always stay true to your sound and what you want to be! That is what is going to set you apart from everyone else!



Obviously, you pour a lot of energy into your music career. What do you like when you aren’t focused on music? When I am not doing music, I am very relaxed! I love going to the beach. I love going for runs in the park or walks. I love simple things like sitting down in a cafe and reading a book. I love writing. I love hanging out with friends. I like to keep it simple and relaxing because the whole being on stage thing is very energy draining! [laughs] With so many thing s going on in your life, it has to be an exciting time for you. What is the best part of being Diamante these days? The best part of being Diamante is going to the studio and never knowing exactly what is going to come out! Having the freedom to write what I want and how I feel is amazing. Going on stage and singing to the people is awesome as well. It is an amazing experience to see people start recognizing my songs and sing my lyrics. People know who I am now! When I go to shows, I am meeting people who I have reached musically. That is an amazing experience! What are the best places for people to catch up with you online and learn more about your music? My website is www.diamanteofficialmusic.com is the place where I always announce upcoming shows and new releases. My Facebook, where I interact with a lot of people, is www.facebook.com/diamanteofficialmusic. The Vevo Channel is vevo.com/diamanteofficialvevo and the Twitter is twitter.com/diamanteband. The Instagram is instagram.com/diamanteofficial. Great! Is there anything you want to say to your fans before I let you go? Yes! Thank you so much for listening to my music. Always check up on my social media because I am always posting where I am going to be and what is coming soon! Be ready for the new stuff coming out in January 2014 because I am going to be starting a tour at the beginning of January with The Savages, which is going to be my backing band. It is going to be really cool. Up until then, I am just going to be doing some Christmas and Holiday shows in LA, so be on the lookout for those. Thank you so much for your time today, Diamante. We look forward to spreading the word on all you have going on! Thank you so much for having me!

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Vans And Metallica Join Forces For Vans x Metallica 20th Anniversary Half Cab Pro

Vans And Metallica Join Forces For Vans x Metallica 20th Anniversary Half Cab Pro

In a match that appears to have been a long time coming, Vans, the original skate shoe company, and iconic rock band Metallica proudly announce a creative partnership delivering shoe projects that will surely satisfy action sports and music fans alike.  Many a skate trick is landed with Vans shoes on the feet and a Metallica tune in one’s head, so the inevitable union kicks off in October with a limited edition Vans x Metallica 20th Anniversary Half Cab Pro available in better skate shops everywhere.  The collaboration will continue late this winter with two product drops:  a four-piece “Passion Project” collection designed by each member of Metallica coming in February and a two-shoe salute to the band’s debut album, Kill ‘Em All, delivering in March.

As a thank you to the fans that have made Metallica one of the most successful acts of the past 30 years, the unique “Passion Project” collection will launch exclusively to Met Club members in January prior to being made available to the general public.

“I’ve been wearing Vans on stage my whole freakin’ career (and way before that!),” said Metallica bassist Rob Trujillo. “Whether I’m walking the streets of Venice or San Francisco, Vans provides the funk in my stride!”

“To have Metallica, my all-time favorite metal band, collaborating with me on this 20th anniversary Half Cab shoe is an honor and a dream come true,” said Vans’ skate legend Steve Caballero.  “I’m very stoked that Vans is working with such a legendary band and the Half Cab is just the beginning.”

In early October, skate shops around the world will receive the latest release in the year-long celebration marking 20 years of the most popular skate shoe of all-time, Steve Caballero’s signature Half Cab.  The heavy-duty canvas and suede “black to the floor” Metallica edition of the Half Cab Pro features classic band lyrics embossed in the side, exclusive Vans x Metallica x Steve Caballero labeling and a unique clear rubber sole with Kill ‘Em All album artwork showing through.  To learn more about the Half Cab and where you can find the special Metallica edition, please visit  www.vans.com/halfcab20

In January, Met Club members will have the first opportunity to grab one of the most unique Vans shoe collections ever: the Metallica “Passion Projects”.   Each band mate – Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield, Robert Trujillo and Lars Ulrich – had free reign to choose any iconic Vans shoe style and make it their own.  Each drew from their favorite influences in the worlds of music, action sports and art to create Vans shoes reflecting their personal style.  The Vans x Metallica Passion Project shoes are available to the general public in February.

In March, Vans and Metallica introduce Kill ‘Em All theme shoes featuring two of Vans’ all-time favorite styles, the Classic Slip-On and the Sk8-Hi, each emblazoned with artwork marking the 30 years since the release of Metallica’s debut album.

Stay tuned to metallica.com and vans.com for updates and videos that capture the unique shared passions between Kirk, James, Robert and Lars and your favorite Vans team riders.


About Metallica: 

Formed in 1981 by drummer Lars Ulrich and guitarist and vocalist James Hetfield, Metallica (www.metallica.com) have become one of the most influential and commercially successful rock bands in history, having sold 110 million albums worldwide and playing to millions of fans the world over. They have scored almost a dozen multi-platinum albums, including 1991’s Metallica (commonly referred to as “The Black Album”), which is the best selling album in history of Soundscan, scanning almost 16 million albums in the United States alone, and nearly 30 million worldwide.  In October 2008, their album, Death Magnetic, debuted at number one on the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart and in 27 additional countries around the world.  Metallica have garnered numerous awards and accolades, including nine Grammy®Awards, two American Music Awards, and multiple MTV Video Music Awards.  They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2009.  In December 2011, Metallica celebrated its 30th anniversary, performing four shows at the Fillmore Theatre in San Francisco, CA, exclusively for members of their fan club, the Metallica Club.   In 2012, they announced the launch of Orion Music+More, an annual two-day festival curated and headlined by the band.  This past summer, Metallica unveiled a brand new stage in Mexico City that featured iconic elements that spanned its 30-year career.  They played eight shows to nearly 180,000 fans at the Sports Arena in Mexico City. Later that month the band performed four shows on the same stage in Canada, two in Edmonton and two in Vancouver, during which they shot their upcoming Nimród Antal directed 3D Feature Film.

Vans & Music

Vans supports and promotes music through shoe and clothing collaborations with prolific musicians and by creating and staging innovative events like the Vans Warped Tour, Off the Wall Music Nights and concerts at the House of Vans in Brooklyn.  Pearl Jam, Iron Maiden, Iggy Pop, Descendents, KISS, Social Distortion, No Doubt, Slayer and Millencolin are just some of the acts to have collaborated with Vans for memorable projects that suit the “Off The Wall” lifestyle.

For more information on Vans, please visit www.vans.com/music.

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The Used Announce U.S. Headlining Tour

The Used Announce U.S. Headlining Tour

theused_artworkPlatinum-certified Reprise Records artists The Used have announced a nationwide headlining fall tour. The month-long run, which kicks off October 9th in Las Vegas, NV and runs through November 14th in Portland, Oregon, will support their new album, Artwork, out August 31, 2009. The Almost and TK will be supporting.

Early critical acclaim for the Matt Squire-produced Artwork has been effusive. Outburn (which the band currently graces the cover of) praised its “humbling ability to sound scrappy and raw while being perfectly polished and huge,” while Alternative Press states “The Used have delivered not only the definitive album of their career but arguably one of the best records you’ll hear in 2009. 4 ½ stars.”

The Used’s legions of fans are responding as well. The first single, “Blood On My Hands” premiered on iTunes with over 5k downloads in the first day, the highest digital debut in the band’s history. The video for the song debuted on MySpace and shot directly to the #1 spot, with 200,00 views in the first 24 hours. The band is one of MySpace’s Top 15 artists, with over 100,000 streams a day on the site. The second track to premiere on iTunes will be “Born To Quit.” It will be released on August 11th.

The Used headlining tour dates are as follows. Venue and pre-sale information will be announced soon.

10/9/09 – Las Vegas, NV
10/10/09 – Salt Lake City, UT
10/11/09 – Denver, CO
10/13/09 – Minneapolis, MN
10/14/09 – Kansas City, MO
10/16/09 – Chicago, IL
10/17/09 – Detroit, MI
10/18/09 – St. Louis, MO
10/20/09 – Toronto, ON
10/21/09 – Montreal, QC
10/23/09 – Boston, MA
10/24/09 – Baltimore, MD
10/25/09 – Washington, DC
10/27/09 – New York, NY
10/28/09 – Philadelphia, PA
10/30/09 – Myrtle Beach, SC
10/31/09 – Orlando, FL
11/01/09 – Atlanta, GA
11/03/09 – New Orleans, LA
11/05/09 – Dallas, TX
11/06/09 – Houston, TX
11/07/09 – Austin, TX
11/09/09 – Phoenix, AZ
11/10/09 – Los Angeles, CA
11/11/09 – San Francisco, CA
11/13/09 – Seattle, WA
11/14/09 – Portland, OR

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The Vacancies – ‘Tantrum’ – CD Review

The Vacancies – ‘Tantrum’ – CD Review

The Vacancies - 'Tantrum'By JASON PRICE

Cleveland-based punk band The Vacancies are back with their?latest album, Tantrum.?This is their second?release on?Blackheart Records, and it picks up right where the band left off on?the last record, A Beat Missing or a Silence Added. What I always?loved about the band’s earlier releases was the that they were?truly inviting to the listener by being so raw and distinctly punk.?What makes the band’s music so accessible is that they write of?social issues from a common man’s point of view, the same issues?that?effect us all. This release is no different.

The band pulls no punches from the opening track onward and forges?ahead with?the punk rock spirit that started the genre years ago. The?Vacancies continue to grow as musicians on this release, taking steps?forward musically and sounding tighter than ever. This marks the?second time the band has worked with Blackheart Records and producer?Kenny Laguna, who have managed once again to capture the high energy?and streetwise sound of the band. The opening track, “Compound”,?starts the album off right, proving that the energy of the band is?still there and more ferocious than ever. This leads in to “Below Merlot,” which keeps up the pace and provides a beer-drinking,?street-punk anthem for the band’s?repertoire, which is something every good punk band needs! “Pride” and “Sick Modern Era”?are representative of the band’s social consciousness and well-crafted tunes that bring to mind some of punk’s early pioneers. Other standout tracks include “Funeral”?and?”Savior,” which are two of the most melodic songs on the record, showcasing the talent of these punks.

From start to finish the album is a gem. Tantrum is a breath of?fresh air from what is being force fed to kids today by the major?labels. No frills, nothing over produced, just raw energy with well-written hooks and lyrics. In short, it is Warped Tour tested and Joan?Jett approved. You don’t get much better than that.

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The Vacancies – ‘A Beat Missing or a Silence Added’ – CD Review

The Vacancies – ‘A Beat Missing or a Silence Added’ – CD Review

68d615f2By JASON PRICE

The Cleveland-based band The Vacancies bring their punk sound and attitude to light on their sophomore release A Beat Missing or a Silence Added.?

In a world where punk has strayed more to the “pop” side, The Vacancies play punk the way it was intended to be played. The record is loaded with a powerful sound that harkens back to the underground punk scene. The songs are high energy, political and very well produced by Joan Jett and Kenny Laguna. The clean production on the album showcases the driving guitars and a powerful rhythms.

In recent years, radio-played punk rock has strayed away from it’s more political roots. The sound of songs such as “Save Yourself” and “New Religion” bring to mind punk pioneers The Clash and Black Flag, along with a more listener friendly twinge of The Ramones. The band shows their versatility on “Closer,” which delivers a more punk/ska sound that may even be a bit out of place. On “Radio Revolution,” they take a shot at corporate radio and the homogenized state of music in mainstream America. The record, while not perfect in all areas, is definitely a huge shot in the arm of the post-Green Day era of punk music. If you are tired of what is being presented as modern punk music, A Beat Missing or a Silence Added is definitely worth the listen.

The Vacancies are Billy Crooked (vocals), Michael James (guitar/vocals), BO (bass) and Angelo Merendino (drums) The band has released their latest album A Beat Missing or a Silence Added on Blackheart Records.


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Throwing a ‘Tantrum’ with The Vacancies’ Billy Crooked

Throwing a ‘Tantrum’ with The Vacancies’ Billy Crooked

The Vacancies' Billy Crooked

The Vacancies' Billy Crooked

Getting Joan Jett’s stamp of approval on your work is no small feat. To do such a thing twice is even more of a testament to a band’s punk prowess. Well, if that sounds like a shining endorsement to you, look no further than Cleveland-based punk band The Vacancies. Their latest outing on Blackheart Records is being praised by critics and landed the band a spot on this year’s Warped Tour. Live-Metal.Net’s Jason Price checked in with vocalist Billy Crooked about the the evolution of the band, the new album Tantrum and what it is like sharing the stage with some of his influences, which just so happen to be some the genre’s biggest names. 

Live-Metal: For people not familiar with the band, The Vacancies, how did the band come about?


Billy Crooked: Well, our guitar player Michael James, and I are the original members from 1998 and at that time I wasn’t singing, I was playing guitar. Our singer at the time left to do his own thing and we parted ways. Then we just kind of got the right people together and we just hung out in Cleveland, playing our asses of for a very long time. It really wasn’t until 2004 when we hooked up with Blackheart Records, Joan Jett’s label, that we put out our second record. So that is what started getting us out. We started touring and actually doing press. Basically, that is how it came about. We just met through mutual friends and we had been in bands for a long time before that. Even our new drummer and rhythm guitar player are from a band that we used to play with all the time called Dead By July. There are not a ton of bands in Cleveland that play this kind of music. So the people who are dedicated and work hard just seem to find each other.

What inspired you to get into music and to go this route?

I actually started kind of late. It was just after high school. That’s when I really started to go to shows. So I was a late bloomer. I am 31 now, so it feels like I have been doing it a long time! I was always really into music, but it never dawned on me that I could pick up a guitar and be in a band until I started going to shows. At that time, I was really naive and the only punk music I knew about was the Sex Pistols, the Ramones and The Clash. That was the extent of my knowledge. I didn’t have an older brother or older friends who were handing my records. So once I found it on my own, I decided that this is what I want to do.

So what are some of the other bands that influenced you?

It was a lot of that early ’90s California punk that was out at the time. I was like, “Wow, this is really still happening.” So it wasn’t just the old stuff. At the time, I associated punk with being old, but when I saw bands like Pennywise and Rancid, it was really cool to see that this stuff was still going on. It was fun to look at the bands and see that they were guys that were my age, going out there and doing shows. It was everything about the music, it was something that I just latched onto. Then I was spending every other day in a record store just absorbing it.

Now that The Vacancies have been around for a number of years, what has been the biggest milestone for the band?

Hooking up with Blackheart Records was definitely a huge stepping stone for us. We had one record out before on a really small label in 2002 called Gutpunch. Around that time, we had all these songs written and we didn’t know what to do with them. We had no interest coming from labels and we basically played in Cleveland and a few weekends in Pittsburgh or Detroit. We would catch up with any show that we could and latch on to any band coming through, that was a national act. We were opening for everybody! [laughs] But we just couldn’t branch out. When we opened up for Joan Jett and The Blackhearts and they took notice of us and wanted us to do a record, that is really when we started to develop and started to make us more of a professional band. Then we were able to record, all these songs that we had written from the past  two and a half years and go into the studio in New York. Joan produced that album and we were finally able to present all that material that we were so anxious to get out. 

Where do you draw inspiration to write lyrics for the songs?

I think a lot of our songs take on a lot social issues. We just write about them from the prospective of the average guy or girl. I don’t think that we are overly political or that we preach. We just talk about things are frustrating. It seems that the things that you and I are frustrated with are the same things that a lot of people out there are frustrated with. It’s watching the news or just walking down the street and seeing people being rude or prejudiced, you see all these different things. I think we are just level-headed, normal guys that don’t like to see someone get bullied. That goes for the kid on your street to the politicians. I think that our music comes from a very real area. I guess we are just trying to give a few ideas or to enlighten a little bit. Even if it is something is simple as having common courtesy to your neighbors to touching on poverty. There are no sad love songs not that there is anything wrong with sad love songs! [laughs] There is always a time in everyone’s life for a moody love song!

You mentioned Gutpunch earlier, how has life for The Vacancies changed in the time since you released that first record?

Gutpunch didn’t have a lot of distribution and no one really knew about it. It was basically a record that we took to shows and we sold to give people an idea of who we were. The difference of being able to play shows we can play now, liked Warped Tour, is like night and day. We are now able to reach people all over the country instead of just playing shows in a small city where everybody knows each other. It is really a good feeling when you go to another state and a kid comes up to you and they have that passion in their eyes because your music touched them in some way. 

For the people who are just getting into the band, how would you describe what you guys do?

Well, I think we do our own thing and that we definitely have our own sound. I don’t think that we try to fit a genre. Sometimes I don’t think some people even consider us a punk band because there are so many subgenres and so many different ideas of what punk is. You ask one person what punk is and then ask another, and each one has a totally different idea of what punk is. We really just try to do our own thing and like John Lennon said, “Mean what say and say what you mean.” There is honesty in what we do and we work really hard to write the best songs we can. 

What do you hope that people come away with after listening to your music or seeing your live performance?

I guess I want the same thing that happens to me after I walk out of a good show. Whatever music it is, I want them to walk away with the same thing that I expect from the band and that is “No Bullshit.” Audiences aren’t stupid and they can read right through that. I think that is the thing that I have seen a lot of bands do. They underestimate the intelligence of the crowd. Granted, some people do get fooled by the bullshit. When I see a band, I can tell that they mean what they are doing. They are up there because they love it and that there is no stick and is real. That is what we try to do. Whether we are playing for four people or 400 people, it’s the same show. We have fun doing it and the day that I get up on stage and it isn’t fun anymore is the day I will stop doing it. It’s not about trying to be famous or trying to get paid or trying to get laid, it’s about the music.

Your latest release, Tantrum, is your second go-round with producer Kenny Laguna and Blackheart Records. Was there more pressure this time around?

This time there was definitely less pressure. The first record that we did with Blackheart, Kenny and Joan, was and I’ll be honest, nerve-wracking as hell! I grew up a big fan of Joan Jett and The Blackhearts. I had their tapes in my car and we knew a little bit about Kenny Laguna. So once we had played with Joan and met Kenny, we realized that he was from the old school and has been around and we were like, “This guy is the shit!” So when they flew us out to New York to record the record, we had only done a couple of shows with them, so we really didn’t know them and I was starstruck meeting Joan. So, all of a sudden we are going to spend two weeks with them. It isn’t like we are the most confident, cocky band, so I am thinking, “I hope I can sing alright” and “I hope we don’t fuck up our songs” and “What if they think we suck?” But at the same time, they made it really comfortable for us. By the second day, we were like old friends, which made the record that much easier to do. But this time around, they backed the record and they were supportive. They listened to our demos and thought that it would be a great record, so go for it. We did everything in Cleveland. Kenny came out and checked out some tracks and this time it was much more laid back. The fact that we were able to do it at home was cool. We would work all day and then go to the studio at night. So it was really tiring, but it was a different vibe. The first time we were in New York to record an entire album in a week. On this one, we took our time and were able to relax more to do exactly what the songs needed. Definitely a different vibe this time around.

So I take it that you are pleased with the way it turned out?

Oh yeah. I mean, I am proud of all of our records. This one I am especially proud of because it is the new one, so it is the songs that I am least sick of! [laughs] We really are proud of it and happy to be able to be out on tour so people can check it out. So far we have gotten nothing but great response on it, and the majority of people are saying that it is our best one yet. I feel that Tantrum is our best record yet.

How is life on the Warped Tour treating you?

Good! Not bad! I can’t complain, and it is fun. I’m not at work, slinging a paint brush around and climbing 32-foot ladders, you know what I mean?

So this is a summer vacation of sorts for you.

This is vacation! I just people watch and I like to meet random people. Talking to some of the kids’ parents is a blast. They are some of the most fun people to meet because they are so into the fact that their kids are into the music and they are so proud! So that is cool. It’s been good. This is our first time on Warped and it is really cool.

What is it like touring with some of the bands that have influenced you?

Last summer we toured with The Adolescents (www.theadolescents.net) and Street Dogs (www.street-dogs.com) and those are two great, great bands! They are some of the nicest people in the world. It is one of those things where we became an instant family and everybody watched out for each other. It doesn’t get any better than that, people that share a livelihood and a passion for music. The guys from The Adolescents were just so incredibly nice and generous. I can’t describe how cool of an experience that was for me. Last fall we went out with Circle Jerks (www.officialcirclejerks.com) and Pennywise (www.pennywisdom.com), we only did a week and a half, but to watch those bands every day and studying them, makes me feel like I am continually getting an education about what can make a band great. Watching Keith Morris on stage for a week and a half is something that I won’t forget. So I try to take a little bit of that and let it sink in and try to give back that intensity that he gives the crowd. 

Is there anything else you want to add?

Well, like I said, I think that Tantrum is our best work to date. I think that if people pick it up and really listen to it, that they will enjoy it. I’m not going to give any money-back guarantees because I am broke! [laughs] But seriously, give it a chance. I think if you are someone who hasn’t heard of us but is into the bands that I mentioned, it is definitely worth giving it a listen.


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