Literally, playing. Backstage. On a make-shift basketball court. And it’s a good thing we found a sturdy stick to replace part of the hoop that was busted or none of what you’re about to read would have been published.
Usually post-coverage for a major event such as the 2011 Rockstar Energy Drink UPROAR Festival will encompass a little bit of everything from the show. But in Tampa, Florida, coverage was left up to how many times a ball went through a hoop.
While doing an interview with Black Tide drummer Steven Spence, my research prior to yapping with the 23 year-old revealed the guys out of Miami, Florida bring a portable basketball hoop with them on tour. Since Steven was a stand-up guy to chat with – and in the efforts to spice things up – a challenge was proposed for exclusive coverage. In other words, if Steven could beat me at hoops, the majority of my post-coverage will be strictly geared toward Black Tide.
Long story short, our game of h-o-r-s-e was an epic battle (or at the very least entertained the parking attendants and some of the other bands who were strolling by) and came down to the last letter for those that know the shooting-competition game. Truth be told, yours truly edged out the young drummer; but since it was close and he was cool enough to go along with this, the post-coverage is awarded to Black Tide (video of the battle at the end of the interview).
That said, allow me to briefly chime in with a few thoughts from UPROAR:
By far, this is one of the best summer music festivals out there. And it’s only in year two. An endless parade of accomplished hard-rock/metal acts, who are accessible and engaging to the attending audience, will not disappoint. Standout performance – and perhaps a truly underrated band – goes to Art of Dying. They were a part of the side-stage line-up in the afternoon and easily deserve to be on the main stage of headliners that included Avenged Sevenfold, Three Days Grace, Seether and Bullet For My Valentine. Admittedly, yours truly passed on the interview with them but do not plan on making that mistake in the future. Their musicianship is right up there with everyone else on the bill.
Now in keeping my promise to Steven of Black Tide – also playing on the side-stage with Sevendust, Hell or Highwater and Art of Dying – we began our convo backstage with dissecting the difference between playing for an American audience and the rabid Europeans who love their hard rock/metal genre…
“Ah man, there are so many differences. First of all, they’re American. And the other ones are European. So, that’s first and foremost. Its just science you know.
The thing is there’s pros & cons to wherever you’re playing you know what I mean. But I like to look at all the pros, because I like to see things positive. We’re out here in America right now and it’s awesome. And when you go over to Europe and those kids are out there at like from eight in the morning waiting outside in line, and there just going crazy the whole entire show. So I feel like over there they are more passionate about the music. And over here (America) it’s about that, too. But it’s kind of like as a culture as Americans, we – and I can say this, cause I’m a part of it – we’re just a little bit lazier.”
As one can tell right away, Steven, like the rest of the band, have some personality and try to not to get all heavy – aside from their music – on life. Every one of his answers were accompanied by a smile. Speaking of their music, there’s really no rhyme or reason to how they create what audiences have heard thus far. Sure they’re placed in a category with other similar sounding acts, but they aren’t trying to remain inside a certain genre and/or category when crafting their sound…
“I want to spread a word that, us as Black Tide, are only agenda is to be able to make music and put out music that we like. We have no genre in mind.
First of all, maybe because of ignorance, I have no clue how to label ourselves in a genre. Or maybe because I just don’t want to, because I don’t want to stick myself in the box. I don’t limit myself to what I listen to when it comes to taste-wise, because that would only limit what I could create and that’s not what I’m about. I just want to be able to write what I feel. And the same thing for everyone else in the band, we want to write what we feel without being judged. Well, we’re going to be judged, but whatever.”
All that being said, based on their audible creations to date, notable acts have been taking the relatively young band on tour for the last several years. They’ve played some big shows with some heralded names in metal. But did the young members of Black Tide (age range is 18-23) ever experience nerves while meeting some of their idols…
“When it comes to nerves, I’m very fortunate that I don’t really get very nervous with anything like that. To me it feels like its right, and that we’re on the right path and meant to be doing what we’re doing. We’ve been really fortunate and we’ve had some big shows like you said and we don’t take that for granted and we take these opportunities very seriously.”
Do they pick-up and/or seek out advice from the more veteran acts they have toured with…
“We’re learning as a band everyday. Creatively we’re growing, musicianship wise we’re growing. And when it comes to things like that we’ve been really fortunate. Guys like Avenged Sevenfold, they’ve taken us out before, we met those guys back in 2007, we were out with them for like 3 months or so and we became really good friends with them. And that’s what great tours like this, especially this UPROAR tour, because we know a lot of people on this tour. It’s like a family-reunion for us.”
As stated earlier, the guys do like to keep things light whether it’s backstage or doing interviews and what not. While watching their energized set at UPROAR, that tone or theme is present as the guys have come such a long way in a short time with regards to their writing. The potential for this band is limitless based on what my eyes and ears witnessed at UPROAR. Steven believes some of it has to do with the state-of-mind of the band…
“We do like to have fun, we’re light-hearted, we’re very positive people. We really believe in you get what you give, you know what I mean? We want to enjoy life and that’s what we’re doing. We want to represent that and give that off. So we don’t take ourselves too seriously like the rest of the bands out there. Life’s fun.”
Know what else is fun? Watching Steven drum. One might describe it as controlled-chaos as the animated percussionist never misses beat. His style meshes perfectly with the other members who are venturing all over the stage during each tune; which had the lively Tampa crowd feeding off their charisma.
Final thought before the basketball duel revolved around advice for up-n-comers. A lot of aspiring rockers are enamored with how the band found success at such a young age. Is there any secret or general principle to follow in the next generation achieving their dreams…
“I think a big important factor in this business is resilience you know. If you get turned down once, you can’t give up. My best advice would be work hard, stick with it. And if you really believe in it and if you really want to do it, just go for it. There’s nothing worse than having regrets when you’re done, you don’t want that. And worst case scenario: you don’t become what you want to be at least you tried. I’d much rather live with that than anything else.”
UPROAR Festival runs through October and after that concludes Black Tide plans to continue touring on their recently released album Post Mortem…
“We don’t have anything set in stone at this point, but we are going to be touring excessively throughout this cycle until the album had its run. I imagine we are going to be over in Europe soon, so hi to all those people in Europe that I’m so proud of.”
And here’s a glimpse of the shooting duel for coverage (good battle Steven):
By Joe Belcastro