The band from Hawaii was garnering attention on the Kia/Kevin Says Stage, thanks to their sound that resembles the old-school flavor of what this tour was founded upon…

“We’re glad to represent that earlier era of the Warped Tour that was a blend of Ska and punk. It’s great with all the rock bands and stuff, but it’s a good idea to have other stuff mixed in.”

The eclectic mix that is on 2011’s docket is also capturing the attention of other bands as both guys echoed what the majority of fans think of this year’s line-up…

“We’ve been seeing so many bands, that we weren’t even aware and seeing how big of a following they have. We realize the music scene and the underground changes and evolves through the years.”

“So we think it’s cool to see a massive group of young people just like going off for some hardcore band that’s probably relatively new. We’re down for it all man; stoked to see people excited for live music.”

From there they educated me on the Hawaiian music scene assuring me that there is more than the typical island music we all assume dominates the state. In trying to give bands different questions to chew on – many of them admitted getting the same recycled questions can put a damper on doing interviews – I posed the concept to Josh86 & Geoff about bands who can fill arenas, coming back to play more intimate shows in clubs…

“There’s a certain romanticism with those small clubs, you know? A little dingy, dimly lit, no stage. Whenever you go back to that core of where you come from, it’s pretty cool.”

The guys also chimed in on how this tour has taught them to appreciate simple things such as the luxury of sleep, air-conditioning along with seeing the technical aspects the veteran bands practice. Glad I sat down them, for they were pretty astute guys (yes, even musicians are students of the game).

At this point, we had our first lull in the interview-action, so we ventured out to see a few bands. With eight stages to choose from, we just meandered around, getting a laugh out of today’s teenage habits. Though we did find the REVERSE DAYCARE tent – the place where the kids drop-off their parents while they parade around in the controlled-chaos. With fold-up chairs inside the air-conditioned tent, it felt like the parents were in time-out. They all took one for the team (their kids) that day.

Hustling back to the interview grounds as I made arrangements to yap with There for Tomorrow out of Orlando, Florida. All four members, Maika, Christian, Jay and Chris sat down before their call time on the Ernie Ball Stage. This was the band’s second jaunt as they played the Warped Tour in 2009. They immediately noticed a difference in 2011’s version…

“There’s a lot more Camaraderie on this tour,” says the soft spoken Maika, as opposed to the bickering they noticed last time they were on. To which Jay jokingly surmised…

“It’s essentially two months of a bunch of dudes living together.” As in, what do you expect right?

While being mentored by tour vets Less Than Jake – who TFT are very grateful for and now call friends- this is where TFT learned to institute a DIY (do it yourself) thing. And the lessons they learned from their neighboring band out of Gainesville, Florida have been extremely valuable.

Knowing that…had to ask the common question of how the Warped Tour has been treating them this time around, since they noticed a different vibe…

“It’s very much job and you can fun within it. It can be hectic,” says Maika.

“It’s just a big crazy traveling circus, and everyone has their heads cutoff running around like chickens,” says Chris.

Every now and then I’ll ask a band about if interviews are worth while to them or is it just more hassles. Christian chimed in…

“It’s nice when your actually talking to somebody, cause a lot of times it feels like question, answer, question, answer, then it just feels tedious.”

Their new record, The Verge, was released this past June. The guys feel that their true identity so to speak, with regards to the direction they‘re heading, has been revealed on this record. Which is quite the accomplishment since they wrote The Verge in just a week’s time.

So what I failed to mention was that there was 65 bands listed to play at Vinoy Park and about two-thirds of the band’s PR reps flooded my email box just a few days before, all requesting interview slots. Being the good little journalist that I am, I plowed through all the bands, trying to familiarize myself with their sound in case we crossed paths. Good thing too, for I would have been lost talking with Aaron Bonus of Westland.

(By the way, still in the press area – haven’t had any beer yet).

My note for Westland – literally just seven words – was how crisp and balanced their recordings sound. Being a musician myself, for me to write that, based on the infinite number of bands I’ve listened to over the years, is a credit to their efforts (Yep, I just patted myself on the back).

Aaron was someone who did not grow up with money and really wanted to make something for himself. He went to a performing arts school in New England and became a sound engineer, recording bands alike. And then he asked himself this simple question…

“Why am I recording these artists, when I can just be the artist?”

And so he did. He recorded the album in 2008 all on his own and then went looking for musicians via Craigslist and other choice avenues, hoping to bring this thing to life. Fast forward three years: now they’re playing on a tour that they were chasing around just one year ago hocking their disc…

“Last year we were following, this year we are playing, if that’s not a key example of hard-work paying off I don’t know what is.”

His theory for the momentum Westland is building…

“What I’ve realized is this: It’s a combination of just right place, right time; stars are lined up the correct way. To sit here and say I’m just a good leader and convinced people, dude it’s not like that, I’m just lucky.”

Quick side note: I got one hell of a kick out of seeing people conduct interviews and then pose for personal pictures with the band. Call me old-school (despite my young age), but that just comes across as tacky journalism people. (Or it could just be me getting the shakes from not having a beer at a rock show).

Rock on to Part 3…

By Joe Belcastro

Photos courtesy of Stephanie Byrne

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By Joe Belcastro

Joe Belcastro is an established movie critic in Tampa, Florida. As a member of the Florida Film Critics Circle, most of his time is spent reviewing upcoming movies. He also covers news pertaining to the film industry, on both a local and national level as well as conducting interviews. To contact Joe Belcastro regarding a story or with general questions about his services, please e-mail him and/or follow him on Twiiter @TheWritingDemon.

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