At Warped Tour, there’s a different show every day. The turn out for certain bands in Nashville is going to be different than the show in San Francisco. Still, there’s a surprising feature about Nashville that outsiders don’t seem to get – we love music. Of course, images of the Grand Ole Opry come to mind, as if we’re living and breathing country music. There’s some truth to that – it’s our history. But we’re called Music City and not Country Music City for a reason.
I got to speak to Ray Carlisle of Teenage Bottlerocket about this, how Nashville on a Monday night will still sell out a show. We chatted about his brother Brandon’s passing and how music (and the music scene) can truly heal.
Creative Control: How many Warped Tours have you guys played?
Ray Carlisle: This is our second.
CC: How’s it been?
RC: It’s really good. Kind of a weird tour to come back on after everything that happened, but we confirmed Warped Tour before Brandon passed away. That was really the top of the list – other than are we gonna continue playing music – was are we gonna do this tour? We all came together and said, “Let’s do it.” I think that a big positive part of Warped Tour is you get your music out to a new group of people. That said, Teenage Bottlerocket’s pretty content with how big we are. Do we really need to be any bigger? That’s the dilemma – do we need all of these idiots to like our band? We don’t care. Here we are.
CC: But it feels good when you go out.
RC: Honestly, I think we’re in search of some chemistry with our new drummer out here. I think it’s helping. Warped Tour with the half hour set is giving us the opportunity to play as many songs as we can, and we’re adding three or four songs a day, so we’re playing a different set everyday. Hopefully we’ll have close to a hundred songs by the end of the summer. So, as far as the vibe, it’s cool! I like it. There [are] some things I hate about it and some things I like about it. I hate to line up for food. I hate the bands. [laughs] I should be cool because I really like the band members. Sometimes I stand there listening to music during the signings and it’s like, fuck. I can’t hang. I can’t hang with this shit. I have to say some of the stuff will grow on me because it will. After the last Warped Tour we did, we became dear friends with Bayside and Saves the Day. And I wasn’t the biggest Saves the Day fan or Bayside fan, but at the end of the tour just based on my friends I started to listen to that music more. Even some of the bands that I totally wouldn’t expect – like Falling In Reverse, they’re my friends now and I like their band now. And Motionless in White – they’re my friends now and I like their band now. So, it might happen. That’s not gonna happen with Atilla. It will happen with maybe Vanna. Maybe? Every Time I Die – maybe, a possibility.
CC: You’ll wear the merch and hand out CDs at Warped for them.
RC: I’ll pick up a t-shirt. I’ll pick up a jersey! So yeah, it’s cool.
CC: Okay, do you think you guys will play future Warped Tours?
RC: It all depends on the vote between all of us and how this summer goes. We just played Exit/In with The Pears. I think it was April of last year. It was 2015. Awesome show. Such a kick ass show. It was on a Monday. We were like, “Nashville on a Monday. We’re dead.”
CC: Yeah, Nashville any day of the week is actually solid.
RC: But the line was out the door, around the block of Exit/In. We were like, “This show is so legit.” Trever from Face to Face was there. Matt Yonker, the sound guy for Less Than Jake was there. It was like, this is happening, Nashville. Today we played in front of a huge group of people and I didn’t recognize anyone from that show. So, that’s one thing that Warped Tour has, a completely different audience. A lot of them came up to me and said that they saw us at the Nashville Warped Tour 2014 and they came to see us again. It’s rad. We did our signing right after we were done playing today, and right after we were done playing today, Masked Intruder played. So, there was a bunch of people lined up for our signing, but at a typical show if Masked Intruder was after us, no one would come to our signing. They’d be like, “Yeah, we’re gonna go see the other band we came here to see.” I think there’s some evidence that the people who came to Warped Tour Nashville today don’t necessarily know who NOFX is. I saw a Neck Deep shirt.
CC: Nashville is a great city to have Warped Tour in because of stuff like that,
RC: I love it. I love it.
CC: What is your favorite food to eat when you’re on tour?
RC: Well, tacos all day. Trevor took us to this taco place in East Nashville, like the hipster part of town.
CC: Mas Tacos?
RC: I think so. They had this sole there that’s way bad ass. Holy shit, I love that. That place is so good. It all depends. When we’re in Texas we do the barbecue thing. When we’re in Chicago – this is funny – we do this Philly cheesesteak place called Philly’s Best.
CC: [laughs] In Chicago….
RC: [laughs] When we’re in Philly we do Chicago pizza. So, it all depends on where we’re at, but for the most part Mexican food. All day, every day, nonstop.
CC: If you’re looking to continue the barbecue experience, Edley’s in Nashville is another good place to go. So, how are you guys doing after everything that went down with Brandon? How are you guys healing after that?
RC: Sad. Brandon’s wife’s dad was at our show today. His name’s Steve, and Brandon and Steve were really close. At Brandon’s funeral, Steve was there. He came up to us afterwards and he was weeping. I saw him today and I started to cry right before our set. I have contacts and my contacts get fucked up. So, I forced myself to stop crying. I’m sad. I miss my brother a lot. It’s difficult. I think that when somebody dies that you’re close to, it’s tempting to pretend it didn’t happen. Brandon’s just on some long vacation. He’ll be back. When he played with Teenage Bottlerocket, he played “Skate or Die” with us 2000 times. He started the band with me. When we play “Skate or Die” without him, you’re just taking it on, straight up, and it can be difficult. So, it makes me sad. Kevin Lyman and MusiCares really came forward with it, and there [are] real loving people on this tour with big hearts. Everybody in the punk scene – it was sensational how everybody came out and came together with Brandon passing away – everyone’s thoughts and prayers and good vibes in our direction. It was a positive thing out of such a negative thing. Brandon would want us to keep on playing music and that’s what we’re out here doing.
CC: That’s good. You’ve got a crowd of kids seeing out you play every day at Warped. Coming up to your band signings, all of that good stuff.
RC: We’re hit or miss out here. We’re hit or miss. Just playing music with these dudes is what I’m stoked on. Of course, whenever you get the vibe from the crowd and everybody’s stoked…. San Antonio was really great. The pre-party with Bowling for Soup was really, really great. When everything comes together like that, it’s awesome. But even if it doesn’t with the crowd, just up there playing music with my friends is where I want to be. I find peace in that. Dealing with the death of my brother, I find peace in music. Shredding helps.
CC: What do you guys have coming up next?
RC: After this, we’ll do a couple of shows in Canada. Our new drummer is from Edmonton, Alberta. We’re gonna play a show in Edmonton, we’ll play a show in Calgary on the 16th and 17th of September. Then we’ll be chill until the 1st through the 10th of December. We’re going to Europe with this band called The Bones. Don’t know anything about them except for they’re named Bones.
CC: That’s fun, you can learn something new about them along the way.
RC: Yep! Just like Warped Tour. I’ll be like, “I fuckin’ hate your band!” Then it will be, “Okay, I like it.”
CC: Then you’ll be buying shirts and jerseys.
RC: Yeah, I’ll buy your jersey, Bones!