Orange County, California has had a strong representation in the punk rock world with bands like The Vandals and Agent Orange having their origins there. Now, the straightforward punk rockers known as Longway can be added near the top of that list.
The band has toured relentlessly, making personal connections with fans all along the way. They have played in support of punk rock icons such as Face to Face, NOFX, and Bad Religion, as well as being asked to represent old school punk rock on the Warped Tour.
Longway members Brian Longway, Trevor Jackson, Mikey Pettengill, and Tim Abramson have just finished their third consecutive year on the Vans Warped Tour, and are preparing to go out on the road again in support of their latest Old Shoe Records release, Junkie.
Christopher Scott recently sat down with band members Trevor Jackson and Tim Abramson on the final stop of the Warped Tour in Hillsboro, Oregon.
What have you guys learned from being on the Warped Tour this many years?
Trevor: “Man, when we came out the first year, we had about a day and a half notice. Kevin Lyman called me on a Wednesday morning and woke me up. I was in bed, hung-over.
He was like ‘Yo, the barbeque band broke down. We want you guys to come out and do the rest of the tour’.
I was like, ‘Who is this, and why are you screwing with me right now?’
He said, ‘No, this is serious. Here is Sarah Baer, talk to her and iron it out’
I was like ‘Sarah, is he serious?’
She said ‘A hundred percent. He doesn’t screw around’.
So I got on the phone and called the guys. I told them, and they thought I was screwing with them. We didn’t think it would be able to happen. We got the call Wednesday, we quit our jobs and moved out of our apartments of Thursday, and we were in Salt Lake City on Friday night. Then on the road for two months.
I think what you learn is that no matter how big or how good you think you are, there’s always someone better out there. And it’s a grind, man. Every day, you have an opportunity to make your own show. You get out, the kids are here. There’s a million bands for them to see. You’ve got to give them a reason to want to come and see you. So for us, we learned how to hustle. We learned how to sit there with iPods and with stickers, and try and get kids to go. It makes you put on a show every single day.”
Does it ever get old?
Trevor: “No. Not even close. Not a chance.
This is Tim’s first run with us on Warped Tour. I think it’s kind of different. We’ve done it for three years, so for us we came in with certain goals this year that we wanted to do, and sometimes we get all wrapped up in that. We got out and played our first show. It was in Canada, and the kids went nuts and the show was awesome. We came offstage, and it was his first Warped Tour show ever. It kind of puts things in perspective. It’s like ‘yeah, this is why we do it’.
It’s as cool today as the first time we played it in ’08.”
Many expect the Warped Tour to be a showcase of bands like Bad Religion and NOFX, because it’s a punk rock tour, allegedly. How do you feel about what the tour has become?
Trevor: “It’s tough. I have my personal feelings about the type of music I’d like to see on the tour, and it’s basically represented with the old school stage and Face to Face, Anti-Flag, Bad Religion, NOFX and bands like that. But to be fair, Warped Tour has always been kind of a melting pot for music. Kevin had rap bands; he had Eminem come out and play on the tour. Any day, you can get almost any type of band.
Now, do I love all that ‘Rawr rawr rawr’ shit like that? No, I don’t get it. I don’t get what kids are listening to. I don’t know if I’m old now, or whatever, but if it wasn’t for those bands, we wouldn’t be having this conversation right now. If it wasn’t for that money that was brought in, we wouldn’t have an opportunity to be able to play at this stop.
Music goes in fads, and punk rock and the music that we grew up listening to isn’t necessarily the big money maker at this time. It’ll never go away, there’s still a market for it, but if it wasn’t for those bands, none of us people that are here bitching about those bands would fuckin’ be here. So I guess I can thank them for giving me something to do every summer until it all turns back around and we’re able to take over again.”
You’re obviously doing something right if Kevin is asking you back three years in a row.
:“Yeah, it’s cool. We’ve hustled. We worked hard. We did the barbeque two years in a row, and we did it basically with four people. We drove ourselves, we worked our merch, we did the barbeque, we set up, tore down, played our shows, and it was a 24 hour operation for two months. It’s the hardest thing I’ve mentally or physically ever done in my entire life. At the end of the tour you’re like ‘damn, all right, I could use a couple of days off. I’m happy it’s over’. I get home for about three days and then I’m like ‘Fuck, I want to go back out. This sucks. I hate it here, get me on the road’. But, it is what it is. You have good days and you have bad days, just like any other job.”
Well, considering all that “rawr rawr rawr” stuff, what’s the reaction been for you guys from the crowds on the tour?
:“They’ve actually been awesome, so far. Every day, we’ve started out with like the core group of punk rock kids that come to your show, and by the end of your show you’ve got a whole crowd built up. We’ve got nothing but positive every day. The kids come to the merch booth, and we try to meet every single one of them. It’s great. That’s why we do it, to get really personal try to get one-on-one with all the fans. It’s real good. It’s been awesome.”
: “It’s cool to see after three years. Warped Tour has given us an opportunity that we would have never had as a band, to get in front of this many people and to have maybe fans of The Casualties, or fans of NOFX. When you’re talking about tours that they go on, you’re looking at out of the millions of punk rock bands that are out there, on a normal tour they take out maybe two or three bands. So, the odds of actually getting on and getting to play to those kids are slim to none.
Out here, they’re all here. All you have to do is let them know that you’re here. We’ve done that for the last three years, and we’re finally starting to see the kids show up. It still blows us away. We’re setting up and then all the sudden there’s lines of kids start to show up. We turn around and look back and are like ‘you guys know what band this is playing right now? We’re going on’, and they’re like ‘Yeah, yeah we saw you guys last year and blah blah blah, you did this, and we got up on stage with you…’, and that’s the shit that kids remember.
When I was growing up and going to punk rock shows, or any type of shows, the bands were interactive. People would go up on stage. People would play music. The first time I ever got to play guitar on stage was with a band called Mest, and they were like “does anyone know how to play this song? Come up here” That was the first time I ever played music on a stage, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
That shit’s gone, and a lot of these younger bands don’t have a lot of respect for anyone or anything, and they don’t really give a shit about their fans or anybody else that’s involved. It’s their party, and they get to go back on their cushy tour bus, and they never really had to grind shit out. I think you definitely see a difference in the punk rock community compared to whatever this post-hardcore screamo whatever, I don’t even know what it’s called anymore.”
Have you made any friends along the way on tour?
: “Absolutely. Besides the crew… doing the barbeque, we ended up making better friends with the people that work every single day. We’ve built relationships with bands like HorrorPops, Reverend Peyton’s on the tour this year, some of the guys in NOFX and things like that. It’s surreal to be able to think that how many years ago I was out here watching these bands play. Now I’m standing side stage, or laughing and bullshitting at a barbeque, and it’s like ‘how did we get here?’ It’s absolutely amazing. I consider myself lucky as hell to be able to come out and play on this tour, and be around these people, and live this lifestyle.
It’s fucking cool as hell. I’ve watched Face to Face every day that we’ve been here, and every single fucking day I get goose bumps. As soon as their first note hits, I’m like a little fucking kid all over again. I’m just like ‘you guys are so good, and it’s so rad that I get to do this right now’.”
Have you had a favorite moment from the entire Warped Tour?
:“There was a fan that came up, I think it was in Utah, and he had a Longway tattoo. We were all just like, tripping out. Like, that guy has got, basically one of our tee shirt designs tattooed on his forearm. It was just crazy, like that’s going to be there forever.”
You know you’ve arrived when they make it permanent.
: “Yeah, the fact that our music means so much to someone that they would get a tattoo is crazy. I never thought that would happen.”
Is there anything you guys hate about the tour?
: “Um, you want to follow me around for like five minutes? I can point out more than a few things that I hate. I don’t know, you battle back and forth. I’ll wake up in the morning and be like ‘It’s going to be such a fucking great day’, and then I’ll be sitting at the merch booth and some kid tells you to ‘fuck off’ and he’s got these big old holes in his ears and he’s wearing skinny jeans and you’re like ‘what the fuck and I doing here, man”, you know?
If you look at in perspective, I don’t know how you can really hate this. You can make this tour whatever you want it to be. If you want to go watch those bands, you can. Personally, that’s not my Warped Tour. My Warped Tour is going to see The Reverend Peyton each day, and seeing Face to Face, and hanging out at the old school stage… watching bands like Riverboat Gamblers and Far From Finished and The Sparring. You can make the Warped Tour whatever the hell you want. There’s a lot of shitty music everywhere. If you go into L.A. in one night you can find shitty music anywhere. It doesn’t mean you have to stand there and watch it. I don’t necessarily hate anything about the tour, except for running out of baby wipes maybe. I hate when that happens.”
: “Can’t run out of baby wipes.”
(Pulling a new box of baby wipes from my pack) There you go.
: “Holy shit. You are my new favorite sir.”
: “I’m about due.”
: “I was just thinking when I was taking my crap this morning, I was like ‘dude, we’re almost out of baby wipes, and we have like a two day drive home.”
“You run out of those, end of tour. Period.”
What about the business part of it? Does that get in the way of just being a band and getting out and playing?
:“We’re still kind of learning about the business aspect. Music is always the first thing on our minds. It’s what we focus on the most. The business side, I don’t know, it’s something that we’re learning about, but it’s coming along. Merch sales, keep track of money and inventory, and things like that, so…”
: “If you want to be a successful band, you have to realize that it’s a business, first and foremost. Anybody you deal with outside of the four members of your band, it’s a business. To your record label, it’s a business. To your booking agent, it’s a business. Honestly, myself and Bryan I know we spend 95 percent of our time handling the business end of the band.
Be it being on the internet all day answering emails or trying to set up tours, or making sure we have enough money to go on tour, dealing with our record label and trying to get our merch done… it’s a business. It’s a full-time fucking job to be in a band. It’s not always the sex drugs and rock ‘n roll and everything like that. It’s literally sitting in front of a fucking computer for eight hours a day and trying to make this all work.
At the end of the day, it’s all worth it, ‘cause as soon as we get out on the road… all that kind of stuff, yeah we keep track of our merch and we keep track of our money, you know… but we get to be a band again. As soon as those van tires start rolling, we’re a fuckin’ band again. We take some time off from all the computer stuff and we really get into getting out and hanging out with our fans and finding out what they want and finding out what they need. Realistically, we’re out here because of them. So, if they don’t want to see us, then nobody’s going to book us, you know, and then we might as well go practice in a garage somewhere.
The business side does take up a lot of time, but it’s worth it. What else would you rather be doing?”
: “A lot of nothing.”
: “I’ve cleaned toilets at a motorcycle shop, I’ve waited tables. This guy’s been a cook. I hate that shit, man. I’d rather be doing this.”
Are you guys working on any new material?
“Brian’s actually been writing. We kind of kicked ourselves in the ass, because the last album… you always feel like you have a really long time to write an album, and then all of the sudden tours pop up and opportunities pop up, and then you book studio time and you’ve got to have material for it. Last year, we set up pre-production, we started writing… we ended up going out with HorrorPops and then having two weeks for the album in between, so this year we promised ourselves that we’d start writing early and be taking care of it, which we have.
But I think we still have life in this album. We’re going to go ahead and try to get it to as many people as possible. Then hopefully have a multitude of songs from touring and that kind of stuff. Bryan’s always writing. “
So now that Warped Tour is over, what happens today? Are you guys staying in a hotel tonight?
: “What’s a hotel?”
: “We built a hotel into the back of our van. We’ll probably hang out and say our goodbyes, and then start heading back down to California. We’re picking up the driver for Far From Finished, my brother works at the record label, he’s hopping in. There’s going to be seven of us in the van, and we’re just going to truck it home. We’ll do some stops along the way, like San Francisco. Maybe get a steak tonight.”
So you have a few days off, then.
: “We have a couple of weeks.”
: “We’re doing a couple of one-offs in California. August 21st
at the Slidebar in Fullerton, and then August 27th
at Hensley’s in Carlsbad with Angel City Outcasts , and then we take off again on September 3rd
for what could be a month or could end up being two months. We’re trying to work out another tour here for November, so if that goes through we tour through September and then go out with this band in November. If this tour comes through in November, I’ll be the happiest kid in the fucking world.”
One last thing… what’s the deal with the Double Del Cheeseburger tattoo?
: “Yes. I love Del Taco
: “We all love Del Taco
: “We really do. I used to drink a lot. Me and my brother and one of my buddies used to get really hammered and we’d always hit Del Taco
on the way home. I’ve since quit drinking, but we figured we would pay tribute to it. When my brother flew in from Maui, before we all left for tour, we went down to San Diego to Eno at Guru Tattoo and decided we’d all get some Double Dels. I have a Double Del Taco Cheeseburger tattooed on my wrist for the rest of my life. I made mom and dad proud with this one.”
: “The people at Del Taco actually started giving him free burgers.”
: “I just figured I’d ask. I was like, ‘hey man, if I show you my Double Del Cheeseburger tattoo, would you give me one?’ and the guy’s like, ‘yeah, why not?’, I was like ‘Shit, I shouldn’t have ordered my food already’.”
I drove by a Del Taco on the way up here and thought of Longway. I’ve never been there, so what do you recommend?
: “There’s nothing bad on the menu. Anything. Their chicken soft tacos are amazing…”.
: “The Double Del. You get the Bacon Double Del Cheeseburger, I know you won’t expect a cheeseburger to be good from a faux Mexican place, but it’s delicious. It’s greasy, it’s tasty, the cheese melts all over the place…”
: “Chicken soft tacos… quesadillas… Del Taco if you’re listening to this, will you sponsor us please?”
Quite an endorsement. Thanks for taking the time.