You may have never heard of Shut Up and Deal, but you will soon when you go to your local date of this year's Warped Tour. The band will be playing the entire thing without any management, agent, or label, a feat that is virtually impossible my today's standards. If you're into honest pop-punk that is catchy yet not over-produced, then this is for you. Thanks to the band for taking time out of their schedule to answer these questions.
1. Introduce yourself and your role in the band.
Joe: Hey, I'm Joe and for all intents and purposes, I am the lead vocalist.
John: I'm John. I sing and play guitar.
2. What is the current lineup for the band? I know there were some changes.
Joe: There were recently some changes, but there are no hard feelings or bad blood between us and our ex-members. We parted ways on good terms and wish them nothing but the best in everything they do. That being said, we recently added 3 new members. Burt Hoagland on drums, Jonathan Olivares on guitar and Pat Kish on bass. Burt and Jonathan used to play in an awesome band from Salt Lake City, UT called Mury, and Pat is actually one of our original guitarists, so it's nice to have him back.
3. You just got announced for Warped Tour 2011. What are your thoughts on this?
Joe: BOOM! We have put in a lot of effort and hard work to get this opportunity. We actually never really thought it would pay off. I mean, you tell yourself you're good enough, you work hard enough and you deserve it, but when you see bands who don't work hard or deserve it, rising to the top, it's a little discouraging. Kevin Lyman, and all the other great people behind the Vans Warped Tour are giving us the amazing opportunity to prove ourselves amongst the rest of these bands, and we intend to do it.
John: I'm really stoked to be a part of the tour this year. I'm really glad that I get to see bands like Simple Plan and Reliant K melt kids' faces every single day.
4. Can you explain how you hustled and worked hard to get on Warped Tour? The story is actually very refreshing to hear.
Joe: I have to give a summed up, slightly edited version. In 2009 we set out to follow the tour and sell CD's and promote the hell out of our band. It became very apparent, very quickly, that we were just one of many bands attempting to do the same thing and…doing this gets on peoples nerves. The last thing that we wanted was to create a bad rep for ourselves, especially with the Vans Warped Tour and any of the bands or people on it. To make a long story short, we did what ever it took to prove that we were willing to work hard and earn respect from the people around us. We worked to prove that we deserved a fair chance to get up on stage next to the other bands and show that we belonged there. In 2010, we did the same thing, proving that we weren't going to give up. Now, 2011 will hopefully be our year.
5. Joe, you have also played a big role in contributing at the EIY (Earn It Yourself) meetings at Warped Tour? What did you learn from them?
Joe: I attended as many of the meetings as I could last year. I tried to contribute anything I could, from my experiences as a promoter and a member of a DIY band, but I was able to learn a lot. The meetings were open discussions with Kevin Lyman, Lisa Brownlee and Sarah Saturday of EIY. The combined knowledge and experience of those people alone is phenomenal, but the meetings often had special guests from record labels, other bands as well as very successful promoters. I tried to take in as much information as I could about where the industry was headed, but what I really took away from it was the fact that music is rapidly falling back into the control of the musician and the listener, not the industry, which is good for all of us.
6. What is the biggest challenge for a band like Shut Up and Deal on Warped Tour?
Joe: I would say exposure. In the giant scheme of things, we aren't very well known at all. Getting people to pay attention these days isn't easy. Websites like Twitter, Tumblr and Facebook have kids convinced that they are completely connected to anything and everything that matters. For every one person who says, "I've never heard of Shut Up and Deal. I should go check them out," there are three people who say, "I've never heard of Shut Up and Deal, so they must suck. Warped Tour isn't going to be good this year because it's full of shitty bands I've never heard of." It just seems like kids don't want to hear it unless a website, blog, or magazine tells them they should.
John: I think a huge challenge for us is money, mainly because we don't have any. With a huge tour, like Vans Warped Tour, you have to front a ton of cash for merch and supplies. Yeah, we make up for it down the road, but the initial investment is ridiculous. I barely have enough money to feed myself, let alone order five billion shirts!
7. Who are you looking to see again and hang out with on Warped Tour?
Joe: There are a ton of great people on the Warped Tour staff that we have gotten to know pretty well over the last couple years and it will be great to get to see them again and hang out. I am really looking forward to spending a summer with our good friends in The Exposed. They are great guys and they are a great band.
John: The Exposed are definitely good dudes. I think I'm most excited just to see how the rest of the line up pans out. I would literally shit my pants if Jimmy Eat World was playing this year.
8. Your second EP, This One's For Me, came out in 2010 and is incredible. Any plans for new music soon?
Joe: We are currently working on some new material with our new members. We are discussing the possibility of digitally releasing a new song or an acoustic EP before the summer, but it's yet to be determined. Either way, we plan on recording a new record this winter.
John: I actually just learned how to play my instrument so I'd love to write some new stuff.
9. What is missing from the music scene nowadays?
Joe: In our scene, at the level we are at, it seems like everything. Good promoters who will set up good shows and spare a few bucks for the band, kids who actually want to go to shows and have a good time, bands that will help each other out and bands who can do the same things live as they do on their record. I could go on forever. It just used to be a lot better. Everybody just seems to be really into supporting specific bands or venues instead of the scene itself.
10. Any advice for up and coming bands?
Joe: Just do what you like. No matter what you do or how you do it, there will be plenty of people who have something negative to say. As long as you like what you do and you believe in it, then who cares? I don't do this for any one else; I do it because it's what I want to do, how I want to do it, and for the time being it beats getting a job. Most importantly, get out from behind your computer. Meet people face to face and promote everywhere you go. Play everywhere that you can.
John: Step 1. Get a sweet haircut. Step 2. Use "party" as a verb. Step 3. Repeat steps 1 and 2 as needed.
11. Who should the readers check out?
Joe: The Exposed, The Material, and any of the bands they have never heard of on the Vans Warped Tour this year.
John: I think everyone should take the time to check out a band that they've never heard and form their own opinion about whether or not they like it. Don't just listen to what everybody else likes.
These guys and Larry And His Flask were, in my opinion, the best shows I saw all day at Warped. These dudes play great, the mix sounded good, and Joe, John, and Jonathan sing spot-on harmonies just like on their recordings. Not to mention, I got to meet Joe face-to-crotch when he came down to the audience. XD