Simply put, it was requested that I speak with Dangerkids, so I made that happen. They've enjoyed a good amount of success on the first half of the tour, performing on the Kevin Says Hard Rock stage. I spoke with members Tyler Smyth and Andy Bane about being on the tour, their current album Collapse, and perhaps a brand new album in the works?
Starting off, can you state your name and what you do in the band?
Tyler Smyth: My name is Tyler Smyth, and I rap and sing.
Andy Bane: I'm Andy Bane, and I sing and scream.
"Dangerkids are on the Warped Tour" - does that sound weird to you guys?
Andy: It's surreal...
Tyler: It's sounds SUPER weird. My first Warped Tour was 2001.
Who'd you see back then?
Tyler: I saw Eminem, 311, Alien Ant Farm, and Fenix TX...all kinds of stuff.
Andy: I think my first one was 2002...I've been to 7 or 8 since then.
Has there a particular experience you guys have cherished over the years going to this tour?
Tyler: As a fan, I've cherished it more than anything - it's very community driven, brought together by people who freakin' love music and love making it happen. I remember the first time I crowdsurfed at Warped Tour, and security pulls you down and lets you go...there's so many people out there to make this thing amazing.
As far as playing this year, how has your experience been so far?
Andy: It's been amazing. We really didn't know what to expect, we're still a pretty new band and stuff. So far everything's been great, we've had some bigger crowds than we expected...
Tyler: It's been surprising - we have lines for us to sign stuff, never did we think that would happen.
How have those signings been for you guys? What do people tell you during them?
Tyler: I would say it's heavily influenced by our lyrical content, or how we've helped them through some time of hardship, which is great. We also have people that wave and just hug us and then leave. But yeah, I'd say a lot of people are interested in the way our music has impacted them.
You guys on the Kevin Says Hard Rock stage - not the Monster Energy stage, the Journeys stage, the Warheads stage, etc. For the most part, people seem to ignore the stage except for bands a couple bands like Neck Deep or A Lot Like Birds. So when people come out to this particular stage, you definitely know it's for you guys . How does it feel to have that sense of loyalty present from your fanbase when you guys step out to play?
Tyler: Oh, it's incredible, and I think we had that same conversation...sometimes the stage is so remote, where it's like "They aren't here by accident", you know? For instance, when we were in New Mexico, there was a huge sandstorm and everyone stayed in line for the signing, and some even held our tent down. They didn't want to "kind of" want to meet us, they definitely wanted to meet us, and it was very intentional.
It's confirming that you doing something right
Tyler: Yeah, we'd like to think so.
This has definitely been the interview I've gotten the most requests for
Tyler: What the heck man, that's awesome!
What has been your biggest goal while out on this tour? Is it to meet fans? To make a statement?
Tyler: We may have different opinions on that.
Andy: Really meeting the fans, raising awareness of our group. We're still a new band and we work the lines every morning and talk to people, trying to sell CDs, at least let them know what time we're playing.
Tyler: We think that if people could take the second to catch a song live, or we could put headphones on someone for 30 seconds, that they would be...not even be impressed, but I think it would lead to them listening to us more. I think that we do have something really cool going on that we really enjoy. I don't think any one person's more important than the other, but I think what we're doing is neat and I'd love for people to hear that. And for the people that have, oh my gosh they make us so happy. But we're totally not above that, we love talking to people and meeting them.
What is your favorite song to play during your set and why?
Andy: Mine is probably "Hostage" or "Paper Thin". "Paper Thin" is one of my favorite songs on the record, so I like playing it - the meaning behind the song means something to both of us.
Can you go into that a little bit?
Tyler: Without being too specific, "Paper Thin" is about losing someone really close to you. Even though they're gone, they live on through you - the time you had together and the things they taught you. Not to be too heavy, but it's a pretty heavy song in that regard.
It's alright to be heavy, just as long as you're honest about what you're writing...
Tyler: Oh, it's so honest, this whole band is from the gut. But yeah, "Paper Thin" is probably my favorite. And it's neat, Warped Tour has brought us to a level where at least now you can put the mic out there, and people will go "ohhhhh woahh-ohhh". And you're like "oh man, we've never got that". It's never been an overwhelming noise.
Has there been a time where you thought someone knew the words, but then you put the mic out there and it's like....
Tyler: Oh man, those are our favorites! And to be honest, it happens a lot with my rapping too, because I tend to rap pretty quick; it doesn't feel fast to me, but I'll be going through the words and I'll see people in the crowd and they're like "Yo!..."
Andy: ...trying to keep up
Tyler: It gives me a smile, their hearts in the right place.
If you had time to add one more song to the set, which one would you add?
Andy: Man, I would say "unmade" or "fractions"...We didn't play "unmade on this tour...
Tyler: Which if you're not familiar, is probably our slowest song on the album...
Andy: It's heavily electronic and more like a ballad...
Tyler: And more about having something to say, [it's more] than rocking out to some music. It's lyrically heavy, the lyrics to that song are probably an album for most bands.
Collapse came out 9 months ago, it's gotten a good reaction. I mean, you've been dubbed the next "Linkin Park"...
Andy: I hope, that would be awesome.
What do you guys think about the comparison?
Andy: I think it's cool, Linkin Park is a huge influence and we wear it on our sleeves. It'd be totally dumb of us to go "who's Linkin Park? We're the first band to rap!"
And you guys just met them a few days ago in Ventura...
Tyler: Just a couple days ago! I was looking at the pictures, I was geekin'. Mike [Shinoda] and Chester [Bennington] were so great, they kicked it for like half an hour. And the coolest thing is, they were like "we know you guys!" and they had information to back up that they weren't just sort of entertaining us, and all the stories lined up and everything. I was like "My name crossed your lips? That's awesome, man".
Was there something that they shared with you guys that you really took away from that experience? Advice?
Tyler: Well, tons of advice, but the biggest thing I learned is that they've been through the ringer and back, they've been through it all. They've seen things that a lot of people in bands will never see, and they came out the other end and they'll talk to people they don't really know.
Andy: Some bands in our scene, nobody in particular, are kind of assholes. Linkin Park has every reason to be assholes, they're giant! But they so nice, and so humble.
Tyler: They took so much time out of their day to tell us hilarious tour stories, and we met some of their families...it was genuine kindness, it was so cool.
Collapse was produced by you [Tyler Smith]. Will you guys consider continuing down that road in the future?
Tyler: I think we would, but it was never meant to be anything to be begin with, we were never going to play a show. Then we put out a song, and we woke up to a bunch of emails, then we thought "maybe we should play a show", and one thing led to another. Originally, Joey Sturgis, who has done lots of good bands, is a close of friend of mine who actually mixed and mastered the album - he was the one who said "Tyler, look at all you've accomplished without me touching it, and I think you should finish it". A lot of people don't know this, they think he cranks it out, but he gets into the gut of the song - like, he's more concerned with "look at how your song is connecting with people" whether it sounds good or not. So he was like "You should do it because you're putting passion into it".
What other ways did he push you guys to make the best record you guys could?
Tyler: I'd send him songs, and he'd go "do better". But on the flipside, I remember sending him "hostage", and he was like "the verse on 'hostage' is the best thing you've ever made", and I'd be like "Okay". And I know it's one persons opinion, but as a close friend and person who's job is to produce records...
What was the most challenging part about writing and recording the record?
Andy: Probably just finding the time. When we first started writing, we had no intention of playing shows, so the music was taking a backseat to everything else in our lives. So coming around this time, it's much easier to make music the priority.
Tyler: I feel like a lot of artists will cut an EP and then sign a deal, or they maybe have an album and they shop the album, and it's done. For us, we put out a song and we had managers and labels all like "we want to sign you, we don't care, we want an album now!" and we're like "...we have a song!". So we'd send them a song and they'd be like "awesome!" and then we send another song, "awesome!".
So it was pieced together then?
Tyler: Yeah, it was definitely track by track, which is neat. I think we got something cool out of that.
So it makes sense that you guys are already on the horse again to make another album
Tyler: We're trying to be ahead of the game
Are you guys a little bit anxious about writing it though? Especially since Collapse came out only 9 months ago...
Tyler: I'm not anxious, because we were behind until we were caught up, you know what I mean? But then we never stopped. We've been writing and recording casually recording ever since, and even now, we've got about nine songs that we're pretty sure we want on the album.
What looks different on this upcoming album compared to Collapse? Writing, lyrics...
Tyler: I definitely think it's 2.0 - if album one was "a modern-day Linkin Park", then album number two will be Dangerkids...if that makes any sense. Again, huge influence from Linkin Park, I don't mean to get that twisted, but I think it's got a neat vibe where when we play these songs we say "Man, these don't sound like anything anyone's doing right now..."
But you're finding yourselves as a band...
Tyler: That's what it is, we're finding out who we are and what we sound like - definitely rapping, a very much extension of the first album.
Do you anticipate people listening to this new album and people saying "Oh, this sounds nothing like their first record..."
Tyler: I don't think that will happen, it's fairly reminiscent...
Andy: I think it's definitely a step forward and it's an evolution of our band, but I still think you can listen to a song from any album and say "that's a Dangerkids song".
For someone brand new to Dangerkids or are considering checking you guys out live, what's the most important thing people know about your band?
Tyler: That our message is important, because a lot of bands offer something different. There's a lot of really heavy bands where you go and bang your head and it's awesome. And then there are some bands that have something to say, and I'd say we fall into that category. So I think if someone could catch us playing "Paper Thin", then I'd feel satisfied that they gave us a fair chance.
Anything else before we wrap up?
Tyler: Thank you for the interview, this was really really good. You've done this for a long time, haven't you? This was like the best interview I've ever done.
Whoa, I just clicked on this interview randomly and saw Andy's full name and realized that I'm 99% sure he grew up in my neighborhood and hung out with my next-door neighbor all the time when we were in elementary and middle school. I saw both Tyler and Andy's old bands all the time when I was a kid. Super cool that they're this successful now.