‘The Life and Death of the Warped Tour': Kevin Lyman Looks Back
It’s the end of an era: last week, the final Warped Tour kicked off in Ponoma, California. When the tour started in 1995 with a ragged group of punk rock bands and skaters, it would have been hard to predict that it would last nearly a quarter of a century and would introduce a wealth of bands to new, young audiences, including Sublime, No Doubt, Taking Back Sunday, Pararmore, Panic! At The Disco and Fall Out Boy, among others.
The festival’s founder, Kevin Lyman, looked back on the tour’s entire history in this extensive interview. After this summer, he’s taking a position as an Associate Professor at the University of Southern California. He has also recently launched FEND, an app to help fight the opioid crisis. and he was eager to talk to us about that.
This is the Warped Tour’s final year, but you’re just starting a new initiative, FEND.
The Warped Tour, when we started, had a three-pronged approach. It was music, philanthropy, and education. And as we’re kind of winding down this last year, the philanthropy side has been my biggest concern. How are we going to carry that mission forward?
I’ve traveled around the country, and I’m on the board of MusiCares. Each summer I have these little mini-family reunions [with different bands at the Warped Tour]. And our conversations drift to the effects of opioids. I also show up in venues each morning and ask, “Where is that person?” or “Where is this person?” And I’d say one out of five days, someone would say, “Oh, he passed away from opioids.”
So I was approached by a technology company from Australia called iPug, they had this concept [for an app]. A lot of research went into it, and they’d done some initiatives in Australia on gamification. We all love games, whether it’s to get points to get cheaper gas, or at the grocery store or to get [free] things. Everyone’s playing games. So how do we educate through games?
The audience at Warped Tour has always been open to new ideas, and if we could create the right product for them, maybe they would help us refine this. And that became the FEND app. FEND stands for “Full Energy No Drugs.”
We’re trying to build a baseline for the future, similar to what Truth did, [provide] a baseline of education [about opioids]. So eventually, after Warped Tour, we could maybe take it into motocross, or you can take it into metal music or country music or sports because everyone’s being affected by it.
Our goal is to have 50,000 people download the app by the end of the summer. The only way we’re gonna tackle this crisis is from the bottom up. Killing drug dealers is not gonna solve the problem, [contrary to] certain people’s ideas in this country. It’s going to come from education.
The opioid crisis seems to be the rare issue that Democrats and Republicans are equally concerned about.
And that’s the thing. It’s bipartisan. Every racial profile, financial profile, every demographic is being affected by this. The greatest number of people [struggling with addiction] are stay-at-home moms. This is not something that’s going to be fixed overnight. I think it’s gonna take a generation or two to really do this, similar the success of Truth in reducing the level of teen smoking. It’s gonna be a long road ahead, but you gotta try.
We’re educating people on how to recognize overdoses, that there are Good Samaritan laws. So many people don’t know that if you call to get help for someone, you can’t be charged. And people aren’t calling. We’re seeing that, especially, in teenagers. They’re grabbing few pills out of Mom’s medicine cabinet, they’re mixing it with some alcohol, the friend ODs, and they’re scared for themselves, so they don’t call for help, and the person’s dead before they could’ve gotten help. A shot of Narcan can bring a lot of people back.
The end of Warped Tour just means that I have more time to work on the philanthropic and education side. This will be a street level [initiative], but using technology, because the demographics of who I tend to work with is very tech savvy.
That’s true, and I feel like the Warped Tour audience has gotten younger over the years.
No, we’re getting older and older. They’re the same age. We’re just getting older.
I went to the first Warped Tour in 1995; it was Quicksand, L7, Sublime, Sick Of It All…
That was definitely a little older. When I started out, I was traveling with my peers and touring with my peers. Since then, we’ve settled in around that 18-, 19-year-old age group. Probably back then we were all about 22 to 25.
I remember hearing that a lot of the people on your staff had been through rehab, or even jail; you gave a lot of people a second chance.
Punk rock was always about redemption. We had a community in L.A., and we were about redemption. You could screw up in life, and if you put the effort in, you could come back into the community. The majority of my early Warped Tour crew guys all had to spend a little time in jail for stupid decisions. A lot of them were selling meth or whatever and did their time, and I gave them their second chance. And that built a loyalty, giving a second chance to people. In this day and age, it’s harder, because everyone’s prejudged on social media. I don’t believe in that. I believe that there are bad people that have to be weeded out in this world, and we tend to do that. We used to have ways where we were able to deal with that. And now there’s no sense of redemption. Everyone’s so quick to judge, but I’ve always been about redemption.
In 1995, Sublime was on our tour. And Brad Nowell, as we all know, had a very serious problem. And I was close with Brad. I have his first cassette demo tape somewhere. Our first children were born just 30 days apart, and we would talk about becoming parents and doing all these things when we were on the road. And then he died. He died of an overdose.
I don’t know if I could’ve helped. But everything I’ve learned, and now being part of MusiCares, I’m deep into that community and understanding it, I wish I had those tools in 1995. But I was a production guy just out there trying to create something. And that’s why I say there was no book written on how to do the Warped Tour because no one had done anything like that.
When I saw the Warped Tour in 1995, it was at Nassau Coliseum, on Long Island. But it wasn’t in the venue; you guys set up everything in the parking lot.
Oh yeah, we couldn’t park six buses in the space that we used to use there.
I think a lot of people thought we were gonna be just like Lollapalooza. I remember someone saying, “Kevin Lyman’s trying to beat a dead horse” or something like that.
People ask what your legacy will be, and I go, “My legacy is going out and seeing all the people working in the [music] business that either got inspired by being a fan at that tour at some point, or it inspired them to be in a band, or inspired them to work for a brand or to become a crew member, or a member of the press.”
People tell me their first show was Warped Tour or the first time they got a press credential was to cover the Warped Tour because none of the old writers wanted to go. They couldn’t understand it, so they sent the young guys out and young girls out to cover it. So that’ll be the legacy I leave.
Talk about your experience working on Lollapalooza.
In ’91 I was the first stage manager of Lollapalooza. That scene was blowing up, Jane’s Addiction, Chili Peppers. I’d never been on the road. I was a guy who worked at the clubs every day and ran the shows, but I never went on the road.
Young people want to get into the music business. I go, “You wanna work in a club? That’s the hardest job, because not only do you have to load the gear, you have to set up the catering, you have to sometimes do security.” I had to know enough to run a lighting rig and a monitor rig — not so well, but I could pull it off if I had to. So I thought I could do everything in ’91. I pretty much crashed and burned in 48 hours. All the old crew guys laughed at me and said, “This guy’s done.” I pulled myself back together and finished that tour, finished it strong.
And then in ’92 I went out again as a stage manager but ended up assuming a lot of the production manager roles, because one of our touring production people had a very serious addiction problem. I didn’t know how to deal with it. All I did was know how to do his job for him. And then in ’93 I became the “Artist Liaison,” because at that point Lollapalooza, there were people running Lollapalooza who didn’t necessarily wanna deal with the bands on a day-to-day basis, so my job was… I was being paid money to teach the [Tibetan] monks who traveled with the Beastie Boys how to play basketball and do things like that.
By ’94 I [also] did some site coordination, and I found sites and places for them to play. I just felt like [Lollapalooza’s producers] kinda changed their vision. And it’s great they found that vision again in Chicago, and now in places like Chile and Argentina and all of the places they’re doing it.
Warped came together pretty quick. I put the first one on in ’95. But the blending of sports and music was happening out in California. We were doing events. I’d pay the Chili Peppers $250 to play on top of a skate ramp. And Tony Hawk and Christian Hosoi, Chris Miller and all the early skaters, we’d do these Vision Skate Escapes and Swatch Impact tours.
And then I heard about the X-Games. I was doing a Board Aid event for charity. I was sitting in the snow. I’d gotten Perry Farrell to play [Jane’s Addiction’s] “Mountain Song,” He hadn’t played any Jane’s Addiction songs since he started Porno for Pyros, and he played that song. And it was just one of those moments: snowballs are flying, the stage was getting overrun, snowboarders, skateboarders. There was that moment I sat in the snow and I said, “You know, this whole lifestyle is gonna get promoted by the X-Games. Maybe we should go out and try to do it ourselves.”
So you started booking the first Warped Tour.
Pretty much rounded up friends, only people that were close, Sublime, No Doubt, Quicksand, L7, Seaweed, No Use for a Name. It was a very eclectic lineup for that time. And then I grabbed some skaters. Steve Salvo was a friend of mine, and he rounded up a few other skaters. And we headed out on the road, got it together within a few months and went out and did 25 cities. I always tell young people I was allowed to fail because of all the work I’d put in before.
And then ’96, Pennywise and NOFX brought legitimacy, maybe, in the artists’ eyes, because they were much bigger bands. By then, Sublime and No Doubt were massive, but on that first year, they weren’t that well-known yet. We made a video, we called it “Punk Rock Summer Camp.” So then we got known as “The Punk Rock Tour,” even though it’s been a very eclectic tour. It’s covered every genre of music from country to rap to punk to metal to everything in between.
And Vans got involved. I almost made a really bad deal, and it almost became “The Calvin Klein Warped Tour.” Can you imagine? We wouldn’t be sitting here talking. That would’ve been just a big branding mistake. And Vans got involved, and I promised them I would promote amateur skating as long as they wanted to. And 24 years later I’m now in this new phase of winding it down, and a couple weeks after it ends, I’ll be starting as a professor at the University of Southern California.
Lollapalooza always seemed very high minded. Another way to put it — if you didn’t like Lollapalooza — was that it was pretentious. I spoke to one artist who did Lollapalooza one year and the Warped Tour the following year, and he said that he was so much more comfortable on Warped.
I became friends with the vendors out on Lollapalooza, but they weren’t allowed backstage to take showers. There was always a level of hierarchy. So I’d sneak them back and let them take showers in the dressing rooms when they were done.
People didn’t really mingle. They hung out in their dressing rooms, they weren’t really becoming a community. But a few things I learned from Lollapalooza were: number one, no dressing rooms. Warped has never had dressing rooms. Everyone’s treated equally. It builds community.
Number two, write the [lineup] schedule every day. On Lollapalooza, I would have to watch Henry Rollins up there just killing it, and he was playing to a bunch of empty seats, because he had to play at 1:20 PM every afternoon. And I would be like, “Oh man, I wish I could put him on right before Jane’s Addiction, [he’d] just blow their heads off.” And I saw that when the few shows we played that were general admission shows, there would be kids coming down front by the end of his set.
Three, general admission, whenever possible. Warped Tour, even when we had seats, it’s general admission.
Lollapalooza was great; it broke a lot of ground. It brought a lot of bands out, especially the second year, with Pearl Jam. My whole job was to hold the fort as it was getting attacked by the 10,000 kids trying to charge the stage [during Pearl Jam’s set], and then get it back in order, because everyone knew we could get it back in order when the Jesus and Mary Chain came on, because they’re the absolute most boring band in the world, and we could put that back together.
So I learned a lot out there that I didn’t know was leading to something else. And I think I learned a lot through Warped, which is leading me to the next phase of my life.
Warped was also a mostly daytime concert, right? I remember going to a Warped show in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and it went late until after it was dark out. You guys had one huge floodlight on the stage; not the usual lighting rig.
There’s a great video from Asbury Park where the Specials were playing “Ghost Town” as their closing song. And it was all dark, and we had that one light, and we were shining it, and [singer] Neville [Staple]’s dreadlocks was shining on one of those burned-out buildings. And it shined up and picked up a shadow, and you saw a homeless person cooking over a fire stove up in the building, and it was like, this town is a ghost town. It was pretty epic.
But [we didn’t use] lights for multiple reasons. One: we have to move very quickly. But two: 90% of the problems are caused by 10% of the people under cover of darkness. I think that’s a footnote in life. But when I worked in the punk rock clubs in Los Angeles, it was very violent. So when I did the Warped tour, I thought, “Let’s take it out in the sunshine, because people become a lot less bold in the sunshine.”
Were there sponsors before Vans signed on?
The first year, actually, we’d gotten a few sponsors. That came from my watching the community and saying, “We’re supporting these brands. Maybe we could get some of their money to help support the bands and music of the kids who are buying their products.” So our first sponsor on Warped Tour, I believe, was Converse the first year, and Sony PlayStation. It was an evolution of learning how to work with brands. And that’s what kind of created that whole atmosphere because I’d seen brands working at certain other events and things, but they were never part of the event. The brand groups would come in, and then they would leave right after the show. They never mingled.
So that’s where those barbeques came into play. Bring everyone backstage to hang out and mingle, because everyone on Warped Tour is important. There’s no one more important than anyone else. And I really think that it really worked at the beginning, because the Black Eyed Peas didn’t know Pennywise. But they hung out at the barbeque together, and they realized they’re just musicians, they’re people and they became friends.
Now, in this era, you’ve got so many bands that prejudge each other on social media. They’ve never met them face to face. There are people that prejudge the tour that I created without ever meeting me face to face. And that’s the problem. This broke down all that. It really broke it down. So the sponsors rode on the buses. The first year some of the companies sent out a bunch of guys in golf shirts. I called them “the golf shirt people,” because you should never trust a person in a golf shirt unless they’re on a golf course. And I would say, “Wait, how is a kid gonna come up and trust your brand unless you have kids that live this lifestyle in your brand?”
So we started being able to work with the brands to hire people from our community. And tattoos were OK. Piercings are OK. Colored hair’s OK. They’re living this culture, so bring them in as brand ambassadors. But we were the first people that said, “Get them in uniform.” So we would go to Hurley and have them design the clothes for PlayStation or something. And they would show up, and they would be part of the culture. And I think we figured it out how we went through trial and error, mistakes, and moving forward.
How did you almost end up partnering with Calvin Klien?
An ex-partner had a friend there, and he actually flew to New York with some of the last money we had; we were so broke after the first tour. I was working shows every day of the week. And they got caught in the giant blizzard of 1996. So they got stuck on the runway.
Meanwhile, I got a call from Vans, the same day. They said, “Can you come down here for a meeting?” “Sure, I’d love to.” Immediately I thought, “They wanna get involved in the Warped Tour.” I think they just wanted me to help them with their amateur skate program.
There’s a moment in life when you have nothing to lose, and I said, “No one’s gonna watch amateur skating unless you’re involved in an amazing music festival. I have this thing called the Warped Tour, it’s so successful.” In fifteen minutes we had a deal.
We had a lawyer involved [in the Calvin Klein deal], and lawyers don’t make deals, they break deals. So I used him to help break the deal at Calvin Klein. I guess he was a total asshole when he walked in there, and they kicked him out in fifteen minutes, and it became the Van’s Warped Tour.
We were the first music festival to do a deal with Target. And then I convinced them to create a space in their stores for new music. Back then they weren’t carrying CDs. So our agreement was that we had 10 slots, we would put the Warped compilation in there, and then Rancid went in there and a few other bands. And then Fletcher Dragge from Pennywise decided that it was time to kick my ass because I was “selling out punk rock.” He’s like, “I’m gonna kick Kevin Lyman’s ass. He’s selling out the Warped Tour.” That’s the cool thing; these bands took it real seriously. And Tim Armstrong from Rancid told him, “Hey look, I can only afford to shop at Target. If my music’s in there now, that’s cool with me.”
I really admire Ian MacKaye, but hardly anyone could make a living off of selling CDs for $8 and concert tickets for $5.
And no one ever has, except for him. And me and Ian MacKaye have great conversations. We believe in a lot of the same things. I did [club] shows with Fugazi. If you did a show with Fugazi, that gave you credibility. You never made money on a Fugazi show. It wouldn’t be a good business model to do a hundred bands like Fugazi.
Lagwagon would call and wanna do a $5 ticket. I’m like, “Dude, we only can afford to do one $5 ticket a year. We gotta charge $10 for your shows.” But yeah, Ian’s a person who I look up to.
The first year, there was a band hierarchy as far as the lineup: Quicksand were the headliners, followed by L7 and Sublime and everyone else’s name was smaller. But in later years, you started listing the bands in alphabetical order.
We waste so much time in this industry arguing over logo size. It’s unbelievable. It’s one of the reasons I can’t do it anymore. It’s like, when you’re sitting there with the manager of Korn and the manager of Slipknot, and you’re arguing over the logo size, and you’re doing it in the same font. I’m going, “Your logo’s never gonna look as big as Slipknot. It’s got more letters. If that’s what you’re worried about.”
The Warped Tour was around at the same time as Lollapalooza, the H.O.R.D.E. Festival, the Lilith Fair, and Ozzfest. All of those tours had great runs, but nothing comes close to the Warped Tour’s longevity. What do you attribute that to?
Keeping it simple. It still feels like a backyard party. That’s what I wanted it to be, an accessible backyard party, the kind of things we used to have at our house. A band playing, a plywood ramp, me barbequing. Some people would say the Warped Tour became a formula in some ways, but it was my thing, I just never changed a whole lot.
At some point, you had to make the decision to create a younger audience, rather than grow old with your audience.
If you wanna keep doing this, you have to evolve. The die-hards would say “That’s bullshit, you have to say true.” Brett Gurewitz from Epitaph has evolved to remain in existence. Side One Dummy, we’re evolving as a record label because we wanna continue to do this kind of thing. Those hardcore types who said, “I only sign this type of music and band,” most of them are not here anymore.
So you evolve. the Dead Kennedys, Black Flag, they spoke to me in a certain way at a certain age in my life, and it was so relevant and were so important. I’m not gonna argue that A Day to Remember or Mayday Parade or Every Time I Die are not speaking the same way to that fan and touching them the same way. I watch the kids in the front row at the barricade singing as hard and passionately as the kids were when I was working shows and starting out.
Were there bands that you wanted to book, that you just couldn’t get?
Twenty One Pilots, I had them booked, but then their agent got involved and they didn’t play. Go figure. And then there were two acts: the Ramones, I always tried to get to play. By then they all had different bands [the Ramones broke up in 1996]. And I’d be like, “Look guys, we’ll have an all-Ramones, all-the-time stage. So you can have all your little side projects play all day, but just play thirty minutes of Ramones songs together.”
And then I had Joe Strummer [of the Clash] booked. And I had just seen Joe Strummer in November. We hung out at the Troubadour, he was stoked to be on the Warped Tour, I was so excited. He passed away that December.
There was Green Day, but they said two things in life they’d never do: they would never play the Warped Tour or watch Titanic. So when they played the Warped Tour, the first day I sent out for a copy of Titanic and taped it to the bus and said, “Now you can say you’ve done both.” But they played. I just wrote a forward for their book that just came out.
Who are some of the bands who you feel the Warped Tour helped to break?
Black Eyed Peas: legend is that they met Fergie in the parking lot at the barbecue one night. I can’t dispute that. I’ve been told that a few times. Bebe Rexha was on Warped Tour a couple years ago. Machine Gun Kelly, Yelawolf, those acts all got their first touring chances on Warped Tour. Deftones kind of broke out of Warped Tour early on. My Chemical Romance, Fall Out Boy, all those bands. Paramore, Hayley Williams started out with an acoustic guitar, played one show on a pink truck one year, then moved up to the next stage. A Day to Remember. Mayday Parade, they started out selling CDs in the parking lot.
Every Time I Die, who I’ve always thought has been probably underappreciated. I think they’re getting that appreciation now because they kill it. They bring it, and their shows have been selling out now, they’re headlining. And then Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish, and Bowling for Soup.
We the Kings, Simple Plan, the Used are coming back and doing part of the tour. We’re announcing a bunch more guests coming up this summer. People will be dropping in. We’ll have the cardboard sign like we did years ago when Linkin Park showed up; they’ll be some of that going on. And then we’re bringing the younger bands that I think can become the next headliners.
And then, you know what? It’s gonna be up to someone else because I’ve laid the groundwork. I’ve laid down 25 years of work on how to do a festival. And some people complain about the way I run it, but now you can take the pieces and bypass some of the mistakes I’ve made, and you can create your own utopian festival, and you can have a world where it’s perfect for you and the bands can be just what you want all the time. And I’ll go into this next phase of being a professor at USC.
You were producing the metal festival Mayhem a few years ago, and I remember an interview where you said that metal headliners wouldn’t take less money to do the tour and support the scene the way that the punk bands did for Warped.
They don’t. [But] I think it was misconstrued in an interview I did once, where I was kind of calling metal out in a way, but it was like: you need to start nurturing new headliners because you can’t keep repackaging these bands. We needed new headliners in metal. And I was saying, “Give younger bands a chance,” and I couldn’t understand why they weren’t giving bands like Bring Me the Horizon the chance to come with them and bring younger fans into metal.
So after this article, certain people in metal got really mad. There were firestorms of “Kevin Lyman’s an asshole,” whatever. But I got a lot of phone calls, of course, saying, “Hey, someone needed to say that.” And it was nice the last few years seeing some of these younger acts getting the chance to play with some of these bigger acts.
But you have to refill the scene, or you’re just gonna [have to admit] admit that you’re “classic rock.” So of course, in some flippant way, I’ve said things that of course got misconstrued. But if you stand for something, 50% of the people are gonna hate you, and 50% are gonna call you, and some of them won’t come out in public, but they’re gonna go, “Dude, thanks for saying that.” I got a lot of that.
What have you learned about not being able to please everyone?
I realized that not everyone’s going to like Kevin Lyman. I think when you start out, especially, you think everyone’s gonna like you. I realized that sometimes people are just not gonna like you, and that’s OK.
So I learned that you’ve gotta learn how to say no. I still have a hard time at times, and really having a hard time last year, because there are so many people that want to be part of the last tour.
Will the Warped Tour live on in any other form after this summer? Could it become a destination festival like Lollapalooza and Ozzfest have done?
I think for our 25th anniversary [in 2020] we’re definitely looking at a couple locations. Beyond that, I wouldn’t say. If I ever did it, I don’t think I’d do it as a one-city destination festival, I’d try to move it around. The Warped Cruise was great. Maybe we’ll do another Warped Cruise. It was so much fun. We’ll see.
What’s your take on the state of the scene?
I really think before you pass judgment on people, you need to meet them face to face. I think these bands are passing judgment on each other. People say, “I don’t wanna play Warped Tour because those bands play Warped Tour.” No, go play Warped Tour and steal their fans. A lot of people go, “I don’t wanna be on a tour with Attila.” And if you spend time with Attila, they’re not bad. They’re not causing problems. I look at Attila; they draw a lot of kids. And you know what? Maybe at 15 singing “Suck My Fuck” is cool, but by the time you’re 18 you’re probably gonna grow out and like another band.
Now, their music’s good. Attila got a lot of respect last summer from the musicians because they were like, “These guys know how to play.” Maybe the lyrics are a little wacky, but you know what? Maybe these bands are gonna grow up and realize that there’s other people saying other things.
So to alienate yourself and say “I’m not going to play with this band” or “I’m not gonna tour with these kinds of bands”… I call it “The La Dispute Syndrome.” I don’t care if they hate me. I wanted those bands, La Dispute, Balance and Composure, Touche Amore. They should’ve been playing Warped Tour to broaden their audiences because those audiences are growing and ever-shifting and exposing themselves into new things. Because if you play to the same couple hundred kids in a basement or in a small club, eventually they’re gonna grow out. They’re not gonna be coming to see you. So I always tell these bands that have alienated themselves, “Come hang out with me. Spend some time with me.” That’s how we used to do it in punk rock. You never pass judgment on someone until you’ve spent some time with them. Now we use social media to pass judgment on each other, and that’s wrong. That’s one of the big reasons that I’m leaving is it makes me fuckin’ sick. And then I hear the local scenes, and they’re saying, “These bands are tearing down these bands,” and the kids ask me, “What do you do about that?” You just have to ignore those bands, alienate the bands that are causing disruption within your local scene.
I’ve done a good run, and I could be proud of what I’ve done, and I’ll challenge anyone to stack up the good and negative of Warped Tour in a pile, and I’m sure the good is a lot higher than the negative. There has been some negative stuff, but we try to figure it out.
One more question about the first Warped Tour: tell me a story about Sublime’s dog, Lou Dog.
I hated that dog. It was the only animal in the world I hated. When we booked Sublime, Lou Dog would come, crap all over the stage, snap at people and fight with people. I hated him. So then I made a rule when I booked Sublime. I knew them well enough. I said, “No friends and no dog.” So they flew their friends and the dog flew and came to Asbury Park. They showed up at the show; I was pissed. We’re struggling, we have no food. We’re living off my friend’s beer company. Oatmeal stout was breakfast. There were no stagehands. We were just doing this because we believed in it. And the dog shows up.
There used to be the gay cowboy bar behind the Stone Pony [in Asbury Park], and we all went over there for a party, and the dog bit two people. I’m like, “Oh my god, now I’m gonna get sued for this.”
So I said, “Get rid of the dog!”
We go up to Melody Fair up in Buffalo. It was a rainy, muddy day. They’d been partying all night with their friends, so they’re all high, fist fighting, like Brad and Eric [Wilson] are fighting before the show. They got onstage. They were a mess. People were throwing mud at them, it was horrible. The dog’s there, he bit someone on a skateboard that morning before we’d even played. And I’m like, “Brad! He’s gotta go!”
“Well, man, he hates skateboarders.”
I go, “We’re on a fucking skateboarding tour. Everyone’s on skateboards! If I see the dog again, you’re off the tour.”
We go down to Nassau Coliseum. We actually had a few boxes of cereal and milk, and guess who I saw eating the cereal and milk. Fuckin’ Lou Dog is eating the cereal. And then I kicked them off the tour that day. I sent them home because I was barely hanging on. The promoters were losing money, we’re losing money. I’m like, “I can’t stand this. Go home.” So I kicked them off the tour that day and sent them home for a week. I had this old Southern redneck bus driver who I still know, and he really felt sorry for me, so he took them down and smacked them around and put them on a plane home. Then they met up with us about a week later in Seattle.
Oh yeah, Lou Dog was psychotic. He was a dog that should not have been around. And you know what? They weren’t good owners. I don’t blame it on him. There’s really only bad owners. There’s not a lot of bad dogs. They were bad dog owners.
Finally, tell me about the classes you’re going to be teaching at USC.
It’s interesting because I thought I’d either go run summer camp or be a teacher. I’ve always loved teaching. I was approached, and timing’s everything. A position opened up after like 20 years at USC. I don’t think they thought I was open to the idea. And I had to dig out that old college degree that I said I would put on a resume one day. I did my first resume.
It’s four to five classes two days a week, so it’s a full professorship. I’ll be teaching live event production, philanthropy in music, music history, things like that.
It’s weird to have “professor” before your name. And that puts you in a different world, as we take these initiatives like FEND into a different world. Because “Kevin Lyman of the Warped Tour” gets you certain cred with a certain group of people, but when you’re talking politics and things like that, USC’s going to be a good calling card.
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