Originally posted on July 14th, 2016.
Unfortunately, I had to pass up my interview slot with Reel Big Fish in order to check out The Interrupters’ set. It was a difficult sacrifice however I did still get to catch their set. As is to be expected, Reel Big Fish drew a huge crowd to the left foot stage and getting to spend the first three songs in the photo pit was a blast. Since the last time I saw them (and interviewed Aaron and Ryland), Aaron’s trademark “chop-burns” welcomed a “soul-patch sister” to the family. Also, trombonist Billy Kottage, who at my previous RBF experience was a recent addition to fill the slot left behind by Dan Regan, now seems like he’s always been part of the family. Another noticeable difference was Ryland Steen wasn’t there. Filling his spot on drums is Suburban Legends’ Ed Larsen. I later found out that Ryland is currently on tour with America (the band).
Aside from the couple of “staff changes,” Reel Big Fish sounded as great as ever, playing through some of their more popular tunes including “Beer,” “Sell Out,” and “Another F.U. Song.” Joining RBF on stage for “She Has a Girlfriend Now” was Michelle Beebs who I had the opportunity to interview. Of course they also demonstrated their mastery of all musical styles by playing about 6 versions of “Suburban Rhythm” ranging from disco to country and even some death metal. It’s amazing to see, even after 25 years, Reel Big Fish has not slowed down.
Earlier in the day I interviewed Michelle Beebs who I had previously met while her band, Beebs and Her Money Makers, was on tour with Reel Big Fish and Goldfinger. Beebs has been an important member of the Warped family for the last few years, performing with her band and starring on Fuse TV’s “Warped Roadies.” For this year’s Warped Tour, she’s playing her music from her solo project along with rapper “B-Lay” (who joined us for the interview).
Andy: The first time I met you was when you were touring with Reel Big Fish after spending the Summer on the 2013 Warped Tour. You also were featured on Warped Roadies. Needless to say, Warped has been a big driving force in your success as Beebs and Her Money Makers. Besides Warped what are some of the other factors and/or key players that have help you achieve success both with the band and in your solo work?
Beebs: Kevin Lyman obviously. Reel Big Fish have been a huge cornerstone for Beebs and Her Money Makers. But also I have some really great friends who are music business people who have been great mentors to me: Ana Reina, Maggie Sumner, my band, and pretty much all my friends who encourage me. I came from doing music business and being a booking agent and a tour manager and band manager and being inspired by those bands and the ones I was working for and the music scene. I started singing with some of the bands I was working for and they were like “What? You sing?! What’s going on?!” I was like “Yeah.” “What are you doing here?” I’m like “I don’t know…” So I’d say I find inspiration in all the people I meet. There are definitely a few key players but I do find inspiration from everything. Oh, and Brett Hestla! He produced my new album. I can’t forget that guy! He crushed it and made the whole album happen.
B-Lay: I’d say Deuce from Hollywood Undead first. I toured with him. Ronnie Radke of Falling In Reverse. Actually I learned a lot from Mr. Porter, Eminem’s hype man. I knew him back in L.A. He helped me write. I learned a lot from a lot of people I hang around a lot. Beebs – I watch here record and stuff, how she writes her music. I just take a lot of inspiration from the people I’ve hung around with for the last six years. Brett Hestla is also on my new project as well.
Andy: From the moment I saw BAHMM hit the stage I knew there was something different/off the wall about you guys. Seeing the costumes alone were worth the price of the ticket that I didn’t pay for because I had a press pass (laughs). Nevertheless I would have paid just for the stage show (laughs). The stage show with the robot guy and the confetti canons were like icing on the cake. Then of course is the music which includes use of a kazoo. What is the inspiration behind the look of BAHMM and the stage show?
Beebs: Okay – I’ll tell you the real story of how it all started. I’m a longboard skater. I was bombing garages with a friend in downtown Orlando. I had just started the band. I had a show coming up -It was a benefit. I hit an oil slick going down the parking garage and “raspberried” the whole right side of my body. My friend, at the time, was making my dresses and stuff for shows. I went to her and said “You have to make me something that covers my entire body because I have road rash everywhere!!” Hence- it started with stockings and arm warmers to cover all the terrible bruises and road rash I had gotten and then that evolved over time. At first it was like “we’re all bank robbers” and then I said “No! We’re superheroes. Yeah – We’re bank robbing superheroes! We take from the rich and give to the poor!” And then I was like “Wait – I don’t know if we should be robbing people. I don’t care how you put that, it’s not right. How about we’re just superheroes who spread love and positivity and also hang out with hot dogs and robots and unicorns!?” Then everyone agreed “Allright – that sounds good.” So that was the evolution of Beebs and Her Money Makers but it all started on a skateboard!
Andy: With BAHMM, the ska connection is obvious but there are definitely hints of other styles like funk and soul. Who are your ska and non-ska musical influences?
Beebs: OK – Well obviously Reel Big Fish. I’ve been listening to them forever! The Specials, Skankin’ Pickle, The Skatalites… Also I grew up on punk rock. I’m definitely a punk rock kid. I came to Warped Tour all the time. Rancid’s one of my favorite bands, Bouncing Souls, NOFX, Pennywise, The Descendents… And also, before I rebelled and said “Eff you Mom and Dad! I’m listening to punk rock!” I grew up on old country western like Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, George Jones and then was really into 50s music, on my mom’s end, with Chuck Berry, Little Richard. And… definitely George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic and Earth, Wind and Fire are huge musical influences to me as well as 90s hip hop.
B-Lay: I grew up on a lot of rap music. My first tape was Bone Thugs n Harmony… Tupac, Biggie, Eminem. I got into the rock side in my late teens. I love Nirvana, Aerosmith, Prince, Michael Jackson, David Bowie. David Bowie didn’t care what you thought of him. He was a showman. “I’m gonna put on a show and entertain you! I’m gonna look good. I’m gonna put on girls’ clothes, be fresh, I’m gonna kill it!” I love Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. I love a lot of different genres now because I feel I appreciate that it takes a lot of passion and honesty in your lyrics and your melodies to make people want to listen to it. I love melodies and patterns.
Andy: In your solo work, you seem to transform from a comic book superhero back into someone more human and “real.” It reflects the “multi-faceted” nature of you. Do you find it challenging to switch between the more theatrical Beebs and the raw Michelle?
Beebs: I’m not even going to lie – yes! I feel like the solo project has been really near and dear to my heart because it’s a lot of the songs that I’ve been writing that I feel just didn’t fit with Beebs and Her Money Makers but I really wanted to put out. I made them with a lot of passion and thought. I feel that everyone just thinks I’m a cartoon character then they’re like “Oh- she’s a real person.” When you’re used to being in one energy when you play- now I feel like I’m exposed and have to be myself and it’s terrifying. If someone’s like “Beebs and Her Money Makers sucks!” I’m like “Whatever! That someone I created. I don’t care!” But if someone says “Michelle Beebs sucks!” that hurts. It’s different. I mean – I don’t let it affect my day too much but it’s just different. I feel more exposed. Also I play guitar in my solo work. I’ve played guitar for years by myself, in my living room writing songs, but to play in front of people, and also getting used to the fact that I’m used to doing choreographed dance moves and jumping around… now I’ve got this guitar and I’m very limited to where I can go unless I get a “Bobby Brown” microphone which I can’t do because I’m not Bobby Brown. Is it hard? I think it’s good to show a more genuine side of myself. It’s like Clark Kent and Superman. Superman was bad ass. Clark Kent was also bad ass but on the “low key.” I feel like I’m just taking pointers from Superman at this point.
Nic: Not a bad person to take pointers from! (laughs)
Andy: Any last words?
Beebs: Yes- half of the Money Makers – Lovelady (guitar), Bruno (drums) and Levon (bass) were kind enough to learn the songs for my single album and back me on the Warped Tour. Shout out to the Money Makers and Bunky also played on the album. Everyone’s been very involved. Also - Everyone’s like “Are Beebs and Her Money Makers breaking up? Are you Gwen Stefani-ing us?” No – I just have other music I wanna play. That’s all!
During her performance at the Poseidon Stage later that day, Beeb’s played some of her new music including my favorites from her new album “Ride Around the Sun.” With some of the Money Makers and B-Lay backing her, Beebs performed with no costume: just her, her guitar and her incredible voice, meandering through rock, funk, pop, and hip hop. B-Lay also got to show the crowd what he’s made of, performing one of his songs and showing off his free-style abilities. While most of Beebs’ set was a departure from the ska of the Money Makers, she did bring Aaron Barrett and the Reel Big Fish horns to perform “I’m Not Crazy.”
Be sure to check out Beebs on her new album “Eye Shine” available on iTunes. She also has a GoFundMe at https://www.gofundme.com/BeebsEyeShine where you can donate to help cover the costs of recording and releasing the album. In return there are some awesome perks including a physical copy of the album and even a personal acoustic show and pizza party. B-Lay also recently crowd-funded a release of his new EP. To learn more about B-Lay, visit http://www.blaymusic.com/.
One of the perks of experiencing Warped with Nic Giordano is that he seemed to know a lot of the musicians. Whether it was from UNRB playing shows with them or his natural charm, Nic could spot someone and strike up a conversation. He came to Warped with several copies of UNRB CDs to give out and was on a mission to give a CD to anyone he spotted wearing a UNRB t-shirt. I’m not sure what the count was by the end of the day but I know he spotted a few. Being from the Tarpon Springs area, Nic had a connection with some musicians in the band Set It Off, a self-described “orchestral pop punk” band from the Tampa area. Though Nic had to leave a little early, he did me the favor of introducing me to Set it Off’s guitarist Dan Clermont and singer Cody Carson and setting up an interview with them. Though they don’t play ska, we did discuss their connections to ska music.
Cody: Surprisingly very smooth. There’s been nothing wrong, no drama, friendship is off the charts… it’s been a blast so far. I have no complaints.
Dan: The best qualities of Warped over the years have all been bound together this Summer and it just works.
Andy: Which bands are on Warped this year that you feel people should be on the lookout for?
Cody: Waterparks is one for sure. They’re friends of ours that are on the same label as us, Equal Vision Records. They’re a really talented band and a lot of people like them. Cane Hill.
Dan: Cane Hill’s a great band.
Cody: They’re really, really heavy. They bring back the best stuff from the new metal age that I missed.
Dan: We’ve been huge fans of this band but never toured with them – New Found Glory. A few of their guys started coming up and talking to us.
Cody: A few years ago I came to Warped and got a backstage pass for donating blood and the only person I wanted to meet was Cyrus Bolooki. He was my favorite drummer when I played the drums in a ska band. I loved his drumming and his nuance and I got to meet him here at Vinoy and he was just the kindest person in the world to me. Now he just watches our set sometimes and is really into what we’re doing so it’s really surreal.
Andy: You mentioned having played in a ska band. You don’t currently play ska. What are your ska connections?
Cody: A lot actually. My first band ever was a band in the area called Exodus 2017. I played drums and did backup vocals. I was a huge fan of Reel Big Fish and Five Iron Frenzy. Five Iron Frenzy was the first band I ever got into that wasn’t like R&B or pop music. I was in love with them. I heard “Pre Ex Girlfriend” and that was it for me. That eventually led to a friendship with Five Iron – Buddy and Leanor started coming to our shows. They let me come see them at Plaza Live, a theater in Orlando (after they reunited). It was my first time seeing them because they had originally broken up before I could. It was so sad. One of the coolest things was the sax player for Reel Big Fish, Matt Appleton, we got connected with him on Warped Tour. We just became friends through our mutual love of beer and just how nice of a guy he is. He ended up being involved on our record “Duality.” He wrote a lot of the horn lines and he played horns. We (Dan and Cody) always played a lot of horns. We met in marching band in the Tarpon Springs High School marching band. Dan played trumpet and I played clarinet. I also know how to play tenor sax and stuff but he’s (Matt Appleton) beast on horns. We’re actually trying to organize getting Reel Big Fish to come on stage during our song “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing,” the horn players. So we have lots of ties to ska music, lots of respect, and we’re glad to be back in touch with it.
Andy: What has been your strangest touring experience?
Dan: I’d say – we toured 5 years ago with this band called the Millionaires. It was our first professional touring experience, performing in front of a few hundred people at big venues and it was the first time we saw a tour where people partied so hard too.
Cody: Yeah – That was definitely eye opening. And also what’s cool about it is our tour manager, Riley, was managing them at the time. Headliners can kind of determine whether or not you have a good time. We got along with the headliner so well and Riley and stuff that they’d invite us on their bus and make us hotdogs and we’re like these kids in a van and don’t know what a bus is like.
Andy: Where is the strangest place you’ve woken up?
Cody: In a sandwich! (laughs) We were staying at someone’s house. I drank too much Yaeger…Walked to Jimmy John’s somehow. Walked back, opened my sandwich to eat it and I guess I woke up on top of my bread and under my bread. I guess I was the sandwich. I don’t even know how that happened. I woke up to a “domestic disturbance” where we had to immediately evacuate so they had to drag my drunk ass out of there but… yeah – I woke up in a sandwich on an air matress!
Dan: I can actually attest. Mine was probably the same night because after that we all soon blacked out and soon woke up in a van in a different state for the next show. Somebody drove us to the next place.
Cody: I have another one. It was “Sink or Swim” night at the Orpheum in Tampa and I drank beer intentionally so I wouldn’t get too drunk and I guess I got “Roofied.” I didn’t know that could happen. I started talking to dogs. I peed on our van and I woke up naked on a couch at this apartment we were staying at and Dan was playing a South Park game on a Nintendo 64 in front of me. It was quite an eventful night.
Andy: Favorite TV show?
Dan: Game of Thrones.
Cody: South Park.
Andy: What’s your favorite reading material?
Dan: Shel Silverstein.
Cody: Bleacher Report.
Andy: Favorite academic subject in school?
Cody: Math was actually my favorite because I feel like I got a grasp on math somehow. Science – I was terrible at.
Dan: I loved science.
Andy: What’s your spirit animal?
Cody: I don’t know if you can name your own spirit animal.
Dan: How about we name one for each other.
Cody: OK – what’s a lively and acrobatic animal?
Dan: I was gonna give you a shark.
Cody: Shark? Why shark?
Dan: Because you’re very quick, aggressive and focused.
Cody: I’m gonna say “you’re a dog” because you’re so friendly, everyone loves you and you’re loyal.
Dan: 16 year lifespan!? What’s the fun in that?
Cody: How long do shark’s live?
Dan: I don’t know but crocodiles have a 43 year lifespan.
Andy: Facts brought to you by Set it Off. Meat or potatoes?
Both Dan and Cody (in unison): Meat!
Cody: Easy – steak. I love steak!
Andy: Stage or studio?
Dan: That’s ever changing.
Cody: I’d say, at the moment, stage. I want everyone to hear our music.
Be sure to check out Set It Off’s website at http://setitoffband.com/ to learn more about them and hear some of their music. Their newest album, “Upside Down,” drops on October 7th.
To wrap up SKAspot’s review of this Summer’s Warped Tour, I’d like to thank everyone who helped make it happen: the bands, their crews and managers, Nic Giordano of UNRB for joining me on this adventure, Danielle Mardahl and Warped Press, Mike Cubillos and Earshot Media, the security at the photo pits, the Cool Gear folks for keeping me hydrated with their free water, and, of course, skanking Jesus. I’d also like to thank (and apologize to) the guys from Less Than Jake who put up with my incessant requests for an interview and even got some text messages from some of their family members. I found that SKAspot was the only “typed in” name on the list for an interview with Less Than Jake. Also, thank you to Kevin Lyman for keeping Warped going for the past 2 decades and keeping ska bands in the lineup.
Check out more photos from the Warped Tour in St. Pete in the SKAspot Warped Gallery.
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