Artist vs. Poet: another band working it on the hot summer stages of the 2010 Vans Warped Tour. Judging by the YouTube comments their fans are being charmed not only by their ultra-catchy pop-punk tunes, but by their friendly and outgoing personalities. There's even a hot Tarcy Thomason (AVP vocalist) vs. Joe Jonas debate raging among fans.
In addition to the charismatic Thomason, the band includes guitarist Craig Calloway, drummer Joe Westbrook, bassist Jason Dean, and guitarist Joe Kirkland.
Artist vs. Poet hit the scene on the Fearless label with a self-titled EP in November of 2008, spawning the hit single "Runaway." Their next EP Damn Rough Night followed in December 2009. AVP's newest release, Favorite Fix hit stores and the interwebz in March of 2010.
Shotmonster met with Craig and Tarcy to learn more about the band they believe in, the making of AVP's first full-length album and life on the road with this year's Warped Tour.
Shotmonster: This is your first experience with Warped Tour. Did anybody tell you how grueling it would be, and did it live up to your expectations?
Craig Calloway: In my previous band I had done six stops of Warped Tour so I kinda had an idea. But six stops is nothing compared to two months. As hard as it is, it's equally as fun. It's such a good opportunity to talk to so many kids and to play for so many kids and to make yourself known.
Shotmonster: What stage are you playing?
CC: The Glamour Kills stage. It's a great stage.
Shotmonster: What's a typical day like on Warped Tour?
CC: We wake up. I don’t usually find my way down to breakfast catering; I'm not that much of a morning person. We get to know the lay of the land: where is the stage, where is the merch tent, where are the signings at, etc. Then make sure you get to catering.
Shotmonster: Is the catering available all day?
CC: No, only at certain times. Lunch is at twelve and dinner is at five. If you miss it, unless you've got food tucked away on your bus, you'll be going hungry.
Shotmonster: We've been hearing about the barbecues at night.
CC: Barbecues are fun. They're not put on by catering; they're put on by bands. It's a fun time, everybody hangs out. Everybody's stuck here 'til bus call anyway.
Shotmonster: You're not even halfway through the tour, so you're not exhausted yet.
CC: No, not at all. You definitely get into a rhythm of things. The one thing that does kinda throw you for a loop is you don't know what time you're gonna play 'til the morning of. You could be playing at noon or you could be playing at 7:45, like we are tonight. I like playing earlier in the day rather than late. Later in the day the kids are kinda tired; the sun zaps 'em out. In the morning everybody's fresh and ready to have a good time.
Shotmonster: So tell me the story of how this band came together in sort of a new-school way.
CC: Tarcy had posted a Myspace bulletin to start a new band, and I saw it. His band had fizzled out. Both of our bands had played in the local scene so we knew each other that way. We got together in the next couple weeks and wrote 3 or 4 songs really quickly. We took it to a producer in the area and he thought it should be a full band. (Originally it was going to be an acoustic project.) So he did the drums for the first cd and then we got Joe Westbrook who was in Tarcy's last band and Jason Dean, who was originally our merch guy to play bass. Then we found Joe Kirkland--he's our newest member--on YouTube. He was auditioning for another band and our manager showed us the video and we said, "We should get this guy." And here we are!
Shotmonster: So you're still kind of a new-ish band.
CC: We've had the current lineup since June of 2008.
Shotmonster: Do you set aside specific times for song-writing, or are you just always writing?
CC: I'm one of three writers in the band. For me, I always just continue writing. It's like a muscle; if you don't use it, it goes away. If you stop, it's harder to start up again when you're under deadline. (We're not under any deadline right now)
At this point in the interview, we're joined by Tarcy
Shotmonster: Ah, you're the guy who started this whole thing.
Tarcy Thomason: Well, we both started it. I'm just the guy who posted the bulletin.
Shotmonster: Tell me about your experience in producing Favorite Fix.
TT: We worked with Zack Odom and Kenneth Mount on half the record. And the other half with Mike Green. It was a different experience at both ends. Zack and Kenneth basically let us take charge of what we wanted to do, which was great.
But then again, on the flip side Mike Green helped a lot with the record, like added his two cents here and there. Added whatever he thought would be better for the record. So both experiences were great. Completely opposite experiences, but both great.
Shotmonster: Did you write all the songs on the record?
TT: We wrote all the songs. We worked with a couple people on a few songs, but we never had a song handed to us. We would never do that.
Shotmonster: I'm curious about your band name. Does it mean anything or did it come to you in a dream?
TT: This is the question that I hate 'cuz I don't have a good response. Honestly I just wanted something different, something that was not the norm. But they're kinda the same thing aren't they, an artist and a poet?
Shotmonster: That's what I was thinking! So how are you liking Warped Tour so far, Tarcy?
TT: I love it. It's been rough. We get up at about eight in the morning and don't go to bed until one or two a.m. But the kids make it great; the bands make it great. It's like a huge family. I love it. I've been going to Warped Tour for the past six or seven years.
Shotmonster: Oh, as a fan! What were some of your favorite bands to see?
TT: Well, Every Time I Die has always been a favorite. I've seen them four years in a row. Reel Big Fish I saw a couple years ago. I know they're ska, but…. Sum 41 are back--so crazy.
Shotmonster: What's on tap for Artist vs. Poet after Warped Tour winds up?
CC: We've already got another tour lined up for the fall that we're excited about. It's with Mayday Parade, Breathe Carolina, Every Avenue and Go Radio.
Shotmonster: See you then!
You can see the entire Artist VS Poet gallery here.
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