Touring around the country for two months to set up and break down Warped Tour almost every night sounds like a nightmare, especially in a place like Phoenix where the heat isn't doing anybody any favors. Being a part of the road crew is a tough job, yet the stars of Fuse's Warped Roadies behind the scenes documentary series embrace the chaos.
"It's really hard work, but it's totally worth it. We really do genuinely enjoy our jobs and enjoy the end product of what we create," says Kate Truscott, the Sponsorship Manager of Warped Tour who has been involved with the tour for the past eight years. "I think it's like anything else, just have to weigh the good with the bad and at the end of the day, the good is so much better than the bad."
The Phoenix episode of Warped Roadies premieres tonight at 9 p.m. on Fuse. We caught up with Truscott to discuss a day in the life of a Warped Tour roadie, what keeps her going, and how the crew made the Phoenix show work.
Up on the Sun: How did you get involved with Warped Tour? Kate Truscott: I was on the road doing merch for My Chem[ical Romance]. We got booked on Warped Tour, so I had to go out on the road with them, I had to because that was my job. I'd actually never heard of Warped Tour until I found out that we were going to be on it. I had worked in clubs forever and had come straight from college and I had just never heard of it. They told me I was going on it and I was like, 'okay, whatever' and then I got there the first day and I was like, 'what the fuck is going on?' and that was eight years ago.
I met everybody that runs the tour when I was out there, and then the next year when they went in the studio to make The Black Parade, I was out of a job, so they hired me to do a promotional job on Taste of Chaos. From there, I got hired to be the office assistant, and then they hired me full time.
I've been to the Phoenix show quite a few times, and any outside show here in the middle of the summer is brutal. During the trailer for next week's episode, there's a comment, 'this is by far the worst show I have ever done.' Care to explain? It was pretty brutal, it was painfully hot and the venue was crazy small and we were doing it on pavement, which really does make a huge difference because the heat just radiates off the ground. At the time, I felt like it was not the worst show, but the hardest, probably because it was just...it's extremely difficult to continue to function under those conditions. It's one thing to be at a show and wandering around or watching a show or whatever, and it's another thing to be working, running from place to place. Those are the days you have to be really careful about how you manage your time. You don't just wander around your festival site, you make a very deliberate trip out of the office to go get what you need done and then come back because it is too hot to hang out outside any other time.
I wouldn't say it was the worst, it actually ended up being a great show. The fans had a great time, the bands had a great time, but it was crazy outside. It was a very difficult show to get up.
I was actually photographing the show and I felt like I was about to pass out most of the time. We had a lot of people go down that day. It escapes me how they do it.
I've been piecing together little bits and pieces from the Phoenix show from the trailer. It looks like everybody was let in too early? It wasn't that they were let in too early. We had done the pre-search, the way that we often times manage the entry to a show is that we'll get a pre-search started so when we are ready to open doors. Because our door time and our start time are so close together, we want to make sure that as many fans as possible are in the venue and have the opportunity to get to the schedule board, figure out when their favorite bands are playing, and then get in front of the stage so that when that first band is playing, they're not playing to no one.
We would set up a pre-search area where the whole venue security has the opportunity to go ahead and get a large group of people searched and their tickets scanned and ready to go and we just sort of hold them in one area until we're ready to open the venue, which means that the venue is safe, all of the things are ready to go, that everything is set in place.
The thing about Phoenix was that we had an issue with the flooring on the baseball field. The baseball field because it is nice grass that's intended to play baseball on, we had to put some temporary flooring on top of it and there was a problem with the flooring, so it was delaying the opening of the show. We had pre-searched all of these kids, so basically they were all being held in the top of the baseball stadium in the concourse area and I guess they just got tired of waiting.
I'm not kidding you, I was standing on the field and I heard them count down from ten and when they hit one, they started pushing and they came in and we could not do a damn thing to stop them. My security director and I stood on the field and watched the kids run into the stadium whether we liked it or not. There was absolutely nothing we could do about it and I looked at him and he was like, 'they wanted it, and they took it. We had it, and they took it from us.' I was like, 'yep, we'll the least we can do now is keep them safe' so we made sort of a human circle around the broken flooring area so that no one could get on it until it was ready to go and safe and safe and then they were allowed on. It just goes to show the power of the fans, if they want to come in, there's not much we can do to stop them.
Wow, I take it things like that aren't too out of the ordinary. That's the first time in eight years I've ever seen it happen to be totally honest with you. I've never had fans just push past us, that was a one time thing.
This year in Phoenix was particularly difficult because of the heat. Would you say that annually, it's one of your more challenging stops? Yeah, you always have to prepare. We always make sure that we have extra water on hand, we always tell people ahead of time, 'hey, we're going into the desert. Be ready. Make sure you start hydrating now.' What's a day in the life of a Warped Tour roadie like? I don't know that I have any sort of clever one liner for it. It's definitely a challenge, our job doesn't stop whether it's hot or cold. Our job doesn't stop if it's raining, it just changes, [and] sort of evolves. If we're not able to function, there's nobody else to do it for us. We are a family and we can band together and help each other, but if I'm not able to do my job, then that just means that somebody else has to do my job on top of their job. There's not another person who can just pop in and do my job and sub in. That's just not how that works. We all know that it's pretty important to make sure that we can do those things.
That means taking care of yourself, and if that means taking a break and going to cool down and drink a ton of water, then that's what you've gotta do. It's about being really, really mindful because if you're not paying attention and you are careless, then you could potentially get really sick, and if that happens to you, that's your own fault, then it's one of your friends that has to clean up whatever mess you create. Whatever you can't do, it's one of your buddies that has to clean up your slack. We try really hard to avoid that.
How long is your day, typically? I'm up at 6 and on the field at 7. The show goes down at 9. At the earliest, we leave at 10 p.m., so 16 or 15 hour days, pending. Sometimes longer.
What keeps you going after eight years? It's a challenge but it's so much fun. It's really hard work but it's totally worth it. We really do genuinely enjoy our jobs and enjoy the end product of what we create. I think it's like anything else, just have to weigh the good with the bad and at the end of the day, the good is so much better than the bad.
That being said, I think there's a certain level of crazy that you have to have because I don't think everyone is cut out to live on a bus and work 15 hour days in the loud and the hot and the rain and all of the other elements. I know a lot of people who I talk to about this and they tell me, 'you're crazy, I could never do that.' I think whether you can or can't is sort of a personal choice and I think if need be, everybody can, but you have to want to. If you don't want to, then there's just no point, but we want to because we like it.
When you weigh the good and the bad, what are some of the worst aspects of your job? You get exhausted, you don't have the creature comforts that you're used to. Your schedule gets completely turned around, but you just adjust and get used to a new schedule and new creature comforts, it's amazing how excited you'll get when you see a Walmart, just to go into society and read a magazine, you're like, 'oooh, so exciting!' I don't watch TV for two months while I'm out there, I usually watch a fair amount of TV.
There's this weird sense of disconnection from the rest of the world and you kind of have to try to pay attention to what's going on out there, otherwise, you kind of live in this little bubble that tends to get separated from the real world. There's not a whole lot that's really bad as far as I'm concerned. I happen to like the crazy schedules and intense situations. I grew up with four brothers, so living on a bus with stinky boys doesn't really bother me. It's all personal choice and personal preference, I suppose. What do you do between tours? I work for the company full time. I'm currently sitting at my desk working on a proposal for a new sponsorship for Warped Tour. So it's Warped 24/7, huh? Our company also owns a festival called the Mayhem Festival, I manage that as well. Why do you guys continue running the festival outside in the middle of the summer? It's a festival tour. Physically speaking, this footprint would not fit indoors at any physical structure, nothing is big enough to hold us. There's no basketball arena or hockey arena or football stadium that's big enough to put all of our festival inside of it and accommodate all of the fans. It just wouldn't work.
Our average fan is 17 years old, so you have to assume that they're in school, so the summer time is the only time that they're available to come out all day on a Tuesday and enjoy music. So, summer time it is.
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Why do you guys change the set times daily? Kevin [Lyman, creator of Warped Tour] says that he started it because when he was stage managing Lollapalooza, he got really tired of seeing bands that were scheduled to open every day play to empty houses because people would decide, 'well I'm not going to come early because I don't care about seeing anybody but the headliner.' He thought that was stupid, 'so how about I change things up and you don't know when people are going to play, so you just have to get here early.'
I think it's also the great equalizer. All of the bands, big or small, you don't know if Paramore is going to play first or if I See Stars is going to play first. It could go either way and either one of them could close as well. It's intended to sort of be an arbitrary equalizer as far as Kevin is concerned.