Alright, guys: Here is my first blog ever for my weekly Crew Love Feature. Check it out, give me some feedback, and keep an eye out for more! <3
BH: When did you first realize you had such a love for music?
JC: I’ve loved music as long as I can remember. My mom’s side of the family is very musically inclined, so I guess playing music was inevitable, but the reason I picked up my first instrument was, and this is the honest to god truth: the Green Ranger from Power Rangers. I may have just sealed my fate for never getting a girlfriend ever again but just hear me out. When I was in the 4th grade, like every other kid, I was obsessed with The Power Rangers. The Green Ranger would use his Dragon Dagger to summon his amazing Dragonzord. So of course, I thought if I bought a flute I would be able to summon my own Dragonzord and save the world. I quickly discovered that I was wrong. Horribly wrong. All the kids made fun of me and told me it was a “Girls instrument.” Despite the ongoing humiliation from the other kids, I stuck with the flute for 5 or 6 years and become the best in my school. Suck on that!
REDEMPTION:I started playing guitar when I was in the 5th grade because of the show California Dreams. It was a show about 6 high school kids that had their own band and played concerts all the time. On lead guitar was the one and only Jake Summers. A leather jacket wearing-Harley riding-slicked back hair rebel that shredded the gitfiddle like no other. Call me, ladies.
BH: When did you first start taking that talent on the road?
JC: I’ve been playing in different bands since I was 12 years old, but the first time we ever went anywhere that was farther than an hour away was back in 2003. I was 16 or 17 years old and we booked one show that was up in Tallahassee, which is 4 hours or so north of where I live in St. Petersburg. We played this place at the time called The Beta Bar and since we had no connections/following/friends up there at the time, the show needless to say was absolutely terrible. We were a melodic/punk/hardcore band playing with bands that sounded like they should have been playing somewhere in a tropical rain forest. Pretty sure they were called “Native Sun” or something like that haha. Yeah, it sucked.
BH: Since you have been in the band and behind the scenes, what are some of your favorite things from each end of the spectrum?
JC: I know this is going to sound really cliché but there is honestly no other feeling like the one you get when the lights go off, the crowd goes wild and you make your way onto that stage. When I was growing up I did nothing but go to shows and I would see those musicians up on stage and I would consider them to be like higher beings, almost super human if you will. I’m probably as laid back and as down to earth and anyone I know, but it’s still a neat feeling thinking that there are kids out there that look at you the same way you looked at your idols growing up.
Working as crew, I still sort of get the same feeling but it’s more of a “Hell yeah, I made this all possible.” Almost like figuring out a big math equation or assembling something you get from Home Depot, haha. The band wouldn’t be able to do what they do if people like myself didn’t do what we do. I always give myself a pat on the back whenever a show goes smoothly.
BH: Define YOUR perfect tour.
JC: Aw man, one of these questions. The ones that are almost impossible to answer without it sounding completely crazy. All right, I’m just going to go for it. In no particular order it’d be:
Poison The Well
Eighteen Visions (back in the ‘The Best Of, Until The Ink Runs Out days)
Nine Inch Nails
Van Halen (They would definitely have to headline)
BH: Describe what the average day is like on the road as a band member and a crew member.
JC: As a band member, if you’re fortunate enough to have crew that works for you, you usually wake up an hour or 2 before soundcheck (if you’re not super hungover), walk around a block or 2 of the venue to see if there’s anything fun to do around there, realize that most of the time there’s not, so then head back to the venue to take advantage of some juicy internet. Crank out a soundcheck, make sure your monitors are where you want them, head back to the green room, make yourself a drink, stare at a wall.When the show starts you go mingle around and see how the turn out is, check out a few songs from the other bands and then make it back about hour before set time to start warming up. After the show, you take a minute to relax and then head out to merch to meet some amazing fans.
As a crew member, you load-in between 1 and 2pm, get everything set-up on stage, run through each instrument to make sure everything is working properly and then do a rough monitor mix just so the band has something to work with when they get to the stage for soundcheck. Souncheck usually happens between 3:30 and 4:30/5pm. After the band runs through a song or two, I’ll take all the guitars and start re-stringing them as well as changing out batteries in wireless packs. I usually restring guitars every 2 days and the bass every 3 days. When doors open (between 6-7pm depending on how large the tour is) I’ll be by the stage watching the other bands to make sure there are no power issues with the stage or venue. When it’s showtime, I’ll make sure the members each have 2 or 3 waters set near their amps or drum riser, put out towels, tape up the center mic so the cable doesn’t come lose and then ROCK-N-ROLL! I take a lot of pride into making sure everything comes together perfectly at the end of the night. Sometimes there are little things that go wrong here and there, but you just got to roll with the punches and keep calm. Once you start freaking out and overthinking everything, THAT’S when all hell breaks loose haha. When the band is done, you tear everything down, relax and do it all over again the next day.
BH: What memory stands out to you the most from being on tour?
JC: When I was playing on Warped Tour in 2008, literally everything in my life was going perfectly. I was in a new relationship, a new band, making money and playing on a tour that I only ever dreamed of doing. I remember there was this one morning specifically when Warped was at The Gorge in George Washington, Oregon. Anyone that’s ever been to that place knows that it is absolutely one of the most beautiful places in the United States. I stepped off the bus, took in the view, stretched out my arms and calmly said to myself “I love my life.” Don’t get me wrong, I still love my life now, it was just so different back then because I had zero worries in my life. I’ve never felt that much peace ever in my whole life.
Back in January, I did a month long tour in Europe/UK as a guitar tech for Alesana and I can’t remember exactly which show in Germany it was, but in the second song of the set, Dennis Lee (vocalist) jumps into the crowd and screams his part. Well that night, gravity really had it out for Mr. Lee. I see Dennis jump into the crowd and he disappears, which isn’t that unusual. Dennis is a pretty big guy so his little Houdini trick didn’t alarm me. Usually while he’s down there everyone is still able to hear him scream his part despite not being visible to the band but that night I heard nothing. The next thing I see is our Tour Manager waving me over towards the barricade at the front of the stage and before you know it an unconscious Dennis is being carried my way. Dougie (our TM) and myself carried Dennis side stage and right before we got him into the other room I hear another member say “Oh my god, his head.” I hadn’t noticed yet but Dennis had landed right on his haad and had split it open like I’ve never seen before. Now, I’ve seen some fair share of falls, episodes of The Walking Dead and educational videos in health class so I’m usually pretty good with a little blood here and there. But it’s a completely different story when it’s one of your best friends. One of the scariest things I’ve ever had to go through on tour. I also got to sign a girl’s forehead in Texas with a sharpie. That was awesome. All you musicians out there need to try that at least one time in your career.
BH: Do you have any favorite states or venues that you prefer?
JC: I’ve always had a love for San Diego. Everything about that place is just gorgeous. From the food, weather, scenery, beach and down to the shows. It’s always a great time there. The Soma is one of my favorite venues to go to. The staff there has always been really respectful and you can’t beat the sound. Another one of my favorite venues is The Palladium in Massachusetts. I’m a huge Hatebreed fan and ever since I found out that the video for “I Will Be Heard” was shot at the Palladium, I was stoked to go there. The room on stage as well as the layout of the venue is perfect and the sound there is just massive.
BH: If you could design the "TOUR BUS OF ALL TOUR BUSES" what would it look like, inside and out!
JC: Easy. It would be a flat black double-decker and I’d have a built-in Chipotle (w/ official employees to run it of course), a back lounge that had a “grava-tron” feature to it, just because, and a mini-bar with all of my favorite adult beverages. The top of my bunk would be one big touch screen so I could do some Minority Report type stuff on it. Since the whole bus would have awesome wi-fi, I’d definitely have a PS3 mounted somewhere in my bunk so I can get in some intense multiplayer action along with some late night Netflix. Most importantly, I would make sure that my bus had a shower with hot water and also a toilet you could actually do #2 on. Y’all touring musicians out there feel me on that one.
BH: What is your next step/goals of 2012?
JC: This year I really want to do something big. I’ve thrown around some ideas of putting on a couple charities for kids that have had to deal with child abuse or that are financially less fortunate than the next kid. I love kids so much. Right now I’m just living day by day, playing my guitar as much as I can, writing, work on my photography and continue to support my brothers and sisters that are still out there making music for all you wonderful people.
BH: Any last words for everyone checking this out??
JC: Be good. Take care of each other. I love you guys.