It is 1995. The inaugural Warped Tour pulls into the Edge in Fort Lauderdale. And even after the band's van (along with its electric guitars and other gear) gets jacked, Bradley Nowell and Eric Wilson of Sublime still decide to play an entirely acoustic set for a packed house. Meanwhile, a massive outdoor vert ramp launches hundreds of skaters onto a street course while No Doubt, Sick of It All, and Orange 9mm take the indoor stage and rage.
A Miami guy named Tony Skulls was at that first show as a skater kid. Now, 19 years later, he's touring with the crew as a roadie. He is the man who's literally seen it all. And that's why we hit him up for a backstage look at Warped Tour.
New Times: Watsup, dude?
Vans Warped Tour 2013
Vans Warped Tour 2013: With Hawthorne Heights, Forever the Sickest Kids, Man Overboard, Motion City Soundtrack, Chiodos, We Came as Romans, and others. 11 a.m. Saturday, July 27, at Cruzan Amphitheatre, 601-7 Sansbury's Way, West Palm Beach; 561-795-8883; cruzanamphitheatre.net. Tickets cost $23.50 to $37.50 plus fees via livenation.com. All ages.
Tony Skulls: I got cut last night skating in the parking lot. I wasn't happy. I had to get 17 stitches on my shin. It's life on the road. Play hard and get hurt, that's for sure.
What's your job out there?
I'm setup. We meet at the trucks at 8 a.m., and we're done about 11 a.m. The doors open, and the bands start fuckin' playin'.
You watch all the bands?
We have six to seven stages throughout the day, and it's 90-degree weather in most of these states. So I don't hang outside too much. If we wanna check out a band, we go to the backstage area and chill.
How do you like the music?
It's not like the bands that used to play, like Dropkick Murphys, U.S. Bombs, and Agnostic Front, but 3OH!3 is a pretty fuckin' cool set. And I keep hearing about Emily's Army. The drummer is Billie Joe Armstrong from Green Day's son. I did hear a rumor that next year on the 20th anniversary, they're bringing some of the heavy old-school acts. I'll be stoked to see some of the bands I grew up listening to.
Things you miss?
Friends and family, sleeping in an actual bed.
Goin' two weeks straight. Fuckin' attitudes start to crack from being on the road that long without a day off. It gets a little crazy at that point.
Being able to travel the whole fuckin' country and seeing 32 states in a matter of two months. Meeting hot babes all over the country and seeing the different styles and people from different cities. New places, new faces, and rollin' with a crew that's down for you. We hang out with the babes and party. We have a good time.
What's the crowd like?
Warped Tour is really channeled to the younger crowd, mostly 15-, 16-, 17-year-old kids. An audience of 12,000 kids packing their asses to come see your band is a huge deal. We've all played in bands where a hundred people coming to see you at a club seemed like a lot. Here, there's 10,000 people screaming and chanting. This shit's a pretty wild experience.
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How's it feel?
It's amazing to be part of this legendary tour. It's the longest-running American festival concert tour. I'm stoked. I'm lucky to travel around the country on a tour bus and make memories. Some of these people I'll know for a lifetime. It's great to be part of American music history, 'cause this is definitely going down in the books. And without us, it wouldn't get set up or broken down. We are a huge part of the backbone of it, and we keep the wheels fuckin' turnin'.
We'll be cruisin' down the East Coast on a nine-day run. I'm gonna keep my leg clean and not get amputated, just rockin' and rollin' and musclin' through. Every day is a new hustle and a new state. It's life on the road.