There's nothing quite like a record label that makes house calls---going venue to venue in city to city with a diverse sample of what the label has to offer.
And diverse is the Epitaph record label indeed---featuring sounds ranging from classic punk to nu-metal.
This year's Epitaph tour is headlined by Matchbook Romance with support from Motion City Soundtrack, From First to Last and The Matches. So far, all four bands have reported overwhelming crowd support from all the tour stops thus far. The Epitaph Tour is currently on its way to Orange County---with a stop scheduled for Feb. 16 at the House of Blues in Anaheim.
"[Epitaph] has enough pride to actually put its balls out there and the label's name out there and say, 'Hey, we're going to do a tour with our name on it,'" said Matchbook Romance drummer Aaron Stern. "I think it's ballsy of them and I think that it shows their pride in what they have. I think it's very important to want to be on a label that wants to show how much balls it really has."
From First to Last guitarist/back-up vocalist Travis Richter agrees and emphasizes the positive benefits that arise from touring as labelmates.
"I think that it's important for labels to do tours because the kids are used to only one band on the label and this way they get exposed to the other bands on the label as well---bands that they may not even have known about," Richter said. "The tour is going really good so far. It seems like everyone is coming to the shows with really open minds."
Motion City Soundtrack's vocalist/guitarist Justin Pierre also confirms the success of the tour thus far and the dynamic nature of touring with bands that all have a distinctly different sound.
"So far the tour has been rowdy and just nuts," Pierre said. "I also think touring as a label is important. It makes things much more interesting, rather than when you've got a main band and then three other bands that aren't as good as that band, that sound like that band, but just aren't as good as that band. This tour is good because you've got the main band, but you've also got three other bands that sound a lot different."
So what exactly can be expected of the Anaheim show?
"You're going to get Matchbook just putting everything on the table and just rocking out," Stern said. "It's going to be a good time---and if you like the songs, it's going to be an even better time. We're pretty much an energetic ball of fun. We like to have fun whether it's on-stage or off-stage."
Meanwhile, From First to Last promises to make people sit on the ground as a show of loyalty more so than a display of dominance.
"We're going to make people sit on the floor---it's kind of a cool thing," Richter said. "If you like our band a lot then you'll sit on the floor when we tell you to."
Lead vocalist/guitarist Shawn Harris of The Matches offers unparalleled stage presence.
"We're doing all kinds of crap," Harris said. "Not all four members will be playing at the same time -- or rarely they are -- so there's always someone dragging a mic stand across the stage or jumping in the crowd before going back and playing while the next person is doing something else."
In addition, anyone who has been to a Matches show will tell you that they have an unprecedented, truly unique sense of style.
"I think that I might have to attribute [my sense of style] to my mother---she's a children's art teacher," Harris said. "We make all of our own [clothes]. When people go to our shows they're like, 'You guys should start your own clothing line,' and we're like, 'Yeah, but someone also told Blink-182 that about 10 years ago.' Our band's thing is more about what we're not wearing than what we are wearing---which means that our fashion is really great or absolutely hideous. [I look at pictures of] some of the stuff I wear on stage and later I'm just like, 'Oh my God, I was wearing that?'"
This year's Epitaph Tour is sponsored by both Fuse and Alternative Press magazine---alternative broadcast and print outlets respectively. Fuse and AP have supported the bands on the Epitaph Tour. Matchbook Romance, for instance, had the honor of being AP's cover story.
"It's always nice to see your face on the cover of a magazine," Stern said.
href='http://horus.vcsa.uci.edu/article.php?id=3368' target='_blank'>By Tracy Ung