If you think applying for a regular job is tough and competitive, just be glad you're not in a band that wants to play the Vans Warped Tour. This year more than 3,000 acts applied for a slot on the national tour. According to Kevin Lyman, founder and organizer for the tour, that's only counting the ones whose applications came through record labels, management, or other authentic avenues of professional representation.
"We will still probably accommodate 300 or 400 bands this summer at some point on the tour in some fashion," he says. "We're really only able to give someone a positive response 10 percent of the time. It's still more than any other tour in the business. But it's tough to have to say no so often."
This year, one can find bands that have eagerly hopped onto the Warped Tour for any or all of those reasons. For singer/guitarist Joan Jett, one of the high-profile names on this year's tour, Warped represented a chance to reach a new audience. The tour gets her in front of kids who know little, if anything, about her long career as a solo artist or her stint with the groundbreaking, all-female rock band The Runaways.
"I think certainly a lot of kids know my music, but there are a lot that don't," Jett says. "Maybe they know the name and they may have heard 'I Love Rock 'N' Roll,' or something, and this will give them a chance to put the face with the name. Plus, I'm pretty confident in our live performance. I think we'll pick up some fans."
Every Time I Die, a band that has played both the heavy metal Ozzfest Tour and Warped, is playing the entire run of 60-plus Warped dates this summer.
For Every Time I Die guitarist Andy Williams, the Warped Tour draws a younger and more open-minded crowd than Ozzfest, where he said it seemed like many of the fans wanted to hear straight forward classic metal — something quite different from his band's more frenetic and raw brand of music.
"I think this is the crowd that has been waiting to see us for the eight years we've been around," he says. "This is like such an opportunity, and we're totally going to take advantage of it."
Underoath is one band that considers Warped to have had a direct impact on its success. The group sold 350,000 copies of their previous album, They're Only Chasing Safety, and netted a main stage slot this year.
"The Warped tour played a huge part in the success," Underoath guitarist Tim McTague says. "Three of the most major tours we did on the They're Only Chasing Safety record cycle were Taste Of Chaos [another tour booked by Lyman] and then Warped Tours of 2004 and 2005. So I mean, those were huge tours for us."
Every Time I Die and Underoath represent a heavy-rock sound that has become a more prominent part of the Warped Tour's musical mix. however, Lyman says he actually backed off on booking some hardcore and modern metal bands this year and tried to give fans a bigger sampling of acts that represent the roots of alternative rock.
"With a lot of the other tours out there, Ozzfest and Sounds Of The Underground, all these packages going around the country, they seem to have a very metal edge to them," says Lyman. "We still have some of those influences on this tour. I thought, wow, maybe this is the year we can go into some of the roots of the music, the roots of what punk is. I think punk's going to have a big resurgence and kids will grab onto that."
What the 2006 tour lacks, however, is the kind of established hitmakers such as Green Day, the Foo Fighters, and The Offspring, and recent breakthrough bands like My Chemical Romance and Fall Out Boy that have been big drawing cards on other Warped events. But Lyman likes this year's lineup and says ticket sales are in line with last year's total of 700,000.
"This year we kind of worked on the lineup, and I think top to bottom, musically it's a very interesting lineup," he says.