Sometimes, the road can actually feel like home for a band. It’s only natural as the bulk of a musician’s time is spent traversing the globe and playing countless cities in something of a whirlwind. Within that flurry, you’ll come across some genuine characters. In turn, they become a part of your story, enriching it with their own quirks and nuances. Vanna singer Davey Muise sat down with us at Vans Warped Tour, to talk about those people on the road and his travels through music.
— — —
Read the interview highlights below, or listen to SCP Radio’s full-length podcast:
— — —
Chris Remmers: Why don’t you start off by telling us where you’re from and how you got into doing what you’re doing.
Davey Muise: I’m the vocalist of Vanna, which is only one of the hats that I wear in my life. I grew up right outside of Boston, and I kind of got involved in the Massachusetts/Boston hardcore scene at a young age. Then, got involved in the metal scene and just in music in general. I started bands when I was in high school. I always knew I wanted to tour. I looked up to touring musicians. My step father was in the industry. I would go to festivals and meet a lot of cool bands. So, I always knew that I wanted to do this. I started [do it yourself] touring, 19 [years old] was the first time I did one, and I’m going to be 32 this year.
So, I’ve been doing this for a million years now. But, you know, thinks progressed where I booked my own tours back in the day, like Myspace days, where you just had to be your own booking agent. We did that for a while, and then put out records. Did smaller things, and then we did a tour with Vanna. I knew the Vanna guys forever, because we all went to college in the same areas, and they were looking for a new vocalist. We were on a tour with them and they asked me to join. Of course then I was like, “Oh here’s my ticket, my free ride!” But, little did I know that [that was] the beginning of all my work. It’s been cool, man. It’s been really awesome. This is our fourth year on Warped Tour. So, we’re seniors this year.
CR: So, you’re a veteran Warped Tourer. Obviously, it goes around the country. Which spot is your favorite?
DM: We’re just getting into my favorite. I’m a New England boy, but I will say this, the Tri-State Area feels like home, because people from [New] Jersey and New York are just like people from NE. We’re loud, we’re obnoxious, we only really get along with each other. I think the only difference between the two of us are our sports teams. That’s about it. We can talk trash to each other back-and-forth. But, when it comes down to it the spirit of Jersey, The City, Long Island are literally what I grew up in in NE. It’s the same thing. So, we’ve always done really well here. Today’s the first day that we started a little pocket of two weeks where we’re in the Northeast. This is the stretch of Warped Tour that I enjoy the most.
CR: We’re Jersey boys, so the whole feel of being in Boston or being in New York [we get]. Whenever we go out west or down south, people are always so nice.
DM: Yeah, [it’s like] what you need? What’s your problem bud? What’s going on with you? Yeah, it’s nice to be around rude [people], I guess. I don’t know man. I love it, you know? You can, ever take it out of us. Right now is prime time.
CR: How do you feel music and travel fit together in your career, your life, your goals? How does that kind of fit in?
DM: I always tell people that touring in a band is like 10-percent music and 90-percent sightseeing and where we’re going to eat food. It’s cool man, because I love to travel. I think that my first tour, when I was 19, I got that itch. I live in Maine now, and I get to miss my home. I miss my home when I leave, and I go home for a month and I’m going crazy. I got to get out of here. I just love traveling. I don’t ever think that a nine-to-five is me. I’ve done nine-to-five. I just don’t think they’re me.
Even outside of the band I speak at high schools and colleges for a living, and I travel for that. So, when I’m not on tour, I’m on tour, still. It’s a little bit different. I’m not in a van. I get to fly places. I love it man, there’s nothing else that compares to this. I always tell my wife, “Even if the band stops, I’m never going to stop touring.” She knows that too. She’s toured a bunch too. So, she understands the itch for travel. It absolutely goes hand-in-hand.
It’s like, “Oh, you’re going to pay me to go to Europe? And, walk around? All I have to do is scream into a microphone for 40 minutes?” Okay! Cool. Like, I would have never been able to go to all the places I’ve gone to if it wasn’t for music. There would be no way. You know? I know people at home. They all have their own houses and nice cars. They have their families and all this stuff. But, my nice car, my house, is the fact that when I walk into a café in Germany my phone logs into the Wi-Fi, because I have already been there before. That’s my bragging rights. That’s my stuff. I like that man.
CR: You’re obviously cultured, you’re well-traveled. Where does your inspiration come from?
DM: Honestly, the kids. Between speaking at schools and doing this I get to hear these kids’ stories. That’s the whole reason why I even started opening up in the first place to write better records. I used to write concept records, so no one knew the issues that were going on in my life. Meeting these kids and listening to them, man, it opened my life up. These guys have changed me completely. That’s why when we ever play shows I’ll sit at the merch tent. I’ll talk to kids all day. This is all for them. You know? It’s for us too, but it’s all for them.
CR: To backtrack a little bit, when you talk to kids in high school and college, what are you preaching about?
DM: So, I share my life story. I started speaking at schools a couple of years ago. I have a very odd, kind of, life story. I did this thing called the Harbor TV. It’s just a bunch of inspirational dudes doing these videos. Literally, from birth to now I’ve had a very odd life. I was born into a family of drug dealers that left me for dead in a drawer when I was a baby. I got found by the police. I was in foster homes, I’ve dealt with divorce and I’ve dealt with depression when I was in my 20’s — a pregnancy, the baby wasn’t mine. There’s a whole thing. There’s a lot of stuff.
DM: I actually am writing a book right now. I got approached by a publishing company. So, I’ve been starting. There’s a lot, and I never thought that it mattered much. And, so I started meeting kids that have no friends in high school and I talk about how my parents are divorced. And, they might look up to me like, “Really? Your parents are divorced? Mine too.” They think it’s like a rare thing, because they have no friends. So, they don’t know that everyone’s parents are just about divorced. They don’t know that.
CR: Yeah, I have a group of 12 friends and I have to say, there’s probably like three parents that are not divorced.
DM: Right! Exactly. So, I started realizing that a lot of things in my life, that I’ve gone through, might touch some kid in some way. I always tell people I’m not special. No one here is special. No one here is cool. That’s why we’re on Warped Tour, because we’re not cool. We are the anti-cool. We are the other people. I always try to tell people that it’s not me that’s special. It’s the story that’s special. And, now I’m living my dream, and here’s how I did it, through all the hard work.” It’s like, I’m going to do that. It’s worth it. The only reason why I’m here is because music was there for me. I just tell the kids, “I was the worst. If I can make it, you can make it.”
CR: That’s absolutely amazing. You’ve got to take that leap of faith. Everyone’s had hardships in their life, and just to hear one story where someone had it hard, came out and made it, literally can change someone’s life.
DM: Oh, absolutely! Especially like kids in high school that love bands. That come in and they know our band. They look up to me and that’s cool that you look up to me, but now use it. I was in your shoes and I’m here now. I’m living proof that you can do this, with a little bit of hard work and help from people that love you. You can really do this. At the end of our sets, I have everyone come in on the barricade and I just talk to them. I went to Warped Tour from 12 years old to 21 years old. Then, my first Warped Tour was when I was 24, like playing on it. So, Warped Tour has been a big part of my life. To me this isn’t just a concert, festival or way to make money. This is a lifestyle that gets some kids through their entire year. It means the world to be out here.
CR: To wrap this up, is there anywhere that you haven’t played yet, that if you did get to play there, we are really making it? We’re making some serious moves?
DM: I want to play Japan really bad. We had a Japanese tour booked for earlier in the year, flyer went up. Presales went up. It was looking great. Then, the promoter never bought our flights. So, we obviously couldn’t go. We didn’t have any money. It sucks, because once we confirmed Japan, China was like, “Oh, we want you in China!” So, Japan was paying for us to go there, and China was like, “We’ll pay for you to go from Japan to China.” Then, a Hawaii promoter was like, “We’ll pay for you to come from China to Hawaii.” So, now Japan was going to just have to pay for the flight home from Hawaii, so it would have been cheaper. All we had to do was get to Japan, and we could have done all that, but it fell through. Hawaii is the last state we haven’t done. We did Alaksa last year.