Kevin Lyman was sitting in the snow, thinking about the extreme sports lifestyle he was promoting, when he had an epiphany.
He wanted to share the attitude, athleticism and the music in the summer, too.
Twenty-three years ago, Lyman founded the Vans Warped Tour, the traveling show that is lauded for crisscrossing musical genres.
“I’d been working in the clubs back then and I thought people were much more eclectic in their musical taste,” Lyman says. “The first summer, we had bands like Sublime, No Doubt, Quicksand and L7. It was a mix between punk and California surf rock; it was an eclectic music mix.”
This year’s festival, which comes to Fear Farm Festival Grounds in Phoenix on June 22, brings more of the same, with acts like American Authors, CKY, Dance Gavin Dance, Barb Wire Dolls, Valient Thorr, Sick of It All and I Prevail.
Vans Warped Tour has become known as the rock ‘n’ roll summer camp.
“We want it to remind you of that accessible backyard party,” Lyman says. “We roll into town and we don’t announce the schedule – who’s playing when, etc. You show up and see who you see. Warped Tour is meant to be an exploration of music and a celebration of the summer — without breaking the bank.”
The pop act American Authors and rockers Barb Wire Dolls show the variety for which Lyman is known.
Barb Wire Dolls
Lyman is a strong supporter of female-fronted bands like Barb Wire Dolls, who have been compared to Warped veterans L7. No strangers to the festival circuit, Barb Wire Dolls were founded in Crete, Greece, by singer Isis Queen and guitarist Pyn Doll.
After gigging around their home country, the musicians were discovered by KROQ DJ Rodney Bingenheimer, who frequently played their music on his “Rodney on the ROQ” show in Los Angeles.
Barb Wire Dolls’ first American show sold out the nearby Roxy Theatre and, since then, they have played more than 800 shows in 24 countries. Their new album, “Rub My Mind,” is set for release June 16.
Their blend of Led Zeppelin and 1970s punk was recognized by the elder statesman of the Sunset Strip, Motörhead’s Lemmy Kilmister, who signed Barb Wire Dolls to his Motörhead Music record label.
“Lemmy is God,” Queen says. “He is the coolest cat in the world.”
In the last 12 months, American Authors lead signer Zac Barnett has checked plenty of items off his bucket list.
He and his band are performing on Vans Warped Tour stages this summer, and they contributed the song “Everything Everything” for the Disney Nature film “Born in China.”
“‘Everything, Everything’ is about how life is so much better when you’re with your best friends,” Barnett says. “There are so many exciting adventures in this world and they should be shared with loved ones. We wanted to channel each of the animals’ spirits and journeys into the song.”
The song is one of many that the New York-based American Authors hope to release this year, joining “Best Day of My Life” and “Believer” in their catalog.
American Authors performed on a few Vans Warped Tour dates last year, but this summer they’re hitting almost every city.
“A long, long time ago, when we were just starting out, we won a battle of the bands and the prize was you got to do one of the tiny, tiny, tiny stages, first thing in the morning at Warped Tour,” Barnett says with a laugh.
“This is our first full-on experience and it’s kind of like a bucket list for us.”