APMAs Preview: Mike Shea Wanted to 'Create One Day Where Everyone Could Come Together'

Graham Fielder
Mike Shea

Alternative Press founder/CEO discusses the inspiration behind (and stress of) the awards show.

The Journeys Alternative Press Music Awards -- which made their debut in 2014 -- are set for Wednesday at the Cleveland Quicken Loans Arena. Every Time I Die’s Keith Buckley and New Years Day’s Ash Costello will host the red carpet, All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth and Jack Barakat will host, and Weezer, Panic! at the Disco, Pierce the Veil, All Time Low and Halestorm are among the performers. Rob Zombie is set to receive the Vanguard Award, while punk band X will be honored with the Icon Award.

Fall Out Boy, Bring Me the Horizon & More Win Big at First Alternative Press Music Awards

Alternative Press founder/CEO Mike Shea learned a lot during the lead-up and execution of the inaugural event, which was held in front of the city’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and hosted by Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus -- the main thing being that hosting a party indoors rather than out is much less stressful. He chatted with Billboard about why the event was moved inside and some of the changes that were implemented after its maiden run.

Why did you create the awards?

We didn’t have anything for our community. The community is kind of a huge band of misfits. [Laughs] We’re all kind of the kids that sat at the corner table in high school … I felt a couple years ago that we needed something; it was twofold. One, it was an award thing where we could hand out awards to the best of the best and fans could pick the winners. I really wanted to do that. But the second thing was to also have a day for all of us. Our community is made up of thousands of merch people, booking agents, managers, bands, guitar techs and you name it. But we don’t really all have a day for us. We sometimes see parts of each other, like some of us see each other out on [Vans] Warped Tour if it’s an L.A. date or a New York date. Maybe we’ll see each other at South by Southwest. That’s getting so expensive now. So I wanted to create one day where everyone could come together and we could kind of have a vacation day.

Watch Smashing Pumpkins’ Billy Corgan acceptance speech after receiving the Vanguard Award presented by AXS TV in 2014:

How will the show differ from 2014?

The first part is we’re indoors. [Laughs] That helps. We’re in an arena, not in a park. Last year we were in a park, and it was raining three days prior to the show and it was cloudy the day before the show, and we were freaking out. We had no backup plan, because the show had gotten so big with ticket sales and VIPs. We really didn’t have any other place to put them to do the show, so that was part one. It was a lot of work doing an awards show within a concert festival sort of atmosphere, so we got rid of the concert festival side of it and we could just focus on the awards show by doing it indoors. That was a lot of work off of us, which we’re very happy about.

It also allowed us to tighten up the production. It was very much a first-year-itis show. There were things that we were racing around so much toward the end to get done because we were learning. Some of our cues were late. The orchestra conductor didn’t even have a headset, so she was doing everything off of sight cues. [Laughs] It was like a dated reference of Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland puttin’ on a show in the barn. It was an amazing night, but it was a lot of work.

For 2015, there’s a Vans Warped Tour bundle so people who are coming in for the APMAs can also attend the July 23 Warped date in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

We actually had a lot of road trips last year, which we didn’t expect. We saw kids posting on Instagram and Twitter pictures in their moms’ minivan and they’re driving from Wisconsin and it says “APMAs or bust” written on the back with soap like a high school homecoming. So we’re working with [tour founder] Kevin Lyman and he brings Warped in for the APMAs, because it’s a great way to get all of the party together.

Brendon Urie covered Frank Sinatra standards at the 2014 APMAs. It was amazing that those young kids were singing along to songs that were as old as their grandparents.

I don't think the bobby soxers ever went away. All those girls in that audience, they were just missing the right shoes. And they weren't paid to be there, like Sinatra used to do. Brendon Urie, he's just an amazing talent … Last year was just him. We didn't have Panic! at the Disco play, but now this year we have Panic! playing, and he's going to be one of our bigger draws that night. That's going to be crazy.

Watch Urie perform "Luck Be a Lady" and "Fly Me to the Moon":

Explain why the APMAs partnered with Tumblr for the new Fandom of the Year Award.

Tumblr is scrapbooking for teenagers. It kind of turned out that way for Pinterest, but it really didn't pick up. It kind of stuck with an older demo, I think, for girls. But Tumblr is the place where fans go … It's like their digital wall. This is where they can post and share their favorite moments. So Brendon Urie: One of ’em finds a really cute picture of Brendon, and they find a GIF of Brendon throwing up during a dare thing with Fall Out Boy, and he's drinking until he pukes or whatever sort of stuff, and they love that. This is the way for them to do it using the lovely Share button. And it just speaks to their generation. It's not really a place for parents.