Tyson Ritter (All-American Rejects), Justin Pierre (Motion City Soundtrack), Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy), Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance), Al Barr (Dropkick Murphys) and Hayley Williams (Paramore)
Tyson Ritter (All-American Rejects), Justin Pierre (Motion City Soundtrack), Pete Wentz (Fall Out Boy), Gerard Way (My Chemical Romance), Al Barr (Dropkick Murphys) and Hayley Williams (Paramore)
Getty Images, Rex; Design by Jessica Xie

The Summer Punk Went Pop: Oral History of the 2005 Warped Tour

by Chris Payne
June 21, 2018, 10:03am EDT

As Warped enters its final run, we explore its biggest year: Fall Out Boy & My Chemical Romance morphed into MTV icons, while the kid who’d become Skrillex and a then-unknown Paramore rocked side stages.

This summer, the Vans Warped Tour -- music’s last major traveling festival -- is calling it quits, citing fatigue, disinterested teens, and a marketplace shift towards blowout weekends over season-long treks. But 13 years ago, Warped nearly collapsed beneath the weight of its own success.

The storm had been brewing for some time. Warped was 11 years old in 2005, and it’d played an integral role in bringing the likes of Green Day, Blink-182, No Doubt, Sublime, and even Eminem to suburban superstardom during the '90s and early '00s. An annual Warped trip had become a summertime staple for teens raised on bratty skate punk and ska, but by the middle of the aughts, it had morphed into something completely new. And bigger.  

In 2005, a more sensitive, precocious, fashion-focused brand of punk exploded into popular culture. Its eventual poster kids spent the decade’s early years grinding it out in America’s VFW halls, the venerable ethos of Thursday, Saves the Day, and Jimmy Eat World their guiding light. Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance played Warped in ‘04 and after drawing fervent crowds, were signed on for the next year early; by the time June ‘05 rolled around, “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” and “Helena” were MTV staples, improbably climbing the Hot 100. 700,000 kids came out that summer, more than any Warped before or since (for context, last year pulled 300,000). Individual bands regularly sold over $30,000 of merch per day. Bodyguards were needed for the first time. At summer’s end, the tour’s profits hit seven figures. But Warped’s summer-long slog paid another price; across 48 shows in 59 days, musicians and personnel grappled with oversized egos, volatile -- if not occasionally hostile -- environments, and a sideshow’s worth of distractions far from home, with a massive mainstream audience suddenly watching. 

On the first day of Warped’s final trek, we present the firsthand story of its watershed year.

I. "This Was Like the Moon Landing For This Type of Music"

Tyson Ritter, All-American Rejects vocalist-bassist: 2005 Warped Tour was everything people think about when they want to make Warped something of folklore. It was the real thing.

Kevin Lyman, Warped Tour founder & producer: The Warped Tour's only made money on tickets once, and 2005 was the year. If we turn a profit, it's from sponsorships and merchandise. 

Buddy Nielsen, Senses Fail vocalist: It had everything to do with the scene’s success. This was like the moon landing for this type of music. 

Lyman: We'd done some early bookings. The year before, I had Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance on the smaller stage. The audiences weren't huge at this point, but they were so engaged, so I said, "Gotta bring them on the main [stage]."

Pete Wentz, Fall Out Boy bassist: That was a surreal moment for us. That was when us and My Chemical Romance were both getting on TRL at the same time. It was wild because we’d never experienced that. (Note: all Fall Out Boy quotes in this piece come from a previous Billboard interview).

Lyman: TRL was so popular… everyone was watching. They grabbed onto these bands, and radio was playing them. 

Nielsen: Senses Fail did Warped the year before. My Chem wasn’t My Chem yet, as we know them. Senses Fail wasn’t Senses Fail yet. On Warped Tour 2005, everybody was everybody. Fall Out Boy was Fall Out Boy. You had the most bands that were not only successful but, like, pop music successful. 

Matt Watts, The Starting Line guitarist: The whole scene started as a left-of-center, DIY thing. Lots of these bands started at VFW or Knights of Columbus Halls. It was such a personal connection with fans. In 2005, it hit a critical mass. 

Nielsen: It was the first time bands had security guards. Pete Wentz and Gerard Way couldn’t get around without them.

Ritter: The difference between those bands and All-American Rejects? Fall Out Boy, three bodyguards. My Chem had a bodyguard. 

Lyman: The audience coming to Warped Tour transformed from that hardcore person who was out skating or going to the beach to a crowd that was watching TV all summer. We managed to get them off their couches for one day! But they weren't ready to be in the sun for nine hours. They would stand in front of the stages all day long waiting for those hit songs. It wasn't like you could just come, watch those bands and leave; you were there the whole day. By the time the band went on stage, these people hadn't eaten, hadn't drank water, hadn't put sunscreen on, so many of them just collapsed. Our medical tents were full.

Lisa Brownlee, Warped Tour tour manager: I often think of Kevin Lyman as a mad scientist, crossing boundaries that ought not to be crossed when putting together a lineup.

Al Barr, Dropkick Murphys vocalist: Fall Out Turds and My Chemical Shit Pants -- that’s what we called them -- were both blowing up, and I kept going around Warped Tour the whole day going, "Jesus Christ, this singer must be so tired because he sings for every band!" Because it all sounded the same to an old timer like me. But that's when I realized I sound like my dad! Those bands? Not my cup of tea at all. But they were working their asses off, just like we did, and nothing was handed to them. They worked for everything they got.

Lyman: The core audience was pretty pissed. We talk about punk rock being all-accepting, but a lot of times, it's still very niche and very "who's in their club." This was before Twitter, so they verbalized it to me on message boards. Well, the club got a lot bigger.

II. "They Were Connecting on a Much Deeper Level Than Most of the Other Bands"

Watts: In the VFW halls, Fall Out Boy put in their 10,000 hours and beyond.

Nielsen: From Under the Cork Tree had just come out. Fall Out Boy was huge. 

Watts: They put out the right record at the right time. 

Wentz: It was like, Warped Tour happening at the same time [and hearing], "You guys are super famous, but maybe just on Warped Tour!" 

Watts: Pete Wentz is a captivating dude. Patrick Stump is a great writer.

Justin Pierre, Motion City Soundtrack vocalist-guitarist: I thought Patrick Stump had an amazing voice. I was very upset at how effortless it seemed. I would have to work 10 times as hard just to pull it off. He was kind of a weirdo, kind of a nerd. I really liked that. There was an unspoken nerd quality we kind of shared. I [recently] found a picture online of us coming back from a Target run… I really dug Patrick a lot.

Watts: Once “Sugar, We’re Goin Down” caught on, it opened up the floodgates.

Andy Hurley, Fall Out Boy drummer: I remember going to a water park right after we'd gotten to number one on TRL that day. I was like, "Yeah, we're number one!" going down the slides and no one in the park knew at all who we were. 

Wentz: They were like, fucking losers!

Lyman: Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance, I put them on at three or four in the afternoon. All the kids would be in the venue by then, but I knew their fans couldn't hold up til the end of the day.

Watts: My Chemical Romance was connecting on a much deeper level than most of the other bands. 

Lyman: A lot of merchandise was being sold. This is where Kate Truscott -- who [now] helps run my company -- was recognized because she was the merchandise person for My Chemical Romance. They were selling half a semi-truck of merchandise a day at that point. It was crazy.

Kate Truscott, My Chemical Romance merch manager: I was out on the road with Chevelle, working for a company called BandMerch. I got a call that this new band needed somebody because they were suddenly doing way bigger numbers than anybody expected. They had some guy doing their merch and frankly, he was blowing it. Heather Hannoura [now Heather Gabel] did some shirts for us. Some of the stuff I was selling then is still for sale at Hot Topic. There were gloves with bones on them. They had fingers and no one bought them, so I would cut the fingertips off and then kids loved them! 

Watts: There were tons of kids coming out dressed in My Chem-appropriate attire. I use the term “goth vibes” responsibly: dark hair, black or red t-shirt, eye makeup. 

Truscott: One part of the summer, [guitarist] Frank Iero thought he was having some sort of brain bleed; He was blowing his nose and this red stuff was coming out. A doctor looked at it and was like, “Dude, that’s makeup.” 

Lyman: Some days, I heard they were doing $30,000 to $50,000 in merchandise. 

Truscott: Our highest day was $60,000, which to my knowledge, is a record that’s yet to be beaten by any band on Warped. It was in Detroit, a 30,000-person show at the Silverdome. Headed to banks on days off, our tour manager would be like, “What’s in your backpack? You can’t walk to the bank with $250,000 on you!” 

Watts: When you see bands changing pop culture, you see fans embracing their style. 

Truscott: The only band that had more items for sale than us was the Murphys. They used Warped as a warehouse sale every summer [Laughs].

Lyman: Dropkick Murphys were probably the highest paid band on that year's tour. Them and the Offspring were probably both making $15,000 to $17,000 [per show]. I had to book Fall Out Boy, $1,500. Atreyu, $1,500. Story of the Year, probably $750. I was delivering this whole package of bands. I don't have the exact price, but I could probably tell you it was about $125,000 a show, talent-wise. You had to try to be right on the edge.

Nielsen: Everybody was literally printing money. Everybody was stoked.

Lyman: Fall Out Boy tended to go out, hang around the parties a little more… My Chemical Romance, I don’t think anyone in the band was really a partier. 

Truscott: There was nothing salacious. Frank is still married to the girl he was dating back then. [Guitarist] Ray [Toro] is still with the same girl. Gerard’s had a couple different girlfriends, but it was like, three in the 20 years I’ve known him, and now he’s married.

Lyman: They were always nice to the women on our tour, the girls working with these bands.

Truscott: I had a boxset of the Charmed DVDs. Gerard came by asking what they were about. I’m like, “It’s about witches that own a bar,” and he was like, “I can get behind that.”

Ritter: You’d stroll this alley of buses and see Gerard doing a sketch in front of the headlights on the ground in front of his bus. He was too shy to talk to the group, but he could still sit out in front of his bus drawing a piece of art, which I thought was so fun. He would get in front of the headlights and show off his talent.

Truscott: Gerard was always doing art. He hung out by himself a lot, drank coffee. A lot of coffee.

Pierre: I think someone was like, “Oh he’s sober, too! You should hang out!”

Truscott: We all lived on the same bus together. They turned the back lounge of our bus into a studio. My bunk was right up against it. I remember when they were writing “I Don’t Love You” [from 2006’s Welcome to the Black Parade]. Bob [Bryar] put a drum kit in the back and Gerard was doing vocals. It was four in the morning and I remember hearing the lyrics and opening the door like, “That’s a fucking brutal song!”  

III. "Rockstar Shit Was Going On"

Lyman: We were at the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit and 30,000 people showed up. That might’ve been the second biggest Warped show of all time. We had this massive show at the sports arena at Long Beach State, outside of L.A.. That was probably the biggest show. 

Truscott: I was selling merch out of a 10 foot by 10 foot tent. The crowd would push into it, start crushing into us. I had to get up on the table a couple times and say nobody was getting anything until everybody calmed down. There was a day in Camden, NJ -- the site was too small for the crowd there -- I had to stand on my table and wave down security because kids were moshing and throwing themselves inside our tent. 

Watts: There’d be signings all day. There was no barrier between the artists and the fans. 

Ritter: All-American Rejects, Fall Out Boy, and My Chem -- we’d do signings all day, every day. You’d try to get through 400 people in two hours. It became a chore, literally sitting for 400 people that walked by you asking, “Hi, how are ya?” 

Pierre: I always liked hanging out, signing things, meeting the people that liked our music. That was my favorite thing I did, next to performing. 

Watts: I bought a Metro scooter --  basically a fake Vespa -- for like $500. I would cruise around after shows to find hotel swimming pools and go swimming a bunch. Because the shower situation at Warped is sometimes less than ideal.

Brownlee: I couldn’t get from stage to stage fast enough to see the bands I wanted to see. The bill was so stacked.

Ritter: When you play Warped, you get thirty minutes. These were thirty-minute sets. 

Watts: There are no “set” set times. It’s sort of drawn from a lottery in the morning.

Nielsen: How did our sets sound? Fucking terrible [Laughs]. Back then we were still figuring it out. Generally nobody really sounds that great at Warped Tour. It’s windy and hot.

Lyman: We had a massive storm July 15 at Race City Motorsport Park in Calgary, Alberta. We had a lot of storms through the years, but that one was crazy. It looked like just clouds coming, but it was actually clouds of dust and wind. It blew tents 25 feet in the air. When it hit, the Transplants were onstage. I'll never forget them playing while I was trying to hold all the tents down.

Barr: Transplants were on that tour. I spent a ton of time with my friend [Transplants vocalist] Skinhead Rob [Aston].

Nielsen: You had [Transplants drummer] Travis Barker walking around with his television show Meet the Barkers.

Barr: One day I was going over to see Skinhead Rob, and this guy from MTV was getting thrown out of their bus because he had asked Travis and Rob if they got dressed up in monkey suits for fun. Rob just lost his shit on the guy.

Lyman: Billy Idol was trying to make a reconnection with fans, so they wanted him to play some Warped dates in between his own tour routing. 

Nielsen: Billy Idol! Billy Idol was fucking hilarious. He did not know what Warped Tour was. You never wanted to be playing near him because you had to deal with him starting late and his set going over 10 minutes. He didn’t give a shit.

Lyman: You don't start the stage next door until the other band is done. In Minnesota, it was a nightmare. My stage managers weren't communicating and there was a meltdown onstage and they started both stages, so you had Billy Idol singing "Rebel Yell" and then Fall Out Boy singing something. It was merging into this mashup by my tour bus.

Nielsen: He’d come out of the bus shirtless talking to himself like, “WHITE WEDDING!”, practicing his vocals. Billy Idol was fucking wild, just on another planet.

Barr: I remember walking around thinking, who is this heavy, ferocious punk band playing? And I’m like, oh my god, it’s the Offspring. Now the Offspring are a great band but they’re not a ferocious punk band. But on the backdrop of all these pop-punk and emo bands…

Nielsen: [Frontman] Dexter [Holland] was flying in a plane from show to show. One time he took our tour manager: “Come fly to the next show!”

Lyman: He didn't know these bands but he'd invite them to go to the next city with him. If you were sitting here in Cincinnati and he would say, "Hey Kevin, I want to take so-and-so to Chicago with me. Can you put them on by 6 so we can be at the airport by 8?" He would fly the band, pick up a couple hotel rooms for them, and go party in the city.

Nielsen: Rockstar shit was going on.

Lyman: Then you had Avenged Sevenfold. You knew they were gonna be big because they were the first band that ever showed up on Warped Tour with a smoke machine.

Nielsen: You’d look up in the sky and see a cloud of smoke and be like, “Avenged Sevenfold must be on!” Broad daylight, it looks like the stage is on fire. 

Lyman: Avenged Sevenfold always liked to gamble -- dice and poker. The Offspring, too, but not Dexter. Cee-lo, I’m sure the Murphys were in the middle of that. 

Barr: I myself wasn’t, but our crew were big into poker. They’d play with Avenged Sevenfold almost every night. 

Watts: The first night of tour, I remember our drummer, Tom Gryskewicz cleaning up against... I think it was one of the Transplants dudes. Tom came back to the bus with money and we were all like, “What did you do?” I think he probably ended up losing it back to those dudes at some point. 

Spencer Chamberlain, Underoath vocalist: A band -- who we won’t name -- needed money. We let them borrow money and they all came back with new clothes and tattoos.

Aaron Gillespie, Underoath drummer-vocalist: Oh my god, that’s right! They were struggling on the tour…

Chamberlain: They were struggling with something else. But we can’t say, because people might know. They went to the Christian band, knowing we’d be giving. 

Gillespie: Did we give them a bunch of money or a little bit?

Chamberlain: A bunch. 

IV. “I’ve Got These Girl Bands, Can I Set Up?” 

Lyman: Shira? My God. How do these people come into your life, you know? 

Shira Yevin, Shiragirl vocalist; Shiragirl Stage founder and producer: I was on the tour in 2003, working for the Truth campaign as an emcee. I noticed there were very few, if any, females onstage. I didn’t understand why. I lived in Brooklyn at the time, and was friends with all sorts of all-girl punk and hardcore bands. My band approached Kevin in 2004.

Lyman: Shira just showed up with her stage. Just showed up. In Englishtown, NJ, with this pink truck: “I’ve got these girl bands, can I set up?” 

Yevin: He said, “Okay, great idea, maybe next year. It’s the tour’s tenth anniversary, we got a lot going on.” I said, “Next year?!”

Lyman: She’s from New Jersey, so you know how progressive people from New Jersey won’t take no for an answer. 

Yevin: We ended up crashing the tour. I drove in with my pink RV and just set up -- super scrappy punk rock. Kevin walked by and loved it: “Shira, this is great. So are you on for the whole tour now?”

Lyman: Next thing you know, she's hanging over by my bus, hitting me up about how she's going to do the Shiragirl Stage in 2005.

Yevin: 2005 was the year we made it legit. His team helped us get sponsorships for the stage. MySpace was our media partner. We hand-painted their logo on our truck. We did the whole application process for the Shiragirl Stage through MySpace. In the 2005 music scene, MySpace was a big platform for how new artists came up. The Dollyrots played that year and were amazing. L7’s bassist Jennifer Finch had this side project called The Shocker -- it was really cool to have them on Shiragirl. They repped old-school Warped.

Truscott: We were a pretty strong bunch of babes, the other women on Warped Tour. We stuck together and the guys were really supportive of us. It was probably the opposite of what everybody would expect me to say -- that it was really hard and that I had to really earn my stripes. But that wasn’t a big issue. They saw me work hard and we all respected each other. I remember there was a day some kid stole from me at My Chem’s merch table. A bunch of the other guys saw it and chased him down and brought him back to me.

Yevin: We were not taken seriously. At first, especially. We showed up in this beat-up truck and there were bets against how long we would last. By the end, they respected us a lot more. 

V. "I Know a Lot of Real Hard Motherfuckers"

Watts: The cookouts were probably the highlight of Warped Tour. The sun goes down and it’s not 100 degrees anymore! 

Pierre: Everybody had to come to lunch and dinner, if you wanted to eat. It made me kind of nervous, like high school in a way. If I'm by myself, shit, where do I sit? I kind of know these people, but I kind of don’t. I heard that people thought I was a huge asshole because I didn’t talk to anyone, but I was too nervous.

Watts: Justin was a little bit more introverted, but he was always incredibly welcoming to us. I remember Motion City Soundtrack hitting their stride that year. Commit This to Memory had just come out. They were one of the few indie-alternative, left-of-center-leaning bands. They came from a different world, but still hit all the boxes for a fan going to Warped Tour.

Pierre: I bonded with Gerard over Coke Zero, which had just come out. I was in their bus for some reason: “Oh my god, you got Coke Zero?” If I’m drinking Coke Zero in ’05, I think I was sober then, because that’s when I basically went from alcohol to caffeine. I would drink four or five Monster Energy Drinks a day. It was really bad. I’d reward myself after playing a show with two Monster Energy Drinks [Laughs].

Watts: This was before people were on their cell phones 24/7. So it was one of the last times in my life I remember just hanging out with a bunch of people and not having a phone, not being interrupted by anything like that. Just shared experiences, shared connections. 

Nielsen: There used to be huge parties afterwards, sort of a teen movie set thing. 

Ritter: It was like Grease on the road. Everybody was looking for their Sandra Dee.

Nielsen: There’d be 20,000 people at each show and afterwards, two or three thousand would wind up getting backstage. It was a different time. You weren’t as worried about five thousand people partying at the end of the night -- epic bonfire parties with every band and also people that found a way to stay. If you stayed long enough, security left, so…

Ritter: I was 20. I’m 34 now. So think I remember my M-O was, okay the show’s over, who’s gonna get me stoned? 

Lyman: Warped kind of self-regulates on drugs and alcohol because it's such a hard-working tour and you don't know when you're gonna play. I was out every night; if someone goes a little hard at a party, what's the best cure for that? Put them on 11:30 the next morning. Be the first band up. That'll cure people. 

Gillespie: We drank, but we weren’t like, partying hard.

Watts: There was definitely drinking, but there weren’t a lot of drugs. We were never a drug band, so if there was, it didn’t hit our orbit.

Nielsen: I was pretty much YOLO-ing every moment of every day. I was 21 running around smoking weed, drinking beer, hanging out.

Lyman: During this period, there were maybe some pills going around Warped, but I don't know.

Ritter: It was all about the nomadic journey of the night. You’d bounce from bus to bus, picking up a beer, hitting on a girl, hitting on whoever you were hitting on. 

Barr: I’ll omit their name, but there was a band that got drunk and decided to disrespect Steve O’Sullivan, who was head of Warped Tour’s security at the time. We were in Phoenix, his wife was pregnant with their first kid, and he was riding in the car with her and this band was drunk and standing in the way. They asked him to move and got in his face, in his wife’s face. The next day I assembled a group of characters you’d look at and say, “I don’t want to fight one of these guys, let alone have one of them come into my tent.” I know a lot of real hard motherfuckers. [We confronted the band and] said, “So you’re the band that decided to disrespect Steve O’Sullivan and his pregnant wife? Shut your little tent down, you’re gonna find Steve, and you’re gonna throw yourself down at his knees and apologize to him. If we don’t hear you’ve done this in the next twenty minutes, we’re gonna be back." Five minutes later, Steve pulls up on his golf cart like, “What did you do? They were so apologetic and so polite!” 

Nielsen: People would throw water. It was like, dude, it’s 90 degrees out -- don’t throw it. Every day, you’re getting nailed with water being thrown from the crowd.

Lyman: Buddy from Senses Fail, to be honest, was a shithead mostly. He hadn't grown up yet. 

Nielsen: We were playing Phoenix and someone threw a fucking jug of water. I caught it by the handle and whipped it back into the crowd as hard as I could and literally watched it bee-line a hundred yards and slam this girl right in the face. This poor young girl, I think she was like 16 years old. I ended up knocking out one of her teeth, totally by accident. I wound up corresponding with her father and her afterwards. I remember we invited her to a show, gave her some merch and were really sorry.

Lyman: Buddy was one of those kids that we knew we had redeeming qualities. So we kept working with Buddy. You don’t want to write him off, you know? Another member of Senses Fail [now ex-member] got taken behind the bus, because he wore a shirt that had the C-word on it. I know the Dropkick Murphys and the Transplants were involved. He got taken behind the bus and they said, "Look, you're going to either get rid of that shirt because you see all the women running this, or you're going to eat the shirt. If you ever wear it again you're going to lose option one." 

VI. “This Was Paramore’s First Tour”

Lyman: We had [the traveling punk and hardcore tour] Taste of Chaos [in early 2005] and Livia Tortella [of Atlantic Records] goes, "Hey, Kevin you’ve got to check out this girl Hayley Williams and Paramore.”

Gillespie: We were friends with Paramore. We met Hayley when she was 16 and [drummer] Zac [Farro] was 14. Hayley opened up acoustic for us on Taste of Chaos. 

Lyman: I put her on right before Killswitch Engage. She held her own. I was like, "Okay, we have to figure this out for Warped." But I didn’t have anywhere to put them because I already booked the tour…  So I turned Shira on to her and she figured it out for the Shiragirl Stage. 

Yevin: The label flew me down to see the band in Orlando, and once I saw it, I got it. They were amazing -- 16 years old! Hayley’s dad was the tour manager. 

Lyman: I remember the station wagon... Dad was still driving them around at that point.

Yevin: This was Paramore’s first tour. 

Chamberlain: Paramore were like our little brothers. We hung out with them. They had similar viewpoints on life and we just got along with those kids. I think we all knew they were gonna be big. 

Yevin: They were actually signed to Atlantic, but their music was put out by Fueled By Ramen. So they had label support, but they were a new band. They were doing a lot of the Christian rock festivals. They came out on Warped right when their first album was coming out. The kids just loved it. The early crowds were huge.

Chamberlain: Zac was like a little mini-Aaron. He would hit [the drums] so hard that the drum riser broke once.

Yevin: Hayley was just one of the guys. That was sort of her thing. She wore the same t-shirt every day, the red and blue striped shirt she wears in the “All We Know” video. She was very sweet, polite, very reserved. No makeup. Just came on, did her set, went back in the van, read her book. It was a little bit of a culture shock for us. We were these radical feminist punk rock riot grrrls. They were a very reserved band. They prayed before they went onstage. They kinda kept to themselves, but they killed it onstage.

Gillespie: Hayley’s the real fucking deal. Deserves everything she’s got.

VII. “Sonny Moore’s Halo Name Was Skrillex"

Chamberlain: ’05 was the first Warped Tour with [Tampa/L.A.-based post-hardcore band] From First to Last. We’d taken them on their first tour with [vocalist] Sonny Moore, so we were already buddies.

Nielsen: This was when Wes Borland was in From First to Last. That blew my mind. Why the hell is a guy from Limp Bizkit here? I remember hanging out with Sonny and giving him a hard time, as a joke. And then he fucking turns into Skrillex [Laughs]. Ridiculous.

Chamberlain: They used to come to our tour bus to play Halo. Sonny Moore’s Halo name was Skrillex.

Gillespie: He was having trouble with his voice back then.

Chamberlain: He was such a sweetheart, and he had a lil’ personality on him, too. He would ask me, “How do you guys sing every night?”

Lyman: The following year, he kind of changed to a kid named Skrillex. He came to Pomona, Cali. and played one of his first shows… Then I tried to book him that following summer and I think I could have got him for $1,500. I said, "He's just sitting playing music on a computer, who the hell's gonna care about this?" But I liked him a lot. Then by that next year, he was making $100,000 a gig or something.

VIII. "Equal Parts Relief and Sadness"

Ritter: I think we played 19, 20 days in a row. By the end of it I wasn’t even talking. I was just giving sign language to people, clicks and whistles! 

Truscott: It ended in Boston: pouring rain, muddy, muggy New England summer day. Everybody was just done.

Pierre: When it ended? Equal parts relief and sadness.

Yevin: We were just grateful to have survived on our end. And we knew we were gonna do it the next year. There were bets against us saying we weren’t gonna make it. But we did. We got an MTV Warpie Award -- “most punk rock way to win a place in the family.”

Lyman: What were our profits that year? That year was seven figures. 

Watts: The Starting Line toured with Fall Out Boy again in the fall, on the Nintendo Fusion Tour alongside Motion City Soundtrack, Boys Night Out, and Panic! At the Disco. I wonder what venues that tour would get if it happened in 2018; Panic! is bigger than they ever were. Same thing with Fall Out Boy. We’d be happy to be along for the ride. We’d play outdoors if we had to!

Chamberlain: I think a lot of the younger bands now are kind of why Warped Tour’s ending. Warped Tour was a place where kids went to see bands they loved and discover new bands. Somehow over the last couple years it changed to bands on their first record with two busses, bodyguards, personal assistants. I think kids weren’t feeling as connected.

Gillespie: It was so about discovery. 

Chamberlain: It got to be about how big of a rockstar you are.

Gillespie: And that’s not why Kevin started it.

Lyman: Relationships in this business were a lot different then. You could talk to someone and plan on working with them for a few years, you know? And they would understand that the first couple years, they weren't helping you sell tickets. But hopefully that third year, they were actually helping to pull other bands like them along. A Day To Remember played one show in 2005, on the Ernie Ball battle of the Bands Stage. And then they fell into that same cycle, playing four more years… Now, that doesn't exist in this world. Bands say, "Oh, we need Warped Tour to get to an audience" and then they decide to change their direction as a band.

Brownlee: If you have been on Warped Tour as long as I have (and you’re as old as I am), it’s very difficult to have recall memory on specifics, including years. I wish I had the foresight to keep a journal for times like these… Our memories are a series of embellished half-truths. But in terms of the Vans Warped Tour, truth has always been stranger than fiction.