Marilyn Manson, Twenty One Pilots & Panic! at the Disco Win Big at Alternative Press Music Awards

Marilyn Manson
Jiro Schneider

Marilyn Manson

Rock once ran the high school cafeteria -- now it has a small table in the corner. That lost popularity has given musicians a license to explore, and the varied results were on display last night at the third annual Alternative Press Music Awards in Columbus, Ohio. 

Old and new were there to be honored from Marilyn Manson and Good Charlotte to fresh faces like State Champs and Too Close To Touch, as well as incendiary locals like Twenty One Pilots. Schottenstein Center on the Ohio State University campus provided the “big tent” to house a mix of pop-punk, post-grunge, metalcore and whatever you call Babymetal – beyond amazing.

There were 19 awards and over a dozen bands performed with at least as many guest vocalists. Much of the Warped Tour was there, including founder Kevin Lyman, who in past years has arranged to be in Ohio with an off-day on tour around the awards show. This only makes sense as Warped Tour bands provide not just awards show winners, hosts and performers but a consistently enthusiastic added audience. (That’s especially helpful during a five-hour show.)

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This should’ve been Twenty One Pilots' night. Because of the GOP convention in Cleveland, where Alternative Press is based, they decided to move the award show to Columbus, where Twenty One Pilots got their start seven years ago. Not only did the duo win artist of the year but also album of the year for last year’s Blurryface

Unfortunately the band is presently on tour, and was in Seattle last night. They accepted the awards via video segments that were said to be live, but as there was no interaction with the presenters or the crowd, there was no telling if it truly was live or just Memorex. 

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They weren’t the only winners in absentia. Song of the year (“Hallelujah”) and music video of the year (“Emperor’s New Clothes”) winners Panic! At the Disco, and best vocalist winner Patrick Stump, also phoned their acceptances in. Stump -- who also filmed segments for last year’s awards -- had the evening’s funniest bit where he expressed how proud he was of winning best drummer.

Marilyn Manson was on hand to receive the Icon award, previously won by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts and the band X. His longtime bandmate Twiggy Ramirez presented the award recalling their friendship before he joined and how proud he was to be a (major) part of the band. The lanky gothic rocker held aloft his Skully (named for the show’s unique skull-shaped trophy) and claimed “this is the only award I will actually put on my shelf.”

While Manson didn’t perform, Good Charlotte did. They won the APMAs new award, classic album, for 2002’s The Young and the Hopeless. They performed three songs off the album, including the hits, “The Anthem,”  “Girls & Boys” and “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous,” with help from Sleeping With Sirens frontman Kellin Quinn and Waterparks’ Awsten Knight.

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Yellowcard also won an inaugural award, the Off The Wall award sponsored by Vans, who didn’t sponsor an award last year. It’s given to a band that breaks the mold and you’d be hard-pressed to find another violin-led rock act before Yellowcard emerged almost two decades ago. They’re presently preparing for their final album and tour, and violinist Sean Mackin said, “We hate to say goodbye, but we promise to do it right.”

In the instrumental awards, Quinn’s bandmate Jack Fowler won best guitarist, Black Veil Brides’ Christian Coma won best drummer, and Issues Skyler Acord won best bassist. The latter two also performed at the APMAs. 

Coma played drums in an all-star band fielded by his band’s frontman Andy Black, and including bassist Mikey Way (My Chemical Romance), and guitarists Quinn Allman (The Used) and John Feldmann (Goldfinger). Black claimed they were only a pick-up band and had no plans to tour, “but we’ll see how it goes.” 

If their performance is any indication, we’ll at least be looking for music in the future. Different from his namesake metalcore band, they forged a stormy, theatrical rock sound reminiscent of Lords of the New Churchs glammy hard rock, highlighted by the moody come-on, “We Don’t Have to Dance.” 

Issues were one of several bands to showcase adventurous styles live. The Atlanta quintet used a DJ at times in the past and seeks to blend churning metalcore with Top 40 R&B, somehow managing to evoke Michael Jackson and Pantera at the same moment. It’s a cool tension between slinky soul rhythms and metal’s regimented breakdowns.

Japanese band Babymetal also blends pop and metal with even greater success thanks to the stage show. They’re sort of Powerpuff Girls meet Motorhead. A trio of teen girls lead the band, singing and performing choreographed moves in matching black and red outfits that manage stylish and sinister simultaneously. 

Until you see them you probably won’t believe that what metal’s missing is better choreography. As the band churns violently behind them they vacillate between sing-song melody and more severe tones, each matched by their body movements. That would’ve been cool enough, but they were joined on stage by Judas Priest frontman Rob Halford on Babymetal’s track “Karate” and a face-melting version of “Breaking the Law.”

Another noteworthy set belonged to Welsh pop-punk band Neck Deep, who won best live band and showed why an hour later with a blistering version of Green Day’s “Welcome to Paradise.” 

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One of the best collaborations came courtesy post-grunge superstar Papa Roach, who are finishing up work on a new album. They joined rapper Machine Gun Kelly for a feral version of his track, “Till I Die.” 

Filling out the other winners were the U.K.’s You Me At Six (best international band), State Champs (breakthrough band), Too Close To Touch (best underground band), and August Burns Red’s Jake Luhrs won the most philanthropic for his counseling/support organization, HeartSupport.

Easily the evening’s most touching moment came courtesy The Ghost Inside. The Los Angeles metalcore band was involved in a horrific accident in November when their tour bus collided with a tractor trailer. Both drivers were killed and three bandmembers were in serious condition, two in comas. The drummer eventually lost his leg. 

When singer Jonathan Vigil came out of his coma, he told the audience he never wanted to step on stage again. But the support and love of his fans changed his mind. It was only fitting then that they received the award for the most dedicated fanbase, as well as continued best wishes from several presenters and award winners.