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In its 19th year, not much has changed about the Van’s Warped Tour. Despite the growing popularity of concert goers traveling to weekend long music festivals, Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman is still dedicated to bringing the festival right into your backyard. With shows in over 40 different cities across the United States, the Warped Tour is arguably the most convenient festival to attend this summer.

It’s also the most consistent. Lyman insists not a lot has changed in the Warped Tour format. “One change is that this year we’ll have a bigger Acoustic Basement Tent. We’ve also got a few new sponsors. A change of artists. But not a whole lot’s changed.”

Lyman is smart enough to know, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. Lyman adds, “It’s still the same backyard party. We’ve used some of the same stages now for 18 years. We haven’t said ‘Oh we need to get bigger stages, bigger lights.’ It’s still the essence of a big backyard party.”

But the lack of major changes to the tour, by no means they are behind the times. Lyman has made a huge effort to keep the Warped Tour fresh and relevant every year. Lyman feels “that’s the coolest thing about Warped Tour. I think it evolves. It evolves with the times and embraces new brands, new bands, new charities.”

One thing that definitely has not changed about the Warped Tour is its dedication to a diverse lineup of music. The Warped Tour’s musical diversity is a source of pride for Lyman. He adds, “We’ve had the Black Eye Peas. Kid Rock. Eminem. Katy Perry. That’s just a handful. And none of them you’d really think of for Warped Tour. But they fit right in.”

But bringing together such a wide range of musical artists has created a few issues over the years.  Rappers D12 were famously kicked off the tour in 2001 for a feud with fellow Warped Tour artist Esham. In 2006, punk band Guttermouth quit the tour, stating that too many bands on the tour were more concerned with fashion than music.  There has also been a great deal of tension in the past between punk bands and christian metal bands regarding religious and social beliefs.

Despite some drama in the past, Lyman is still dedicated to redefining what defines a Warped Tour band. Lyman adds, “I think some artists go ‘well we’re not a Warped Tour band’ or ‘I wouldn’t fit on Warped Tour.’ We’ve gotten a couple of those. But you know what, there’s enough other people that go ‘hey I’d love to be on the Warped Tour.’ So it all works out.”

By including artists of all genres, Lyman has created a sense of community among the Warped Tour’s diverse lineup. He adds, “I think everyone feels special, like they are part of it. That’s been the best thing about it.”  The eclecticism of the Warped Tour lineup reflects that of Lyman’s own personal musical interests. Lyman mentioned, “I have a wide range of tastes. I grew up with everything from punk to ska to reggae to blues.” He adds that his children help keep him up on the newest trends in music. He admits, “now my daughter just turned me onto Swedish House Mafia, which was great. They sound awesome.”

His new-found taste for Swedish House Mafia has obviously influenced the 2013 lineup. Lyman noted “We added a stage, a kind of electronic hip hop stage. It has really cool production value and is specifically for that sound of music.”

One of the artists performing on the Spotify Stage this year is self-proclaimed “post-punk laptop rapper” MC Lars. Lars act features the rapper wearing an over sized gold necklace in the shape of a classic Nintendo game cartridge, performing over a video montage of YouTube clips. Lyman admits that “MC Lars is my 10-year-old nephew’s favorite person.”

Despite rave reviews from Lyman’s nephew, Screamer readers might be less entertained by MC Lars. Thankfully, Lyman’s emphasis on diversity means there is something for everyone at the 2013 Warped Tour. Especially for metal heads looking for something a bit harder. From Black Veil Brides to blessthefall, the 2013 lineup features plenty to scream home about but the heaviest highlight is arguably the return of the new and improved Craig Owens’ fronted Chiodos.

To say Craig Owens’ and Chiodos have had their share of drama over the years would be a severe understatement. They have had problems since the beginning. For evidence, look no further than the lyrics to the track Baby, You Wouldn’t Last a Minute on the Creek from Chiodos’ debut album, All’s Well That Ends Well. 

Let’s just stop. Drop everything, Forget each other’s names. Can we please just walk away? It could be like we never knew each other at all. Walk away! All egos aside, what do you say?”

Writing a song about wanting to quit the band is certainly not the best way to create positive energy in a band. This sort of passive aggressive behavior was one of many problems that plagued Chiodos early on. Owens admits, “I think there was just a lot of communication issues in the past and we didn’t really know how to handle it.”

Fortunately, Owens’ and Chiodos toughed it out and stayed together long enough to play four consecutive summers on the Van’s Warped Tour, as well as release a second album, Bone Palace Ballet. But tension in the band proved to be too much; by the end of 2009 Chiodos asked Craig Owens to leave the band.

Without Owens, Chiodos went on to release a third album, Illuminaudio, with Yesterday’s Rising singer, Brandon Bolmer on vocals. Not to be outdone, Owens and his new band, Destroy Rebuild Until God Shows, better known as D.R.U.G.S., played the 2011 Van’s Warped Tour, and released their self-titled debut album to rave reviews.

Despite positive reviews, Bolmer’s tenure with Chiodos also proved to be short lived. Late last year, he parted ways with Chiodos, paving the way for Owens to rejoin the band a few months later. Unfortunately, this would not be the end of the drama for Owens and Chiodos. Shortly after Owens returned to Chiodos, lead guitarist Jason Hale left the band. No strangers to lineup changes, Owens and Chiodos took Hale’s decision in stride, quickly replacing him with Fall of Troy guitarist Thomas Erak.

Owens is convinced that Chiodos’ problems are a thing of the past and hopes the 2013 Warped Tour will be different. He adds, “The big difference is you can really tell that we like each other more you know?”

Owens is apparently a believer that time heals all wounds. He adds, “I think we’ve grown up, and not in just like the old way.  In like the not going to start drama with each other kind of way. So I think you’ll notice the togetherness . I think you’ll hear it on the record, and I think most of all, you’ll see us having fun. And I think fun translates through music and definitely on live stages, on live shows, it translates.”

Owens also left out one crucial difference between the upcoming Chiodos’ Warped Tour and those in the past. Along with his full set with Chiodos, Owens will also be performing his own solo set. It is no secret that Owens, a man who once admitted to leaking his own sex tape online for publicity, enjoys the spotlight. Just in case Owens feels he is not getting enough of the spotlight with Chiodos, he now has another set all to himself.

Owens emphasized that his acoustic set will be different than the full band set. He adds, “The major difference between the two sets will be the mood. When I play acoustic it’s more intimate. I’m not yelling at the crowd like ‘do what I say! Jump up and down!’ It’s more like, I’m telling jokes and hanging out with friends.” Fans of Owens’ non Chiodos related material, such as D.R.U.G.S. and Owens’ solo album, With Love, can expect to see a little bit of everything Owens. Owens adds, “I think it’s going to be a combination of all of that. It’s gonna the best of the best.”

He’s also looking forward to testing out new material from Chiodos’ upcoming album. Owens adds, “I am really using it as an opportunity to play some Chiodos songs we won’t necessarily be able to play with the full band. You know? Some songs that might not fit in a 40 minute set. So we can play some other new songs. Introduce some songs. Get a feel for it, you know? We can play these songs because not being able to test them out, not being able to play them once, would be a shame.”

With new material and a new attitude, 2013 looks to be a great year for Owens and Chiodos. The Van’s Warped Tour starts in full force on June 15 in Auburn, Washington.

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