Interview: Dave McWane of Big D and the Kids Table on Vans Warped Tour
Here on the Island, we always look forward to ska coming through. Reflecting over this summer at Warped Tour, Boston ska punk favorites Big D and The Kids Table were the most seasoned veterans we had the pleasure of talking to on our stop of the Vans Warped Tour. This year, Big D brought their classic brand of energetic ska punk to the tour yet again with one of the most fun sets of our day, as well as speaking to young musicians about the importance of DIY ethics through TEI (The Entertainment Institute) classes. We chatted with the band's founding member and vocalist Dave Mcwane about their countless years aboard Warped Tour, their views on the music industry, DIY ethics, and much more. Catch them this Saturday at Amityville Music Hall with Gutterlife and Dino Skate Park.
Michelle: So I know you’ve played many Warped Tours before. How many at this point in time?
Dave: I don’t think I’m counting the one time that we just played one date, because that doesn’t count. But, I believe that if you really want to tally it, Warped Tour allows you to tally ones that you’ve went for two weeks or a half a Warped Tour. So if we do it that way, I think we’ve done ten.
I think we’re in the top three… well five full ones. Top five bands. The bands that have done the most Warped Tours are us, Motion City Soundtrack, I think Less Than Jake, and a couple other bands.
Michelle: So out of all of the 10 years that you’ve played, what are some of your most memorable moments?
Dave: I definitely think that one of the craziest moments ever in my life on Warped Tour was at catering. It’s kind of like a high school cafeteria, right? So if something happens, everyone’s aware, like if someone falls down or if someone shouts, everyone’s aware. So I’m sitting there, and it’s the year I met Tim Armstrong, and way in the distance you hear Tim Armstrong go “Dave! Dave! Dave!” and everyone knows his voice, so everyone’s aware and looking. And he comes up to me and goes “I wanna introduce you to a really good friend of mine. Lars, this is Dave, Dave, this is Lars.” So everybody at catering is watching me go… everybody knows that I know who Lars is. Right? I’m like “Nice to meet you Lars, yeah, yeah. So you know Tim? Cool!” like small talk [laughs]. That was just really funny, cause I was really nervous and it was really awesome. Yeah, it’s crazy stuff.
Michelle: That’s how I felt. Last year was my first year doing press and loved just all the people I was meeting. There was one point in time when I was on the catering line talking to one of my other friends. I was like this is so weird.
Dave: It’s surreal.
Michelle: I had Aaron from Reel Big Fish right in front of me and right behind me was singer of Tonight Alive, and I didn’t realize how short she was!
Dave: Oh yeah! What’s her name, Jenna?
Michelle: Yeah! I was standing right next to her and I was like “I’m the same height as Jenna McDougall! From the stage you can’t tell how tall people are.
Dave: Yeah she’s great. Jenna’s great. Jenna was super nice to my wife.
Michelle: I love her. What are some of the things that you hope for the future of Warped Tour?
Dave: Ah, that’s good. One of the things that I hope for Warped Tour is that Warped Tour continues, you know? A lot of people will give Warped Tour flak, saying like “It’s changed” and “what about this” or “what about that." What I don’t think they understand is that they got older. Sometimes people go to Warped Tour looking for the thing they had when they were 16, but now they’re 20, and it’s not necessarily that Warped Tour changed, it’s that they changed. So I hope that Warped Tour can continue and everything will be good.
But as far as music goes, I’m excited for the music industry and younger bands to get to the point where when I was young. Sometimes, people wouldn’t write music so people would love it. They didn’t want people be to be “Like me! Like me!” Sometimes it seems like bands are begging to be liked. So I’m kind of looking forward to the next wave of people writing songs that they don’t necessarily want people to like. You know what I mean? Like “Check this out! It’s gonna be beyond you!” The way I describe that is with food; some people are making records that are just candy bars and sugar, and everyone likes to eat it and everyone likes to listen to it and it’s yummy, yummy, yummy. But some of us like hot, spicy food where the first time you eat it, it’s too much for you, and you have to get used to it and it takes awhile. I like that kind of record. Some of my favorite records I didn’t like the first time. I'm like “Yo, this is weird.” You know? Then later, you’re like “This is what it’s made of!” I’m excited for music to just hold it’s own and not worry if people like it.
Michelle: That’s cool! I feel that.
Dave: Braver art. You can’t just eat sugar all the time.
Michelle: Especially with what you’re saying about having a very specific taste. They should be making it because they love it and they want to, not because people will love it.
Dave: You can see it in the musicians. Some musicians did write music that they don’t fully like. You can see that they’re lost. They’re lost on the road and in their head. You know what I mean? They’re looking for something and what it is is they chose the wrong style of music to embark on for themselves.
Michelle: What are some of the bands that you’ve been seeing or that you would recommend for our readers?
Dave: Sick of it All is the best band on the tour. And the Street Dogs, Sonic Boom Six and Gwar.
Michelle: I’m interviewing Sonic Boom Six later! I’m so excited to talk to Laila. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve listened to “No Man No Right”.
Dave: Awesome! We’ve known each other for I think over 15 years.
Michelle: Have you toured with them in Europe?
Dave: Yep! UK, Europe and U.S.
Michelle: That is so cool! Yeah, I just heard of them when I heard the announcement that they were playing. I looked it up and I was just like “This speaks to me, this something that I was looking for and I found!”
Dave: They are original and they are true to their band. They have a specific sound and they are just awesome. They’re a brave band.
Michelle: I like what they say that they want people to have fun, but they also have their message that they spread. It’s great.
Dave: Yeah! What is it, No Man no Right?
Michelle: Yeah, the music video is so funny, because it has all the dudes at the punk show and all the girls just step in, I loved that because I know the feeling of being in the crowd and being like “Do I belong here?”.
Dave: Yeah! [laughs]
Michelle: So, what is going on next for Big D and the Kids table? I’m excited to hear this.
Dave: So let’s see..right after our last show on Warped Tour we have like one day off and then we get on a plane to go to the UK. So we’re doing a full world tour in a summer. I don’t know why we’re doing it this way [laughs].
Michelle: Do you have any music that’s going to be release in the next year or so?
Dave: Yeah, so what happened was Big D usually puts out a record every two years or so, but we have back up singers called the Doped Up Dollies that sometimes play with us. We spent a little bit of time backing them on their record and being their band. We always promised them but we never had time, we were like “yeah we’ll do the record!” then suddenly were like “Oh, It’s time to pay the piper” [laughs] Seven years later we decided it would be true. So we did that, and we just did a split with them, a split 7 inch that you can get digitally with the Doped Up Dollies. So we just released those. Their record is called The New Way Out.
Michelle: The New Way Out. Awesome! Are you doing any of the Think Tanks?
Dave: The TEI?
Dave: Yep! We’re going to do that at 3 oclock. Or 2:30? In about an hour. We’re going to do DIY ethics.
Michelle: That’s cool, that’s kind of like the panel I saw you on [referring to Launch Music Conference].
Dave: Yeah! Exactly. Like I always say, no one is going to work harder for you then you. A lot of people keep thinking they just have to make that deal so somebody will take care of them. And it’s like, even when you make that deal, and Big D has had that record deal, you still have to be the #1 person working for yourself. We’re just trying to get people into that know. Wake up everyday and do something for your band.
Michelle: Which is the most fun song that you’ve been playing that people that people react to and have the most fun this summer on this tour?
Dave: Well, I think LAX. We wrote this song that was just full of swears and we didn’t know if people were going to like it. We definitely thought we were writing it for ourselves, but then it turns out that it’s the song that everyone seems to like. So when people here this song they definitely wake up in a way that.. when you start to play the song it’s like you just lit a fuse, and then it just explodes. So that song is pretty fun. People get so excited to hear it live, they’re like “WE’RE ABOUT TO HEAR IT LIVE!” and you’re like “Let’s go!
Michelle: Oh my God [laughs]. I’m trying to remember how many times I’ve seen you guys play and it’s always fun.
Dave: [laughs] Yeah LAX is just..you know the crowd singing the lyrics back thing is sometimes uncanny and it’s fun.
Michelle: This year has so many great ska bands, it’s a really good year.
Dave: I saw Save Ferris for the first time two days ago. I obviously knew the band but I had never seen them live, and man can that girl sing.
Michelle: I wanted to see them, I missed their set.
Dave: Oh yea, she can SING. You know everyone is talented on this tour, but there are some people who are REALLY talented. I only saw them once, but I think she’s like REALLY talented.
Michelle: That’s awesome. I have one question that I ask everyone we interview for our blog. We’re called Ethos Live. The word Ethos describes your input to culture, what makes up your culture. What would you say makes up Big D’s input and your culture.
Dave: I would say that it’s that life is always punching you in the face. Have it be from standing up to fast and knocking your head, or your friends disappointing you, or loved ones passing away; it’s just not going to ever stop. It’s just having a positive outlook on it, because that’s the only way you’re going to survive. Not be numb to it and not ignore it, but just realize that every single time you get hit it makes you stronger. That’s the whole process of becoming an adult; to make things better for young people, if you know what I mean? No matter what, don’t get down by all the small things and just try to wake up every day and be happy. I really live my life by the fact that I was never in a foxhole (like in war), I was sitting there sit there and going “God, I wish I could just go home and have practical problems”. You know, I have all my legs, my arms; I’m not in the sexual slave trade somewhere in some dungeon. So I think a lot of Americans need to just realize they’re lucky and don’t have the bug’s eye view.
Michelle: Yeah. Attitude of gratitude. Well thank you so much!
Dave: Yeah, no problem!
Interview by Michelle Turk
Big D and the Kids Table are coming back to Long Island on Satutday, September 9th. They are playing a headlining show at Amityville Music Hall with support from LI locals Gutterlife and Dino Skatepark. The show is presented by Blacklist Collective and tickets are $15 ADV. You can find more information by clicking the flyer (above).