This month, our staff decided to do something a little bit different with our ranks. The majority of us have met some influential musicians in our lives and we decided to share with you, our readers, who we found to be the most influential in our lifetime. These are the stories that bring us together with the music we admire and love, and sometimes, obsess over.
Jarrod Church’s Favorite Musician Met – Hayley Williams from Paramore
No brainer, really – I first met Hayley Williams in the early stages of 2006 after several months of obsessing over their debut, 10-track dominator. It had really been a long time coming, but in all honesty it was sheer luck that it happened. Me and the boys arrived early that morning in San Antonio (don’t even ask why I traveled all the way down there) to ensure that we either got in as early as possible, or just because we were dumb and didn’t realize how the Warped lines would be managed. It was hot as shit, and that truly sucked for what seemed like an eternity. Out of nowhere, this guy named Tony steps into the large crowd of men (including me and three others) and asked if anyone wanted to do some stage work. Back then I was fairly buff, so we jumped at the opportunity, obviously bro’. On our way into the venue, Tony proceeded to tell us that we would get all the Monster we desired, and more importantly – we could meet any band (no pay of course, shucks). My brother and I easily chose Paramore, to which both Tony and the other guys responded: Who?
Several hours later, Drew and I watched from stage/side-left (next to then-guitarist, Hunter Lamb) all the while, in complete shock that we were not only witnessing this band (for the first time) from the fucking stage!! But, also that we would be tearing down their set and hanging with them afterwards, what?!?! OK, I’m rambling – it was my first of many introductions to Hayley Williams, that day. Noteworthy notes taken from that day: Her hand was seriously, the smallest thing in the world. She was sincere, funny and just all-around cool as shit.
This summer, I will once again be introduced to Ms. Williams for (n)th time in my life – I’m a lucky guy.
Jeremy Vane-Tempest’s Favorite Musician Met – Matt Greiner from August Burns Red
I heard an album in 2006 called Thrill Seeker by August Burns Red. It was my first exposure to the heavier genres and drummer Matt Greiner in particular absolutely blew me away. Suffice to say, if I hadn’t heard Thrill Seeker I wouldn’t have learned drums, and I certainly wouldn’t be writing this. In 2010, I went to No Sleep Til Sydney, a festival that had ABR on the lineup. I’d just left Katatonia to go see NoFX and who should I come across but Matt Greiner. I actually almost died. I was fortunate enough to meet him again twice in 2012, but that first chance meeting at No Sleep Til Sydney was really special to me.
Tim Dodderidge’s Favorite Musician Met – Chad Gilbert from New Found Glory
During New Found Glory’s Sticks and Stones 10th Anniversary Tour, I got the opportunity to meet and interview Chad Gilbert. Considering my love for the dude’s ferocious guitar riffs and cheeky antics both on and off the stage, I was excited – and a bit nervous – to chat with the musician that many call a ‘pop-punk god’. We met at a small venue in Lawrence, Kan., where the band was preparing for a show later that night. As I approached and shook hands with the inked-up guitarist, I immediately felt right at home. Of course, he was incredibly outgoing, but he was also extremely welcoming; he turned awkwardly-worded questions into fun stories, and kept the conversation a tightly-knit chronicle of one of my favorite albums of all-time. He said, “We’ve never made our fans feel like we are better than them.” That couldn’t have been more true.
Heather Allen’s Favorite Musician Met – Alex Gaskarth from All Time Low
It was the day after Warped Tour, so I decided to really pay attention to the Twitter-sphere to see if any cool things were happening in LA for some of the bands. Well, lucky enough All Time Low’s frontman Alex Gaskarth tweeted that Yellowcard was looking for a bunch of people to be extras for their “Here I Am Alive” video and dragged my roommate over there so I could cross ‘Be In a Music Video’ off my bucket list. The tweeter himself was there because he was dating We Are the In Crowd’s Tay Jardine at the time and she was featured on the song. I went up to him afterward and had him sign my hat (Warped was mean that year), got a picture with him, and he gave me a little pink flower that he picked off a tree outside. Still have the dried up petals to this day, haha.
Joe Ballard’s Favorite Musician Met – Stephen Christian from Anberlin
I consider myself quite lucky in that I’ve met my idol – Stephen Christian, lead singer of Florida rockers Anberlin – on four different occasions. As I’ve recently written rather extensively about the first time we met, let’s fast forward to late 2010 at the Chicago House of Blues for meeting number four. After the show had ended, a few hundred people were waiting in one of the side lobbies where the band members would be hanging out for a bit. My main goal was to talk to Stephen and have him autograph my copy of his book, The Orphaned Anythings. As my buddy and I had driven three hours to the show and needed to get back in a reasonable time, we decided we’d wait 30 minutes and if the band hadn’t shown up by then, we’d leave.
There was a bar in this lobby, meaning most of the Chicago-based folks were either tipsy or flat-out drunk. Being unable to drink due to our trip back home, we felt uncomfortable and decided to take off a little early. We crossed the room to where the elevator would take us upstairs. Just as my hand went up to press the button to open the door, it slid open to reveal none other than Stephen Christian and bassist Deon Rexroat. Such has always been my luck with this band, I was the very first one to talk to them. Despite this being our fourth meeting, I still had that “starstruck” feeling while talking to them, and therefore cannot remember much of what was said. I do remember that they were both incredibly humble and that fame had not changed them one bit from the first time I met them all the way back in 2004. And yes, I did indeed get the book signed. It was a(nother) experience with Anberlin I will never forget.
Maria Gironas’ Favorite Musician Met – Andrew McMahon from Jack’s Mannequin
It was a Tuesday night during college and I had just walked out of seeing Andrew McMahon play his heart out at The Chance in Poughkeepsie, NY. As late and sketchy as it was, I needed to stay to see him. It took like an hour, but he came out from the back entrance, clearly buzzed and smelling like alcohol, but it really didn’t phase me because he still was THE Andrew McMahon. After crowds of poorly dressed girls draped themselves over him, I finally got the chance to walk up to him, in my winter jacket, beanie, and converse, and say, “Dude, thank you for coming tonight. I’m originally from California, and your music reminds me of home.” He looked up at me pretty shocked, and again in my mind maybe it was the alcohol in him reacting that way, but he gave this big smile and said, “That really means so much,” and gave me a hug. Best thing ever.
Rebecca Kravetz’s Favorite Musician Met – Levi Benton from Miss May I
More frequently at concerts, I have witnessed an abundance of band-Ts with cute kittens and highlighted lettering stating “Stay Metal” on the front. These shirts belong to the band Miss May I. Last spring, I had the pleasure of interviewing their frontman, Levi Benton. Onstage, Benton’s intense vocal performance easily thrills a crowd, but do not let his growl action and lion-like mane of curls fool you. The guy’s personality is as cuddly as the kittens on his band’s merchandise. He could not help but smile while mentioning his recent marriage, and humbly joked around about the band’s Golden Gods awards nomination. He didn’t hesitate to reveal to me previously unreleased information about their new album, and an even more revealing subject matter of age. He ranted on about his first “old man” wart, and more seriously explained his struggle to become a lifelong musician. Levi Benton was real with me, and it was refreshing to meet someone so genuine in an industry that is sometimes anything but.
Megan Ammer’s Favorite Musician Met – Andrew McMahon from Jack’s Mannequin
It took me a while to get acquainted with Jack’s Mannequin, because I’m stubborn. I was set in some juvenile musical ways, and it took a major transition to actually sit down and listen. When I did, it changed everything. That’s why meeting Andrew McMahon in April of 2012 was necessary and complete. I had just experienced my third show with Andrew, although this time he was debuting as a solo act so the situation was special. The songs were a mix of old favorites and new hits, the crowd was excited, and I was walking around on cloud nine. A group had already started to form in anticipation, and I joined, although just out of curiosity. I wasn’t sure this was going to work. However, the chatter rose as he appeared, smiling and thanking everyone for the support. He settled around to sign things and take pictures and I got anxious.
A couple of thoughts occurred; This band had become so important and there was no way this musician could possibly live up to the image I’ve produced in my head. I have a tattoo on my body for Jack’s Mannequin because of Andrew McMahon, how could I explain that without slurring? But, I just sort of stumbled up and asked silently for a picture. He grabbed my shoulder and told me to smile. He took to copying the words of my tattoo in his handwriting as a keepsake. His thankfulness was contagious. I walked away and immediately melted, while reminding myself that he was just a man. But I can’t be the only one he’s had that effect on, and that makes him exceptional. That man’s words have changed my life, and now I have tangible proof that they exist.
Connor Feimster’s Favorite Musician Met – Anthony Green from Circa Survive
I first met Anthony Green (Circa Survive) after a solo show at The Note in West Chester, PA in May of 2011. Green and Circa Survive have singlehandedly bettered my life ever since high school, so I had been waiting almost five years for the fateful moment after a killer set (including the first time I’d seen “Seven Years” performed live). Every fan had left aside from myself and my boyfriend so once Anthony emerged from the venue, he devoted all of his energy to us. It was one of the greatest moments of my life. Since then, I’d spoken with him a few more times, got Circa Survive’s insignia tattooed on my arm (in their hometown, no less), hung out with his parents backstage at a show, and have reached a first name basis with a man who has saved me in more ways than one. I wouldn’t trade that for almost anything.
Alexa Rahmanparast’s Favorite Musician Met – Jason Butler from Letlive.
I met Jason Aalon Butler of Letlive. at Vans Warped Tour when I went along with a friend on interviews this summer. It was pouring rain and most bands were getting rescheduled when Butler walked into the room where the press was waiting for anyone to show up. Most of his responses were refreshing and insightful, but he was in no way acting like a pseudo-intellectual and even made fun of those “deep and artsy” types at one point. He jested about the concept for the album art of The Blackest Beautiful, by claiming that the band met up in a “hip” spot where they sat and delved into their artistic desires over some coffee. He even invited us to hang back with the band after the interview, but we looked over at his intimidating press manager who looked at us with disdain and shook his head “no”. I was totally stoked to meet one of my favorite musicians, but the fact that he was so cool definitely made the experience that much better.
Share with us your most memorable musician you’ve met – and the experience you had.