How did you get so comfortable rockin’ out on stage? I mean, you're doing back bends and stuff now!
You know, the funny thing about that is I’m really a very shy person. When I first started the band, I had to face my amp and stare at my feet the whole time. When we started, a friend of mine was like, “Laura is back their singing and drumming—you’re gonna have to be the front person for the band.” So I think I got a little bit of alcohol in me one day and I kind of went crazy and we had this great show. From there, I just got into loving putting on a show, doing back flips and playing behind my head.
You guys have a drummer now that’s stepping in for Laura; how did that come about?
We used to tour a lot—I mean a lot—and the bigger we started getting, the harder it was to see and hear Laura from behind the drums, because those drums start coming through the microphones. It was really hard to get her vocals over the music. So as the places we were playing kept getting bigger and bigger, we just thought that [getting Laura off the drums] was the progression. It started out with Hunter, the bassist from AFI, playing a few dates here and there. When was that?
That was in ’01. We had just recorded our album Sealed with A Kiss. Then later that summer we had four days on the Warped Tour, and so that was the first tour we did with Laura up-front-only. She didn’t do any of the drums. We thought people were going to be stoked, but at the first show people started chanting “Laura on drums! Laura on drums!” So that's why we came up with the compromise of her starting the set out on drums, then switching out drummers during the set–mid-song, actually.
So, how many Warped Tours have you been on?
We started doing it in 2001 and have done it every year except 2003. In 2002 we did the full tour and every year since we’ve done several days on the tour.
So you must like it?
Oh, we love that tour. There’s nothing better than that tour. The first year we did it I was blown away—there’s so much going on that you're kind of taken aback. Those are bands you grow up listening to! And you get to be friends with these people—I still can’t believe that Fat Mike [from NOFX] would be out there watching us, or Icky from The Mighty Mighty Bosstones would be out in the crowd just standing there. It’s just amazing and everybody becomes a really big family.
Your new album was released by Blackheart Records and you did two new songs with Joan Jett. How did you hook up with her?
We got offered to play a showcase in New York with Joan Jett and the Black Hearts, Andrew W.K. and Juliet Lewis and the Licks. So we played, and when we get off stage this guy walks up to us and says, “Joan Jett wants to meet you now.” We were really scared because we didn’t know how she would be—she’s like such a rock 'n' roll legend, you know? So he takes us back to her dressing room and we met Joan Jett and Kenny Laguna, who's been her producer and manager since the beginning. She was the most down-to-earth person and she was like, “We’d love to work with you guys.”
And how did that go?
Well, we flew out to New York and spent three months recording the album. At one point, we told Joan about this song we wrote, “Destroy,” about not letting anyone keep you down or hold you back. So we asked if she would want to play guitar in it, and she was like, “I’d love to! I’d be honored to.” We were just completely taken aback. Then we have this one part of the song where it kind of breaks down and goes to a low voice and we were like, “How about you sing that?,” and she sang it. That was really cool. She did backing vocals on that song, as well as “Do Anything You Want To Do.”
What's Joan Jett like in person?
She's just really cool and down to earth. And she’s rad in the studio, playing her guitar and jumping around. She actually called me one day and was like, “Hey, it’s Joan. I just wanted to let you know that I’ve been tagging your name whenever I go to the bathroom.”
That's so surreal.
Yeah, getting to work with someone like that. I was such a young kid when “I Love Rock and Roll” came out. I can remember jumping up and down on my bed to that song. And here we are now.