Photograph by Melissa Terry
Phone Calls From Home’s set from their Warped Tour date in Uniondale, New York shows that their amazing performance at Webster Hall a month ago wasn’t a one time deal. They were able to win over the crowd within seconds. Whether it was their bigger than life persona or the incessant happiness radiating off their faces, their bodies, their whole demeanor, I couldn’t tell. Playing on the OurStage.com stage, a relatively small stage compared to the others that day, that proved no difference to Phone Calls From Home. The size of the stage seemed as grand as their performance. They have this strange ability to pull people in, just like their performance at Webster a month ago. People walking buy couldn’t help but be pulled in. Even parents wondering why they accompanied their kids to Warped Tour were pulled in.
“So why not be something a little different, something special in the eyes of fans and in ourselves… at least we left something for these people other than just a song they can sing to.”
Catch a Phone Calls From Home show and count the number of times any of the members frown. Seriously, do it. Because I can guarantee that that number would be equal to the number of calories in water. (That would be zero for those of you who don’t know) The showmanship and stage presence in Phone Calls From Home would suggest that they are veterans in the Warped Tour world, despite only playing for their second year. Pure enjoyment, amusement, and happiness radiate off of each member in Phone Calls From Home. A quality so rare these days in live performance. The beach balls they were throwing and the Super Soakers they were spraying into the crowd were only part of the reason such positive energy was coming off of Phone Calls From Home. A true enjoyment from being able to play to a crowd can be sensed.
While Dave Place may not think they are the best musicians in the world, I hope he considers themselves one of the great performers in the world. I especially think so. Keep on reading for their interview. And Dave, I saw your eyes light up when Taking Back Sunday walked into the press tent area. ;)
Have you been checking out any of the other bands on the tour?
Danny: Taking Back Sunday is my favorite. They’re amazing. They’re the first real concert I ever saw. So the fact that I have the option to literally watch them every day for the next few weeks is just amazing.
Dave: Me too.
Have you talked to Tacking Back Sunday yet?
Dave: I’ve talked to Adam Lazzara twice. They’re one of my top four bands in my life so I’m like “I love your set.” I can’t go farther because I’m slightly star struck, you know what I mean? It’s like, for you, going up to a boy you like, like what do I talk about to make it natural? I have no idea.
Did you go to Warped when you were younger?
Dave: I’ve got a story. I’ll let them go first.
Danny: My first Warped Tour was 2008 so I was 17.
Jason: My first Warped Tour was 2008 as well and it was when Dave asked me to come and help sell CDs and stuff like that, before I was in the band. It was, like what, five weeks in a row?
Dave: Yeah [laughs] Jason: So I’d gone from never going to Warped tour to five weeks straight of going to Warped Tour. It was pretty incredible. [laughs] Dave: My first Warped Tour was in 1997.
Danny: What the heck.
Jason: No it wasn’t. Was it really?
Danny: His dad took him
Dave: I was eight years old. I went with my dad, my older brother, and my sister. And I lost them. They went into a mosh pit for a band called Sick of it All, and I followed them in and I’m like “Guys!” I was in a mosh pit and four girls saw me and saved me. They surrounded me by holding hands around me and walking me out. They walked me out to the lost and found where I waited for my dad crying. I was almost dead.
Jason: I’ve never heard that story before.
What was it like attending Warped when you were younger and now being able to play it?
Dave: For me it feels smaller. I’m sure it’s not. But it’s just the perspective thing. Kinda like when you get older. So it’s really weird to think this is the same Warped Tour that it has been every year. I know that Eminem played one year, Blink-182 have played a bunch of years, and huge, huge worldwide bands, and yet it’s the same thing. You know, and it’s weird to think that. And we’re playing it.
Being on the more pop side and Warped being more traditionally punk, do you feel as if you’re different from everyone else?
Dave: Well actually, I don’t think it’s our music. There’s a lot of, especially this year, pop-ier bands, like All Time Low and We the Kings. We try to be a positive, moral role model type band. So I think in that way, we feel a little different. Not so much our music but our message. A lot of other bands are like “let’s have fun” and they throw the F word in there as many times as they can. For us it’s like “let’s have fun” but go deeper and have a bigger purpose here. I don’t know if we’re alone in that.
Growing up, were you guys musical?
Danny: No. I definitely wasn’t at all. I had always enjoyed music but I never had any kind of desire to learn anything. Then I turned 13 and my dad was like, “You have to learn how to play something,” so I just started drums out of spite. I said I’ll just do drums and he said yes for whatever reason. I never thought he’d say yes. I really enjoyed it after that so joke’s on me.
Jason: I was not musical at all. I have young memories of trying to dance and stuff awkwardly [laughs], but never making any sounds, never playing guitar, never singing, until seventh grade. I knew my girlfriend and I weren’t going to have any classes together so I sucked it up and decided to join chorus. It turned out to be that my life was music after that. It was pretty crazy. I owe it all out to her. My sixth grade girlfriend.
Dave: I don’t have a very musical family but I’ve just been musical myself. I don’t know why but probably since I was five. And I’ve never been really good at sports so it’s always been my hobby for sure.
Where does the inspiration for your songs come from?
Dave: All different walks of life. It’s rough writing songs because it’s kind of like the deeper you go into your own emotions, your own experiences, your own feelings, it’s really awkward if you find that people don’t like it.
Are your lyrics really confessional?
Dave: Yeah, the first few songs we were writing were “Let’s tell a story about something.” But more and more it’s becoming about us, about me, and about our experiences. Because at a high school, what experiences do you have? Its like “I grew up in a town, with friends” but now it’s like “We tour this country, and make friends, and have these experiences, and talk to thousands of people” so it allows us to have more inspiration in general and have more to say. And I think our message, over the last year or two especially has been able to give us more direction in the songs by, you know not just, how do we say a boy likes a girl again? You know what I mean? It’s like those songs will never go away. They’ll always be important. But going deeper into life and into happiness and the meaning of it all, that’s where we’re at now.
What caused the reason to want to have a positive message/effect on fans?
Dave: I was driving in Oregon one day and everyone else was sleeping and I was listening to Anberlin and the lyrics were “Live/I want to live inspired/Die/I want to die for something/Bigger than myself,” kinda along the lines of that. And this had never been a favorite song of mine but in that moment I’m like, why do this for anything else? A lot of bands here are playing music, for music’s sake. We could that but none of us are amazing musicians anyway so we’d always feel second best anyway; that will never go away because we’re not amazing musicians. So why not be something a little different, something special in the eyes of fans and in ourselves in saying “We could break up today. We could break up any day. But at least we left something for these people other than just a song they can sing to.”
Phone Calls From Home is Dave Place (vocals, bass), Zack Gowan (guitar), Danny Stockman (drums), and Jason Vieira (guitar).