Warren OakesFat Wreck Chords
By Bobby Gorman on June 2nd, 2005 at Starlite Room - Edmonton, Alberta
During their first ever Canadian tour, Warren, the drummer for Against Me! Was kind enough to sit down and talk to me for a few minutes before their show in Edmonton at the Starlite Room. He was really nice, and even postponed getting a nice drink of coffee to make room for the interview. Thanks a lot to Rob and Melanie for setting it up, and to Warren for doing it.
Bobby: Starting with the basics, you guys have been touring Canada for a while now, how has that been going?
Warren: It’s going really good. The only downside I can say are the long drives, they can be a little bit draining. But it’s totally worth it because we get to see cities we’ve never seen before, which is amazing. Like that’s the really cool thing about getting to play music. Just getting to travel with it and getting to see parts of the world we’ve never seen before. The response has been really awesome. People know us and like us before we even show up, and it’s awesome.
Bobby: Has there been any really memorable moment from it so far?
Warren: There have been lots of cool little things. Like Montreal is one of my favourite cities I’ve ever been to, I spent my birthday there last year. And when we were in Quebec City, we got to walk around and see some historic parts of the town. Sue St. Marie, I have family from there, well like heritage, so to see the area was really cool. And just some of the scenery, like the cliffs coming in like on the way to Thunder Bay. I don’t know; it’s all been really nice. The venues have been cool. It’s really all been awesome. Like Winnipeg has a really good reputation and they totally lived up to it, like it was a really good place we played and all the people were really nice.
Bobby: Throughout your career, you guys have released many CDs and LPs; and looking through your discography, you can see that you’ve released many different colors of the LPs. Like “Reinventing Axl Rose” has twelve different colors. Why do you release so many different colors?
Warren: The colour things, that’s No Idea Records, who released them. They just have a very colourful repertoire. All of their releases come out on a lot of different coloured vinyl, and it actually ends up being, for them, costing about the same doing coloured vinyl as it is to do regular. So they’re like “hey, why not?” They’ve been working with a pressing plant for so long that they just have it hooked up so they can get creative with it and do colours. They’ve actually done how ever many runs of “Axl”, and whenever they do it, they pick another colour to do it in.
Bobby: How do you pick what colours you want them done in?
Warren: That’s actually not our department; No Idea just picks them and runs with it.
Bobby: For “Reinventing Axl Rose”, you have one, and only one, Gold and Blue splotchy vinyl. Do you know who has that one vinyl?
Warren: I have no idea actually; I’ve never followed it too closely. But it’s a coveted item I take it. That’s pretty funny.
Bobby: You guys also released an acoustic EP a while ago, why did you decide to release an all acoustic one?
Warren: A lot of the songs are originally written by Tom just with an acoustic guitar and they just stayed. They had a certain character when they’re played like that which just really works. They’ll move in a different way and kind of have a different feel then when they are electrified, you know, with the full band. Even though I don’t play on the acoustic release, because I’m the drummer, I love the way it sounds and I’m pro acousto-rock.
Bobby: You guys jumped from No Idea Records to Fat Wreck Chords to release “As The Eternal Cowboy” and your new DVD “We’re Never Going Home!” Why did you decide to make that switch?
Warren: It wasn’t necessarily a switch that much, because No Idea has still put out EPs since then and we still have a good working relationship with both labels. They just approached us about putting out a record and we were into it; and we talked to them about how we wanted it to look and sound and we were compatible, and it worked. We’ve become really good friends with almost everyone at the label actually, and we have a really great relationship with them. It’s been great to have both No Idea Records and Fat Wreck Chords totally supporting us and working with us. I think they are both respectable labels and they do a great job.
Bobby: Is there a major difference between the two labels?
Warren: Not really too much. I mean, if there is one major difference it’s just like distribution in a certain way, but not even that so much. It’s just the fact that Fat Mike was in NOFX. So everybody knows about his label because everybody knows about his band. That’s like the big thing. And sometimes there’s a lot of baggage that comes with that. People associate your band with his band with like everything you do where has No Idea doesn’t really have that sort of baggage. But they run, they operate, in pretty similar ways actually.
Warren: I’m going to go ahead and leave that one open and just say I can’t predict the future. *laughs*
Bobby: You guys also just got out of the studio with J. Robbins, recording the follow up to “As The Eternal Cowboy”. I’ve heard that it is tentatively titled “Searching For Former Clarity”, is that true?
Warren: That is true.
Bobby: Can you tell us anything about the CD yet?
Warren: It’s going to be fourteen songs. The running time is about several that of “Cowboy”. And we’re really really happy with it and really proud of it. It’s awesome.
Bobby: Do you have any crazy studio stories from the recording process?
Warren: We were actually a pretty mellow bunch. Like J., we got along really well with J. and he had his little dog come into the studio. It was the first recording that he’s done in his new studio in Baltimore. And so it was kind of like a fresh space that we were kind of helping christen it instead of this grizzled old, you know, punk studio or whatever. It was like a fresh space and we had the privilege of helping to set the tone for it. We would just kind of hang out, drink coffee, and then play the songs and listen back to them; it was a really good comfortable vibe, like we worked really well with him. I mean, we went out on the town a couple times while we were there; we got to go see a baseball game while we were there. But for the most part, we didn’t splatter blood on the walls of the Magpie Cage or anything – that’s the name of it, The Magpie Cage is the name of the studio.
Bobby: Are you going to be playing any of the new songs on these tour dates?
Warren: Yeah, we’ve been kind of interspersing anywhere from like two to six, you know, how ever much we want, into a set. It’s one of those things that because people are unfamiliar with the songs, it’s not the same crowd response. So if we were to play a block of let’s say eight brand new songs in a row, then everyone would just be standing there, like they can’t sing along, they don’t know the dance moves to them yet. But we’ve been kind of working them out, interspersing them in between some of the older songs, and they’ve been going over really well, it’s been really cool.
Bobby: Your DVD is one of my current favourite music DVDs and one of the few music DVDs that I’ve actually watched more than once, why did you decide to release a DVD chronicling that one month on tour?
Warren: It wasn’t a real strategic thing. We were getting ready to go on that tour and we invited our friend Jake to come with us and he makes films and videos and it’s something he’s just really into; photography stuff. So we were just like “hey go for it, film whatever you can get.” Fat offered to put it out and pay Jake for doing it. We just got to go on tour with our friend and he captured what he could and then we were able to put it out. He just had hours and hours of rough footage and we didn’t know what it was going to end up looking like and by the time I saw the first edition of it, it was like “holy shit dude! You made a movie!” It really came together in a way that I don’t think any of us were really expecting. It just all fell into place in a pretty awesome coincidental way. It wasn’t that tour was the most special, I mean, it was amazingly special for us but there wasn’t anything about it that made us choose that tour over any other tour.
Bobby: On that DVD, the viewers get to see that you guys have a sense of humour. You locked Taking Back Sunday in their dressing room and stormed onto Story Of The Year’s bus at the Skate & Surf Fest in New Jersey. Have you guys done any pranks like that lately?
Warren: *laughs* We’re not trying to start any trouble with any of our fellow musicians out on the road. We have no beef, for the record, with any of these bands. We haven’t really had any altercations with anybody as of late, we’ve been having a very peaceful run of it so far.
Bobby: If you could pick one person or band, dead or alive to tour with, who would you pick to tour with and why?
Warren: I… Man, I think I’d really love to tour with The Replacements. Apparently they were a very inconsistent and volatile live band, but I don’t know, it seems just like there was a real energy to them at a certain time. It would be really awesome to be able to tap into that and witness it. Looking back at any band, you can kind of see, in retrospect, when was really their prime, you know? Like when was the time for like Guns N’ Roses, right at a certain point like ’88 or whatever; right before they had to start playing arenas, they were still playing clubs and there was this energy there. That would be an amazing time to see them play. Or getting to see the Replacements in the early ‘80s or getting to see The Clash when they were touring around the UK. Like there are these prime times where if you catch the band at that certain point, there’s that electricity there. It’s a tough call to make between them, those are a few.
Bobby: Now onto some more unusual questions that I like to ask at all interviews, first off all, if you guys were stranded on a desert island with no food and nothing to eat, which one of the band members would you eat first to survive and why?
Warren: I would say… man… I’d probably have to eat Jordan. I guess he’s technically not in the band, but he’s, you know if there was a fifth member. He comes with us on all the tours. He’s right over there. So just in case we got rescued with only having eaten him, we could still carry on as a band. I hate to say it, but he’d be the first to go. *laughs*
Bobby: If you were a member of the opposite sex for a day or a week or however long you wanted, what would you do and why?
Warren: Umm… now that’s a good question. I guess I would have to use my knowledge from my perspective as a male to just go out and work it, you know? Just go out to nightclubs and have nights out on the town and wield the immense power that I knew that I would hold all around me.
Warren: Let’s see… Andrew has a bit of a geeky comic book obsession that is very youthful at heart. Like geek factor eleven we’re talking about here. Like he comes off like such a cool guy, but it’s all a front.
Bobby: If you could have one thing at this moment, anything at all, like not necessarily materialistic, but also emotional, what would you have and why?
Warren: I don’t know, I’d say I’m a pretty content person to be totally honest. I think just to have that contentment be totally consistent in my life instead of watching it kind of come and go in waves and just feel totally at ease in my environment at all times, I wouldn’t mind that. But it seems like it’s not too far out of reach.
Bobby: Okay, I guess that’s about it, do you have any final thoughts?
Warren: Nope. Thank you very much for the interview, we’re happy to be in Edmonton.
Bobby: Thanks a lot.