There are a few things in life that we instinctively associate with summer, like barbeques and the smell of fresh-cut grass. In the past 18 years, one summer staple has become the shining beacon alternative-music lovers look forward to year ‘round: the Vans Warped Tour.
Creator Kevin Lyman brought this outdoor, all-day music experience to life in 1994, and although the fundamentals have stayed the same, the tour’s done a lot of growing throughout the years. Now, Warped Tour is about to take another big step into uncharted territory. No, Miley Cyrus is not headlining next years’ bill, and no, Lyman hasn’t announced dates on Mars (yet). Instead, starting Friday, December 7, Lyman, Fuse TV and Magilla Entertainment are bringing the Vans Warped Tour into your home with the new unscripted series Warped Roadies.
The new 10-episode series shows viewers a side of Warped most of them have never seen, giving them a behind-the-scenes view at what and who brings this giant beast to life every summer in 41 cities in less than seven weeks. The series focuses on a handful of the 1,000 crew members that pile into 100 buses and dedicate their entire summer to the tour. “To be a roadie,” says Lyman in the series’ first episode, “you need to have some gypsy in you.”
The concept of Warped Roadies began to develop when Fuse made the decision to invest in more long-form, music-focused programming. Fuse’s senior vice president of programming and operations, Brad Schwartz, says, “Fuse is in this really great place. It’s a channel that’s in over 70 million homes. We’re the only channel completely dedicated to music, and we have this really great foundation.
About a year-and -a-half ago, we decided to put a little more investment in Fuse and grow [the network], and, in order to do that, we had to think not just about music videos, but about great stories from the world of music.”
The network began working with production company Magilla Entertainment and came up with the concept of a show focusing on roadies whose jobs are any tour’s backbone. “If you look and see what types of shows are working on television today, whether it’s Deadliest Catch, Ice Road Truckers or Swamp People,” says Schwartz. “All of those reality shows find a subculture and bring it to television. We feel like Warped Roadies is a musical, youthful version of that type of content that explores this world people would love to see.”
The Vans Warped Tour and Fuse have a long-standing relationship, so when the network partnered with Magilla and made the decision to go ahead with this roadie concept for an unscripted series, the Warped Tour roadies were the obvious choice.
“I waited on doing a TV show for a long time, and it took a long time for people to convince me to do it,” Lyman says. “But sitting down with those guys and seeing the history of Magilla and the type of shows they’ve done, I felt that maybe it was time to do it.”
When previous offers for a television show came to Lyman, he had to think about Warped Tour’s brand and the potential effect a reality show could have on it. “The Warped Tour has enough drama without creating any.” Lyman explains. “A lot of the reality-show guys at that point were trying to create more drama than we already had in our lives. When I sat down with [Fuse and Magilla,] I explained that Warped Tour really stands for something; it’s a brand that kids hold in high regard. The people who work with us hold it in high regard, and you’ll get some great stuff naturally. You don’t have to force the issue with it. I think these guys were very respectful of the brand I’ve worked on for 19 years, and we saw that throughout the whole recording of the show.”
In addition to the inevitable trials and tribulations in a roadie’s line of work, long days, blistering heat and tight quarters are bound to lead to some dramatic quarrels, and love affairs and drunken partying are sure to ensue anywhere there’s a gigantic group of young people. However, the bottom line is, it’s all real, not concocted or arranged, and “certainly not built around the premise of five people in a hot tub,” says Schwartz.