This situation is different because obviously you knew each other. Does that play into it when you’re looking for someone to partner with, or do you treat that differently when you’re looking at a new band?
CIPRARI: Honestly, we’ve been super-grassroots from the beginning. I played in a small punk band from when I was 15 or 16 years old, so we’re always supportive of artists, whether you’re playing at VFW, a garage show or House Of Blues every single night selling them out. We’re going to treat you the same. Cyrus is a dude I’ve looked up to along with a lot of guys at our shop and our drummers that play SJC—dudes that go to New Found Glory shows and geek out over what Cyrus is playing for the drums, the sizes of the heads that he is using, cymbals and everything. You know, I’m one of those kids. When we met and started seeing each other at shows and seeing each other at Warped Tour every year, it was just, “Man I really want to make drums for Cyrus. He is a cool dude, he gets it.”
Like I said earlier, he’s not looking for a hand out. He wasn’t begging me at SJC just to play free stuff, it’s just naturally progressed. Like I said when I was in Florida visiting my grandpa, we hung out, talked drums, and it was just a really natural fit. My motto–it seems cliché these days–but we are family first, we are friends and family before business. So whether we’re friends, we can just stay friends and continue to see each other at shows, I’d still go see his band play, and I’d still like his band and say, “What’s up?” But the fact we can be providing his drums and I can be on a bus with him every single day on this tour is really cool for me and the company.
When you’re in the heat of battle, playing onstage, and something goes wrong, how are you able to get into battle mode? Do you ever find yourself caught with your pants down because you’re thinking about something else? Are you air drumming too much to see when he breaks a stick?
CIPRARI: When I’m watching him play the drums, I’m watching him play, and my eyes are just circling around his kit, making sure that the mics are good or that he is good. Making eye contact with him, making sure that the snare sounds good; nothing is going to fall apart. But then also, I’m sitting there thinking, “What can SJC invent? What are the problems that he is having? What was load-in like today? What was soundcheck like? What is he worried about right now that maybe we can invent to change something?” So I’m on my phone writing ideas down. My mind is constantly going.
Cyrus, what are you thinking when you catch him on his phone?
BOLOOKI: It’s funny because he is on his phone and I’m just like. “I wonder what he is doing on his phone?” Sometimes, I’m hoping that he is, like, playing a game or something, not just writing notes. [Laughs.] Obviously, I think Mike will tell you that anyone who has worked with me will take pride in the fact that I’m pretty self-sufficient. And so coming into this, I don’t view myself as somebody who is in constant need of things. A lot of it is a testament to the actual quality of the stuff that I use, but I’d rather Mike be jotting down ideas and furthering the entire company that I’m supporting than just sitting there doing nothing. It’s a good show when nothing goes wrong, if the most he has to do is to make sure that I have a water, or give me a stick if it breaks or whatever.
CIPRARI: I’m pretty ready, though, whether I’m on my phone or circling the kit. I’m always watching when something happens. Sometimes, when I don’t see a mic or something, Cyrus will just kind of give me a nod and I’ll jump over. I’m a drummer too, so I’m prepared for what may happen.
The story you always hear is that the guitar player breaks his finger and the tech fills in. If Cyrus got West Nile Virus tonight, could you fill in and play the whole set?
BOLOOKI: I think he could.
CIPRARI: I think my chops are there, but I don’t know If I’d be ready to hop on and play a set from New Found Glory. I think I’d be pretty nervous and mess it up.
BOLOOKI: In Los Angeles, at the beginning of this tour, I drove to the show. I got there a little late, as far as soundcheck, and I walk in, and I hear our song, “It’s Not Your Fault.” I hear it being played from outside of the doors, and I’m like, “Oh, our sound guy must have recorded last night and he probably is playing it over the PA.” I walk in, and it’s Mike playing drums.