Any band that’s been on tour will tell you that living out of a van isn’t for the fainthearted. Most of the time the air conditioning will break for no reason, loved ones aren’t seen for long periods of time and the one guy in the group will take full advantage of the fact he doesn’t have to shower for a week, probably more. While fans seeing a single night of tour will take away their individual experience of the live show, the band is already getting ready for their next gig. For most, touring can turn into a perpetual Groundhog’s Day.
Wayne Wildrick, guitarist of Man Overboard, knows all too well the exciting yet grueling lifestyle of living on the road. Back in 2010, Wildrick felt it was time to leave the quintet, only to come back a mere six months later. The group’s been back on track and their third studio album, Heart Attack, dropped May 28 and was produced by Steve Klein of New Found Glory. In this interview, Wildrick opens up about the make or break reality of touring, how their traveling experiences can be heard on their latest record, and why he’d do it all over again.
So it looks like Man Overboard are on board for another Warped Tour. What did you learn from the first time around that will influence your experience this time?
Just to pace ourselves. It’s seriously like summertime back when you were done with school and you were like, “Alright, I got 10 weeks of summer,” and you try to just cram it all in. Every night there’s something going on, there’s a barbecue, so you never want to be asleep because you feel like you’re in a sitcom and you don’t want to miss anything.
At the same time, though, it’s long days. You’re up at seven o’clock in the morning and you don’t go to bed until sometimes the wee hours of the night. There’s just long days and you make sure that you just pace yourself and you make sure that you can last, you know, cause like I said, it’s a long one. I know I keep repeating myself on that, but that’s really the best advice that I can give to anybody to come on to the tour. Just take it as it comes, have a great time.
You meet so many people that you never would have met. At first you’re like, “Oh, I’m definitely going to watch this band, definitely going to watch that band,” but you find yourself watching bands that you would never watch or you never think you would want to watch ‘cause you’re just like, it’s in front of you and those bands are going through the same grueling process you are every day, so it kind of teaches you that mutual respect just on a musician level and just being in a band. It starts to bring just a nice ground level of respect for all the bands and it definitely helps to create that kind of big family atmosphere; family atmosphere meaning like, a collective of hundreds of bands traveling every day. Everyone just starts to really bond together. You run into bands months after the tour in some weird part of the country and you start hugging it out like you guys have been friends for years and years and years. Once you’re done doing something like that, it definitely solidifies a lot of bonds, that’s for sure.
You temporarily left Man Overboard in 2010 and then rejoined later on. What prompted you to rejoin and how did you handle the anxiety of touring?
I think that for me, it just kind of went a little… I just went a little… It was just one of those things. Fortunately still today, just like it’s always been, those guys are still my best friends. It was only like a six-month period, it wasn’t even really that long—I don’t think it was even a full six months—but it was a necessary thing. They were supportive of it on both ends and then things just kind of fell into place for us to start talking again and it was right around the time they were going to start writing the second record and it just worked out like that.
Since then things have just been totally different, in so many ways, but everyone kind of has their moments. It’s just a matter of now, how do we recognize those times and handle it? I guess I was kind of like the first one to hit that point, but since then we recognize that could be reality for anybody. It’s hard to find a balance. Like I said, you get caught up in the excitement of the whole thing, but you know you have family at home. To just get up and leave, we’re really tight with all of our families and all of our friends back home and we all feel that we owe a loyalty to that, so to constantly find the balance is hard to do.
So it’s definitely something that as friends and as a band, before anything else, we all try to always keep that at the forefront of our minds when we’re making decisions on when to tour, how long to tour, what to do, because like I said, if it wasn’t for our home base and our families, I mean, there’s no way we would have ever gotten to this point. There’s no way we would be able to keep doing it. It’s definitely our backbone.
What was it like working with Steve Klein from New Found Glory on Heart Attack?
Steve Klein actually produced our last record as well, the self-titled one. Working with Steve, obviously the first time meeting [him] you’re like, “Oh my god, this guy’s played in one of our favorite bands growing up,” and it quickly got on the level of just being friends. All the guys in New Found Glory are just really, really humble guys. They never want to talk about themselves; they want to just talk about what’s going on, what you’re up to.
They came from kind of a similar background as us. It’s just like that in the studio, we don’t look at him like he’s from this big, high-and-mighty band. He’s in here havin’ fun, picking up the guitar we’re working on little leads here and there, talking about our favorite records, talking about how we want it to sound. There’s moments I look over and I’m like, “Oh my god, this guy plays guitar for New Found Glory.” There are those moments where it hits you again, but at the same time all those guys have always made it so comfortable and so easy to get along with them. He’s always been super supportive and super helpful towards our band and it’s something that we’re forever grateful for because they don’t have to be, but they are. Steve comin’ out and producing our record and helping us mold these songs and bringing them to another level, it’s flattering and it’s humbling at the same time.
Why did you save “Wide Awake,” the only acoustic song on Heart Attack, for the last track?
Nik [Bruzzese, vocalist/bassist] had written that song. I’m pretty sure he had written it right after Warped Tour, and it’s definitely a song about going away, for sure. Steven heard it and was like, “Aw man, this song’s great,” so we got it into the studio. That song was recorded one take all the way through; usually we spend days working on songs. We were just like, “This is definitely going to go on the record, and this is definitely going to go last.” Then it just turned into, “We’re just going to put it on Spotify before the record comes out.”
We have a couple songs that are more acoustic-driven. I feel like there’s a certain part of our audience that really likes those kinds of songs, so we were excited to bring another one of those songs back. I think this record called for it, like I said, with all the traveling and all the time away.
I feel like that song completes the whole record. It all kind of comes down to that song. We were like, “There’s 14 songs, it has to be on this record.” They’re all kind of a part of this story. They’re all written in the same timeframe. It’s something that was really important to us and then “Wide Awake” was just kind of like, it has to be there, it has to be the end. We’re already rehearsing it and we’re looking forward to playing it live.
You mentioned that there’s a “story.” Does that mean there’s one fluid concept to the record?
No, no, it’s not like a concept album or anything like that. Usually there are two or three songs that are written in a little time period and if you go and were to listen to the record with that mindset, you’ll probably be able to pick them out. Usually it’s like, we were on Warped Tour and we worked on these songs while we were on Warped Tour and then we did the Taking Back Sunday dates in the fall and we went out with Never Shout Never and we were in the Midwest a lot. A lot of this record was written on tour, so there’s kind of a geographical influence on it as well because usually we write all of our songs in New Jersey. I remember in Russia, Zac [Eisenstein, vocalist/guitarist] picks up a guitar and was like, “Hey, I got this idea for a song.” So now when I listen to it, it’s just like, “Well, that sounds like Russia to me.”
We just got a new drummer [Joe Talarico] within the band in the last year. He’s taken us to like a whole other level. This is the first record we ever wrote where we wrote it with a drummer—it’s a very drum-oriented record. So I feel like him coming into the band, the touring within the last year, going to Russia and Ukraine, being around the U.S. like three times, I mean, it was a long year, and it was kind of like, this is what we want to do with our band and we want to write a good rock and roll record and we want all these songs to kind of talk about the last year that we’ve gone through. Listen to it, take what you can from it, but if anything, just listen.
So what’s next for Man Overboard?
Touring. Touring, touring, touring, (laughs) always. I mean, we got the record coming out next week, we’re heading to London on Monday and we’re going there for like a week and playing some shows, and then we got Warped Tour this summer. We’ll be back out in the fall for sure, and then we’ll see what happens from there. I mean, we’re having a great time in the meantime and if people like this record then we’ll write another record. We’re just taking as it comes and it’s been a blessing and we’re just having fun. So we’ll see what happens next.
Man Overboard’s new album, Heart Attack, is available now through Rise. They’ll make in-store appearances at Tunes in Hoboken and Voorhees on June 8. For more information, go to defendpoppunk.com.