Since signing to Fearless Records in 2017, Grayscale has been on the rise. Last year, the Philly rockers won new fans with Adornment, a pop punk exploration of heartbreak and hope. They also released an amped-up cover of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself” via the beloved Punk Goes Pop compilation series. This summer, they played venues across America on the final Vans Warped Tour. If you saw them at your local date and liked what you heard, you can catch them again in the fall, when they’ll be touring with Real Friends, Boston Manor, and Eat Your Heart Out.
Backstage at Warped Tour Columbia, I had the chance to chat with Nick Ventimiglia, Grayscale’s bassist. We talked about Warped memories, tattoos, ’90s nostalgia, and more.
TYF: You guys have been on Warped Tour for a little while at this point, so I’m guessing that you’ve collected a lot of memories. What are your favorites?
Nick Ventimiglia: I think it’s honestly the barbecues after some of the shows we get to go to. Everyone’s just partying and hanging out and mingling. We have so many friends on this tour, so it’s good to spend time with them and meet new friends and just enjoy the time together. I think that as a whole is what we’ve loved so far.
TYF: For sure. Are there certain bands that you find yourselves hanging out with a lot?
Ventimiglia: As It Is. We’re super good friends with Trash Boat. A lot of bands that are on our stage, the Owly.fm Stage. Four Year Strong are like our big brothers; we hang out with them constantly. Those are the main ones, but we really will hang out with anybody, to be honest.
TYF: This is your first Warped Tour as a band, and it’s your last Warped Tour. How does it feel?
Ventimiglia: It’s pretty crazy. I’ve been going to Warped Tour since I was 13, 14, so to be on the other side of the barricade this time is pretty wild. We’re super thankful to have the opportunity. It’s just cool to be a part of the last one, you know what I mean? It’s super bittersweet that it’s ending, but hopefully something will carry on. Maybe not cross-country, but something with fans.
TYF: When you went to Warped when you were younger, what were the bands that you just had to see, that you were super hyped about?
Ventimiglia: It was Fall Out Boy, My Chemical Romance, Hawthorne Heights, Atreyu… They were all on one stage, so I remember sitting at the barricade the whole time, just dying of heat. I wanted to see these bands so bad. It [was] when From Under the Cork Tree by Fall Out Boy just came out. I was a massive fan back then—I still am. But it’s crazy when you’re young and you get to see all those bands up close and then you get to meet them at Warped Tour, where in any other setting it’s so hard to interact. It was awesome. Those are some of my favorite memories.
TYF: That’s such a good era for music.
Ventimiglia: 2004-2005, right around there. So many good bands played.
TYF: Out of all the songs you’ve released recently, which are you most excited about? Do you have a favorite?
Ventimiglia: The record’s been out since May of last year, and of the songs of the album, we have a song called “Fever Dream” that I absolutely love. It’s probably the song I love the most on the record. It’s darker and heavier, but just powerful—lyrically and live, too. It’s one of my favorites to play. It’s last in our setlist on Warped.
TYF: What are some of the weirdest or most memorable dreams you’ve had?
Ventimiglia: Hmm, this is out of left field… I’m a server, actually, at home. I work at P.F. Chang’s, so I have some server nightmares where I can’t keep up with all my tables. (Laughs) Those are some of my weirdest. I wake up panicking because I think I can’t get to all my tables, so I freak out about that. I really don’t have too many wild “being chased” or anything dreams, but I’ve had dreams that I was in 8thgrade again… [dreams about] things that happened, like, junior high. You wake up, and it’s like, “Shit, I felt like I was there.” Yeah, those server nightmares are terrifying to me when I wake up, and then those dreams from the past.
TYF: Have you ever had any inspiration for songs arise while you were at P.F. Chang’s? Any interesting customers?
Ventimiglia: Not customers. Not customers, for sure. They’re not inspirational. But being at work, I’ll just get ideas in my head and record them on my phone, and go home that night and work ‘em out. Things pop into my head all the time. You’ve just got to record it so you remember it, you know what I mean?
TYF: Yeah, for sure. What are some of your favorite lyrics out of all your songs? Are there certain lines that really speak to you or have a lot of personal meaning to you?
Ventimiglia: There’s a lot. Collin [Walsh], our vocalist—he’s a great storyteller, and a lot of stuff that he writes comes from his personal experience. It’s broad enough where people can connect to it, ‘cause it’s not so specific that he names names or anything. Probably “Fever Dream.” We have a song called “Mum,” and then we have a song called “Echoes.” They’re very descriptive and they tell a story, and those are the songs I love. I love the singles we put out, and “Beautiful Things” is a single that we put out that means a lot. It’s basically an anti-suicide song, a “keep hope” type of thing. So many kids have come up to us saying it means the world to them, and that makes us feel phenomenal. I think those songs are the ones that touch me the most.
TYF: Out of other people’s songs, what are some songs that have a lot of personal meaning to you?
Ventimiglia: I’m a huge Brand New fan. I love Jesse Lacey’s lyrics. I’m a huge fan of Every Time I Die, as well. And I know they’re a harder band, but lyrically, Keith Buckley is a genius. If you read his lyrics, it’s wild. There’s another band called Pianos Become the Teeth that I absolutely love lyrically. I love reading lyrics while I’m listening to records because you get a better feel for what’s going on; they tell the story. So probably those three are some of my favorites.
TYF: Fantastic. And what does your shirt say?
Ventimiglia: It says “I fuck with Jake Willard.” Shout-out to Willard. Willard is Falling in Reverse’s merch guy, and Holly, who I believe is Falling in Reverse’s TM, made these shirts with Jake’s face on it. So, yeah; he’s just our boy on the tour. So many people got ‘em last night, so now everybody’s wearing ‘em. And you run out of clothes on this tour, so now I have to wear the newest shirt I have.
TYF: Wow, that’s great. You have a lot of tattoos; do they have personal meanings to you?
Ventimiglia: Some of them do. My grandma passed away, so I have this big candle on my leg that says “The flame is gone; the fire remains.” That’s actually lyrics from a band called The Dear Hunter. That’s what that means. A lot of these pieces are just [from] friends of mine that have done stuff and drawn stuff up that I like, and I just like the artwork. I actually got this Grayscale tattoo the other day… The clover is kind of like our symbol, and Ben [Langford-Biss], the guitarist from As It Is, his wife came out for a week and she tattooed us on the tour. So I got that from her. I got two keys crossed on my chest with my brother’s and sister’s initials. Family means a lot, the band means a lot, friends… All that.
TYF: If you were to get another tattoo right now, what would it be?
Ventimiglia: A Warped Tour tattoo. A “Rest in peace, Warped Tour” tattoo. I was gonna get one the other day and I didn’t have time. A lot of our friends have been getting tombstones with “Warped Tour ’95-’18.”
Ventimiglia: Yeah. I’m probably gonna get one in a couple days to commemorate this last year and the memories we have from this tour.
TYF: That’s super cool, yeah. If you were to create your own fantasy Warped Tour for the 25thyear with any bands whatsoever, who would you choose?
Ventimiglia: I’m a huge Coheed and Cambria fan, so I think Coheed and Cambria would be one. Circa Survive, Thrice, Linkin Park—with Chester, if he was alive—would be on there… Who the hell else would I have on there? I really don’t know. Such a broad question. There are so many good bands you could have on it! Fall Out Boy would be one of ‘em… Good Charlotte’s here today, and that’s amazing.
TYF: I’m super thrilled about that.
Ventimiglia: You gonna go check ‘em out?
TYF: Yeah, for sure. They’re a Maryland band, so we have a lot of love for them here.
Ventimiglia: Exactly. It’s a nice surprise. Bands like that… There’s a band called Poison the Well that I absolutely love from Florida. They’re a hardcore band. [I’d have] different varieties of bands, different sounds. The classics.
TYF: If someone were to create a musical based on Grayscale’s songs, what do you think the general plot and vibe of the musical would be?
Ventimiglia: Honestly, it’d be very visual. It’d be almost more so like a play as opposed to a musical. We thought about doing a hometown Philly show with doing our album and having props and actors be with the concert. It’d be very visual and descriptive. And if you ever look at the vinyl, on the inside, the pictures and everything correspond with all the lyrics. Musical-wise, I don’t know, but I just know it’d be a big visual production, if it were to happen. And I think it would be sick.
TYF: Yeah, that’d be super cool. And now for a few lighthearted questions. What are your favorite movies?
Ventimiglia: I’m a big fan of mob movies. I don’t know why, but I love mob movies. I love war movies as well. I love Inglorious Basterds. Quentin Tarantino’s got some sick movies… I like comedies. I like some stupid ones. I like Step Brothers. People laugh their asses off at that.
TYF: Real Friends said they like Step Brothers too.
Ventimiglia: Dude, I love those boys. But yeah, Will Ferrell cracks me up. I do love Men in Black, for some reason. Jurassic Park. Space Jam. Stuff from the ’90s. Those are my favorite movies.
TYF: If you were to time travel to any era, which era would you choose?
Ventimiglia: Back to the ’90s.
TYF: The ’90s?
Ventimiglia: Yeah. Well, it’d be between that and the ’30s. I love the Frank Sinatra era. I love that music, the big band era, and the young, up-and-coming America vibe. That or the ’90s. I wanna be an adult in the ’90s and experience the ’90s in my mid-twenties, you know what I mean? I would kill for that. I know people always talk about nostalgia and shit, but I feel like the ’90s were just a good decade, you know what I mean? So I would say the ’90s.
TYF: What are you most nostalgic for about the ’90s?
Ventimiglia: I think it’s the feeling of… I don’t know. I can’t put a finger on what it is. But it probably has to do with memories of my childhood and how things felt. Things felt way less chaotic—in the world, in my life… In general, it was just relaxing and carefree. Obviously, as a kid, you’re carefree. But things like just being outside… The Internet wasn’t as crazy as it is, with phones and shit… I just want it to be simple, where you can ride your bike to your friend’s house and just hang out, you know what I mean? That simple “quality time” aspect of the ’90s.
TYF: Were you ever into Pokémon when you were younger?
Ventimiglia: I have a Blastoise tattoo on my thigh.
TYF: Oh, that’s awesome!
Ventimiglia: I absolutely love Pokémon.
TYF: So if you were to have any Pokémon constantly follow you around as your loyal companion, which would it be?
Ventimiglia: Probably Squirtle. Squirtle is my boy. And Wartortle and Blastoise. Those are my favorites. I love Eevee, too.
TYF: Eevee’s cool.
Ventimiglia: Eevee’s adorable. But yeah, Squirtle would be my companion. Who would yours be?
TYF: I would have to say Meowth.
Ventimiglia: That’s fair. Team Rocket.
TYF: Meowth is so sassy. I feel like if I could have Meowth provide a running commentary on my life, it would just take the pressure off every situation.
Ventimiglia: That’d be sick. Good choice.
TYF: Did you ever play Digimon?
Ventimiglia: For a hot minute. When it first came out, I tried to get into it, and I was like, “This is kind of cool.” I would watch the show, but it never caught on with me totally. I had the cards, but it was never like Pokémon. I remember being, like, 8 years old… I went to private school, and I brought my cards to school, and my teachers took ‘em away ‘cause there were “psychic types” and they were so against all that shit. They took my cards away and gave ‘em to my mom. This was when it first happened, so I was, like, 8 years old. So it had to be ’98, ’97. It was nuts. But I think that killed Digimon. And Digimon was cool for the show—I tried to do Yuh-Gi-Oh for a hot minute and I couldn’t totally get involved—but Pokémon, to me, is timeless. The GameBoy games… everything.
TYF: Totally. N64…
Ventimiglia: I love it, I love it. Pokémon Stadium.
TYF: Pokémon Snap was my favorite.
Ventimiglia: You liked Pokémon Snap? I never played Pokémon Snap. I don’t know why I never got into it. I played up to Gold and Silver, and then I stopped playing completely. And later on, I went back, got a GameBoy, and played the newer ones to see what it was like. Do you play Pokémon Go?
TYF: I’ve played a little. I didn’t download it when it first came out, so I kinda missed the boat.
Ventimiglia: It’s tough. It’s a tough game to keep up with. Me and Patty [Walters] from As It Is have a Pokémon group chat where’s there’s raids on Warped Tour, and we all go as a team. It’s fun. We all love Pokémon.
TYF: That’s fantastic. Which team are you?
Ventimiglia: I’m Instinct. Yellow.
TYF: Got it. I’m Team Mystic.
Ventimiglia: I like Mystic. When I got it back home in Detroit, everyone just did Team Yellow, so I did it ‘cause it was everyone at home. But I go out in the world, and everyone’s blue. Mystic’s sick… Pokémon is the OG.
TYF: Pokémon is the OG, for sure. I feel like that’s a good note to end on.
Ventimiglia: That is a great note to end on.
TYF: All right. Is there anything else you’d like to say to the readers and fans before we wrap up?
Ventimiglia: Just check out our latest record, Adornment. We’ll be coming to a city near you in the States soon, so stay tuned!