This is one installment in a series of articles about Warped Tour Atlantic City, one of three official events commemorating the music festival’s 25-year-run. Stay tuned for more features about everyone’s favorite “punk rock summer camp.”
Warped Tour Atlantic City will go down in Varials history. All seemed well when the Philly metalcore band stepped onto the Monster Energy Stage on Saturday afternoon. Then the festival was evacuated due to inclement weather. When the storm had passed, the guys strode back onstage, ready to rock—but the sound system kept malfunctioning, to the point where the band couldn’t play their set. While the technical difficulties were absolutely wild, so was the Warped Tour love that everyone showed that day. Travis Tabron, lead vocalist, signed a t-shirt for a boy in the front row; fans made a sculpture from a mound of sand, named it “Jimmy,” and created a Twitter account for it. When Kevin Lyman, Warped’s fabled founder, heard about the situation, he invited Varials back to play the next day. Thus, on Sunday, they made their triumphant return.
On Saturday night, in the midst of the craziness, I caught up with Tabron and Sean Rauchut, Varials’ drummer, on the beach. We talked about upcoming album In Darkness, the sense of community that Varials fans showed throughout the weekend, favorite amusement park rides, and punny Halloween costumes.
TYF: You guys are Varials. Can you introduce the band to people who haven’t heard of it yet and want to get familiar?
Travis Tabron: We’re Varials from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, a heavy metalcore band signed to Fearless Records. Come get your shit rocked.
TYF: Have you guys been on Warped Tour before, or is this your first time?
Sean Rauchut: We played it last year, on the Full Sail Stage. That was tight.
Tabron: That kicked ass, actually. Just the Camden day, which was our hometown area.
TYF: How was playing that one day last year different from the festival-type setting this year?
Tabron: I don’t think any of us ever expected Warped to be like this, you know what I mean? To be so crazy on the beach. I noticed that we had a lot more people that cared. Like, we did great last year, but today felt like a bigger festival. It felt better.
TYF: Did you ever go to Warped when you were a kid?
Tabron: No, not me. Last year was my first year. This was my second time coming.
TYF: Wow. Is it what you expected?
Tabron: Kind of, yeah. (Laughs) The people that show up to Warped Tour are exactly what I expected them to be.
TYF: How so?
Tabron: They’re weird. (Laughs) They’re all really weird.
Rauchut: I think my first real show as a kid was Warped Tour 2009. I walked in and instantly saw my favorite band, Chiodos. And Underoath.
Tabron: Was that when Chiodos was, like, the biggest band in the world?
Rauchut: Yeah. I saw A Day to Remember before they were…
TYF: There? (Points to where A Day to Remember is playing onstage)
Rauchut: Before they were currently headlining, today, behind us, right now.
Tabron: That’s insane.
TYF: What are your favorite memories from today?
Rauchut: When the PA got shut off on us for, like, the third time, and kids were doing front flips in the middle of the pit. That was pretty funny.
Tabron: Yeah, that’s exactly what I was going to say. I was going to say, “When the power got shut off for the last time and people were stacking beer cans on top of a sandcastle.” The sandcastle has a Twitter account now. His name is Jimmy from AC—“@JIMMYFROMAC1.”
TYF: Did you make it?
Tabron: No. Actually, a bunch of kids kept tweeting it at me. I finally checked it out, like “Who the fuck is Jimmy?” And it’s literally a picture of the sandcastle with sunglasses and beer cans in front of it.
TYF: Do you know why it’s named Jimmy?
Tabron: No clue. No clue. I loved that, though. I thought that was fucking sick. I also got to hear 311 play a little bit. I didn’t get to see it, but I got to hear it. That sounded really cool. Oh, and we played after CKY, and that’s crazy. CKY.
TYF: You have a new album coming out soon.
Tabron: Yeah. This fall, a new album. It’s called In Darkness. It’s way better than everything else.
TYF: Why is it called In Darkness?
Tabron: That’s a line that I used on the last record—and I used it, actually, in a guest spot that I did for another band. I’m trying to solidify that phrase as a Varials thing, so what better way than to do it from the new record?
TYF: What should we expect from it?
Tabron: It’ll be better, this one. Y’all will be like, “Yo, it’s so fucking kick-ass!”
Rauchut: We went back to [producer] Josh Schroeder again, but the mix and the songs are way better. And there’s some different stuff in there. There’s some shit in there that nobody else is really doing right now. So we kind of just wrote songs we all wanted to hear, but that are still heavy.
Tabron: Couldn’t have said it better.
TYF: What’s the craziest thing that’s happened at a Varials show? …Jimmy?
Tabron: I mean, Jimmy’s pretty fucking funny, I’m not gonna lie.
Rauchut: Well, today, kids put a bunch of money into a lemonade bottle and crowd-surfed to the barricade and gave us a lemonade bottle full of money.
TYF: That’s so nice.
Tabron: Honestly, I think today is some of the craziest shit that has ever happened… We got shut down due to the weather, and I sprinted to the merch table ’cause the tent was about to go into the ocean.
Rauchut: We were hiding under the tent, holding it down. We try to go play again; the PA gets shut off, like, four times.
TYF: What did you guys do during the rainstorm? Were you just hiding under your tent the whole time?
Tabron: We literally lowered it to the ground, held it down cause it was blowing away, and sat underneath it. It sucked. A lot of crazy shit happens at Varials shows, to be honest. We’re rambunctious, so I feel like we’re always getting into shit.
Rauchut: We played a show on our last tour, and ICP was playing in the room over. That was fucking awesome.
Tabron: That actually was sick.
Rauchut: I became, like, a huge ICP fan after that.
Tabron: Really? I really fuck with the movement. Like all those Juggalos and shit…You ever seen ICP?
TYF: I haven’t seen them, but I’m aware of them.
Tabron: If you ever have an opportunity to see them, honestly, I recommend going. Besides the fashion part of it and the weirdness that they all represent, it’s mad positive and mad love. Everybody was having a great time. They were having more fun than I’ve ever seen from that many random people that have never met before. It’s actually really cool.
Rauchut: Whoop whoop.
Tabron: Whoop fucking whoop.
TYF: So we’re here on the Atlantic City Boardwalk. There are rides. What carnival rides do you guys like?
Rauchut: I was always scared of roller coasters and carnival rides when I was a kid. I don’t fuck with the spinning shit.
Tabron: Aw, for real? Does it make you dizzy or something?
Rauchut: It just freaks me out. But I’ll go on any roller coaster now. As long as it doesn’t spin.
Tabron: I like the ones that bring you straight up and then just fucking drop you. I love those ones.
Rauchut: I hate them. I don’t get on that shit.
Tabron: When me and Mike went on that last one, he was fucking weak.
Rauchut; Trav was on one, and when it dropped his hat flew off his head, and he caught it in the air.
Tabron: I completely forgot about that shit. That shit was sick.
Rauchut: Busch Gardens.
Tabron: Shout out to Busch Gardens, bro.
Rauchut: I’m more of a water park guy. I’m a “go as fast as I can down a slide on a tube” type of guy.
Tabron: Dude, I love the tubes that have a top to them as well. So it’s dark as fuck when you’re going fast. That shit’s crazy.
Rauchut: The BSR Cable Park in Texas has this gigantic fucking slide with a ramp at the bottom. You go 50 feet in the air, into a lake.
Tabron: Into a lake! It’s a big ass ramp.
Rauchut: It’s like the mega ramp on X Games.
Tabron: That’s what I’m saying. It’s fucking huge. And you just slide down on your fucking back, and it shoots you up, like, 20 feet into the air, into a fucking lake. That place is sick.
TYF: (To Tabron) You have a lot of tattoos. Would you like to pick one and talk about the meaning behind it?
Tabron: None of them really have meaning except for this one. Our lead single from Pain Again was a song called “Anything to Numb.” And that’s a line that I stole from a band called Fear Before the March of Flames. And this is a Fear Before the March of Flames tattoo. That’s the only one I have that has meaning, really. The rest of them, I just like the artwork. (Gesturing to Rauchut) He’s got way better ones. His are nicer for sure.
TYF: (To Rauchut) Do you have a story behind any of your tattoos?
Rauchut: Not really. My mom always gives me shit for that, cause they have no meaning. She already hates when I get them. Then she’s like, “They have no meaning,” and I’m like, “Whatever, Mom.” I have a drum key tattooed on me.
Tabron: Oh wait, we want to talk about meaning? “Metalcore Money,” right there. Right fuckin’ there.
Rauchut: Last Halloween, we were at this party and I dressed up as Tommy Vercetti [from the Grand Theft Auto series], and I was running around the party with an airsoft gun, and when I shot somebody, they’d take a shot. A Jello shot every time. So I’m going to get a Tommy Vercetti half sleeve. That’ll be the one thing with meaning. (Laughs)
Tabron: I love that.
TYF: What are the best Halloween costumes you guys have ever had?
Rauchut: Tommy Vercetti.
Tabron: I would say Tommy Vercetti is definitely your finest moment. One time, we played a fest on Halloween and I dressed up in a giant hot dog costume, but I had a bunch of fake bling on and a “Hotline Bling” hat. So I was going as “1-800-Hot-Dog-Bling.” Other than that, I just wear the hot dog by itself every year, pretty much.
TYF: That’s so clever.
Tabron: “Hot Dog Bling”? I didn’t think of the name. I won a contest for best costume that day, and they said it over the PA—like, “Where is 1-800-Hot-Dog-Bling?” And I didn’t hear it, but somebody told me, “Yo, Hot Dog Bling, dude, you won!” And I was like, “Cool, ‘Hot Dog Bling’ sounds sick.”
TYF: All right; anything else you guys want to say to the fans and the readers?
Tabron: Listen to Wage War. Listen to Varials. Listen to Knocked Loose. Listen to Left Behind. Listen to Rich People. Listen to more rap music. In Darkness out this fall.