When this year’s Vans Warped Tour came through Montreal, there was one band in particular at the top of my ‘Must See’ list. Sure, their music isn’t the punk/rock you’d traditionally expect from VWT, but it is always stick-in-your-head-for-the-rest-of-your-days catchy and the band in question always has a good sense of humor when it comes to making music. It also didn’t hurt that, as it turns out, they put on a stellar high-energy live show.
Boulder, Colorado’s 3OH!3 (yes, Boulder’s area code just so happens to be 303) has gained international success (from the US to Finland to Australia) with hits like “Don’t Trust Me” and “Starstrukk,” and has collaborated with artists as varied as Katy Perry and Lil Jon.
The duo, which is made up of Sean Foreman and Nathaniel Motte, has released three albums since 2007 and is now working on a follow-up that’s slotted to drop in early 2012. That is, if they can find a moment to breathe. On the road for almost two and a half years, I caught up with Sean Foreman just as 3OH!3 had only about ten days left until their (much deserved) break from touring.
Q: You guys are VWT veterans, how is this year stacking up against years past?
A: The tour is really great this year. I guess the camaraderie is really good, there’s BBQs afterwards, and everyone just gets along and parties. Sometimes, just ‘cause there are so may different types of bands, there’s been some friction in years past but this one, there’s a lot of different types of music but people just generally have a mentality of getting along.
The shows themselves have been really, really good for us. There are a lot of bands on this tour that I like to go see and there are some new ones that I’ve never seen that I’d like to.
Q: I was going to ask, do you get a chance to check out any of the other bands’ performances?
A: There are a few bands that I had heard of but I’d never seen that are great. Bad Rabbits is really good, Foxy Shazam [too]. You get to go side stage and watch the shows so it’s kind of like free reign.
It was pretty surreal, last night we had a BBQ and Lucero played and it was just like all of us watching them play, which, they’re an awesome band.
A: There are a lot of downs on Warped Tour in the sense that, they do the best job they can but there are so many bands to take care of; you gotta use porta-potties everyday, shower behind the bus with cans of water, literally [laughs]. But it’s like summer camp, you get used to it.
The upside to that is that you don’t have any bands that have giant egos…it’s a pretty leveled playing field. The smallest band on Warped Tour gets treated exactly like the biggest band, as far as that all goes. The shows are great, the fans that come to Warped Tour are awesome and I think anyone would say they prefer a venue tour but I think Warped Tour is a great way to expose your band.
Q: What’s been the most memorable moment so far, or has anything horrible/absolutely crazy happened yet?
A: I’ve had some incidents in past Warped tours. This giant scar right here (at this point, Sean extends his leg out to proudly show off the scar on his right calf) I fell on the drum riser during a song and I just split my leg open. I thought it was just like a little wound so I finished the set. I was just bleeding through my pant leg and when I lifted it up, [my leg] was split open, like an extra orifice. It was pretty gross; that was a pretty gnarly moment. People are like, ‘Dude, you should put stuff on it to get rid of the scar,’ but for me it’s kind of like a tattoo.
Q: What happens when you get back home? How is it readjusting to ‘normal’ life?
A: It’s kind of like a post-tour depression … Honestly, it takes me about a week and a half to sleep on a bed that isn’t moving. I make a joke that I have to put it on my washer and dryer. Obviously it’s a lifestyle we choose and it’s awesome, but it is funny, it’s hard to readjust. Just even the conversation of ordering coffee at a local place, you’re just not completely used to it.
A: We just released “Robot.” We had a video, it’s kind of like a viral video, and it’s kind of just a track for our fans, it’s not really a radio playable song, which is fine. It’s the structure of how we wanna build the next record: a couple of steps backwards to where we came from, but also stepping forward with our production and stuff like that, but still having fun and keeping a good sense of humor about the stuff that we do.
Q: You’ve had some great collabs over the years, any funny anecdotes you can share?
A: Katy Perry did the first Warped Tour that we did, which was three years ago, and we became friends with her during the course of that and that’s how that developed. Funny story on that, I think it was Kansas City, no, just a strange spot, she came on stage when we did “Starstrukk,” that was actually before she was featured on the song, she was dancing around and she decided it would be a good idea, in her mini skirt, to crowd surf. She jumped in the crowd and I think there are a lot of lucky seventeen-year-old boys that got a handful of something. It wasn’t the best idea for her to do, she was kind of upside down in the crowd, but that was really funny. That’s when I knew she was about having fun.
Ke$ha was a friend just because we knew her in the studio, we met her through mutual friends…She obviously writes to kind of a persona but she is pretty crazy. I think the first time she came in the studio she called me a “little bitch” for no reason, which I initially hated her because I thought she was so upfront, but within two days I was like, she’s awesome, she’s a sweetheart, she’s cool. She just has this immediate front.
Q: If you could collaborate with anyone, past or present, who would that be? Maybe feature Beethoven on a track? [Laughs.]
A: [Laughs.] I was gonna say, I’d like to get Abe Lincoln to spit out eight verses, that’d be pretty awesome. Elvis is the king, I’d love to get him on a chorus, but maybe I’d go in the future, an alien or something.
Q: Finish this sentence for me: “3OH!3 is…”
A: It’s hard. I’m having like an identity crisis [laughs]. 3OH!3 is dumb for not being able to answer this question [laughs]. This is what happens when you spend weeks on Warped Tour, your brain is fried. There, 3OH!3 is warped!
For all the latest on 3OH!3: www.3oh3music.com/