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How To Get On Warped Tour: Feature #7 Jasmine McAtee

My name is Jasmine and I’m a writer & actor living in Los Angeles. I’ve also spent years on the road, both with bands and working on the Vans Warped Tour. My Warped resume: A non-profit organization (2005), Boarding 4 Breast Cancer (2008), Reverse Daycare (2009), and currently keeping you hydrated with Klean Kanteen (2011-present).

My start on the Vans Warped Tour had two official beginnings: 2005 and 2008.

How I got my first job on the tour: In 2005, I was street teaming my bum off for various bands, labels, and attending every show I could. I started volunteering for a non-profit organization and befriended the owner. He mentioned needing people to help him for seven weeks of Warped, so I asked him to hire me. Eventually, he did. Well there was a reason it hadn’t already been snapped up by someone more experienced. Basically, it was a disaster.

Just the tip of the iceberg: Our boss had taken all the benches out of the van and replaced them with his personal mattress from home. I slept in the driver’s seat every night, curled around the steering wheel after driving from 2am-5am (this was also after working 15+ hour days), waking up with the sun in my eyes and every single person on the tour walking in front of our van on their way into the venue. Multiple times that summer, our boss almost got kicked off the tour for starting fights. Verbal and physical. Originally, he said he’d cover our meals. His idea of a meal was a granola bar. The only breaks we’d ask for were to use the restrooms, and upon asking, he’d tell us we weren’t working hard enough. He’d threaten to send us home daily, and with two shows to go, he stated that we were worthless to him and he could run the booth himself. So we quit. I gave him back my laminate, and a couple friends of ours we’d made that summer told us we could ride with them and help out at their booth. The last two shows were the best days of the summer. A little validation came, too. My boss would call us each morning, right before doors, and say he was running behind schedule and ask if we could help him set everything up. I wish I could say that I told him to go to hell, but I didn’t. I helped him because I still really believed in the message behind the booth, but also because I was afraid he would get me blacklisted and I’d never be able to work on the tour again. (Sidenote: I don’t say the name of the organization anymore because things have changed with them since ‘05. Just know it’s not one of the current, well-known organizations on the tour.)

How I got my first “real” job on the full tour: In ‘07, a friend mentioned he was looking for someone to sell merch for their band on Warped. His band had also played in ‘05, and he knew about my experiences from that summer. They wanted a guy to sell merch (no comment), but he offered me a spring club tour with them instead. In the fall I worked for an old British punk band selling merch and serving as their tour manager.

In May of ‘08, a friend (my co-worker from the summer of ‘05) told me about a non-profit organization, Boarding for Breast Cancer, who was looking for a tour manager. She recommended me, and I received an interview. Bingo! Because my friend had chosen that guy over me for Warped in ‘07 (who got fired two weeks into the summer, fyi), I had looked for other work and found a job working in production on television shows. That experience, paired with my limited tour experience, and marketing/social media knowledge, gave me a boost above the other applications. A couple weeks later, I had my bags packed and was stepping on to a shiny new production tour bus (okay, it was a little scuffed and out-dated, but it was a tourbus!, not a van! No more driver’s seats!). That summer was a lot of hard work, but incredible, as has every summer I’ve been on the tour since.

My advice to anyone looking to jump on the road: Keep working hard. Get creative in your experience. You never know what quality you have that might place your resume on top of the pile. In every interview I’ve had for a touring position, or even a non-touring music industry position, the most random things I’ve done get brought up and help me book the job. Be versatile.

VOLUNTEER! And when you’re volunteering, show up on time, don’t run off, and don’t go behind a person’s back in an attempt to steal their job (seriously, you don’t think we hear about that?). Don’t become known in your city as the party animal, or for hooking up. Everyone talks. Be careful what you put out there on social networking sites. Nothing is private. Be known for being the best volunteer in your city – the one that people on the tour reach out to first, before a notice is even posted on a site.

When you do make it on the tour, understand that it’s going to be long, and it’s going to be hard. You won’t get along with everyone, you’ll miss home and people, and some mornings you’ll seriously contemplate quitting rather then walking into the venue and setting up. But those that keep walking out there and setting up without fail are the ones that keep getting asked back to do the tour. The bands on Warped Tour change every year, much of the crew stays the same.

If you have any questions, feel free to hit me up at jasminemcatee.tumblr.com.

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