It wasn’t always all funk and folk for me. My concert hopping days started in middle school in good ole Monkeytown (Dayton), Tennessee. Where every venues’ (by venue I mean after hours in a deli, youth group meeting places and city parks) rosters consisted mainly of local garage bands playing Punk or Hardcore/Metalcore/Screamo. Mosh pits, guitar riffs and seeing my friends on stage is what sparked my love of live music. So I knew fellow Dayton kid, Nick VanOrnum’s story about being a part of Always The Understudy would be one worth sharing. Always The Understudy won the Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands and earned the opportunity to play the Vans Warped Tour in Chula Vista, California. I chit chatted via Facebook recently with guitarist, Nick about that accomplishment, his appreciation of the band’s fans and his love of music.
ConcertHopper: What was it like playing the Chula Vista, CA stop of the Vans Warped Tour?
Nick VanOrnum: In one word, incredible! We have played big shows before at places such as SOMA in San Diego, but that was an experience we will never forget. It still feels so unreal. With Venues like SOMA, fans are coming to see you perform. The Vans Warped Tour allows you truly to open up your fan base which is huge in the music scene.
How do feel about the fact that your fan’s votes helped get you guys on that stage? We are all very appreciative and somewhat shocked. At first I wasn't too sure on how many would actually vote considering it took a little more than just a click of a button. In the end, it just shows that our fans have been sticking with us for quite some time and don't plan on letting go. We greatly appreciate all their loyalty and hard work they have done to get us to where we're at. So to all our fans out there...Thank You!!!
Always The Understudy is about 2 1/2 years old. How did you join the band? How long have you been a member? I've been a part of the band for about a year now. It was about a year and a half ago when I was playing my guitar and my amp stopped working. While looking for an amp online, I stumbled across not only an amp but a better guitar. To make a long story short I ended up with both. It was such a good deal and a blessing that when I got home, I sat down and prayed to God and promised him that I would use music to bring others to him. It wasn't but a few weeks after that I stumbled on Always The Understudy on craigslist. The post said they were in need of a guitarist. So I went to audition and here I am. It’s crazy how I got to this point in my life. It all started because my amp broke.
Tell me about music in your life up to this point. How long have you been playing? What other bands have you been apart of? It’s safe to say I have always loved music. My very first band was when I was in the 5th grade, I think. We were called Revelation. I remember doing a battle of the bands and being more nervous for that than anything in my entire life. I was just a kid and had no clue what I was getting myself into. I just remember during the whole set, I literally stood in one place and stared at my guitar the whole time LOL. Of course, everyone clapped and cheered when we were done. We were the youngest band there so I think it was for that, definitely not our talent. The metal/hardcore style started with me probably around the time Linkin Park's Meteora CD came out. Since then I've just been in love with it. A lot of people don’t like it or "approve" because of the screaming, but there’s always going to be critics. It’s just so much fun to play. If you ever have a minute and you don't listen to hardcore music, I encourage you to. It’s very intricate and some parts are melodic which some people like, but it definitely takes talent to write and play some of those riffs. I have been in and out of bands since the fifth grade, some of them cover bands. I've done things from Green Day to Slayer. They were fun, but I never really saw myself take it too seriously. Once I joined the Marine Corps I pretty much stopped playing the guitar altogether. I never had the time anymore. Luckily I was put into a position that prepared me to get out which allowed more time for myself, which, of course, allowed me the opportunity to be a part of this band.
For the readers unfamiliar with Always The Understudy, How would you describe the music your band plays? The genre is considered to be Hardcore/Metalcore. It’s heavy to say the least. We tune low and shake the walls. We see mosh pits at all our shows and people going crazy. We love it. It’s almost like they're putting on a show for us.
What has been some of the influences on your music? Number 1 and 2 for me is The Devil Wears Prada and For Today. They’re both Christian hardcore bands that spread the word of God through music. They were both at Warped Tour and were both amazing. Others include Miss May I, Born of Osiris, Of Mice and Men, etc...
Other than music, do you have any other creative interests? Working out and staying in shape is about the only other things I have time for. I really try to take my time at the gym seriously but between the band, work, and the gym I'm also juggling school. Next month I'll have my AA in Marketing and in September I'll be finishing up my BA at California State University.
Since you’re originally from the Chattanooga, Tennessee area. Do you plan to bring the band to the South East anytime soon? Anytime soon? Probably not unless we get signed soon. Touring East is definitely in the cards but we don't have the time or money to do that anytime soon. To my understanding, we have a pretty decent fan base out there so it would be cool to tour out that way. Hopefully, in the future. With how fast everything has been happening to us, there's no telling what’s next in store.
Surely, you’ve attended many concerts. What are some of your favorite concerts memories as a fan? My favorite memory was when I went to my first rock concert. I was a freshman, I think. It was only myself and a buddy of mine. It was at the Cricket Pavilion [Now called the First Tennessee Pavilion] in Chattanooga and Saliva was playing. I mainly remember being deaf for about 2 days and at the very end of the show, Chris S'Abaldo, Saliva's lead guitarist threw out his pick and I caught it. It made my day! Because of that day, I now do the same after every show. When I see kids pushing and shoving for a pick, I feel like I'm looking at myself 10 years ago.
What are some of your favorite bands outside of your genre? Honestly there's so much! From blues to rap, I listen to it all. I could just put Pandora on shuffle and be happy.
Last question... Is there anything else you want Concert Hoppers to know? Don't be afraid to support local bands in your area. The more we neglect them, the more artists we're gonna see like Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber. We the people decide what we want for music so don't let your opinions go unheard. Lastly if any of you are fans of Always The Understudy, thank you so much for the support you have shown us and keep it up. If you wanna know or see more of what we're up to as far as pics or show dates, check us out at www.facebook.com/alwaystheunderstudy and give us a like. Or find us on Instagram @alwaystheunderstudy.