Stick to Your Guns is a band from Orange, California that has been in the hardcore music scene for more than 10 years. The band recently ended its headlining tour called the “Fuck the Message Tour”, in support of its latest album “Diamond.” This was the band’s first and last U.S. headlining tour for the album, which was released in March of 2013.
The tour was a 23-date trek with no days off, that started March 21 in San Diego, made stops all around the country, as well as Canada, and ended near the band’s home base at Chain Reaction in Anaheim on April 12. The tour included support from: Terror, Hundredth, Expire and Counterparts.
The meaning behind the name of the tour is that the band members want to inspire their fans to go out in their community and contribute. Many bands in today’s hardcore music scene want to claim that their music has a message, but do not always execute the message. Their sound is more important to them than the words being said.
A few days prior to the tour ending, James, talked about how the tour came about with the other bands.
“When it came time to do this headliner, we wanted to make it a package of hardcore bands that we knew our die-hard fans would really appreciate, but also so that new fans could come and check us out and that they would be exposed to, you know, the rest of the bands that are on this tour, like Terror, Counterparts, Hundredth and Expire,” said James.
Hardcore music deals with constant stage diving and crowd surfing. Some venues put barriers between fans and the stage and may have security to catch crowd surfers and restrict stage diving. The band could have easily played bigger venues but wanted to keep the tour limited to smaller ones so the shows can be more intimate for the fans.
“[In] the small venue, the fans are able to connect a little bit more because it’s less likely for there to be a barrier,” said James. “So kids are able to get on stage quicker or easier and just really be able to connect with the band. We grew up going to shows in small clubs and the memories we personally have are seeing our favorite bands in small clubs and we just kind of wanted to do that same thing with this tour.”
Even though Stick to Your Guns have been around since 2003, James has only been in the band since 2011. The 30-year-old played in Evergreen Terrace before accepting a full-time role with Stick to your Guns.
James said when he was 12 or 13 years old, his mom, out of nowhere, told he, and his brother Caleb, that they needed to learn an instrument. After turning down his mother’s suggestion to learn saxophone, James counter-offered with drums or guitar. His mom said that guitar would be the right choice because drums would be too loud.
James took lessons from a teacher but was fed up shy of a month because he didn’t feel he was learning.
“It made no sense what he was actually teaching me and one day I brought in a Misfits tape and I asked him, ‘How do I play this?’” said James. “And he showed me what a power chord was. And then I said, ‘Ok, thanks.’ And I never went back. And I just learned how to play power chords.”
James said that drummer Schmitz, 24, who has been in the band since 2008, should explain how he got into Stick to Your Guns because it is a great story.
“I was sitting behind that band’s merch table, just selling their merch for them and I was tapping on my practice pad,” said Schmitz. “It was before doors and I was bored, and Jesse came up to me and asked, ‘Hey, you look like you know what you’re doing. Do you want to play drums for our band? It’s not working out with our drummer.’ And so I said ‘Yes.’ I learned all their songs in a day and joined them on the tour”
Schmitz was a complete stranger and the lead singer of a well-known hardcore band asked him if he wanted to join. He was in the right place at the right time.
“Six years in and I can’t complain,” said Schmitz. “It was the best decision I’ve ever made with my life.”
Even though music takes up a big part of his life with his line of work, Schmitz is also very passionate about comic books.
“It takes up a good majority of my life,” said Schmitz. “I wanted to find something, or not find something, I wanted to reconnect with, I guess comic books because I had been into comic books when I was a kid. Superheroes has always been a big part of my life and up to middle school I was, like, an avid collector and I kind of fell out of it in high school when I got back in a band.
…I’m always checking out new shops and it’s great because I’ve been able to like, make that connection with some of the people who like our band or who like our band, or hardcore or whatever and it’s so cool talking to them on Twitter or on Instagram or whatever and then I realize that I could talk to them at shows. We’ll trade gifts and stuff and comics and talk about series what what’s going to happen next in what series. It’s so cool to see the meshing of those two communities through my love for superheroes and being in this band.”
Schmitz attended a Green Day show on their “Warning Tour” when he was 11 and since then, being in a band was the only thing he want to do with his life.
“I always like to say that, ‘If my parents wanted to go back in time and stop me from being a musician, they wouldn’t have taken me to that show,’” said Schmitz.
For those who have yet to attend a Stick to Your Guns show, the Kansas City born and raised drummer, who now resides in Seattle, Washington, explained what can be expected.
“You can expect a room of, hopefully, not similar people, but similar spirited people,” said Schmitz. “They’re in tune or in sync with one another. That bond is like a positive, like a positive aggression. It’s a room full of people who love this music, who love what this music has done for them. [They] believe in this music and they want to express that at the show. It may be crazy, it may get a little out of hand sometimes, but it is all about the experience. The positive experience that is coming to a Stick to Your Guns show.”
The second date of the “Fuck the Message Tour” was actually part of a festival show at A Day to Remember’s inaugural “Self Help Festival” in San Bernardino. This performance was in front of thousands of fans as opposed to the hundreds the band played each night for the duration of the tour.
“Self Help was insane,” said Schmitz. “Playing those [festival] sets is always crazy…I think it’s a great opportunity for us to, like, I guess branch out and, you know, get some more kids watching us that have never seen us, but I don’t think anything is a good substitute for an intimate club show.”
Stick to Your Guns recently released a cover of a Florence and the Machine song, “Dog Days are Over,” for a compilation album that their label, Sumerian Records, is releasing next month. Band manager Ryan Nelson, 29, talked about how the band came to get one of the most popular Florence and the Machine songs to cover.
“The owner of Sumerian [Records], who’s also a good friend of ours, is a big fan of Florence and the Machine,” said Nelson. “He had wanted each band on the label to pick a Florence song and cover it according to their specific style, taste and so on.”
The band was hesitant at first about doing a cover song after being rejected in the past by another label for a previous cover song. After a little bit of time looking over the songs that were suggested, they settled on “Dog Days are Over” because no other band claimed it.
The future for the hardcore quintet will only hope to bring more success with a new album coming out later this year.
“The band did just finish recording their next album which we’re all very proud of and anxious to get working on,” said Nelson. “We have some great touring lined up in the fall of 2014…In the fall we have some great touring that we’re going to release this new album around and that’s what’s coming up for them.”
The band recorded the album with legendary producer John Feldmann, who has worked with bands such as: The Used, Story of the Year, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and Good Charlotte. Like in past Stick to Your Guns albums, you can expect guest appearances. Many of the band’s friends contributed, including: Scott Vogel of Terror, Walter Delgado from Rotting Out and Toby Morse from H2O.
Even though the “Fuck the Message Tour” recently ended, the band is already touring in Europe.