by Will Hennegan : 07.30.2003
Upon entering Wakefield’s famous Winnebago, I noticed their X-box which gets used heavily on long drives like the 3 hour one they had just completed, a drawer full of candy for their sugar rush needed before sets, and a faint smell of incense. Ryan Escolopio had some business to take care of before the show with Mike Schoolden, but I got to chat with Aaron Escolopio and JD Tennyson for the interview. Aaron Escolopio was quiet spoken, but everything he did say was very interesting, while JD was very open, talkative, and full of energy.
Wakefield’s opening slot set was short but sweet to be sure. It was their second time playing in New Orleans; the first of which was a few months earlier on their tour with Home Grown. They started off with some of their most positive sounds off of “American Made” like “Give Me A Reason” and “Un-Sweet Sixteen,” then kept in touch with their roots as a cover band and started “Sold Out” with a Metallica cover. Towards the end of their set, they even squeezed in their remake of Boston’s “More Than A Feeling” as a thank-you for the other bands. The quartet from Maryland was doing what they loved best: Playing their music for fans that knew the lyrics just as well as they did.
Music Frisk’s Will Hennegan: What do you think of New Orleans so far?
Aaron Escolopio: We just pulled in, so we saw this block, that’s about it.
JD Tennyson: We worked our way down there (Bourbon Street) for a little while earlier. We’re going to try and go back tonight. I think we’re going to get an hour or two after the show to stick around.
MF: Has Wakefield faced any difficulties as a result of your age?
JD Tennyson: I know we did. Me and Ryan were 15 when we first started our band and first started touring and we got so much crap for it. Just be cause no one takes us seriously, and especially at clubs when we were playing 21+ shows and we were 16, so they wouldn’t let us in the building until it was time for us to play.
Aaron Escolopio: Yea, they made us wait outside, wouldn’t give us dressing rooms.
JD Tennyson: It sucked, but we couldn’t do anything about it.
MF: You were quoted saying that many other punk bands sound depressed. What makes you guys different?
JD Tennyson: We just try and have fun really. It’s about positive experiences as well as negative experiences that we have. We don’t just focus on the bad or the good. I’m into depressing stuff. I like to be depressed every now and then, but I think the main thing is probably the harmonies when you have that many people singing; it just sounds happier. That’s what my grandmother always said.
Aaron Escolopio: Yea you can sing about depressing stuff with harmony that makes it happy.
MF: How do you like your label, Arista?
Aaron Escolopio: (laughs)Really Stupid.
Aaron Escolopio: Stupidly great.
JD Tennyson: Yea we’ve been happy so far. We’ve been really fortunate with everything that’s happened to our band for the past couple years.
MF: How do you like touring with The Matches and the very experienced Reel Big Fish?
JD Tennyson: So far it’s been good. The guys have been great. All the guys on the tour are really nice.
Aaron Escolopio: Actually Zebrahead just left last night; they went to Japan, so I miss those guys already.
JD Tennyson: Yea those guys were great. Our RV broke down for a while, and we actually had to split up and a couple of us went with Reel Big Fish and a couple of us went with Zebrahead on their buses; they were nice enough to help us out. The venues have been great-all the venues have been really nice. The kids have been showing up. We’ve had a lot of sold out shows. Reel Big Fish has a real big fan base.
MF: What was it like touring with All American Rejects and Homegrown before this tour?
JD Tennyson: We’ve been trying to tour with Homegrown since we started. That was our main goal for a couple years.
Aaron Escolopio: Yea that was on our band to-do list.
MF: So then you had to set higher goals?
JD Tennyson: Yea, then we were like, “What do we do now?”
Aaron Escolopio: Rage Against The Machine broke up.
JD Tennyson: So now we’re shooting for an Elvis Costello tour or something like that.
MF (to Aaron): Out of the two of you, who would win in a fight?
Aaron Escolopio: Ryan. He’s quick.
MF: You have size on him though.
Aaron Escolopio: He’s feisty.
JD Tennyson: Yea he is feisty.
MF (to Aaron): What was it like growing up in a musical family? What effects did it have on your band’s creation?
Aaron Escolopio: Honestly, it was always there. It was kind of like being force fed stuff all day, so it kind of pushed us away from it for a little bit. Then we realized how cool it was and how awesome it was just always there.
MF: What’s it like having your families so involved in the band?
Aaron Escolopio: I don’t think we’d be anywhere without his (JD’s) family or my family.
JD Tennyson: Yea they’ve helped us out a lot. They’ve supported us from the beginning through everything. They’ve been there since day one. They’ve always helped us out and gave us rides and let us borrow money.
Aaron Escolopio: I think we still owe them eight billion dollars each. We’re working on it. Without either of them it would be ridiculously hard to try.
MF: Mike’s bio on your website says his nickname is Mexykan Ju? Where did that nickname originate?
JD Tennyson: I think Mike just has a tan and his dad had a tan-they’re Italians but he’s like Sicilian, but we always called him Mexican just because it made him mad. For some reason, being Jewish was negative in a way. Nothing against the Jews or anything but it just it just sounded good after the Mexican part.
Aaron Escolopio: I’m actually Irish, German, and Sicilian. We’re actually the only Escolopio’s in America.
JD Tennyson: Yea, they got deported.
Aaron Escolopio: We did, long story.
(At this point, Aaron opened a drawer overflowing with candy and offered me some.)
MF (to Aaron): How did you come to your decision to leave Good Charlotte? Do you think it was fate acting on behalf of Wakefield?
Aaron Escolopio: These guys were writing songs and stuff in the studio while I was on tour and sending them to me. They were awesome songs and I ended up listening to them a lot. Then I’d come home and jam with them and stuff. It just got to a point where there was some stuff going on with the band and I just wasn’t really happy. When I’m playing music and thinking I’m not happy it didn’t make sense. I just fell into place here, it was weird.
MF: I read that you were supposed to be on the 9/11 flight to L.A. that hit the Pentagon. What made you decide not to fly that day?
JD Tennyson: That was creepy.
Aaron Escolopio: We were working on a few songs before we went out to do the record. We felt like if we had one more week we could finish this one song.
JD Tennyson: We just wanted more songs to take out there as possibilities for the record. We had been writing non-stop; we weren’t quite ready. We didn’t want to be out there wasting money.
Aaron Escolopio: We actually flew out on the exact same flight, just a week later. We booked it before it happened.
JD Tennyson: We almost didn’t go after that.
MF: How has that changed your outlook on things and your music?
JD Tennyson: We all feel blessed. We thank God every day. We all carry around our St. Christopher medals.
Aaron Escolopio: Our first flight out, JD’s whole family comes out to the airport. His grandma came and gave us all St. Christopher medals. We all have them stashed in little places in the RV, so nothing’s happened yet.
JD Tennyson: Yea, we’ve had so many close calls. We’ve jumped medians and landed in the wrong lane.
Aaron Escolopio: He got ran off the road by a trucker, like strait out of a Pee-Wee Herman movie.
JD Tennyson: We got caught up a mountain once in the rain and our brakes wouldn’t hold. Our trailer almost went off the edge of the cliff.
Aaron Escolopio: Yea that was like, something out of City Slickers or something. I’m on a movie kick.
JD Tennyson: Yea that was a rough day. We’ve probably popped every tire on the RV twice. We’ve never gotten into accidents though.
MF: You guys are tenacious.
JD Tennyson: Well you can’t stop. You just keep going until it kills you pretty much…