Queens quartet Kids of Survival are not strangers to playing the Meadowlands. Last year, the band performed in the parking lot, part of the 2009 Bamboozle Festival. And this weekend, they finally made it inside the complex itself, this time in the unlikely role as the opening act for Bon Jovi. We caught up with the band–Gary Gordon Wallach, bass and lead vocals; Frank Incandela and Mike Avnyin, guitars; Dylan Lipari, drums–on Sunday, in Williamsburg’s McCarren Park, to get the story on how they went from the undercard on a tween punk festival to opening for one of the biggest bands on the planet.
May 2009: you’re playing the Meadowlands parking lot for Bamboozle. May 2010: you’re playing the new arena, opening for Bon Jovi. How did that happen?
Dylan Lipari: Whenever Bon Jovi does his summer tour, he picks different emerging artists to open up each date–via something called OurStage.com, run by MTV–because they were given the same break through a similar opportunity. My mom said we should enter and we never enter contests because you just never win. We kept making bulletins [on Myspace] to vote for us but eventually we all forgot about it, but we made it to the second round. Then we forgot about it again. A month ago, I was laying on the couch, hanging out with my cat, and I had just gotten off the phone with Frank after being on the phone with Gary and before that Mike. I was over being on the phone. I didn’t know the number, but I thought I should probably pick it up. I answered and the other line said, “Hey, is this Dylan from Kids of Survival? I just want to congratulate you, you’re opening up for Bon Jovi.” I said, “Get the fuck out of here,” and I heard a bunch of laughing and she said, “Dylan, you’re on speakerphone.”
You don’t usually play for a Bon Jovi crowd. How would you describe your regular audience?
DL: A lot of like 13, 14 year old girls but as the scene has changed, [fans are more into] more hardcore Day to Remember-type stuff–happy hardcore. That’s the Warped Tour scene, and we don’t fit in. We kind of appeal more to people our age, but we found out everyone above 24-years-old likes it too–from all the Bon Jovi fans who loved us this weekend.
Frank Incandela: The security guards loved us, too. We have our own separate demographic for security guards. We have consistently, every time, won over every security guard. When we play Highline Ballroom, there are five security guards who request to work on our shows.
Are there benefits to winning over security guards beside easy load-ins?
FI: Last night at the Meadowlands, we loaded in our equipment, and parked our van across the street. We weren’t even supposed to be there, but the guy was like, “Alright, you can park there.” At the end of the day, I brought the van back around and the guards got a dog to sniff for bombs just like they did earlier when we arrived and, apparently, this time the dog smelled a bomb in our van. The guards were freaking out. They closed all the gates down. They had me pop my hood, they were in my engine, in the trailer, searched through every little piece of whatever was in the trailer. It took about a half an hour for them to realize it was OK. I almost got arrested. They literally thought I was a terrorist.
DL: The best part was that the bomb sniffing dog didn’t smell anything the first time, so we must have gone home between 12:30 and after we played to get our bombs and come back.
What do you think it could have been?
DL: They asked me if we had any fireworks in the van and I was like, “Hell yeah, dude.” We just got back from tour and we were in the south a lot. Of course we had fireworks. You know, we’re from New York, born and raised, so when we’re in the south, we get like little kids. We see fireworks, we’re super excited. And after we tell him this, the security guard breaks complete tough guy character with his semi-automatic weapon and goes, “Me, too,” and walks away.
FI: The thing about them pointing the finger at me about having a bomb was that I just played the Meadowlands, so nothing could have scared me. A bunch of cops with a bunch of AK-47s were looking at me and I was like, who cares? I just opened up Meadowlands.