With The Interrupters, Tour is a Family Affair

The Interrupters
The Interrupters Photo by Robert Ortiz, courtesy of Epitaph Records

Even though he’s making the journey with his brothers, Kevin Bivona – guitarist for the popular ska-punk outfit The Interrupters – assured us that a 40-date tour isn’t much like a family vacation. It’s hard to catch the attractions in any particular city when you’re there to be that night’s main attraction, for instance. But, Bivona said there is a kinship of sorts that forms whenever the band hits the road, as it has this week in support of its smash album, Fight the Good Fight.

“I wouldn’t necessarily use the word ‘vacation,’ but there’s definitely a camaraderie that comes along with it. I mean, being that we are like a family band, we extend that to everyone in our tour, in our traveling party and even into our audience. We do try to make it a very inclusive-feeling experience and that means everybody we’re touring with, that’s helping us out, the other bands, our crew, and even the whole entire audience and all of our fans, we have so much respect for all these people that we really hold them to the same regard as family,” Bivona said. “Vacation might not be the word because it is hard work, but it is so rewarding to be able to go out and do what you love and have that shared experience of love and unity. It’s incredible.”

Houstonians have a chance to become part of The Interrupters family experience Saturday night. The band plays Warehouse Live, with support acts Masked Intruder and Rat Boy. The headliners are riding a wave of success that hasn’t been seen in some time for ska-informed acts. Their hit single, “She’s Kerosene,” has been streamed more than seven million times and its video has nearly as many views. The song climbed the Alternative charts and prompted Billboard to dub The Interrupters “the first female-fronted ska band with an alternative radio hit since No Doubt.” Aimee Interrupter (nee Aimee Allen) is the band’s vocalist. She joined the Bivonas – Kevin, bassist Justin and drummer Jesse - to form The Interrupters in 2011.

Since the beginning, it’s been an upward trajectory for the band. They put themselves on the map with sharply-written songs, vivacious live sets and a dedicated touring schedule. Bivona says The Interrupters are quite familiar with Houston and he even has a high-profile friend here.

“On our very first tour we were lucky enough to open for Rancid at the House of Blues in Houston. That was a pretty incredible experience for us, as it was our first show in Houston. And then we came through there on a tour we did with a band called Bad Cop/Bad Cop in 2016, our very first headline tour,” he said. “You know, we’ve been through Texas, but, as you know, Texas is really big. So, I’m really excited to go back and hit Houston again because I’ve got nothing but good memories from there.”

The band also played Warped Tour when the legendary punk tour passed through the city. Their last local visit on that tour was in 2016. Bivona learned nothing can stop Houston’s punk community that day.

“If my memory serves me correctly, it rained that day but we had a great crowd and I remember there’s a picture of us playing from the stage and you just see all these punk rockers with umbrellas. It was awesome.”

Bivona is an accomplished engineer, too. That work allowed him to connect with “The People’s Champ,” Paul Wall.

“Yes, I love Paul Wall! He is like one of the best human beings ever. You know, I spent many years working with Travis Barker in his recording studio, engineering and making beats, and one of the artists that Travis is very close with and has worked very close with is Paul Wall. So, through Travis I got to work with Paul and he’s so cool. I remember, at the time I was doing his record I didn’t have a car and he would come to my apartment and pick me up. He’s just the coolest dude ever, so nice and so humble.”

No word on whether Bivona will be riding slab with Wall to tomorrow night's show at Warehouse Live, but he is excited to meet new Houston friends there. Tomorrow’s set is the third of 40 dates that the band has slated this run, including shows both weekends at Coachella. We asked what the first set of shows on a new run is like for the band.

click to enlarge "Every city we go to, we’re so grateful to just be able to travel there and play our music for people," - PHOTO BY KEVIN KERSLAKE, COURTESY OF EPITAPH RECORDS
"Every city we go to, we’re so grateful to just be able to travel there and play our music for people,"
Photo by Kevin Kerslake, courtesy of Epitaph Records

“There’s two schools of thought. The first, beginning of the tour (means) you’re ironing stuff out, kinda figuring out what works, and there’s a certain excitement to that, like a certain nervous excitement that I think comes across in the show and brings a high level of energy that we love. And then there’s the school of thought that as the tour progresses, you get everything more dialed-in a little tighter but also at the same time as a band you’ve got to be careful to not get set into a way where it could become stale,” he said.

“Our singer, Aimee Interrupter, is so connected to the lyrics in the songs, she wants to make sure every word she sings on stage, she can sing it and mean it every night,” he continued. “So, if there’s ever a point in the tour where it’s like, ‘You know what? This song – I think we should take this one off, we should add this one,’ we do that kind of stuff the whole time because it keeps that freshness and that excitement and that emotion in the set. We don’t ever want to go up there and phone it in. Every city we go to, we’re so grateful to just be able to travel there and play our music for people. Everybody that comes to shows has been anticipating it the same. It doesn’t matter if you’re at the first week of tour, the last week of tour, you’ve got to give them 100 percent of yourself. We try to keep that first week freshness the whole time if we can. That’s kind of our M.O.”

Bivona’s enthusiasm over the phone has us excited and ready for skankin’ at Saturday night’s show. He said the first date in Phoenix is a good indicator for what’s still to come. It may not be a day at Disney, but The Interrupters' family outing has plenty of wild thrills for those who join the fun.

“I gotta tell you, the energy of the crowd with this line-up,” Bivona says with a sigh of admiration. “Rat Boy’s first show ever in the United States was last night in Phoenix. I cannot say enough good things about the people that come to our shows. It’s the most loving, diverse, accepting, amazing group of people and they know if they’re coming on tour with us they show them the same respect that they show us, and they did that for Rat Boy. And Masked Intruder, I was listening from the dressing room as we were getting ready to go on and they would finish a song and the audience was cheering just as loud as the music was. There was this energy in the room and it was like, ‘Wow, this is gonna be a really fun tour.’ It’s a really fun line-up and I think everyone’s going to be super stoked.”

The Interrupters return to Houston Saturday, March 2, at Warehouse Live, 813 St. Emanuel. With Masked Intruder and Rat Boy. Doors at 7 p.m. for this all ages show. $25.
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Jesse’s been writing for the Houston Press since 2013. His work has appeared elsewhere, notably on the desk of the English teacher of his high school girlfriend, Tish. The teacher recognized Jesse’s writing and gave Tish a failing grade for the essay. Tish and Jesse celebrated their 33rd anniversary as a couple in October.