My very detailed account of the transition.
Hi my name is Ashley. I’m going to tell you about how my dreams came true. Obviously I’m a fantastic writer. Did that intro not blow you away? Ok, you got me. This is actually my first attempt at extracting the experiences from my head and translating them into an enjoyable set of stories. If you’re into things like touring, live music, friends, and pizza, then you may enjoy it. If you’re not into things like poor grammar and Judy Blume, then you may not enjoy it. Either way, this is the collection of events that lead me to my dream job on the Vans Warped Tour.
I’ll start with a little background info. I was a normal 18-year-old kid in the beginning of 2007. A bright and promising future was ahead of me. I was going to go to college and become a doctor. Get married and start a family, you know, the whole “successful” life my parents expected me to have. Pffffft. It sounds pretty ridiculous now. Here’s what actually happened:
I tried really hard. At first. But then I started making friends who weren’t trying to get into med school, and it was beyond difficult to concentrate on anything other than boys, parties, and the beach. Hawaii probably isn’t the best place to live if focusing on school is your main priority. After a year of barely passing my classes and a summer ruined by chemistry, I knew I had to figure out a new direction. Doctors are cool and all but that shit is not for me. Thanks to this realization, I was back at square one. The timing was impeccable. That summer I decided to go to my first Warped Tour, mainly to see my favorite band, Angels & Airwaves. Little did I know that day would forever change me. I fell in love with all of it. These kids were just like me. These bands were having so much fun. And they got to travel around the country doing it all summer?! It was one of the best days of my life, and I knew I had to become a part of that world. I just had absolutely no idea how.
After that experience, I had to go back to my awful pre-med requirements. I was miserable. Luckily I had my mid-life crisis when I was 19. A very condensed version of my inner dialogue would’ve gone something like this: “What am I going to do with my life? What do I even enjoy doing? I like music. I like traveling. It has to be fun. I’ll start a band! I wonder if my parents are going to be cool with this. My friends are going to think I’m crazy. Fuck it. I’m doing it anyways.” Fast forward a couple of years through two more colleges and a degree in Show Production, and I was finally on the right track. Spoiler alert: my band didn’t work out. Turns out you need talent and creativity to write music. Good music, at least. It’s ok though because I had finally figured out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I was a bona fide sound and lighting engineer. That’s what I thought anyways. The real world wasn’t as open to the idea. Every company and band that I applied to work for wanted something I didn’t have… previous experience. Dun dun dun. How was I going to get experience if no one would let me work for them? A few months of unemployment after graduation had me feeling pretty down. Giving up just wasn’t an option for me, though. I finally got a lead from my school’s career development advisor about a production company in Denver, and I got the job. It was awesome getting to work huge concerts at the Pepsi Center and Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater. But it wasn’t steady work and with my looming student loan payments, I had to get a “normal” full time job. I hated this. I felt like it was taking me back in the wrong direction. The first time I had to miss working a show because I was already scheduled to work at my other shitty job was depressing to say the least. I was ashamed of myself for not putting my dreams first and promised to never let it happen again. Most employers aren’t too fond of paying people who skip out for other obligations, so, as you may have guessed, I’ve had my fair share of minimum wage jobs. It sucks that you have to pay your bills even if you have yet to be successful in your career field. This vicious job cycle went on for three years. During that time I met some dudes that were also into music and traveling and had big dreams for their bands. They ended up being a bunch of losers. Huge dead end. Just kidding. They’re the greatest guys and my best friends now. So pop punk. Anyways, I finally had like-minded friends. They reignited my love and hope for the music industry. A new band was started, and I was fortunate enough to be asked about lighting ideas for their live shows. I was more focused than ever before. It didn’t matter that I wasn’t getting paid for working with this band. I didn’t even care that it was the experience I needed to move forward with my career. I had even forgot about trying to work for all those companies that still wouldn’t give me a chance. I was finally doing what I loved to do. (Still am. If you don’t already know, the band I work for is Autumn Creatures. If you don’t already know, you should listen to them. It’s no big deal really, but we’re going to Japan in a month. Touring the world with my best friends was once a far-fetched dream, but it’s happening. And I couldn’t be more excited about it.)
Let me back up a little and tell you how another one of my dreams came true. Remember how I said I wanted to be a part of Warped Tour? Ok, I’m getting there. In August of 2012, I received another lead from my advisor about a job with a very successful and prestigious production company that I would love to work for. I sent in my resume without much hope for a response, but they asked me to fly down to Orlando for an interview. Holy shit. This was a big deal. I was so nervous that day, but, by my logic, I had a decent chance of getting this job. Lol. I was wrong. (Trust me, it’s worthy of a lawl.) I was once again crushed and felt like I was never going to catch my break. Are you familiar with the phrase everything happens for a reason? I wanted that job so much but had I gotten it, I wouldn’t have been available the next summer. I didn’t think that was of any importance, though, until March 2013. Yet again, I received another lead from my advisor. (Thanks for sticking it out with me, Full Sail.) This time it was about an intern position for an assistant sound engineer on the Vans Warped Tour. Cue the heavenly angel chorus. I didn’t think it could be real. My dream job? No touring experience needed?! I immediately responded and practically begged my advisor to get me this job. It wasn’t up to him, though. All he could do was pass on my resume to the stage manager, then it was up to me from there. Great. That worked out so well for me in the past. I decided not to tell anyone outside my family that I had applied. It was hard keeping quiet around my friends, but I figured I’d save myself the embarrassment when I got rejected again. I was one in over a hundred people that wanted this gig. Might as well have been one in a million to me. But then, a couple weeks later I got an email from a Brian Marquis, who just happened to be the stage manager I could potentially work for on Warped Tour. He wanted to set up a phone interview. Alright, by now I’ve definitely got my hopes up. My nerves were shot the day of the interview. I had to work that morning and just remember being so stressed that I would miss the call. I finally got home and tried to review my notes. So here I am sitting in my room staring at my phone. Literally just holding my phone in my hand and staring at it. Time did not exist. Then it rang. We talked for almost an hour, and I can’t remember much more than thinking to myself, “I really hope that didn’t sound stupid.”
After two days of excruciating anxiety, I was hanging at Alex’s apartment when I got the call. I just ran outside saying, “I have to take this.” It was 5:19pm on Wednesday, April 10th, 2013. The call was only two minutes long. Brian just wanted to let me know that I got the job.
There simply aren’t words. I was shaking. I could not believe it. I was going to be a sound engineer on the entire Warped Tour. *insert loud exclamation here* I ran back inside with more energy than a toddler on a sugar high. I could’ve exploded with happiness but instead did an awkward victory dance around the living room while I broke the news to Alex. I think the first person I called to tell was my sister, Lindsey. She was one of the only people that knew how badly I wanted this and had helped me cope with the application process. She may have been just as excited as I was based on the ear-piercing scream she sent through the phone. I called my parents next. Then everyone else in my contacts. The next day it was Facebook official. It was the most excited I had ever been in my life. The anticipation was killing me, and I still had to wait two months til the tour started.
In an attempt to recreate that feeling for anyone who read all of this and may want to find out what the tour was like, I will leave you hanging. Not for too long, I swear. I’m at the best part so if you decide to tune in next time, I promise it’ll be much better. There will be more pictures. Maybe even a video or two. I had to master the power of Microsoft Word before I could move on to more advanced technology. Seriously though, thank you for reading this. If you only take away one thing from it, I hope it’s motivation to genuinely believe in yourself and your dreams. As cheesy as it sounds, they might just come true. (Now that’s some Jiminy Cricket shit right there. Killed it.)