I find that one of the best things about attending large music festivals is the opportunity to see performances and hear music from bands that I have never heard of. Such was the case on The Warped Tour this year when I stumbled upon the band, Tip The Van. They were beginning their set on the Kevin Says stage and I was immediately captivated by their energy and charisma. Tip The Van really defy any attempt at categorization as they smoothly and adeptly transcend many different genres, melding them into music that I feel is brilliant and quite inventive. With lots of guitars, varied tempo tunes and fantastic lyrical hooks that are attention-grabbing and listener-friendly these guys brought down the house. It was obvious that I was not the only one that felt this way as a very large crowd had gathered to see them play as well. I really enjoyed the band’s performance and was quite excited to catch up with them later on in the day to learn more about them. Singer Nicole Oliva and bassist Bryan Howard were more than happy to oblige me.

How is the tour going so far?
Nicole: It is going really well. Today is our second day on The Warped Tour and we have been rocking it. People have been showing up and singing along. We have had big crowds. There was a really big crowd out there today even in the two hundred degree weather.

Bryan: Yeah that is what surprises me man. That some of these kids are going to like 7 or 8 shows and they are dancing and going nuts at all of them.

You are right they are out there going nuts.
Bryan: I am only 25 and I don’t have that kind of energy.

You mentioned that this is your second day on The Warped Tour. Are you playing through the rest of the tour or do you hop off at a later date?
Nicole: We are playing until Chicago on the 31st and then we are going to follow it out to Los Angeles where we are going to shoot a video at the end of the summer. So we are going to follow it out there and sell some merchandise.

What is going on after that? Are there any other tours in the works?
Bryan: We are going to tour ourselves back. We kind of booked our own tour. We are not on a label so we just did it on our own. We booked some small club gigs and bars and stuff to put gas in the vehicle. We plan to be back on the East Coast in early September and then go home and steal from our parents.

Tell me about your new release.
Nicole: Well the single is called “Refuse The Tide.” It is going to be the title track to the new EP. We haven’t picked a release date yet. We are trying to shop the single around to see if anyone is interested. But regardless we will be releasing it in September or October. It is really good. Our producers name is Matt Robnett and he is phenomenal. He helped us out a lot. It is the first recording that we have done where I am really really proud of the quality. I have always been proud of the songs but the quality in this just blew me away.

Is that the song you are shooting the video for?
Nicole: Yes.

What was the writing process like for this EP? Did you guys all write together?
Bryan: We have been together with this lineup for a little over two years now and the bulk of that time has been spent trying to figure out how to write with each other. We have six people in the band, if you have a three piece punk band it is a little bit easier to write songs and not have people object. So the past two years has been us trying to figure out how to write as a group. Actually the album came together in maybe a month. Once we realized how it worked it kind of clicked.

Are you fairly quick in the studio?
Bryan: Yeah under a month.

Nicole: Yeah we were only supposed to spend two weeks recording and we spent a month. Matt gave us as much time as we wanted and we just made sure we got the best performances and that everything worked.

Do you guys spend a lot of time tweaking tones?
Nicole: Yes absolutely.

Bryan: She has an ear for it I just don’t. She did a lot.

Nicole: I have been in studios forever working with producers and I have also helped produce people. I just need to make sure everything is right. I have to have my hands in the pot for sure.

So you are going to be self-financing this upcoming tour then?
Nicole: Yes, we have been. This whole time everything has been DIY. We released one album on a label back in the day but everything since then has been done by ourselves.

I have seen your live show but I have not heard your recordings. What can fans expect when they pick up copy of your new EP?
Nicole: Female fronted indie-power pop… that is what this record came out as. We have played Ska songs in the past, we have played Rock and Roll songs in the past but I think this is a pretty good balance. We have trombones and we have a lot of synthesizer stuff that really rocks.

You say Pop but when I was sitting in the audience it came across a bit heavier.
Bryan: Yeah it is a little heavier in the live setting.

Nicole: Yeah it is catchy. I think power-pop that is catchy and forceful.

Bryan: It has good hooks.

When I think of pop I think more along the lines of bubble gum kind of stuff and your live performance was definitely not that.
Nicole: No there is a little harder edge and it is serious.

Well I did not know who you guys were and was not planning on doing this today but your show was great and I just ran into you here when I came in to get some air.
Bryan: Well honestly this is the second day and compared to the first day it was better. You learn about the stage setup and stuff like that but we were really, really happy with the way it went today. It all came across the way we wanted it to sound… heavy with an edge.

Nicole: It is serious subject matter. It is very personal and very raw.

Since you opened that can of worms where do you get your inspiration when writing your songs?
Nicole: I write a lot of the lyrics and I think a lot of my lyrics come from crappy breakups and situations with people. I think am not very good about telling people how I feel right away. So I write a song about it and alter it and edit it down and then the song comes out.

So would you say there is a theme behind the record then?
Nicole: Well, “Refuse The Tide” is about how life gets overwhelming and some situations are hard to handle but you just have to be able to keep your barrier up.

Bryan: And not get swept away by all the problems.

Any closing words?
Bryan: Check us out on all the social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook and Myspace. Check us out… give us a chance.

Nicole: We will see you on our tour through the States in September.  [ END ]