The gallons of blood, sweat and tears that Awake At Last has invested into its music hasn't been in vain.
Though the countless hours of rehearsing songs can be a time-suck, the guys in the progressive rock/pop quartet will receive confirmation that their sacrifice has been worth it when they show off their skills against three other bands in the 17th annual Ernie Ball Battle of the Bands competition on the Vans Warped Tour at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md., this Wednesday.
The guys will perform at the same venue that will include big names like The Used, August Burns Red and Mac Lethal.
"It's been a dream of mine and I speak for everybody in the band," Awake At Last drummer Bryan Mills, 23, of Dover, told the Dover Post on Friday of playing on the Vans Warped Tour. "It's been all of our dreams and we're finally getting ready to do it."
Frontman Vincent Torres might have to pinch himself when he hits the stage today.
"Warped Tour is the first name out of anyone's mouth when you think summer concerts," said Torres, 25, of Smyrna. "Firefly's coming up on their heels, but Warped Tour has been there for 19 years. Just to have that on our resume is just like… ."
The lead singer couldn't even find the words to express the honor that lies before him.
'We're not your typical rock band'
Awake At Last will play four throttling tunes for the judges Wednesday afternoon. While the band's set hadn't been finalized prior to the interview on Friday, the guys said it'll likely include two tracks off AAL's latest EP, "Mansion of Memories," such as "Precious" and the fan favorite "World That Never Was." The latter has been made into a music video using clips from the popular video game series "Kingdom Hearts." After making its YouTube debut less than a month ago, the video for "World That Never Was" has already generated more than 11,700 views.
As for the final two songs during AAL's set, the crew will likely rock out to "Lady Kill." And the final tune is a toss-up between the shiny new "Let it Out" and an unrecorded song tentatively titled "Predicament."
Page 2 of 3 - Regardless of whatever the final song will be, Torres is confident Awake At Last's showmanship and sound is "unique enough to at least make the judges raise an eyebrow," he said. "We're not your typical rock band" since "we have this sort of spooky [vibe] at the end [of our music]. Not to mention, our stage presence is really electrifying, thanks to Tyler [Greene]. Eric [Blackway] and Tyler go crazy on stage."
Tyler (bass) initially played it coy when asked to describe some of his wild antics on stage.
"I can tell you of Eric," Green, of Dover, said of the AAL lead guitarist. "There's not a moment when he's standing still. He's in the air half the time, jumping off [Bryan's] drum set half the time. He's literally everywhere. He's a lot crazier than me."
That's a debatable statement.
"Tyler does spin ninja-kicks," Torres interjected. "He like brings the bass up [high] and he jumps up and throws his foot in the air. Tyler knows how to throw down."
Eventually, Greene decided to join the party.
"I can do bass flips in reverse and forward," Greene said. "I can flip the guitar and spin it behind my head."
Judging and prizes
This year's Battle of the Bands features more than 160 acts in which four will compete at each stop on the Warped Tour and only one will advance from each stop.
The contest is judged by a panel of industry professionals, which includes individuals from the Vans Warped Tour and Ernie Ball. Judges evaluate acts based on their musicianship, originality, ability to draw, songwriting and vocal ability.
The final competition will be held in California, featuring the final four bands. The winner will take home prizes including: a $15,000 shopping spree to Guitar Center, recording a three-song EP with multi-platinum producer John Feldman, a two-week slot on the 2014 Vans Warped tour, custom apparel package from Vans, recording gear from Apogee, a TC Electronics effects package and much more from Reverbnation, Electro-Voice and other Vans Warped Tour sponsors.
"The ideal situation would be to become a band that's discovered at Warped Tour" and "end up on MTV," Torres said. "To really make it [big] from this would be ideal. But what I really want to accomplish is for us to put our foot down as a band and let [people] know we did this on our own. We grinded."
IF YOU GO
WHAT Vans Warped Tour in Washington, D.C.
WHEN 11 a.m., Wednesday
WHERE Merriweather Post Pavilion, 10475 Little Patuxent Parkway, Columbia, Md.
Page 3 of 3 - COST $37.50-$45
INFO vanswarpedtour.com or call (410) 715-5550