Anniversary tours have been popping up like crazy as some of the albums my generation grew up on come of age. Currently Say Anything, Saves the Day and Reggie and the Full Effect are touring together to celebrate the joint 10-year anniversaries for their albums …is a Real Boy, through being cool and under the tray..., which includes a stop at Cleveland’s House of Blues on December 6th.
While in the midst of rehearsal with Gerard Way, James Dewees, the eccentric frontman of Reggie and the Full Effect, was kind enough to take a break to talk to us about the tour, fake blood and the untapped indie rock scene of…Alaska. You don’t want to pass up getting to know this man!
So how’s rehearsal going?
It’s good. I’m doing the keyboard work for Gerard Way for his solo stuff, just to fill in some of the time between tours. Yeah, we have a couple shows, so it’ll be fun. We’ve been friends for a really long time and then we did My Chemical Romance together, so we get along musically really well.
Awesome. Well, let’s talk a little bit about this anniversary tour that you’re going on in the winter.
It’s gonna be a lot of fun!
Yeah, I’m excited! What inspired the decision to go on an anniversary tour?
Well, Max from Say Anything and Chris from Saves the Day, we’re all good friends, and the idea was kind of proposed about what do you think about doing this and it sounded awesome. We’re all older now and we all have records that have been out for a long time. It’s weird being in your late 30s and realizing how long it’s been since records have come out.
Well, it’s weird as a listener, too, when you see these sorts of things pop up and you think, Oh my God, that album came out that long ago!
Oh, yeah. It’s wild. Get Up Kids are turning twenty next year and that’s insane! So Reggie’s twentieth, I guess, would be like 2017. Maybe 2016 Reggie turns 20 because I did the first recording back in ’96, which is just crazy.
Those were the first demos that went on the greatest hits.
So you’ll have to have a huge blowout for that, too.
Yeah, well you know. It’ll be fun. When Reggie turns 20, I’m sure we’ll have a party.
I remember the last time you came to Cleveland you had a pretty good party at the Grog Shop.
Yeah, well, Kathy’s a good friend. Anytime we come to Cleveland, it’s always a really good time. I love Cleveland, it’s such a great place to play.
It’s a great place to live, too.
Yeah, my mom’s from a small town outside of Dayton, called Kettering, so I’ve been going back and forth to Ohio my whole life.
So what do you think makes the Midwest different from the West Coast?
I think you have to try a lot harder. There’s not just a scene because it’s New York or Los Angeles. In the Midwest, it’s a lot different to be from Kansas City, and it’s a lot of the same stuff in Cleveland. You guys have the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and all that, but that has nothing to do with the indie rock scene. You guys have to make the scene happen and that makes everybody care about it so much more because you have to put time and energy into it, which makes it so much cooler. You’re still doing it DIY and there’s something about that, that it can only be done in the Midwest. Maybe Alaska, too, since they don’t get too many tours up there. There’s probably some wild indie rock scene up there that no one knows about.
Yeah, we gotta tap into that shit!
Yeah, I’m sure they only play shows three months a year.
So, how do you prepare for an anniversary tour of an album versus one where you’ve got to build a setlist?
Well, it’s funny because everything is pretty easy. I hired the band Pentimento from Buffalo to be the Full Effect for this tour and they’re all amazing musicians, so they’ve made my job really easy where all I have to do is just show up and sing.
You just jumped my next question! I was going to ask about the lineup because Reggie and the Full Effect is always shifting.
Well, I was talking to the guys when we went on the No Country for Old Musicians tour together and we became some really good friends. Mike and Jerry and I talk all the time and I was just like, you guys want to do this? And they said, yeah, we’d love to. It’s cool because they’re young enough that they were fans of Say Anything, Saves the Day and Reggie when these tours were actually happening years ago.
So, that’s got to be a cool experience for them, then, to be a part of that this time around.
I hope it is. I think it will be. Sometimes things get weird on tour. With Reggie tours, it’s always a really good time. There hasn’t been one bad tour, it’s always been kind of just show up and play and have a good time, that’s kind of the whole outlook of the band in general—having fun.
So, when your lineup is always shifting, is there something more you learn from playing with all these different musicians than maybe you would with playing with a constant lineup?
I don’t know. I guess because I do serious bands that have serious lineups with a lot of my other projects, with Reggie it’s always fun to rotate and have my friends come in and do it. There’s no pressure on it, nobody’s worried about anything and you’re just coming in to have a good time. Walking in with that attitude makes it a lot easier to pick up an instrument and play. I’m not a stickler for wrong notes or anything like that. Just have fun, do what you want, here’s what the song sounds like, do your best.
That’s pretty straightforward and simple.
Yeah, to me this project has always been my fun thing to do. It has to be taken seriously, from the business aspect, because doing costumes and fake blood and all that stuff costs a lot of money. I can’t just make it my project where I waste thousands of dollars every time I go on tour. But at the same time, it’s done smart and you’re still allowed to be on the road having a good time and knowing that you’re not going broke in the process of it.
So how did you learn to balance that business aspect with the fun aspect?
It took like about six years to figure it out. Since 2006, when I have that time to do Reggie, it’s been just staying on top of everything, making sure that things are ordered way ahead of time and you’re not buying last minute blood. Last minute blood gets expensive.
I mean, that could be pretty easy if it’s an October tour.
Yeah, well, but there’s lots of different types of blood. You want to make sure you get the good stuff.
We don’t cheap out on the blood. There’s no Party City blood.
That’s good. I’m glad.
I wouldn’t do that to the fans.
What would you say is one of the biggest lessons you’ve learned from touring in the past ten years?
Save your money. If you’re lucky enough to be a musician and make some sort of living doing it, unless you’re just in a band that gets nationally huge, guarantees always go down at some point. At some point, you’ve maxed out and you’ll have a core fan base that will still come see you, but you know, a lot of the younger generation now that are getting into indie bands and stuff like that, they’re into the bands that are their generation. Having them come to Reggie, they’re just seeing what’s this old man doing in his underwear covered in blood? They’re not necessarily like, oh, I’m gonna buy one of their t-shirts. There are some kids that do that, but for the most part, you know they wanna see the younger bands and that’s cool because that’s how the scene stays alive. But on this tour, that’s why there are three veteran bands that are going out together, where it’s like we’ve been able to celebrate and have success with all of our projects over the years and this is kind of just about all of us being friends and getting together to play this anniversary tour.
That’s going to be so much fun.
It’s going to be great.
Is there a song on the album that you’re most excited to play live?
I love playing Happy V-Day. That’s one of my favorite Reggie songs.
Clearly, Cleveland agreed that this show is a must-see because it is sold out! Those of you lucky enough to hold tickets, sing loudly. We’ll see you there and have a full review following!