MESA, Ariz. (WIVB) — The Wrecks, an alternative rock band based in Los Angeles, with roots in Wellsville, N.Y., recently wrapped up their “Better Than Ever” tour, promoting their new album ‘Sonder.’ The tour could just as easily have been called the “Hotter Than Ever” tour, as heat waves throughout June and July have created new obstacles for the band that they haven’t had to deal with much in the past.
“We had never really done a headlining tour during the summer, so we learned a ton,” frontman Nick Anderson said. “We usually tour in the fall, so it was a wakeup call for us, for sure.”
Despite what the lyrics to “James Dean,” off the band’s 2018 EP “Panic Vertigo” may suggest, Anderson and the band have become adept at being cool, in a very literal sense, as the summer tour moved them to find ways to beat the heat.
At their July 21 show in Mesa, Ariz., the 109-degree temperature forced the band to break out the big guns — water guns, to be specific. They also purchased industrial fans and 600 bottles of water to keep those in attendance from overheating.
‘The hottest show we’ve ever played.’
Anderson said that after the three weeks of touring, the band had gotten a grasp on how to handle the heat, so they were prepared for the Mesa show. He and guitarist Nick “Schmizz” Schmidt both said that the show was the hottest they have ever played.
To counter the sun, The Wrecks bought eight industrial-sized fans from Home Depot for the show, as well as 600 bottles of water, and had friends from Phoenix stop by a Wal-Mart on the way to the show to pick up super soakers and mop buckets.
“When we first showed up to the venue, it was kind of air conditioned. ‘Oh, it’s a little cooler in here, that’s good.’ But the minute that the venue staff showed up and our whole crew was in there and we were setting up, it immediately started getting hotter,” Anderson recalled. “I was like, ‘If it’s warm in here right now with like seven people in the venue, tonight’s going to be a disaster.'”
After consulting with the band’s manager, Anderson asked the venue to bump up the air conditioning. The venue assured him the room would cool down. But 20 minutes later, he knew it wasn’t getting better.
“That’s kind of when we put our foot down and we said, ‘Listen, if we can’t get air conditioning, someone’s got to go to Home Depot and we’ve got to get some massive industrial fans in here.'”
(Super) soak up the sun
Anderson said that the band gave their credit card to the venue to go and purchase the fans, and requested they also pick up 600 bottles of water so the front 2/3 of the crowd could have something to drink, as they’d likely be stuck up front. The band figured the third of the crowd standing toward the back could go to the bar for water, or step outside for fresh air, if needed.
As for the super soakers, Anderson said that was all Schmidt.
“Schmizz had this idea right before we went on. How did it even come up?” he asked his bandmate.
“We were all just talking about ways to cool down and I walked onstage with a bag of ice on my neck,” Schmidt replied. “We were all just trying to stay cool. I was like, ‘We should bring some super soakers out here, that’d be rad.’ And it was totally hypothetical.”
But that hypothetical scenario turned into a reality when The Wrecks’ friends from Phoenix came through with the goods.
“We didn’t know when in the set we were going to have to stop, but there was a good moment when everyone needed a break. We were all out of breath and sweating, just dripping — everyone in the crowd,” Anderson said. “So we took a break and we cued up ‘Soak Up the Sun’ by Sheryl Crow, and we just started soaking the fans with water. It was like one of those montage moments in a movie, it was just really fun.”
So much fun, in fact, that any worries of damaging equipment were quickly washed away.
“By some miracle, none of our equipment broke,” Schmidt said. “Before we went on stage, I briefly said, ‘Everyone only shoot the water at the fans, because I only have, like, thousands of dollars worth of equipment up here.’ And then five minutes into the thing, I was spraying everybody, somebody sprayed toward the drum set, everywhere.”
Anderson said he also broke that rule almost immediately, spraying people who were standing sidestage.
“I hope that never has to happen again, but I definitely had fun with the super soakers,” he said. “I’ll cherish that; that was my favorite moment of the whole tour.”
Schmidt said that it could’ve ended up being one of the most miserable shows of the tour, but because of the band’s preparation and the fun they had with it, it was one of the most memorable.
Footage of the band’s super soaker break can be seen above.
(Courtesy of The Wrecks/John Anderson)
Tuesday, Anderson said in a tweet that regardless of the band’s efforts to cool down, he still suffered from heat exhaustion following the show.
“I was looking up the definitions, very carefully, between heat stroke and heat exhaustion,” Anderson told News 4. “I didn’t want to be dramatic and say I had a heat stroke if I didn’t. I think I just had extreme heat exhaustion. It felt like I had food poisoning.”
Schmidt said the heat threw him down a spiral a couple times on tour, as well.
The day after the Arizona show, Anderson took two Tylenol and had a nap in the van on the way to Los Angeles for their next show, which did the trick.
“Even if, that night, you get through it and you’re fine, those effects can still stay with you. It’s important to hydrate, not just with water, but with electrolytes,” he said. “I learned a lot about that just from not feeling well — about what to eat and what to drink the next day, because I had to bounce back for a show 12 hours later.”
But hydration and staying cool is not only a priority for The Wrecks when the temperature is 109. They also passed out water to fans at the sold out Rec Room show in Buffalo on June 29.
“We’ve got a great crew who were really on it with the waters,” Anderson said. “I would make a point, I was like, ‘If you’re not feeling well, I’ve got a loud microphone up here, just let me know. We can get you sorted out.’ Our tech Trevor was out there with cases of water at all times.”
Anderson compared touring to the ever-changing climate of Western New York.
“A place like Arizona — that heat, the desert — it’s like hell on earth. It’s just — you can see the heat in the air, it’s crazy,” he said. “I went from Wellsville, Western New York, where the weather’s so erratic, and it’s so random — it could hail, snow, rain, [be] sunny, on the same week — it’s just so unpredictable, to living in Los Angeles, where every day is Groundhog Day. The weather’s just so consistent all year round.
“Touring is like seeing — it’s like living in Western New York. You’re going through all the different climates. You’re in Denver, then you’re in Arizona, then you’re in Texas, then you’re in Seattle, all these different weather patterns and you kind of get used to all of the different seasons.”
Back and Better Than Ever
The band released its second full-length album, ‘Sonder,’ in June, as they kicked off the tour, accompanied by indie artists girlhouse and Mothé. Anderson said between tours, they’re working on the deluxe edition of the album.
As The Wrecks work on getting that version done, they’re also working on solidifying a setlist, as they want to bring “an even bigger show” on the upcoming tour, which resumes in the fall. The band’s first tour date is slated for Oct. 9 at the Sonoma Harvest Music Festival. Following the festival, The Wrecks will be joined on part two of the tour by CARR and Arlie.
Anderson said something he enjoyed about the summer tour was being able to pass water out to fans who were waiting outside the venues before the shows. He joked that for the fall tour, the band will be handing out blankets instead of water bottles to help fans beat the cold.