Following their performance at the Cotillion Ballroom in Wichita KS on November 22, 2014, Islander's lead singer Mikey Carvajal takes a few minutes to catch up with AAL's Sara Meek to discuss their current tour with Nonpoint and Gemini Syndrome as it wraps up as well as big tour plans for the band in 2015.
AAL: Hey Mikey! Thanks for catching up with All Access Live today, how are you?
Mikey: Doing good, thanks. Just waking up from the show last night there in Wichita, it was a good one, thanks for coming out.
AAL: Definitely, no problem, it was an awesome show! So Islander has been out on the road with Nonpoint, Gemini Syndrome and 3 Years Hollow, in fact wrapping up tonight up in KC. How has this tour gone?
Mikey: It's been good but started out crazy because our van broke down and then we got a rental RV, and the rental RV gave us all carbon monoxide poisoning because there was a leak. We got really sick but we didn't realize what was going on at first and the fire department had to come out one morning because the alarm was going off, they did a test and it was really high. They asked us if we'd been sick and when we told them that we had they were telling us that we could have died, it was really nuts! So then, we were going to exchange that one with the rental company but that rental broke down on the way to pick up the new rental RV so this complete stranger at a show let another stranger borrow his truck to come pick all of us up which we were a band that they had never even heard of. So, think about it, a stranger let another stranger borrow his truck to go pick up a bunch of strangers stranded on the side of the road!
AAL: That's definitely awesome! A testament to the kind heart of humanity right there.
Mikey: Yeah we thank the Lord that they did that. The next day they even took us to the show and then to get the new rental RV and well, here we are, today is the last day of the tour, so I guess we made it!
AAL: You made it! Congrats on that! What a story to be able to tell at the end of it all. Isn't this what it's all about though, being able to look back and see the highs and the lows of it all and know that you guys were able to pull through? Were there ever times during those rough moments that you were thinking this wasn't worth it, you aren't going to make it?
Mikey: Oh no. Not at all. We knew it was all worth it. Even though this tour has been the most stressful tour for us because of the problems we had that I mentioned but our band dynamic has changed so much over the past few months. We're so much closer and I think we're more understanding of one another. It's been a lot more pressure than what it even needed to be because of all the crazy stuff that happened but I think we all handled it really well and I'm proud of all of us for handling everything the way we did.
AAL: Other newer bands that I've interviewed have said similar in regards to the struggles during tour life bringing their band closer together and I definitely think that says wonders about each and every band that can pull through so congrats to you guys for doing the same.
Mikey: Thank you. Yeah we even went through a member change recently, we have a new guitarist and so it's been a variety of new stuff happening but overall I think we're the healthiest now as we've ever been.
AAL: That's great to hear. The bands that you've been touring with, how have they been throughout everything? Would you say you're stronger in ways because of things you've learned from your tour mates?
Mikey: Oh yeah absolutely, everybody has been really nice. We try to keep the change over throughout the sets real tight so for instance the 3 Years Hollow guys have been letting us borrow their drum kit, we've been letting them borrow our guitar caps, stuff like that, just to keep everything flowing better and it makes for a better schedule for all of us. JR, our guitarist he's been jumping up on stage and guesting every night during Bullet With a Name, one of Nonpoint's songs so it's been fun stuff. We've really been just like one big happy family. I mean there's been some struggles, we're still learning the ropes here but Nonpoint has been real good to us and helping in that area too so we're thankful for that.
AAL: Sounds like a great group of guys to be on tour with! In July of this year Islander released Violence and Destruction, your debut album under Victory Records, how have things gone since the album's release?
Mikey: It's going really well. It's been getting a lot of love on the radio. It hit number 23 on mainstream Billboard rock charts. Bands that we grew up listening to have taken notice of it. For example, Jacoby Shaddox of Papa Roach caught wind of it and now we're going out on tour with them and Seether in January and February. It was pretty cool because Jacoby actually hit me up on Facebook because he had heard of us through Head from Korn, he was kind of the one who put in word for us because he liked the album so much and now we're on the tour. So, we're really honored, humbled and grateful for that.
AAL: Wow. I can see how that would humble you. Great things happening right there. So your upcoming tour with Papa Roach and Seether kicks off at the top of the year in 2015, what are you most looking forward to in regards to that tour?
Mikey: Well for starters in kicks off in our home state of South Carolina in Myrtle Beach so that's going to be a great time and we plan on having a lot of fun! But also I'm looking forward to seeing all the other bands play every night and getting to know them better. And then of course I'm really looking forward to getting in front of the fans each night regardless if they know who we are or don't know who we are, just looking forward to capturing each one of their hearts and making the show about them instead of us.
AAL: Of course, that's why you do what you do, right?
Mikey: Absolutely, I always tell people it's not a rock and roll show until the fans show up. We can get on stage all day and night and play, jump around, whatever, but until they're there nothing matters.
AAL: That's a great way to look at it, Mikey. Watching you guys perform last night and you jumped into the crowd during one of your songs and sang right there with the fans, what a kick ass thing to see, not to mention a for sure way to capture those fans hearts at that exact moment so I think you're on to something here and nailed it as far as that goes. Throughout this year Islander has been a part of some major festivals, Aftershock and Mayhem, which do you prefer in regards to performing in comparison to playing at smaller venues like last night at The Cotillion here in Wichita.
Mikey: You know it really doesn't matter to be honest. The stage nor the bill make a great show in my mind. The best shows are the ones where regardless if it's 1000 kids or 20 kids, the one that shows up ready for the show, ready to go nuts and scream their heart out and just release all the pressures of the day, that's what makes the best shows.
AAL: That says it all right there. Well, looking beyond the Papa Roach and Seether tour, what does Islander have on board in 2015?
Mikey: Well even before that tour starts we'll be on the road with Pop Evil so definitely looking forward to that one. But lots of things coming up in the next year, we already have some festivals lined up that we're booked on so we'll be busy but this is what we're looking forward to and have been working hard to get to this place.
AAL: Pop Evil, what a great band to be heading out with this next month. We'll catch you all in KC at The Midland Theater show! One last odd ball question that's fun to ask from time to time, what's the one thing you cannot live without when you're on tour?
Mikey: My cell phone, definitely my cell phone. I can't do interviews like this one right now or the most important thing is I like to keep up with my wife and hear about her day and I like to tell her about my day. That's a huge thing for us,our marriage is more important than rock and roll and we need our phones to be able to connect with one another. I also have scripture apps on my phone where I can read bible versus so that's really important to me too. It's really silly how dependent we are on these devices but you know I was thinking recently about how in the 90's my favorite bands would be going at it touring like 250 days out of the year and there were no cell phones back then, they couldn't speak to their families or if they were out in the middle of the desert driving and have a break down with their van. I don't know how bands did it back then, I don't think I could of done it! Kudos and props and all of my respect to the bands who have toured like that.
AAL: I agree with you!! My cell is my vice! Thanks again for coming through Wichita last night, and again, killer show. You guys keep rocking out as you do and we look forward to seeing what this next year has in store for Islander.
Mikey: Thanks so much, see you guys in KC, peace.
Mikey Carvajal - lead vocal Chris Doot - bass guitar Eric Frazier - drums J.R. Bareis - lead guitar