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Festival Mastermind Kevin Lyman Excited About 2013 Warped Tour and Mayhem Trek

Kevin Lyman
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

Kevin Lyman made his name with the success of the Vans Warped Tour, but the U.S. festival mastermind has added to his cache with the evolution of the hard rock and metal Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival in recent years.

Thursday night (March 28) in Los Angeles, Lyman was on hand at the 2013 Vans Warped Tour press conference and shared his excitement over this year’s trek. Lyman spoke with Loudwire about the diversity of this year’s Warped Tour and the pride he takes in watching bands come up through the ranks of both Warped and Mayhem over the years.

Congratulations on another year of the Vans Warped Tour. There’s definitely more of a hard rock + metal presence this year with acts like Black Veil Brides and Bring Me the Horizon stepping up to the Main Stage. How does it feel to see these bands come along?

Well, you know they’ve all grown up on Warped Tour. They started on smaller stages and now they’re up to the Main Stage and you know I have to deliver certain bands to my dedicated hardcore Warped fans and those are the bands they are asking for. I know as a business person I have to deliver X amount of those bands and if I deliver those bands, 70 percent of the crowd is going to come support me and that allows me to broaden out the rest of the lineup.

We’ve gone very diverse with the lineup and I think for me last year in the L.A. Festival Guide, someone said we were the most diverse lineup or diverse festival of the summer and that was pretty cool to me. I do have diverse music tastes and grew up with them and I think these kids out here do too.

Warped is always great for introducing bands to a wider audience. Any acts you’re particularly excited about this year?

I just want to see now, like Bring Me the Horizon has been on the Main Stage, but Sleeping With Sirens and Memphis May Fire moving up to that Main Stage [that's great]. It’s broadened things for us. We don’t have to go back to the same artists. Now we’ve got a wider range and we’ve got some acts that we’re adding and we’ve got some last minute additions that we’re announcing that will fall on the harder side.

I’m also really excited about my Mayhem Festival. Talk about a hard festival?! There’s no mistaking that is a metal festival this summer. It’s funny. The fans took care of it. There was this kid who was saying, ‘That tour is not very metal,’ and someone said, ‘When you’ve got Bodom, Behemoth, Mastodon, Machine Head, Amon Amarth — that is a metal festival this summer.’ There is no mistaking Mayhem as a metal festival this summer. You bring someone like Rob Zombie, who you know is going to bring a completely different show than he’s ever done for you guys in the past. I’m just excited about my whole summer.

I know Warped shows off your punk roots, but with Mayhem, what’s your own background with metal?

Well metal for me goes back to the old Foundation’s Forum days and even further back. I was working in the clubs in the hair metal days. I worked in the clubs and loaded that gear. I loved punk rock but I was working around the scene and I love the way that we’ve been able to embrace metal. Having Five Finger Death Punch move into that top spot now [on Mayhem] after starting on one of our second stages, it’s really kind of the same pattern we’ve done with Warped Tour.

I know people talk about festival season in Europe and how it’s influenced a lot of the U.S. festivals. Did you experience any of that as a fan before starting to put together your events?

Well I went to them. Warped Tour in 96-99, we used to play at those festivals. We used to have stages at Reading and Leeds and Pukkelpop and Lowland and Warped Tour used to be an attraction at those shows, so I learned about festivals and I was also the first stage manager at Lollapalooza in 1991. But now we have a culture of festivals in the States. We’re a second generation culture of festivals in the United States and I think it’s pretty cool.

I think Warped Tour is kind of that entry level festival and then you go out to EDM or Bonnaroo or Coachella and then you come back and go to Mayhem or back to Warped Tour, but it’s nice that we have our own festivals here with their own legacy of history.

Warped always seems to have something new. Of all the attractions you’ve brought to the table over the years, what’s perhaps the ones you’re most proud of?

I think the first time I brought freestyle motocross, it was the first time that they’d ever toured the States and people look at those photos and we had Carey Hart, we had Brian Deegan, we had Larry Linkogle. They were the badasses of motocross and we built like the frame of a house and these guys were coming out and jumping freestyle before anyone else had seen it.

Our thanks to Kevin Lyman for the interview and all the best on a successful summer. Fans can get tickets and see the dates for the 2013 Vans Warped Tour here and also check out the 2013 Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival ticketing and itinerary here.

Next: Check Out 2013's Other Must-See Rock Concerts

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