Sit Down Series: Bret Von Dehl of The Relapse Symphony

In part two of my Warped Tour series, I spoke with the frontman for The Relapse Symphony, Bret Von Dehl. I learned from Bret about how he became heavily influenced by punk and what he took out of the Warped Tour experience.

Alex Obert: How has your first time on Warped Tour been for you?

Bret Von Dehl: It’s been fantastic, man. It’s been what I thought it was gonna be and then some. I’m really honored to be out here and a cherry on top is that we’re playing to great crowds every day, a lot of really energetic kids. It’s been a lot of fun.

Alex Obert: Have you previously attended Warped Tour as a fan?

Bret Von Dehl: Yeah, I did go. I went more recently because when I was a kid, my dad always took me to shows and I was really into punk rock, but it wasn’t his thing. I wanted to go see The Casualties on Warped Tour and he was like “I’m not sitting through that shit!” The first year that I went though, I saw The Used and I got to meet Bert McCracken.

Alex Obert: What does your dad listen to?

Bret Von Dehl: My dad raised me on hair bands. When I was about ten years old, I found punk rock.

Alex Obert: So you left him behind?

Bret Von Dehl: (laughs) Yeah, I guess. But I still like some of that hair band stuff. I don’t really like the cheesier shit though. I’m wearing a Faster Pussycat shirt right now. I like them, they’re friends of ours.

Alex Obert: When you first got into punk, who were the bands that you started listening to?

Bret Von Dehl: Well it all happened because my dad bought a Ramones Greatest Hits and it changed my life, just like that. First song I heard, I was like “What is this?” I had to have every CD and every documentary. Through watching DVDs and learning about the story of their band and watching them talk about their influences, it’s how I found out about Iggy and the Stooges and the New York Dolls and the Dead Boys and all this stuff. I just kept going, man, there’s a lot of punk rock out there. I like everything from the first wave to the second to the stuff now.

Alex Obert: What do you feel separated the Ramones from every other band out there?

Bret Von Dehl: What didn’t separate them, really. I honestly think that modern rock music would absolutely not be the same if it were not for them.

Alex Obert: What are some punk shows that you’ve been to?

Bret Von Dehl: I used to go to a lot of local shows. I used to go see the Misfits a lot. But yeah, a lot of local stuff. A lot of those bands can’t afford to tour, a lot of those street punk bands I really like.

Alex Obert: Where were you at the time?

Bret Von Dehl: I go to shows in DC, that’s where we’re from. We go to the Black Cat and the 9:30 Club.

Alex Obert: Do you find yourself traveling to other states nearby for shows?

Bret Von Dehl: Always. I’m actually from southern Delaware, so I’m in the middle of DC, Virginia, Philly. I’m in the middle of all that stuff. So I’d just go to any shows that I could. I went to the Black Cat in DC once and I saw Sylvain Sylvain from the New York Dolls and Cheetah Chrome from the Dead Boys, they had a band together. I saw them play and I got to meet both of them, that was insane for me because it’s two my favorite bands of all time. And they’re really cool guys.

Alex Obert: Speaking of which, have you seen the CBGB film?

Bret Von Dehl: I did. I hated it. Hated every second of it. You know that movie Rock of Ages with Tom Cruise? It seemed like a bad sequel of that. It was just like a joke, man. I didn’t like it at all. I don’t know, punk rock means so much to me and those bands really mean a lot to me. I grew up listening to those bands and they always have a place in my heart. And now there’s this stupid movie, I just shut it off. I didn’t even watch the whole thing. I was that dork who learned everything and I know every part of the history of the bands. And so I’m like “That’s wrong. Nope…that didn’t happen.” But it’s whatever, I don’t sit around and say “Fuck that movie!”

Alex Obert: Seeing as though you are twenty two, did you catch on to the pop punk of the late nineties?

Bret Von Dehl: I’m actually not a huge fan of pop punk. But it depends on how you define it. I like Green Day, they’re a fucking great band. Unfortunately they get a lot of shit. Never was really into blink-182 or any of that stuff. I love Travis Barker, definitely one of my favorite drummers. I love Transplants. But yeah, pop punk is not my favorite thing. (laughs) I do like some of it though.

Alex Obert: How about outside of punk?

Bret Von Dehl: I like a lot of eighties goth rock. The Sisters of Mercy and stuff like that. There’s actually some newer stuff with more of an electronic kind of feel that I dig. There’s a lot of good rock n’ roll bands out there like The Biters, they’re really good friends of mine.

Alex Obert: I just saw them open for Calabrese!

Bret Von Dehl: Calabrese is another band I love. I found them in middle school and I bought the Traveling Vampire Show record. I think I got it from Hot Topic, they had a copy of it. (laughs) After I bought it, I fell in love with it. I love that band. All of the stuff that they’ve been putting out is fucking great. And their new stuff sounds like Danzig, it’s badass. I actually saw them live on that Biters tour when they stopped in Baltimore at a place called the Metro Gallery. The Biters are good friends of mine and the singer, Tuk is one of my best friends. Love that guy.

Alex Obert: How does it make you feel that Nikki Sixx recently endorsed the band on Twitter?

Bret Von Dehl: I saw, it’s fucking crazy. It’s pretty insane because Tuk was in a band called The Heart Attacks, they were a punk rock band. I loved that band when I was younger. So I ended up making friends with him and all that shit. It’s wild for me, every time we hang out it’s like “Hey, you’re fucking Tuk, dude!”

Alex Obert: So as you have been living the Warped Tour lifestyle, which bands have you made a connection with backstage?

Bret Von Dehl: We were friends with Craig and Escape the Fate prior because we did a tour with his band, Dead Rabbits. So they’re good friends of mine. New Years Day, they’re good friends of ours. I hang out with Nikki and Jeremy every day. The Karma Killers are another band. I didn’t know who they were before this tour, but I just saw them play and I thought this fucking band rips! I hang out with them now too.

Alex Obert: What have you been doing for fun on the tour when you’re not on the stage?

Bret Von Dehl: My activity that I’ve been doing on Warped Tour is drinking. (laughs) Just hanging out, man. Hanging out with our fans and having a few beers, that’s been Warped Tour.

Alex Obert: What’s your drink of choice?

Bret Von Dehl: Cheap beer.

Alex Obert: Well you’re not gonna find it here!

Bret Von Dehl: Exactly. But I’m not really picky.

Alex Obert: How have your experiences been with meeting fans on the tour?

Bret Von Dehl: It’s been great.

Alex Obert: Do you see a younger version of yourself in any of them?

Bret Von Dehl: Sometimes. Yeah, definitely. It’s always cool to see excited kids that are excited about our band and what we do. I think our band is really important at this time in rock n’ roll. So seeing kids who understand and get it is really cool.

Alex Obert: How has the people watching been?

Bret Von Dehl: I just saw a guy today who was dressed like a fucking rhino or something. There’s always wild shit, but it’s fun.

Alex Obert: So Relapse Symphony was recently interviewed by Alternative Press, will you be attending this year’s APMAs?

Bret Von Dehl: Yeah. We got invited out, so we’re gonna go. It’s pretty fuckin’ cool, man. I’m excited.

Alex Obert: So after Warped Tour and the APMAs, what’s next for Relapse Symphony?

Bret Von Dehl: This is our last day on the tour. We’re gonna drive home to DC and film a couple music videos for the new record. And with tours, we have a bunch where we’re deciding what we wanna do. We just put out the new record, it’s called Born To Burn. We’re just gonna keep touring and playing, man.

Alex Obert: How has the feedback on the new album been?

Bret Von Dehl: It’s been fantastic. Everybody loves the album. It’s been overwhelmingly positive, which is super fucking cool.

Alex Obert: Which song do you notice a lot of people say their favorite is?

Bret Von Dehl: Probably the singles. We just put out a music video for Die Alone. Kids are watching the video and they’re learning the words, they always go apeshit when we play that one. A Perfect Lie is another one, it was the first one we put out for kids to listen to.

Alex Obert: What does the music video for Die Alone consist of?

Bret Von Dehl: We just went into the city in DC and jumped up on a rooftop and played. And that’s the video. We have some friends who own a restaurant and they just took us up on the roof, so we just fucking did it, man. Just knocked it out.

Alex Obert: Before we wrap up, what’s the best way for readers to keep updated with what the band is up to?

Bret Von Dehl: We’ve got all the social media stuff. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube. Just Google it and find it. (laughs) We’ve got everything.

Alex Obert: In closing, what is the number one thing that you took out of this Warped Tour experience?

Bret Von Dehl: It’s a lot of hard work, but it’s been a fuckin’ honor to be out here. Everybody’s busting their ass on this tour. And there’s definitely hope for rock n’ roll. I see a lot of great rock bands and I’m glad that kids are finding this shit and going apeshit for it. I’m really stoked. This has been a great experience and I couldn’t be more thankful for Kevin bringing us out.

Alex Obert: Thank you so much for your time and the insight!

Bret Von Dehl: Yeah, man!

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