Thanks to our good friends at Blackstar Amplification, we had the pleasure of hanging out with Hawthorne Heights at Vans Warped Tour! For those unfamiliar with Warped Tour, it is nothing less than organized chaos for those backstage. We arrived around 11 o’clock and still didn’t know what time the band was playing that day. That’s the fun of the tour. Every day is different, and the bands find out when they are playing the morning of the event. So, for the band to take time out of that chaos to hang out with us was absolutely incredible. We quickly met up with Chris who not only plays drums for the band, but also manages their tour as well. We navigated our way through a thick crowd of attendees where we were brought backstage and introduced to Mark (guitar) for a look at the band’s rig rundown. Let’s take a look!

Hawthorne Heights: The Rig Rundown


Later that day, they invited our crew into their tour bus for a one-on-one interview! Mark and Chris guided us through a backstage maze of tents and gear from the other bands who were getting in any comforts of home they could from BMX bikes, to skateboards, and even some dumbbells and exercise gear. All the while, I couldn’t help but look down and notice the white lines on the ground reminding me that Vans literally builds this magical musical world day after day in common everyday parking lots at venues across the nation.


We cross a hot desert of pavement into a distant world of tour buses all parked line by line in perfect order. They were like a traveling village whose neighbors all know each other, but switch locations night after night as they pull into a new port the next morning. Chris gives a knock on the door, and the friendly face of Matt (bass) answers to let us into their home away from home. JT (vocals/guitar) sat waiting for us, ready to share insight on life as a touring group of musicians. Mark joined him, and we began our interview.

Hawthorne Heights: The Tour Bus Interview

Ending the Day

Our photographers headed to the pit area up front as the stage manager called me up to join the band just offstage. I shook hands with Chris for the last time and exchanged a mutual thanks as the band took the stage to a crowd of screaming fans. It was an absolutely beautiful summer night. The band began playing their opening song as the sun set in the distance behind the crowd. The heat of the day started to fade as the early evening ocean air swept across the venue. And there I stood, just offstage, watching a sea of fans sing along to their favorite iconic band, Hawthorne Heights.

Chris Popadak
Mark McMillon







JT Woodruff
Matt Ridenour
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Dave Stutts
Dave Stutts is a native of the greater Hampton Roads area of Virginia. He received his Bachelors of Music degree in Theory & Composition from the prestigious Christopher Newport University music school. He is a music composer living and working in New York City. He specializes in orchestral/symphonic work as well as pop and digital music. His scoring work has ranged from Chamber Ensemble pieces (String Quartets/Brass Quintets), larger ensembles compositions (Wind Ensemble/Symphony Orchestra/String Orchestra), as well as short film and video game work.He is also a songwriter and a regular gigging musician in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Queens. He refers to his style as Pop/Rock and Blues. His musical career began when he started playing guitar at age 5. He later progressed to Bass in middle school, Drums in High School, and finally Percussion and Piano in college. When asked, he has cited Michael Giacchino, Hans Zimmer, and John Williams as his major film and video game inspirations, and John Mayer as his primary pop inspiration.