On the road
Longton girl Hannah Mee, 21, went to Penwortham Girls’ School and Cardinal Newman College before reading politics at Lancaster University..and going on the road with rock stars. Sam Carney reports.
For most wannabe rockers, getting behind-the-scenes access to their favourite band would be little more than a pipe dream.
But for Hannah Mee, this dream became reality last summer, as she took to the road for the Vans Warped Tour in the United States.
Warped Tour, which has been established for almost 20 years, is a touring music festival, taking in a whole host of states right across the country.
The Tour is mainly grassroots-orientated; Warped is credited as being the festival that originally launched bands such as Green Day and Blink-182.
And music fan Hannah, 21, was privileged enough to be on the Warped Tour bus, documenting her experiences along the way.
“My role was essentially to capture the whole essence of what Warped Tour was about on camera, for the benefit of the UK Tour.
“They started holding a Tour over here in 2012 and they sent me over to America to try and find what things we could do similar in the UK, later on in the year.”
A necessary part of Hannah’s experience involved sampling the full rockstar lifestyle, a hectic way of living, which, as a big music fan, she has long heard stories about.
“You wake up in a new city, get breakfast in a different place every day. You’re like: where’s breakfast today?
“Then you do the shows. After that, you come back to the tour bus, have a drink, go and have your tea, have a party at night, then go back to your tour bus.
“The next day you wake up in a different city and do it all again.”
“It’s very full on. You don’t get any time to yourself, especially if you’re on a tour bus with 13 men.”
Despite initially being overwhelmed by her surroundings, Hannah soon became familiar with the bands and their various crews, even learning a few new skills along the way.
“When you’re there, you end up making friends with so many people and they’re always asking you favours.
“So, you end up doing a million and one things, other than the actual job you’re supposed to be doing! I ended up being a guitar technician for a few days. That was certainly not in my job description.”
And fraternising with her favourite bands, including Bring Me The Horizon and Enter Shikari, did no harm in encouraging Hannah to come out of her shell. Prior to Warped Tour, she described herself as ‘quite a nervous person.’
“When I went I wasn’t confident about being thrown onto a bus with rockstars and strangers. I’m Hannah Mee from Preston, I’m not from a family where you’re used to that kind of thing.”
But, as Hannah explains, the prospect of not knowing any of the rock fraternity wasn’t her only worry prior to embarking on the Tour. She also had problems actually arriving:
“I had a drama getting there; basically my plane caught fire and we had to make an emergency landing in Ireland.
“Then I lost my suitcase as it hadn’t been transferred on from the airport.”
Eventually, Hannah was able to join up with the Tour in Chicago, a personal highlight for her after the trials and tribulations of the journey.
“It was like: I’m here, what the hell, I’ve arrived at Warped Tour and fulfilled a childhood dream.
“And that was my favourite day, just realising… what’s happened to my life?”
Apart from Chicago, what were the most interesting places from the myriad of cities she visited?
“In terms of subsequent dates, I guess Florida (Tampa, Orlando & Miami) was a good one. Texas as well. It was really funny to see what Texan people were like.
“They’ve obviously got a very stereotypical image. All the ‘howdy partners’ and so on. I got asked if I was Australian so many times. It was really weird.”
In total, Hannah travelled on the Warped Tour bus for more than two weeks, from the show at Tinley Park in Chicago on July 20 until the final event at Houston’s Reliant Park on August 4.
“There was not one point over those few weeks where I wanted to go home. It gave me a thirst for adventure that I didn’t think I had.”
Since returning to the UK, Hannah has also worked on the UK and European versions of the Tour, taking in Germany and the Netherlands last November.
“I’d say that the experience is the single thing that has changed my life the most. They’ve been really really good to me.”
And Hannah is now looking forward to her next big adventure, working for SJM Concerts, one of the nation’s largest music promoters, in Manchester.
“[SJM are] massive touring promoters and they do everything from tours to festivals. They organised Beyonce’s UK dates and are even credited with helping to relaunch Take That. It’s a great company, and in the North as well.”
“My life’s up here and Manchester’s my place. It’s a perfect job for me really, I couldn’t have asked for a better set-up.”
No matter what she does in the industry, Hannah recognises that she will always be indebted to that fortnight spent, with Warped, in America.
She even intends to pay the States a return visit at some point:
“I’m going to try and go back out there for two weeks next year, just to relive it, because it was so good.”