Imagine you're in an unsigned, hard-core punk band. You come up with a way to get booked onto the entire 2004 Vans Warped Tour. The catch is-you have to assemble a stage each morning, break it down at night, drive yourselves from venue to venue, sleep in your van and shower in truck stops for 49 days straight without pay.
Would you do it? San Diego's Underminded didn't even give it a second thought.
"We were like, "Shit, we can get on the whole Warped Tour? We're young-we'll do anything,'" says 21-year-old lead guitarist-singer Matt Johnson. "Labels couldn't even buy their bands onto it for that long."
He and guitarist-lead singer Nick Martin (also 21), 20-year-old bassist Brandon Cardwell and 17-year-old new drummer Joe Mullen were drenched with sweat after a recent show with the Vandals at SOMA. They had just delivered one of the high-energy, in-your-face performances they've become known for.
Still reeling from the Warped Tour, they explained how they sold their cars and anything else they could to afford a newer van and a trailer, casings for all their equipment and gas money. They had no complaints about spending the summer taking turns driving through the night and sleeping during the day. They didn't mind setting up the Smartpunk stage in the blazing summer heat where they and a rotation of nine paid bands played.
"That's just how balls-to-the-wall we are," says Martin.
Which is no exaggeration. They've got the talent and work ethic, but Underminded are also smart enough to use opportunities like this to their advantage. As soon as they secured a spot on the tour, they recorded a new demo and sent it out to labels. To their disbelief, Kung Fu Records immediately offered them a contract.
"They were on what was like our college dream list," says Johnson. "We didn't think they'd have any interest in a hardcore band, but then we heard that Joe Escalante, the Vandals bassist [and Kung Fu Records boss] was bumping our music in his car."
With the label's help, they finished recording their debut, Hail Unamerican! right before they left and got to promote it on the tour. Like their live shows, it's loud, straight-forward and an strong showcase for the band. It has the potential to pull new fans into the hardcore scene and possibly even get underminded on a tour where they don't have to build the venue themselves.Underminded will play SOMA's New Year's Eve show, 6 p.m. on Dec. 31 $19. 619-226-7662. www.underminded.com