You’re hungry, exhausted, broke and far from home. Tonight you’re playing music in an unknown town for people you’ve never met, though they know all the words to your songs.
And you wouldn’t trade it for a thing.
That’s the attitude of New Tomorrow, one of San Luis Obispo’s hardest working punk bands. With a commitment and touring ethic that would defeat less-devoted groups, New Tomorrow has successfully spread their positive punk rock to fans all over the country and has earned a global fan base by doing so.
“We basically sacrifice everything we have for this band,” drummer Kevin Menesez said. “We’re four smart dudes who could be anything we want, but we choose to do this because we want it most.”
Inspired by ’90s pop-punk bands, New Tomorrow plays a modernized version of punk rock and hardcore with a spirit and conviction that’s hard to find these days.
Since forming in 2005, the band has embarked on five full U.S. tours in support of its two full-length albums. When not driving cross-country in a small van, members can be found working at home, saving money, spending time with their loved ones and writing new material – only to hit the road again a few months later.
For these guys, playing for and interacting with fans on a personal level at shows is what it’s all about. In typical punk-rock fashion, fan participation is highly encouraged at a New Tomorrow show. It’s not uncommon for fans to grab the mic and start singing along.
“We feed off of it,” guitarist Adam Kratochvil said. “When kids start singing along at shows, it’s the greatest reward we could ask for. That’s the dream of anyone who picks up an instrument.”
The band claims that playing for small crowds in intimate settings is what motivates them to keep going, since it’s moments like these that allow them to give back to the scene they were a part of growing up.
“The reason I started going to shows as a kid was to be around people like me,” singer Brandon Wood said. “Smaller towns have kids that can’t get to the bigger shows. (Kids in smaller towns are) there for the music and nothing else; that’s what it’s all about.”
With so many road trips, the band has no shortage of stories. One memorable night found the group playing in a basement of a shady Chicago suburb to a rough crowd of skinheads armed with baseball bats and switchblades. The show ended when cops pulled up halfway through the band’s set, at which point everyone, including the band members, abruptly bailed.
“It was one of the scariest shows we’ve ever played,” Menesez said. “People were getting their asses kicked. It was ridiculous.”
“When you’re a punk band on tour, you play the venue that’s available. Usually it’s the neighborhood on the other side of the tracks with rain clouds overhead,” Wood said.
With hard work has come recognition. The band recently signed a deal with Skeleton Crew Records, the record label owned by Frank Iero, My Chemical Romance’s guitarist. The group will release a third full-length album, “We’re Counting on the Youth,” in May. With the help of the new label, the band has already established street teams of fans in far away countries, from Ireland to Argentina.
Today the band is poised to spread its message of a brighter “new tomorrow” to fans like never before.
“Our new album is really about letting the youth know that they have a voice and that they’re allowed to express that,” Wood said.
Menesez echoed that message.
“We’re not saying burn down houses and kill people,” he said. “We just want youth to know that they have options available to them, and they should research them and figure out what they want to do for themselves.”
Of course, relentless touring has its costs. The band members aren’t able to save up for a brand-new car or house like more stable professions allow. However, they’ve found ways to accommodate their lifestyle with flexible employment and significant others who understand their passion. Three of the four members work in the restaurant business, while the fourth works at a skate shop.
“We all work really lenient jobs, and we’re all managers so we make the schedules,” Kratochvil said. “We’re able to find out in advance when we’re going to leave and make it work.”
The band is currently finishing up writing its new album, playing local shows (including the Bamboozle Left festival in Irvine on April 6) and will enter the studio later this month. Once the album hits shelves, the band is slated for – you guessed it – another U.S. tour.
A wise man once said “here today, gone tomorrow.” But in the case of New Tomorrow, it’s here today, gone on tour tomorrow.
“I’d rather be eating once a day in a van (and) not showering than making good money at some boring nine to five,” bassist Danny Derrick said. “It’s way more rewarding than anything else I’d rather do.”