For the ninth-annual Werk Out Music & Arts Festival, the vibrant music festival will return to the Midwest, taking over Thornville, Ohio’s Legend Valley from August 2nd to 4th. Hosted by The Werks, the festival has curated one of the standout lineups of the summer. In addition to four sets from The Werks across the weekend, Werk Out boasts two sets from Umphrey’s McGee, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, plus performances from Lettuce, Papadosio, Twiddle, Turkuaz, Spafford, The Marcus King Band, Knower (full band), Zach Deputy, Twerkapod (a ’90s tribute and super jam featuring members of The Werks, Twiddle, and Dopapod), Ghost Light, Mungion, Ekoostik Hookah, Octave Cat, Rumpke Mountain Boys, and more.
To highlight the broad range of talent scheduled to perform at this year’s Werk Out Festival, we decided to play a little game of “interview tag” with musicians high up on the bill. We spoke with The Werks’ Rob Chafin, Umphrey’s McGee’s Kris Myers, and Papadosio’s Mike Healy, asking them questions of our own, then asking them to “tag” another headliner and ask a question of their own to the artist of their choice. You can check out the interviews below, and don’t miss out on this year’s The Werk Out Music & Arts Festival at Legend Valley from August 2nd to 4th.
The Werks’ Rob Chafin
Sam D’Arcangelo: What are some of the challenges that come with both headlining and producing a festival at the same time?
Rob Chafin: Wearing many hats definitely has its challenges. Luckily, this year, we have a really great team and some new partners on board who really helped delegate a lot of tasks. They’re able to bring this festival to new heights because they were super stoked in that regard. In the years past, it has been more of a challenge, and as we dial it in every year, it gets more streamlined and easier. I feel really confident going into this year. I think we got it. We got our ducks in a row.
SD: After nine years, do you guys have any festival traditions? As a band or for the festival as a whole?
RC: Yes, we always do an acoustic and unplugged VIP set on Saturday. It’s a big tradition for us. Obviously, for the third year in a row, we have the Twerkapod with members of Twiddle and Dopapod. We’re doing the ’90s this year. We’re closing the festival out late night with Werktronic into Twerkapod. The late-night tent is going to be very special this year. We also always try to have epic sit-ins with our friends, of course, and this year, we got a lot of really talented musicians that we’re stoked to see. We’re stoked to have some really special sit-ins.
Another thing is, it’s always really stressful leading up to the event and at the start. When we open, I’m always on the lookout for the first genuine smile that I see. Every year it happens on Thursday. Someone is at the festival with this smile on, ear to ear, super stoked to be there. That always makes the stress melt away, and it always makes it worth it—no matter how stressful the year leading up to it is or the festival is on its own. Without fail, every year on that Thursday that happens, so it’s kind of like a tradition.
I want to say we are doing a school drive again for the kids in Thornville, the local town that Legend Valley is in. We’re doing a school-supply drive, and we encourage everyone at the festival to bring some school supplies for the local kids. If you do that you get a special limited edition Werk Out pin. Just trying to raise awareness for that.
Twerkapod – The Werk Out 2017
SD: What’s the most surprising thing for you guys about how The Werk Out has evolved over the years?
Rob Chafin: We first started, as many festivals do, just partying with our friends and people that we’ve met on the road. I guess what’s special as it progressed is the caliber and the size of the acts that we’re able to bring in. We always have been increasing in size throughout the years, and we always aim to book bands that are our friends, that we are always touring with, or that we have befriended along the way. It’s good to have some friends who are doing really well across the board here. We’re really stoked for this year, because I feel like it was the perfect storm to get a lot of our friends in one place.
SD: Does having the festival in Ohio make it kind of like a family reunion vibe?
RC: Definitely. It’s definitely a friendly, family vibe and community vibe. That’s why we call it a community on Facebook. It’s a category. It’s not a festival, it’s a community. There’s a really awesome, loving community surrounding the festival that has supported it over the years. It keeps growing, and we definitely want to keep that community full of love. We want to inspire people to create art, music, and lifelong friends.
SD: Since this is interview tag, who do you want me to talk to next? What question do you have for them?
RC: This one is for Kris Myers from Umphrey’s McGee. What’s his favorite pizza topping?
Umphrey’s McGee’s Kris Myers
Sam D’arcangelo: Kris, what’s your favorite pizza topping?
Kris Myers: My favorite kind of pizza would be thin crust, cheese, sausage, and green peppers. I like thin crust because it’s not too heavy, and I like just the right, subtle amount of cheese—and not too much sauce! Freshly cut, cooked peppered Italian sausage, and a subtle amount of green peppers.
SD: You guys released a surprise album a few months ago, It’s You—the follow-up to It’s Not Us. What was behind the idea to do that? Was it always the plan to release two albums?
KM: I think that we originally started out not really knowing if it was going to be two albums. We just went in and recorded what we could crank out at that particular time, which came out to be 22 songs or something. And we had no real concept or idea of what we wanted to do with those songs. Maybe these could have been also released as smaller EPs, but we decided just—I think at some point later on in the game—to do two solid records with a full album’s worth of material. So that was it, really.
SD: The two titles put together, It’s Not Us and It’s You, is that supposed to be a jab at your fan base? Who was that directed toward?
Kris Myers: It’s actually was more of a comedic twist on things. To be honest, it could be what you perceive of it. That’s what’s kind of tricky about it. It’s like you could think of it as the old joke, “Oh. It’s not me. It’s you,” or “It’s not us. It’s you,” in a negative way. It could be “You’re to blame,” or “You’re the elephant in the room.” But it’s actually, more or less, us saying, “It’s not about us, it’s about the fans.” This is a reference to the fanbase, the people who we are very loyal to and are grateful for.
SD: You guys have worked with Summer Camp for some time now, and you’ve also done your UM Bowl events in the past. Do you have a certain respect for a band like The Werks that has developed such a successful festival over the years?
KM: Yeah. In fact, they’re one of those bands that are just a hair younger than us and coming up in the progressive side of things. I think that it’s great to see them growing, just like any other band that we want to see grow in their songwriting and their playing. So yeah, they’re killing it. They’re doing great. And of course, having a festival too was—I don’t know when it started, I’m sure it was earlier in the game—but that was a smart idea. They seem to be bringing a lot of people together for it. So I think the more the merrier.
SD: What can your fans expect from the Umphrey’s McGee headlining set at The Werk Out?
KM: Honestly, whatever we can think of at that particular time, we’ll definitely throw down, whatever that may be. We tend to not know until days prior. We like to keep it kind of off the fly a little bit. It helps us. I think spontaneity is sometimes better than over-analyzing and over-planning things. Otherwise, you’re liable to overanalyze it and then psych yourself out. So I think we’re just going to fly by the seat of our pants on this one.
SD: So who do you want us to tag next? What question do you have for them?
KM: What are you’re favorite kind of shoes to perform in, and why? You can ask anyone who is willing to answer that. I’m just curious to know, you know? Sometimes I’m curious to see what everyone’s style is. Some guys like sneakers, or maybe they’re into boots. Drummers, it’s a little rare for them to wear boots because you need traction and the proper support to do what you got to do on those foot pedals, but I mean, all the hipsters wear their boots. I’m just curious to see who would answer that.
I personally wear a certain kind of shoe that I’ve found that’s great for drumming. It’s just a pair of Skechers. They don’t even make them anymore. I found them online, and then I started using them. I actually talk about it in my Modern Drummer interview, if you want to cite that. In that interview, I do a video portion that explains exactly what shoe I use. But yeah, Skechers.
I think Skechers make great, comfortable shoes. Also, they last long, and they have a thinner sole but not too thin. You want to have a medium-weighted sole for a drummer that fits your foot and has contraction on the pedals. But if you use something too thin and too flat, like Vans, that could be—for some people—bad for their feet because of the arch of their foot. So you want to get the right arch support. But you don’t want to wear track shoes because that’s too thick of a sole, and then you can’t really feel the pedals on your feet. So you want to use kind of an in-between. It’s real business, man.
Papadosio’s Mike Healy
Sam D’arcangelo: The first question is from Kris Myers of Umphrey’s McGee. He wants to know what kind of shoes you wear while drumming?
Mike Healy: Currently, I have some Salomon trail running shoes. I usually get some sort of trail running shoes with decent grip. Once they are worn in a little is my perfect drumming preference.
SD: You’ve played The Werk Out a few times. Is there anything in particular that has stood out to you as the festival has grown over the years?
MH: We have been friends with The Werks for 12 years and what has always stood out to me is the lineup. They do a great job of gathering all the friend bands together, young and old. It just creates an old-school festival vibe, which focuses on bands instead of DJs. I love many producers as well, but there needs to be a fine balance between bands and producers at festivals, and the Werk Out does a great job at that.
Papadosio – “Oracle Theme” – Winter Werk Out 2018
SD: A lot of jam bands, including Papadosio, have put on their own festivals. Why do you think this is such a common occurrence in the jam scene? What is about this scene that lends itself to that kind of a venture?
Mike Healy: It’s a special thing putting your own event on. With that, you are creating a place for your die-hard fans to celebrate life with each other and to grow together to hear new music and have special bonding experiences with each other. I think it’s common in the jam scene because so many different groups have done it over the years, and younger bands strive to continue the vibe and celebrate having fun with there friends.
SD: Papadosio just put out a new single, “Distress Signal”. Does this mean a new album is in the works? If yes or no, when can we expect it?
MH: We announce the release date in a few weeks. This fall is going to be amazing with lots of new music!
The Werk Out Music & Arts Festival will return for its ninth year this summer, slated to take over Thornville, Ohio’s Legend Valley from August 2nd through 4th. In addition to four sets from The Werks across the weekend, Werk Out boasts two sets from Umphrey’s McGee, Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, plus performances from Lettuce, Papadosio, Twiddle, Turkuaz, Spafford, The Marcus King Band, Knower (full band), Zach Deputy, Twerkapod (a ’90s tribute and super jam featuring members of The Werks, Twiddle, and Dopapod), Ghost Light, Mungion, Ekoostik Hookah, Octave Cat, Rumpke Mountain Boys, and more.
For more information about the festival or for ticketing, head to the Werk Out’s website here.