Alternative Press launches music awards with a bang Atypical award show

By John Benson

22Not only did the Warped Tour come through Northeast Ohio a few days ago, but now there’s the inaugural Alternative Press Music Awards, which takes place tonight at Voinovich Park behind the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.

The concert event — think the MTV Video Awards with a decidedly Warped Tour flavor — is hosted by blink-182’s Mark Hoppus and features live performances from Fall Out Boy, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, The Misfits, Brendon Urie (Panic! At The Disco), A Day To Remember, All Time Low, Asking Alexandria, Twenty One Pilots, Machine Gun Kelly and more.

Also appearing at the star-studded event, which will air live on AXS TV, will be Billy Corgan (Smashing Pumpkins), Slash and Ice-T & Coco.

The Vindicator talked to Alternative Press CEO and founder Mike Shea, an Aurora native, about the thought process behind the awards show, as well as its future in Northeast Ohio.

Q. Alternative Press has been around for nearly 30 years. Clearly, the magazine must have been approached in the past to sponsor such an event. Why was the timing right now?

A. We had just kind of gotten to that point where it was silly we weren’t doing it. We felt like our community just needed to have a day where it all kind of came together, where we celebrated and we kind of had a party. That was really the basis of the whole thing. It’s turned into that moment, where we have bands that are not even touring and are off the road; they’re all coming out because all of their friends will be here and they want to have fun. And it will all be done here in Cleveland, which is even more amazing.

Q. As far as the concert experience is concerned, why is this event unique?

A. We wanted to do something different. So we wanted to have some fun with it. We didn’t want it to become just another concert. That was the big thing. That’s why we added a 105-piece contemporary youth orchestra, so there will be kind of an Oscar feel to it. For the musicians coming and the people in the show, the dress code is kind of like hip-formal — so it’s to take it a little bit more seriously. This isn’t like going to Lollapalooza or Skate and Surf [Festival]. This isn’t just another day.

Q. Regarding the musical performances, how will this not be just another show?

A. We’re asking a lot of the artists not to do their usual thing. So there are people who are either collaborating with other musicians or doing really cool cover songs, or they’re doing unique or interpretations of their style of music. It’s going to be a really one-time only, one-night only sort of event, not only for the fans attending but also for the musicians.

Q. It appears as though the Alternative Press Music Awards has a Warped Tour feel. Thoughts?

A. We have artists from other genres such as Slash, who we had on our cover in 1986. We want to be able to meld these eras and genres together so it’s not just one thing. I think considering it’s our first year, we had a pretty successful [response]. There are close to 80 performers of various ilks involved in this show. We wanted a who’s who, and we got it. I’m really excited by it. Artists are starting to get really excited about it. It’s going to be pretty crazy and a lot of fun.

Q. Any other surprises, such as getting Axl Rose to join Slash or getting all of the members of KISS to perform together on stage?

A. I don’t think it’s getting to that yet. Let us get to year two or three.

Q. Finally, are you thinking Alternative Press Music Awards will be an annual affair?

A. It’s pretty exciting. I think we all just want to get through the first year right now, but we all hope we’ll do this again.

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