The first weekend was my first time doing anything like this, so I was still trying to figure things out. But on the second weekend I sold some merch every night, which was already more than I expected. I went out on this tour looking at it like being an opening band on their first tour. I didn't expect to make money, I expected to lose money, but my only goal was to get the name out. And that goal was accomplished. Facebook followers at least doubled -- breaking 500 by the end of it all. And we added quite a few Instagram and twitter followers and like 50 new YouTube subscribers. But obviously, the coolest part of the whole thing was the people I met on the road.
In Philly, a girl bought a Zero Platoon patch for her mom who is in the Army and just got back from Iraq. In Baltimore I met Cullen, who's in the Air Force and Swindle's (guitarist/vocalist of Have Mercy) uncle who is a former Marine, and a ton of other people who stopped by the merch table and either bought stuff or just gave donations because they really believed in the cause. I broke $100 that night, and most of it was donations. Amityville, NY was the perfect end to it all. A girl came to the table to buy a shirt and a patch while Gates was playing -- before anyone had even mentioned Zero Platoon. She said her brother used to be in one of the opening bands -- Makeshift, I think -- but he left to join the Army. Pentimento is one of his favorite bands and he was really bummed that he couldn't be at that show because of his Army obligations. He was due to leave for Iraq in 10 days. His sister said she called him to tell him about Zero Platoon and he started tearing up on the phone. She bought and shirt and a patch for her brother and he told her to give me a $10 donation from him. She said her brother was going to tell all of his friends about Zero Platoon.
And THAT is the reason I'm doing this. That kid is exactly who I was when I was in the Army -- bummed out and wishing I could just go watch my favorite bands play whenever I had the chance, knowing that would make me feel a little better.
Those two long weekends were great in so many ways, but they also really prepared me for the 4 days I spent on Warped Tour the next weekend. Had another $100+ merch day in Orlando and in those 4 days I met a ton of veterans and kids from every branch -- Marines, Army, Air Force, Navy -- who had either just signed up or hadn't been in very long. Every time we were actually able to talk to somebody at our booth, they either donated or bought something. Plus, we got to shoot with Pat from Light Years, Luke from Better Off and the guys from Blacklist Royals.
Thanks again, Jerry, Lance, Mike, Vinnie, Rex, Brian, Andrew, Nick, Aaron, Eli, Kevin, Kevin, Dan, Dan, Mike, and Ethan.