A brief interview with music events coordinator Jason Blades of TWLOHA at the 2011 Van’s Warped Tour
To Write Love On Her Arms, a non-profit organization founded by Jamie Tworkowski out of Florida, began as a way to help a friend with depression, self-injury, depression and suicide and their message of light has since grown to help countless people throughout the world though its essential connection to fans through music icons such as Paramore and Switchfoot and the use of social media. Compassion has been their message since 2006, and the tattoo on Jason Blades’ chest announcing just that makes him a qualified candidate to spread TWLOHA’s message to thousands of fans at the Van’s Warped Tour.
I got a chance to briefly interview the former intern turned music events coordinator in Houston, Texas on June 25th at the Sam Houston Race Park.
Allyce Andrew: When did you get stated with To Write Love on her Arms?
Jason Blades: I started doing the intern program and I just applied and I was able to move to Florida for three months and just be in that. From there they asked me if I wanted to stay on and do Warped Tour. So, I did my first Warped Tour three years ago and I’m just full time now so I’ve kind of been doing it ever since.
AA: So, what do you do as your job for TWLOHA?
JB: I work in the music events department, I work with this one other kid as music events coordinators so we do everything — Christian festivals, Warped Tour, anything merch, music or event related pretty much.
AA: How does music fit with TWLOHA’s message?
JB: It’s a pretty important part of our story and how it began, how we were able to spread our message at first. If you’re familiar with the story of how we began Jon Foreman (of Switchfoot) was one of the first people to ever wear a shirt at one of his shows in Florida. So, from there we’ve just found a lot of musicians who were able to connect with our message. We’re at Warped Tour today, so this is probably like 15,000 people. Being able to reach so many people on such a large scale through music events is usually why we stick with music, because it brings an eclectic group of people together as well.
AA: What’s your most rewarding experience working with TWLOHA, like a specific story?
JB: I’d say… It’s tough because there’s a lot. Mostly it’s coming out on the road like this because you can kind of lose sight of the rewarding aspects when you’re in the office because it’s papers, administrative paper stuff but getting to be on the road like this and getting to meet people who support TWLOHA or have been reached or touched by TWLOHA — that’s what makes it rewarding. Every day there’s a different story, so to pick one specific story is tough because there’s so many. [motions towards a table full of papers] That’s a whole table full of stories.
AA: Well, what’s up with the table, what are you guys doing?
JB: Well, for Warped this summer we’re doing this project or campaign we’re calling Fears Versus Dreams We’re inviting people to share their biggest fears and their greatest dreams and we’ve got them posted all over the table. We probably have 300 people that have shared today and by doing that we’re hoping that we’re just inviting people to be a little bit more honest or maybe communicate things that they weren’t comfortable sharing before. Just seeing everyone else’s fears and dreams on a table, it’s pretty powerful itself.
AA: How else can fans participate in TWLOHA besides this?
JB: We’re going to try to be doing this… we’re going to try to do some stuff online wether it’s on YouTube or through our Twitter account or something like that. But we have our Web site which you can visit and there’s a ‘move’ tab. There’s about 10 different ways they can get involved, there’s a street team, there’s University chapters. We take a lot of volunteers right from street team to help out at Warped and events like this so if they were to go to that move page, there’s a ton of different ways they can get involved.
AA: Well, on a different note, what’s your favorite band to work with or like to see at Warped tour this year?
JB: Um, every year’s different because Warped’s always changing, but this is only the second day so it’s kind of hard to say. We definitely have a few friends that are out. So, I don’t know, we’ll see as the summer progresses who we meet and who supports us, I guess. So, if you came back in a month maybe I would have a better answer.