SHOUT OUT TO SCANLON! I have heard this statement dozens of times at New York area shows coming from the stage when bands are playing. They are referring to John Scanlon from Miles To Go who has been booking shows on Long Island and in NYC for over a decade. It doesn’t seem like easy work with coordinating shows, promoting, dealing with bands and all the bullshit that a hardcore show can generate. As you will find out John came up through the LI scene and has been in a few bands himself like The Fight and Dead Last so he has seen how things work from the eyes of a show goer, a band member and obviously the guy who puts the whole show together. At the moment the Long Island scene is thriving and although a collaborative effort it is people like Scanlon who are doing their part to keep things moving in the right direction. In Effect wanted to recognize this dudes efforts and get his story which will hopefully motivate others to do something similar for their own scene. John was interviewed in mid-January. Graphics by Paul Turano. Lead photo by: Michael Dublin. All flyers within this interview are shows John had a hand in putting together. 


IE: Hey John, can you tell us how old you are, where you grew up and when you started going to shows?


John: Hey Chris! I'm 32, I grew up on Long Island in a little town called Ronkonkoma, and my first "non-hardcore show" was in 2005 at Hammerstein Ballroom to see HIM and Skindred but my first actual hardcore show was September 21st 2007 at the Hungarian Hall in Ronkonkoma with This Is Hell, Soldiers, Stray From The Path, Incendiary and a few others… very Long Island. The Skindred pit was the first ever pit I saw and was kind of flabbergasted by it, haha but I remember going to the This Is Hell show 2 years after and already being able to tell a huge difference between the two shows. It's cliche but I kind of fell in love with the idea of local shows from that point.


IE: At what point with going to shows did you start thinking about booking your own shows and what were the first steps you took to go down that road?


John: I remember not really having the thought to book shows until my friend Jake Zimmerman (who was booking shows at the time) asked me to help with random things here and there (doors, loading bands in, handing out flyers). We were super close, and still are, and I remember at one point kind of giving him shit in a friendly way of how a lot of the shows he was booking were leaning more "pop punk" or other kinds of genres. I'm pretty sure he told me to do something about it and that's more or less what made me try to pick up the slack on the actual hardcore gigs. Jake was a huge guidance for me, as well as Hernik Vasdeva who did shows with his brother Ronie Singh. There would be times where Jake and I would do shows together, as well as Hernik and I. 


IE: Do you remember the first show you booked all on your own?


John: I think TECHNICALLY the first show I booked was with Hernik at the Glen Cove Moose Lodge on January 20th 2013 with Born Annoying (members of Get Real), Blind Justice, and a few locals. I couldn't tell you much from the show. There was probably a modest 50 paid or so but I remember being psyched that people were even there! I was definitely nervous because I never was at “the helm" before in terms of running shows but most of the people playing were my friends which made it pretty manageable. I definitely worried how many people were going to actually show up, figuring out a backline, and whether I'd have a decent amount of money to give to the bands that they would be psyched about.  Before that I was doing shows with Jake, and even sometimes Vitalo (Backtrack) when he occasionally wanted to do something, but this was the first one I actually put together from the jump.


IE: Were there any growing pains or "rookie mistakes" early on? 


John: I wouldn't say there were any growing pains necessarily, just a lot of trial and error while also learning how the "game" works. “AKA” bands having previous relations with other promoters so they'd rather just play their shows, agents being agents, tracking down venues, etc. The funniest rookie moment was in the beginning, going back to when Hernik and I did another show at the Glen Cove Moose Lodge… so there were two bands from California, a band from Wilkes Barre, PA and a local Long Island band who remain unnamed. I guess neither Hernik nor I confirmed with the local drummer that he would be able to keep his drum kit at the show, so naturally after their set he left and the show stopped happening... so none of the touring bands played lol. To be fair... I didn't handle the backline for that show... but I won't put it all on Hernik cause I realistically should've double checked as well. I was too busy being on a Ferry to CT to go see Smashing Pumpkins at Mohegan Sun though. The bands were our friends and luckily just laughed about it and just hit a bowling alley afterwards. 



IE: Nowadays do you do this all yourself or do you have help?


John: Currently I book all the shows by myself. I do have a friend who helps me out with the social media aspect and ticket links/show announcements due to the fact that I am insanely forgetful/swamped with the amount of shows I'm doing these days. Shout out to Grato for holding it down. He's been helping me out for the past year or so and I legit think I wouldn't be able to be on top of my shows if it wasn't for him... ok no more ball washing!


IE: Not too long ago you went under the name East Coast Collective but have since changed over to Miles To Go. Why the name change?


John: The actual real answer for that is kind of funny. More or less… ECC was the company Jake started and had me jump on a few years back. We were 50/50 for a solid 6 years or so (maybe more) but  towards the tail end of last year we got word that The Monarch in Brooklyn was going to start using Dice and we weren't allowed to use our own ticketing if we didn't have Dice. We still had a year left in our contract with Eventbrite and wasn't sure what to do. Then I had the brilliant idea to just open a Dice account under a new company name where I was the sole owner due to the fact Jake was leaving promoting in his past due to him being a hot shot agent these days (the man books Knocked Loose while chilling on a yacht, sadly only half of that is true). Basically it was a big F you to Eventbrite for locking ECC into a contract when they went to shit during COVID and were a shell of their former self. Eventbrite can suck it. The name MTG is obviously taken from the best NYHC EP ever, written by Outburst… duh… although I wish I realized the abbreviation was also Magic The Gathering beforehand because I've been dealing with too many internet trolls.  


IE: Do you keep records of the shows you have booked? If not can you take a good guess at how many shows you have booked over the years?


John: I honestly regret this all the time. I've fallen victim to the digital age and just go off my Instagram page which I know is idiotic considering there's no definite that the page will always be there in the future. I've tried to find older flyers of mine and throw them on an external hard drive but I got pretty lazy with it. I'm a huge nostalgia guy so I will definitely be hating myself a couple years down the line. It's hard to say how many I've booked because technically I'm the in house promoter at Amityville Music Hall and book shows as AMH Presents as well so there's a pretty good chance that I've booked over 200+ shows this past year alone. I would definitely say that post-pandemic has been the busiest I've ever been in terms of booking. At the time of this interview I'm gearing up for 4 shows on Saturday alone.


IE: What are the 3 biggest shows you have done so far as far as band notoriety?


John: If it's limited to only bands I'd say Cannibal Corpse, Hatebreed, As I Lay Dying as far as the most "notoriety". Funny enough the show I've done that had the most people at it were Gorilla Biscuits this past year (As I Lay Dying had 1400 people at it, GB had 1500-1600). Hip-Hop I've done Mobb Deep, Cam'ron, Bone Thugs.


IE: What venues do you currently book shows at and how important is it to keep up a good working relationship with them? I specifically remember seeing "respect the venue" on the posts or the actual flyer from your early Massapequa VFW shows.


John: This is a comprehensive list of venues I have an "in" with… doesn't mean I book there all the time but at least they're options. There are also some others I haven't booked at yet that aren't listed but might be happening in the future. Amityville Music Hall, TV Eye, Saint Vitus, Brooklyn Monarch, The Meadows, Kingsland, Union Pool, Bowery Ballroom, Trans-Pecos, 89 North, Stereo Garden and the Massapequa VFW. Having a strong relationship is important… you both need each other at the end of the day. A venue needs a good promoter to bring people in their establishment and make sure people are drinking at the bar (xxx) and vice versa, a promoter needs a venue to put on a show. Some venue's lose sight of that and take promoters for granted, but it usually ends up showing when that's the case. Yeah VFW's are an important lifeline to LIHC, many shows throughout history have happened at halls out here and sadly, throughout history, they have gotten messed up due to a few bad eggs or accidents. Massapequa is the first VFW to pop up in a whileeeeeeeee so I'm really trying not to ruin that, or let others ruin it. 




IE: Easiest bands to work with? (And what makes them so easy to work with?) 


John: Honestly just any hardcore band that I'm friends with, no one is entitled or up each other's ass. It's the procore/other genre bands that can be nightmares with their silly rider requests or "necessities". If I had to pick a band that wasn't "hardcore" I'd say Obituary. Some of the most down to earth people ever.


IE: What are some of the most common problems you run into while trying to put a lineup together?


John: Just agents getting in the way as they can be the biggest cock blocks of all time. Nothing worse than having an idea, hitting up the band's agent, then the agent saying "I don't know if this will work due to XYZ reasons" then finding out they never even brought the idea to the band. If you're an agent reading this and you've done this to me, fuck you! Other than that the most common problems are just timing. Some awesome line ups have almost come to fruition but sadly a member has a birthday party or vacation that weekend. Kills me every time. One time I asked one of Bob Wilson’s bands (I'll refrain) to play a show and they couldn't because the drummer was going to be at the beach that day or something. Pathetic!


IE: Total disasters... you gotta have at least a couple of nightmares you'd like to forget about. Can you save that for another day and let us know what shows you think back to and are just glad you got through it?


John: I'll refrain from telling the whole story, especially considering you're saying to "save it", but the biggest nightmare was a gun being shot in the air behind me at the Bone Thugs show. I've touched on it in a few interviews so if anyone is reading this they can probably find it elsewhere if they're curious. Some of the shows I'm glad I got through weren't even necessarily nightmares, they're just the bigger shows where I'm worried that someone can get hurt/something can go wrong and I'm just happy the show went off without a hitch. If you get hurt at a show… please say you fell skateboarding and never sue the venue/promoter... thanks!




IE: About a year back I started to notice some of your shows were having much bigger lineups (more than 4 or 5 bands) but the length of the shows were manageable as you were letting each band play for only about 15 minutes and each band came on and finished like clockwork. Not all of your shows are like this... but some are. Can you explain a little more why some of your shows follow this "format" of sorts and how hard is it to keep it all on time while the show is actually happening?


John: Yeah I'm honestly not that big of a fan of the "fest" or long show aspect, but I am guilty of doing that numerous times recently. Sometimes I don't think it actually means to happen, unless it's the Triple B Showcase, but just ends up that way because of parties involved wanting a bunch of different friends/bands to play. I give myself the stage manager role at all my shows for the reason of it being run on time. I've never been able to sit back and relax at my shows because I'm almost always working the stage to make sure it's cleared before a curfew which every venue in NY has at this point in time. I always would rather have a "big" show over a fest but it definitely hits the fest vibe when it's over like 7 bands. I'm trying to stick more to the 3 to 4 band bills in the new year as my resolution, I doubt it'll happen but I'm going to try.


IE: I do my homework before these interviews and noticed your personal Facebook page says you studied business finance at college. Did taking these courses arise from already booking shows and wanting to get more into it or vice versa? Have you applied anything you have learned in school to your day to day operations of booking?


John: Haha nice! I wonder if it still says I'm a tour guide at Lake Ronkonkoma on there. Definitely no relation in terms of why I went into that degree. In reality I actually wanted to go for psychology and kind of had a mid-academy crisis and went towards something more practical. I wanted to pursue a career in human resources but simply haven't even got my foot in the door due to the career I found myself in with the music world, as well as juggling an assistant project manager job at a scaffolding company. I guess I technically apply some of the things I learned (such as financing, marketing, etc) but I never correlate the two. 



IE: You have worked closely with Amityville Music Hall for years and they are currently closed for renovations. What can you tell us about what is happening there and when they might be back open for shows?


John: Yup as previously stated I run the calendar there and act as the in house promoter. So we're closing down after these Hatebreed shows to knock down a wall and expand the venue from a 225 capacity to probably more of a 350/400 capacity. Moving the stage to the other side of the room, making it bigger, improving the sound system and other aspects of the venue. Adding green rooms upstairs. I genuinely think when we re-open it'll be a mind fuck for people who have been there in the past! On paper we're looking to reopen back in mid-May but I work in construction so... we'll see if that actually happens.


IE: Do you have any advice to others who may be looking to book hardcore punk and metal shows in their neck of the woods?


John: You kinda just have to do it. Don't get discouraged if a certain band you really want to book turns you down, or if your first show doesn't have a great turnout, just keep pushing on. Build your own scene for your area if it doesn't have one already. It might be a slow start but I guarantee that if you keep up with it you'll start gaining some traction. No matter how small or big it gets, I hope you take pride in building a community for people who are looking for an outlet and providing that outlet for them. Booking your favorite bands is just a bonus. 


IE: I can’t think of many current bands that you haven't booked or worked with but is there a Scanlon bucket list of bands that you might geek out over if you got a chance to book them?


John: I'm lucky enough to say I've done a majority of my hardcore bucket list bands but here's like a top 10 of bands I'm constantly annoying to play - even if they've played not that long ago… Neglect, Lifetime, Breakdown…  “Blacklisted: era reunion, Underdog (working on that one), Supertouch (with Mark Ryan), Floorpunch, The Rival Mob, Title Fight, Converge, Glassjaw… Bonus non-hardcore answer: Juicy J. I was supposed to book Converge and Glassjaw in the fall of 2020, thanks Covid!


IE: Thanks for your time and of course your contributions to the scene. Any final thoughts Jerry Springer style???


John: Thanks to those who have supported me/gave me a chance/played my shows/worked my shows/attended my shows. Hardcore is in a weird place right now. Young bands please say no to managers and agents unless you realllllyyyyy need them. Please start faster bands and do some crate digging/lore digging on older bands. Get influences from them, not current bands, it's making the scene very diluted sonically. Try to spark a conversation with newer people getting into the scene, make them feel welcomed. It'll always be the youth who control the movement. Do not be put under the microscope of multi-million dollar corporations who are using you for their marketing plans, please be here for the music and not the money or "fame". I think the world is also obviously in a weird place right now… there's not a lot of empathy/understanding going on. Try your best to practice empathy by putting yourself in the shoes of people you don't normally agree with and go about the conversation that way, I'm sure you'll be able to have a better conversation and enlighten them on your stance. Fuck any kind of violence… fuck guns, fuck wars, fuck religious conflicts. Thanks for the interview Chris! See ya in the pit!