When spokespeople for Science Records in Costa Mesa, Calif., say the label is home to Beat Union, they're not just speaking figuratively.
Though the four lads from Birmingham, England, draw their musical influences from Elvis Costello, The Jam and Squeeze, their living arrangements are more derivative of Henry Rollins, Black Flag and SST Records. The label's floors serve as beds between tours.
"I've read [Rollins'] Get in the Van a few times, and that book changed my life," says Dave Warsop, Beat Union's lead singer and guitarist. "Even if we did have some huge record deal and the money was there for us to go home for a couple of weeks, it's like, "Fuck it,' you know what I mean?"
Given the motivational imbalance between his home life and current U.S. life, Warsop makes sense. Since he and fellow guitarist Dean Ashton, bassist Ade Preston and drummer Luke Johnson arrived stateside in January, they've toured with pop-punk darlings Authority Zero, played at South by Southwest and finished recording their debut album Disconnected, which will be released April 22.
Back home, by contrast, Beat Union had to share time with Warsop's job as a warehouse worker and driver for an auto-parts distribution company.
"This morning, I woke up in the van, and it was boiling hot and I was sweaty," he says. "We had played a show last night and I hadn't washed for a while. I'm a dirty fucking slob, the bank's chasing me, but I woke up and there was a blue sky, we're playing music tonight and I thought, "It doesn't get any better than this.'"
For all its recent successes, however, Beat Union may face its toughest work ahead, on this summer's Warped Tour. For one thing, the band's signed on to play all of the tour's 50-odd dates under the unforgiving summer sun. For another, they might be in for some culture shock, considering Warsop still holds the scholarly view that Fugazi, Rites of Spring and Dag Nasty are true emo bands.
"Not everyone gets it, and there are a few kids out there who compare us to Green Day or Against Me! because they don't know those older influences," Warsop says. "But there was a kid tonight who came up to us at the end of our set after we did The Specials' "Ghost Town' and recognized that they were from Birmingham, where we're from, and that there was a tip of the hat."
Assuming they make it through, they'll have Warped to thank for two months of subsidized touring. It will be part of a support structure that includes producer John Feldmann, who brought the band to Orange County on his own dime after hearing one of its demos, the Science staff that steps over the band as it sleeps, and the folks back in Birmingham.
Warsop admits that even his English employer had a small hand in his success by allowing him to tour with Taking Back Sunday and Gym Class Heroes in the U.K.
"As much as I didn't like the job and as much as I don't want to be there, they were pretty good to me," Warsop said. "I can't piss on them too hard."