It was a scenario he knew all too well: hitting the road, going from city-to-city to play in front of thousands of screaming fans.
But this time, it wasn’t hockey players the crowd came to see.
And it wasn’t Stafford who was preparing to perform.
Instead, the winger had the unique opportunity to be up close and personal with one of his favorite bands
as Every Time I Die hit the stage on Warped Tour last week.
“It was such a cool experience for me,” Stafford said, who accompanied the group on tour from Chicago to a show in Minneapolis. “I like their sound, I like their lyrics, so just to watch from the stage, see them play that close with all the energy they have - not to mention being able to hang out with them and see them as normal guys – was awesome.”
As a musician himself, Stafford has been the guitarist for two bands – Invisible Children and Red Seal Peach – which he still is involved with. But it was a more recent performance that caught the attention of members from Every Time I Die.
Appearing with Irish Tenor, Ronan Tynan, and the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra
in December for a charity concert, Stafford and teammate Ryan Miller
were interviewed about playing on stage.
“They asked about our favorite bands and what kind of music we listened to. I mentioned [Every Time I Die] and within the next couple of days I got an email from their manager saying the band was trying to get in touch with me,” Stafford said. “I got one of their phone numbers, got them tickets to a few games and ended up talking to them a little bit.”
Before long, they invited the winger to join them on the road.
“I met them in Chicago last week, hopped on the bus with them and drove to the next show,” Stafford said. “I told them about how I have my band and how I am trying to record and get my stuff out there… But it was more of just being there, being around that atmosphere and seeing how it is, that lifestyle.
“They are the real deal. To see them in person and learn a couple of things was just really cool.”
Their mutual love of music is not the only thing they share as both Stafford and the band members both call Western New York home.
“They all happen to be from Buffalo and are huge hockey fans,” Stafford said. “They had just as many questions about hockey as I did about music. It was pretty cool to fill them in on my lifestyle, what I do, how fortunate I am to be playing and how much fun I have doing it.”
While the skills required for each profession are considerably different, Stafford found that the life of a musician is not unlike the life of an athlete.
From being on the road for long periods of time to interacting with fans and fanatics, some parallels were drawn between the two vocations.
“Everything is the same. It was one of the jokes we had, how similar they are,” he said. “With the Sabres, we are a team. We are on the road together all the time, hanging out and working together with our fans supporting us all the way. With the band it’s the same exact thing. They are experts at what they do… and have to perform at their top level and have fun with it.
“I think the whole experience was awesome, just being there. Last year I didn’t know any of them but I was a big fan of their stuff. In less than a year I’m on stage with them and just watching them… They are great guys, funny, and showed me a good time.”
DREW STAFFORD PLAYS WITH BUFFALO PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA