Published Feb 16, 2010It's 2010, it's cold as shit outside and if you're a true procrastinator, you're still thinking about how you want to "start this year off right." Traditionally, a melodic pop punk record is more of a summer jam. It turns out that Pennsylvania's the Wonder Years have given slow-starting cynics the greatest gift of all. The Upsides is a collection of genuine songs about rising against the personal uncertainties of your early 20s. Vocalist Dan "Soupy" Campbell starts off the record with an often-returned-to thesis statement: "I'm not sad anymore." This is an infectious call to arms, begging listeners to follow his lead towards positivity. While this band tend to be grouped with pop punk acts like Four Year Strong and Fireworks, the Wonder Years' lyrical depth is what gives them the edge amongst that crew. Campbell's lyrics are more self-referential than general, but they're ultimately relatable and will sit right in the guts of anyone who has made playing music the guiding force of their life. These are fast and catchy songs reminiscent of bands like New Found Glory and the Starting Line. In a way, The Upsides is about as close as you can get to listening to Say Anything without losing all of your punk cred. That said, this record rises above many predecessors and speaks to a generation of run-down "popped punks" when they need it most. The Wonder Years remind us that "the world's not such a shitty place," and shows that music can be happy and culturally relevant at the same time.
To me, The Upsides is a collection of anthems about being in a band and dealing with your mid-20s. Can you talk a little bit about what motivates you to push the band and resist the urge to explore other opportunities?
Campbell: It's something I've grappled with everyday for a few months now. I just turned 24 and, honestly, to me, that feels old and I feel the pressure of the "real world" pretty often. But what it comes down to is that the thing I get to wake up and do everyday is the exact thing that I've been dreaming about since I was 13 and I can't give that up. I'll be normal eventually. For now, I'm going to stick with this.
How were the record release shows? Was it tough saying goodbye to your long-time drummer and good friend Mike Kennedy? How did the relationship with replacement Nick Steinborn come about?
The record release week was the most surreal week of my life. We travelled something like 4,500 miles, slept very poorly on flights and in the van, and played five of the coolest shows we've ever played. Kennedy is our best friend and we miss having him in the van everyday. Nick has been a friend of mine since the eighth grade and is by far the most talented dude I've ever met.
I can't help but feel like 2010 is going to be big for you guys. I keep hearing your name, and people seem excited about the new record. Is there an ultimate goal for the Wonder Years or are you along for the ride?
The only real goal for Wonder Years is to hang out with Mark Hoppus. Beyond that, it's all bonus. Oh, and we'd like tour in an RV. This broken-down van shit is played out. (No Sleep)