Interview: The Wonder Years

In anticipation of their new release on No Sleep Records later this month entitled The Upsides, [UTG] James recently

sent over an interview to the headquarters of up and coming pop punk rockers The Wonder Years. Below, you will find the reply to said interviews as written by Soupy, the lead singer of the group.

UTG: Why hello there, hope today is treating you well. How have the past few weeks been treating you?

TWY: It’s been a rollercoaster man. I lost a lot and I gained a lot but I’m still standing and ready to face what’s next and that’s the important part.

UTG: Now, I know a lot of people have been speculating the cause and whatnot, so let’s get it out of the way. What happened that The Upsides managed to get out so far in advance? In addition, how did you and the band take it?

TWY: I don’t want to point any fingers. The bottom line is that it’s out. At first, I was really really bummed. We’re not Led Zeppelin. It actually does matter when you steal our record. I got really panicky because, as much as I hate to admit it, our record sales matter. Some people were just downright mean about it too. It leaked on Christmas Eve and I read some kid I’ve never even met say that he’s glad it leaked and he hopes we’re bummed. Like, did I fuck your girlfriend or something, man? The bummed out feeling didn’t last too long though. A lot of really awesome people listen to our band and still ordered the record and sent us messages saying they were sorry it leaked but that they bought it anyway and they love it. That made me feel better. I’m not the most emotionally stable dude in the world so things like that really do affect me.

UTG: Back to “the upsides” [sorry, had to], I remember hearing that earlier in the band’s career, you didn’t tour as much because some of you were still in college. Has everyone graduated at this point?

TWY: Kind of, sort of. Kennedy, Casey and Matt have degrees. Josh and I are done all of our classes but need to find some time to do internships/student teaching. We’ll get there.

UTG: Was it ever an issue in the band that members wanted to continue school and being in the group at the same time?

TWY: I mean, never a big issue, We’re friends first and a band second and we were all in similar situations so it’s easy to be empathetic to each other’s situations. We all had a lot of pressure coming at us from different directions. “Finish school.” “Go on tour.” “Move in with me.” “You never hang out anymore.” We all worked out hardest to keep everyone happy at all times.

UTG: To continue on this vibe, if the Wonder Years were to stop being a band tomorrow, what do you think you’d all be doing in the quote/unquote “real world”?

TWY: I’d go back to teaching for awhile and eventually I’d like to open a punk rock after school center like Rocketown in Nashville. I’m sure the other dudes would put their degrees to use. That, or we’d all end up in a one bedroom house somewhere eating ramen and talking about the glory days.

UTG: Onto The Upsides, the tagline “I’m not sad anymore” is one that appears multiple times throughout the record and it’s an obvious theme for the album overall. Why was it so important to you to get this message across?

TWY: I think I wanted myself to believe it more than anything. The idea wasn’t to completely abolish sadness. I’m realistic. I know that people get sad because I’m sad a lot. The idea was to fight back. I wanted to be happy and I wanted to surround myself with happy people. I’m not sad anymore was a statement for me to live up to. I would say it and work towards it and then one day, have it be true.

UTG: A lot of bands tend to go for a bigger sound and production with their Sophomore record, but you guys seem to have simply improved as a band and while the quality of the record is better, it’s not over the top, wall of sound, style that seems to dominate the pop punk scene these days. Was this a conscious decision on your part or simply how the record came out?

TWY: I don’t really know anything about recording so I don’t know if I can really answer that the way you want it answered so I’ll say this: Vince Ratti records bands in a room off the back of his parents garage and I’d say that the sound quality stacks up to big studios everywhere. I love Vince. He’s a great dude, easy to work with and good at what he does. That was what made the decision for us.

UTG: On that note, do you have any thoughts on the slew of bands across seemingly all genres of rock that have been suing more and more digital effects [808s, drum triggers, etc.] in both live and studio sessions in place of simply playing their instruments?

TWY: I mean, people can do what they want. I kind of think it’s silly to use bass drops live before breakdowns and shit but it’s really none of my business.

UTG: the vividness of the lyrics on this record is completely enthralling. Even without the music I think they stand impressively well on their own. To whom or what do you attribute your writing style?

TWY: As far as other musicians go as influences, I’m really into what John from The Weakerthans, Justin from Motion City Soundtrack and Craig from The Hold Steady do. I think those are the main ones that help shape what I’m doing lyrically. There’s also a few poets I really like that have an influences on what I’m doing. Most notably, the honesty of Charles Bukowski and the way that Bruce Andrews and Anselm Berrigan recontextualize real life conversation for the sake of art. I love writing that’s real and I want to provide that.

UTG: Outside of the music, you’ve released multiple written works. Is this something you want to pursue more as time goes on or just a hobby?

TWY: I just like to do it. Paper Boats, Or Some Poems I Wrote happened because I had worked out a way that I got college credit for doing it through my school. big ups to my man Stan Mir (awesome poet) for helping make that happen. I needed to get those credits or we couldn’t have toured when we did.

UTG: Being 22 myself, I’ve always felt quite connected to the messages found on your records as do many of my friends. Would you say you’re a band that appeals more to 20 somethings who’ve gotten a bit more out and into the world than say the Hot Topic something-teen crowd?

TWY: I hope that everyone can connect with it at some point or on some level. I’m not hiding anything in these songs. I think that a lot of people have similar experiences and thoughts and I don’t think that a few years in age difference will really alter that too much but I guess we’ll see.

UTG: Onto touring, what plans do you have after the release shows?

TWY: I don’t know if I’m allowed to say all of it yet. I know we’re doing a month with Therefore I Am and Man Overboard. After that I think we might have some goals in mind that we’d set awhile ago with a few kids that came back, but first we need to steal a new stereo for our van and avoid being prosecuted for the crime. Wink wink, nudge nudge.

UTG: You’re doing a couple of acoustic sets to promote the record as well. Do you think we’ll see more acoustic work from The Wonder Years in the future?

TWY: I kind of want to be at a point where we can just play out the back of the trailer before or after shows for fun. I love acoustic sets because I can carry on and tell stories and talk to kids while we play.

UTG: The buzz behind the record is massive and its all well deserved. Do you think this could be the year the Wonder Years goes from playing basement shows to barricaded bars and whatnot? Is that something you want?

TWY: I read that as barricaded bars and walmarts and so, the answer is yes. You’ll find us in aisle 11 next to the home goods. Now, with that bad joke out of the way: it could be and I won’t be fighting it. I love small shows but I want to play for as many kids as we can. I’d rather not play bars but you can’t always avoid that so whatever. As long as they’re all ages shows I’m happy.

UTG: Well, I don’t want to keep you too long and I’m sure we’ll be meeting up in the near future for more coverage, conversation, etc., but do you have any closing thoughts you’d like to share? [This does not have to be, in any way, related to TWY]

TWY: Surround yourself with happy people. See more daylight. The sun’s good for you. Ride bikes. Play laser tag. Eat more burritos. Listen to The Notorious BIG and if you haven’t seen it, watch Forgetting Sarah Marshall. It’s the only movie I really love.

Thanks for your time Soupy. Love the record.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the founder of Under The Gun Review. He loves writing about music and movies almost as much as he loves his two fat cats. He's also the co-founder of Antique Records and the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. You should probably follow him on Twitter.

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  • Bruce Andrews

    Hi TWY and Soupy;
    and thanks for the mention.
    If you get a chance, drop me a line
    with some info about your group…
    cheers,
    Bruce Andrews

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