Philadelphia based pop punk band The Wonder Years are set to make their first ever trip to Australia in less than a month now, as well as re-releasing their newest album "The Upsides" through Hopeless Records. The band’s vocalist Dan "Soupy" Campbell answered a few questions for us.
Start off by stating your name and what you play in The Wonder Years?
My name is Dan Campbell but you can call me Soupy. You don’t have to, but you can and I sing in The Wonder Years.
What made you first decide that you wanted to play in a band?
I was really into Blink 182 and my friend in 8th grade had a band and a bass but no bassist. He said he’d lend it to me if I could learn to play and joined his band and I went for it
Can you tell us a bit about how the band first formed? What bands have influenced you the most musically?
The band started because we needed something to do one day and we figured we might as well get together and write a song. New Found Glory and Motion City Soundtrack were the big reasons for playing the kind of music we decided to play.
The band’s second album “The Upsides” has been out since the start of the year, and I have seen nothing but positive reviews for it, did the band ever expect that the album would be received so well?
I don’t know if we ever expected anything one way or the other. All we knew was that we had literally worked as hard on this album as was possible and that we were proud of the product. After that, it’s in the hands of the listeners but I’m so glad they like it.
The record goes through the ups and the downs that members of the band have experienced, but also painting a message of hope for those listening. Do you find that lots of people have been able to relate to these themes?
I can’t adequately express the reaction to the record as far as it being relatable. There are days where I feel like we may have put a suicide hotline out of business. So many people have reached out to us through all sorts of mediums to tell us how the record helped them and there is nothing we are prouder of as a band. It’s such a cool thing for us to have been able to connect with all these people.
The album’s closing track “All My Friends Are In Bar Bands” features what you could consider to be an all-star line up of pop punk guest vocals at the moment (Title Fight, Man Overboard, Fireworks, A Loss For Words, Valencia), what made you decide to get those guys to sing on that song?
The lyric they all sing is “I’m not sad anymore; I’m just tired of this place and if this year would just end, I think we’d all be okay” and I really wanted that sentiment to have a community feel to it. Like it wasn’t just me pushing to find a place in life that I could be happy but that it was all of us making an effort as a community to better ourselves and be less miserable people so I recruited a bunch of friends to sing the line with me to kind of give off that feel.
You’ve just put up pre-orders for a re-release of The Upsides through the band’s new home in Hopeless Records. What made the band decide to re-release the album not even a year after it’s original release?
It was mostly a distro issue. The Upsides wasn’t in a lot of places and a lot of people couldn’t get it so Hopeless had to re-release it through their wider distro. We figured that, as long as we’re re-releasing it, we might as well give out more content.
A few of the pre-order packages contain a special Wonder Years lunchbox, who came up with this idea?
That was us. We were talking about all of the crazy merch bands used to have. Kiss is of course the prime example but we decided to do a little of that ourselves.
How did the signing with Hopeless fall into place?
I guess they liked the record and hit us up about coming out to a show. We talked a lot and met up a few times and shared ideas and it all just kind of clicked.
What made Hopeless stand out compared to other labels?
Hopeless had a small roster so we knew we wouldn’t get lost in the shuffle. The people there are passionate about our band and good people altogether. They call me sometimes just to talk about other shit; bands we like, etc. They are into our ideas for things and basically work to find the right channels to make all of our big plans come to life. I think that’ll show in the re-release of Upsides and in the music video we just shot.
Will you still be working with No Sleep Records at all?
Yep! No Sleep will be releasing a collection of all the material we recorded while on their label as well as, most likely, future releases from us on vinyl. Chris isn’t really a label owner to us. He’s our friend. I’m actually texting him right now. Great guy. Backed hard.
You will be making your first ever trip to Australia in less than a month now, what are you looking forward to the most about coming here?
I’m trying to hang out with kangaroos and maybe track down that girl from Road Rules Australia that I was in love with when I was like 15 and get a picture of all of us in front of famous Australian landmarks like the Opera House.
The tour is with Heroes For Hire, Tonight Alive and Skyway, have you heard much of those guys already?
I’ve listened to all of the bands since finding out about the tour and I’m excited to get to see them play every night. All reports are that these are some of the best pop punk bands in the country so I’m stoked to play with them.
The band is no stranger to vinyl releases; you have just announced that you will be releasing a split 7” with Heroes For Hire. How did this idea come about?
Hopeless brought it to the table. We’ve never formally released anything in Australia yet so we thought that this would be a good starting point. The artwork rules.
What do you like the most about releasing records on vinyl?
I feel like it allows for more personality. CDs are generally mass produced and all the same. Vinyl has so many options to customize and make limited. It feels like we can personally connect with kids buying records the way we could when they were hand-burned demos that we wrote on.
You just recently shot your first ever music video, was this an exciting moment for the band?
This was so awesome. The whole day we spent there was amazing. It was much harder work than I imagined. I actually vomited after only two takes because it was so exhausting but I loved doing it. The video. Not the vomit.
Can you share any details about the video with us?
Not yet. Sorry! But keep your eyes peeled we may be posting up some clues in the near future.
The band has had some troubles with vans this year, have you been guaranteed that the band will be travelling in the finest vans that Australia has to offer?
No one has guaranteed it but whatever happens, we’ll be okay. We always are. We’re no stranger to bad transportation.
The band has been a part of some amazing tours over the last few years, which one has been your favourite and why?
I think I had the most fun on the Kimbo Wants a Pepsi tour with Set Your Goals, Comeback Kid and This Time Next Year because there was so many friends there. It was a huge group of people hanging out every night. It felt really comfortable. I very rarely wasn’t laughing on that tour.
Is the “Six Dudes From The Keystone State” CD collection that No Sleep has mentioned still going ahead?
Yes sir. It should be out early next year.
What is the band’s set list like at the moment? You have a good catalogue of tunes to choose from these days.
The actual set changes night to night but its mostly songs off Upsides. We do two off Get Stoked on It and one or two off Won’t Be Pathetic Forever.
What are your thoughts on the current state of pop punk?
I think things are going really well. A ton of great bands are releasing a lot of great records.
Who are some bands that you have been enjoying lately that we should be checking out?
Transit, Fireworks, Living With Lions, I Call Fives, Andrew Jackon Jihad, Bomb the Music Industry, Mountain Goats, Hold Steady, Man Overboard, Basement.
Do you have any goals that you would like to achieve with this band?
We really just want to meet Mark Hoppus. Reasonable enough I think.
What is it like to know that there are people all over the world who have listened to and love your band?
It’s really surreal. Sometimes I have to stop and think about how ridiculous it is. I mean, we’ve played in Russia. That’s some wild shit.
What are the band’s plans of the rest of 2010 after you leave Australia?
We’re doing a tour with Four Year Strong and Comback Kid and then writing a new full length.
Thanks for doing the interview, any last words?
See you guys soon. I’ll be the dude hanging out with kangaroos with the girl from Road Rules on my arm.