After playing Soundwave twice in the past couple of years, we haven’t had a headline tour from The Wonder Years in what feels like ages. Following a cancelled headline tour in 2014, which we received a lot of clarification on in this interview (just saying), the band is pretty damn eager to get back to our shores. That visit goes down this May along with Knuckle Puck and our very own, Our Past Days. For the second time in six months, we catch up with Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell for another old yarn.
Tell me Soupy, how many interviews have you had today?
I think you’re number six at this point, man.
What’s the largest amount of press you’ve done back to back?
I’d say maybe…10 interviews, back to back.
You know, that’s a bit lower than I was expecting, I thought maybe like 20 would have been your answer.
Nah, they always get broken up so we don’t have to do too many. At Warped Tour though, you used to have the press tent where you’d sign your name and anyone who wanted to interview you could sign up as well. You would get like 12 people a day, and some are for these web blogs with zero followers and it’s like, how did you get here? I respect the hustle of it, but I gotta have lunch (laughs). [But] I haven’t had anything that’s really boring or arduous today.
Well, that’s good to hear man. So how has your US tour been going so far? I know that you’re a few dates into it now.
We are so pleased with it so far. We did in the fall what is called an ‘A-market headline’, which means we play all of the big cities. Now for this tour we’re doing all of the other places in between those cities and playing small, fun shows.
Nice! I take it those smaller shows go off with yourselves, Tiny Moving Parts and letlive. on the tour as well.
That’s the other thing too; if our crowd doesn’t know who they are [or] that their sets are so good, people then walk away from them loving it.
Very true. I’ve seen letlive. here a few times and it’s always great. So chaotic too. With the US tour poster, you have the cracked T.V. screen and then you have all of those tv’s in the video for ‘Stained Glass Ceilings’…So I’m wondering if there’s a connection there, or if it’s just a similar theme because the video came out just before the tour?
I don’t know if you remember this, but those bars of colour on the TV, they were the warning screenings. I’m not sure if it happened outside of America, but it would always say, ‘This is a test of the emergency broadcast. This is only a test’. So if you saw these on screen, you had to listen to the T.V. as it would tell you of this emergency. It’s a really iconic image from my age group, and I started to think if you shattered it, it would just be like stained glass.
We wanted to smash the T.V.’s for the video but, as it turned out, those old T.V’s are quite hard to smash, and it’s actually dangerous if they get really damaged. So we didn’t do it, but we really liked the metaphor.
Ah, very cool. And yes, that may have only been an American thing, the bars of colour, I mean. Now, I take it that Jason from letlive. has been joining you guys on stage for ‘Stained Glass Ceilings’.
He missed the first two shows but last night he made it up, and he smashed it. It was just awesome.
I always find it annoying when bands have done guest spots on each others albums, and then they’ll go out and tour together yet the singers don’t do their guest moments. Like, I know it can be hard to do, ’cause maybe they’ve got press to do, or they’re running late, etc.
Yeah, I would always love to see it happen, but as you said, there are always other circumstances. letlive. had offered for me to do the Renditions version of The Dope Beat, but they’re on stage right now as I’m talking to you so it can’t always work out.
Ah, sorry about that [laughs]. Now for the Aussie tour, have you checked out the opening band, Our Past Days yet?
No, I haven’t had the chance, but it’s definitely on my to-do-list. We have so much to do right now with the band. I’m also planning a wedding as I’m getting married later this year. I have a new Aaron West 7” inch coming out. I produced a record of a band, and I need to make sure they can get that released.
Damn, sounds pretty hectic. And congrats on the wedding.
Thank you, we’re very excited. I even have the ‘Save The Date’ cards to put in my bunk so I can look at it every day.
Wow, that’s cute as fuck. Moving on, I’ve seen people say things like ‘they’ll probably cancel this tour too’ and similar comments to that end. While I know you guys were in a tough situation back then, do you think that this tour will restore some of that confidence in people? Kind of like restoring voter, or rather, consumer confidence?
For sure. The upsetting part about that is that we didn’t have anything to do with cancelling that tour. If the promoter doesn’t book the flights, how can I come? If there’s no van booked, if there’s no hotel booked, if there are no internal flights booked, how can I possibly come to Australia to play? That was somebody else’s job to get right and they didn’t, which is so frustrating for us as we had a lot of angry fans, and there was just nothing we could do about it. I can’t get on a plane if I don’t have a ticket.
Exactly right man, and while you guys could have covered the costs yourselves that would have really messed with the finances of the band.
Honestly, we didn’t have the money for all of those costs back then, and if you can’t get a straight answer about your flights, your transportation [and] are there actually even shows booked? …Let’s say we could have spent all that money and we get to the venue on the day, are they just going to say, ‘Who the fuck are you?’
There was a lot of risk involved and I completely understand why you had to cancel that tour. It was too much of a risk.
Fuck it, I’ll tell you. We kept on getting told that flights would be booked by Tuesday, by Thursday, then by Saturday, and by the time that it wasn’t done, there where no flights we could get on for us, after the US tour we had at that time, to make it possible. And it’s a shame, as we used to be friends with them, but we haven’t heard anything from them since. I didn’t even get a ‘sorry’, just that we had to cancel and then never heard from them again.
So yeah, I don’t know what happened there. We have managers and agents to take care of that kind of stuff for a reason, but I don’t have any explanation other than everybody on our team said ‘This tour can’t happen, sorry guys’. We don’t cancel things; it’s not our thing as a band. We’ve driven through snowstorms that were way too dangerous to drive through to play shows, we’ve slept on the ground in car parks to make the next show.
Well said man, it was a clusterfuck and was out of your hands. Finally, how do you go about making the sets for a new tour?
I can’t really give you a straight answer unless I look at all of the streaming data from Australia and try to translate that into the best set list. But if it makes sense to play it, it’ll get played.
Fair call dude. And you just said that you look at the streaming data for upcoming tours. I’m sure lots of bands do this but I can’t think of anyone else I know of who looks at the streaming data.
It just seems like I have all of this data readily available to me, so why wouldn’t use it? I asked on Twitter last year about what songs people wanted to hear, and I made a tally sheet for the songs.
And these are the people paying to see you, so you want to give them what they want, more or less. We’ll leave it there my man, thanks heaps for this interview Soupy.
Thanks very much man, have a good one.
‘No Closer To Heaven’ is out now.
Catch The Wonder Years on tour, with Knuckle Puck and Our Past Days, this May.