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Interview: The Wonder Years

Ahead of their new album, 'The Upsides', Alter The Press! recently spoke to lead singer Soupy of The Wonder Years, who told us about their new album, how the band originated, his thoughts on the album leaking early and much more.

ATP: Could you introduce yourself and your band for those who don't know you?
Soupy: My name is Soupy. Well, not really. My name is Daniel Jason Campbell, but people call me Soupy and I'm fine with it. I sing in The Wonder Years.

ATP: Tell us about how the band got created. Which bands made you want to play music?
S: Just jokes, man. The Wonder Years was a joke. We wanted to start a joke band and we did. Then, it snowballed. Now it's where it is today and hopefully it only gets bigger. When I was younger a lot of local bands had a big influence on me wanting to play music because, for me, they bridged the gap between what I was capable of and what I heard when I bought a new CD. It wasn't until I went to a local show that I realized there were steps I could take in between learning to play bass and being Blink-182. A lot of bands that no one's probably ever heard of like Tally Ho, The Minor Times and Inkling made it seem like a possibility to me. Bands like Blink-182, The Get Up Kids and The Starting Line were where the dream started.

ATP: Your new full-length, 'The Upsides', is coming out next month. There's a real story and meaning behind it. Could you tell us about it?
S: 'The Upsides' is just about not living in a world of self-defeating bullshit. My friend Max said it best last night when he said that he stopped listening to hardcore and started listening to hip hop because he'd rather hear songs about how fucking cool someone thinks they are than songs about self-hatred. Every song I listened to for a long time was about being sad and that doesn't make sense because I don't want to be sad. Ideally, I'd like to be a normal, happy, balanced person and while that might not be the easiest task in the world, I want to work towards it anyway. 'The upsides' is all about that goal. Yes, sometimes we're depressed. Yes, sometimes I don't want to get out of bed, but really, I don't have it that bad and I don't want to stay that way forever.

ATP: You have asked your fans to Tweet about the "upsides" of their bad days to post them on your MySpace. Would you define it as a concept album?
S: I think a concept album generally tells a story. I might be wrong. I don't know if I've ever really heard one. The idea behind Tweeting is to get everyone behind the idea of looking for the parts of your life that aren't shitty. I spent so much fucking time thinking about how much school sucked or work sucked or how much I hated riding my bike in the rain. I should have spent more time thinking about how lucky I was to have a lot of amazing people and things in my life. I want 'The upsides' to be more than just a record people put on. I know that's a lofty goal but I think that we can change people's ways of thinking, even if it's just a little bit. There's always an upside. Or, almost always at least. I guess like, a nuclear holocaust would be pretty awful all around, but you get my point.

ATP: A lot of your lyrics are about the ups and downs of being in a band but still, most of your fanbase praise you for writing songs they can relate to. What is the reason for this, according to you?
S: This realization came to me when I was talking to my boy Bear outside a show once. There's a reason we all listen to punk rock instead of top 40. There's a reason I'd rather be stage diving than at a bar. I think that most everyone I know involved in punk or hardcore is intrinsically fucked up on some level. There is something wrong with us. Maybe not "wrong", but certainly different. Because of this, I think we all share a similar outlook and because of that, we share similar experiences. I'm just writing songs about my life, but as it turns out, my life is pretty similar to a lot of other people's lives and honestly, it feels good to know we're going through this shit together.

ATP: 'The Upsides' is full of optimism. Is having a positive message something important for you or do you just try to recollect what's going on in your mind without thinking too much of your influence on kids?
S: There's a push and pull. First and foremost, these are songs about my life and my thoughts. I am not bullshitting about anything. Whatever you hear on 'The Upsides' is how I feel or at least, how I felt when I wrote it. A lot of the lyrics are things I've actually said or heard say. All of the stories are true. On the other hand, I've found writing lyrics to be very cathartic and I find out a lot about myself and how I think I should live through writing them and I'm happy to pass the advice along to anyone who wants it or needs it. I don't want to be depressed. I don't want anyone else to be depressed. Hopefully, we can all beat it together.

ATP: You've included a book of poems and short stories with the pre-order. How did you come up with this idea? Does it approach the same issues as the album?
S: The book was originally issued late last spring and has been sold out for a long time. I've had a lot of requests for copies and Smartpunk wanted something special to give away with orders so we decided on 'Paper Boats'. Some of the lyrics from the record come from the book. Some of the book is totally separate. I'm just glad that people who want it are getting a last chance to get it.

ATP: The album suffered from an early leak. What was your reaction? Would you rather have more people listening to your music without buying the record or the contrary?
S: I am a very anxious person. It doesn't take much to get to me and takes very little more to cause me to momentarily break and so, finding out the album leaked on Christmas Eve, right before going to dinner with my Nana. It shook me a little (a lot. A fucking lot). Some things really bothered me. People shouldn't have posted about it on our MySpace or on Twitter. Then more people knew it leaked. Some people were just outright mean. Someone said that they were glad it leaked and that they hoped it bummed us out. Like, dude, I've never even met you. Why would you say that? But as a few days passed, I didn't mind as much. We have great great fans. They are buying it anyway. They still support and that makes me feel really really good. Thanks.

ATP: What's in store for you after the release of 'The Upsides'?
S: Touring, touring, touring, touring, touring, touring, touring. I never want to be home again. I want to go to every weird country and play all sorts of shows with all of my friends. And I want to do more releases. I want two more The Wonder Years releases to come out this year. Little
releases. Splits maybe. But more. More of everything. This is all that I have left. I want to give it everything.

ATP: In the past you've toured Europe a few times. What was the experience like? Any plans to come back soon?
S: It's always been awesome. Weird? Yes. Displacing? Absolutely, but always great. I miss my friends from overseas every day. I want to come back soon but we need to finally do a tour over there where we aren't headling shows we booked ourselves. Maybe we'll find an agent and come over to support someone. That'd be nice.

ATP: Could you tell us about the 'Six Dudes From The Keystone State' collection CD?
S: It's everything No Sleep put out up to 'The Upsides'. 'Get Stoked On It!', 'Won't Be Pathetic Forever', 'Distances' plus two other b-sides. All remastered with new artwork.

ATP: You are know to have a DIY ethic. How important is it for you and how do you apply it in your life as a band?
S: I don't know if we've ever said that, but I know it's something that's been cast upon us and for, what I think are good reasons. We work our asses off. Our label doesn't have a lot of money. We don't get to buy full page ads. We don't have the connections or resources to get on 'big' tours. If people know about us, it's because of our hard work and the hard work of a small group of amazing people that helped us along the way.

ATP: What's the story behind it 'Hey Thanks', from the guests to the ukulele and horns?
S: I wrote 'Hey Thanks' for a girl named Jessica who I spent the last two years living with and being in love with. We are no longer together but she has the kindest heart of anyone I know and I'm glad that a song for her made the record. I wrote it in our bedroom, with the ukulele my dad bought me as a birthday present. It wasn't supposed to be a The Wonder Years song but it made it way into one. Rachel [Minton, from Zolof & The Rock Roll Destroyer] sings on it because she is Jessica's favorite singer and I felt like that made the song more special. Matt plays trombone on it Ubecause it sounds cool as hell. I think it's my favorite song on 'The Upsides'.

ATP: The last song of the new album features your friends from Valencia, A Loss For Words, Fireworks, Title Fight and Man Overboard. 2009 has seen a return to basics for pop-punk with bands like those. Do you have this feeling too, being friends with all those guys? How is it being part of this scene?
S: These are people I'm honored to know. Talented, great people. No questions asked. I wanted them all to be a part of this because I wanted 'The upsides' to be a group effort. It's not about me trying not to be sad anymore. It's about all of us. All of my friends. Everyone I care about. I want all of us to be happy together and having all of my friends sing on this song and especially on this part I think helps to show that we're all going to be okay. All of us.

'The Upsides' by The Wonder Years is released on No Sleep Records on January 26th

The Wonder Years on MySpace

Words by Romain Jeanticou
Edited by Sean Reid

Orignal Interview appears courtesy on live review writer Romain Jeanticou's personal blog. Romain granted us with permission to use the interview on Alter The Press.

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