An Interview with The Wonder Years
I wouldn’t say I’m too into music, but there are certain sounds that do for me what I think all music should—take you back to another moment in time. To the teen angst and suburban melancholy, bonfires and late night drives with friends to get Korean BBQ … to the wonder years.
Yes, I just did that. Though I had my favorites like The Story So Far or Silverstein, I could always count on The Wonder Years to remind me of the silver lining to my life. Their newest album Sister Cities (2018) is different, but just as refreshing as when I first started listening to them with the album The Upsides (2010).
The Wonder Years is a six-person band hailing from Pennsylvania, and is made up of Matt Brasch on rhythm guitar, Dan Campbell on lead vocals, Casey Cavaliere on lead guitar, Mike Kennedy on drums, Josh Martin on bass guitar and Nick Steinborn on keyboards, piano and rhythm guitar.
The other day, I got to chat with Josh Martin on the phone about what The Wonder Years has been up to, where their music has gone, and where it’s currently heading.
the newspaper: There was a lot of hype amongst your fans because with this concept album, you had this riddling, almost scavenger hunt going on. Can you speak a bit more about this whole process? Whose idea was it and were you happy with how it played out?
It was Dan’s idea. We’ve done some stuff like this before with a previous record.
But this record spoke a lot about a connectivity and commonality about human existence, and a common feeling between one another. No matter where you’re from, you suffer loss and experience love and so for that we were trying to figure out ways to be more connective between the people that are supporting our band.
The idea kind of blossoms that we would have these big posters all over the world, in Tokyo, Toronto, Nashville, Costa Rica, Paris, London and in Berlin, you know all over. And then you would go and you would find there was a character on each one, like a letter, [to] spell [a] phrase out, and you would unlock the [teasers] that are in the announcement for the record.
The code got cracked not as organically as maybe we had hoped. But I still think it was a cool thing that we tried to do and tried to execute, and tried to get people to work together.
tn: How was the album recording process? Do you ever miss recording in Mike or Nick’s basements?
It was dope, we did it at Sunset Sounds in Hollywood and it’s an incredible studio, legendary. The records made there are fantastic. And just going to get to work in there every day was really awesome.
We did [still do] a lot of demos for this record [in their basements]. I got my fill of that for sure!
tn: There’s always a sense of vulnerability in your music, which is what your fans love about you guys. The Upsides was really important for me as I went to college. But even as I grow up, the emotionally-driven music you guys put out in Sister Cities is still so compelling. Can you talk a bit about the title track? I heard it was inspired by your travels in South America?
We had a South American tour, ... it was awesome, it was our first time there … and it was incredible to see somewhere that we’ve never been before.
We flew into Santiago, Chile and we found out that the local promoter had cancelled the show. But a group of people that were excited about us coming there had banded together and had a practice space that they were just like, “Well you guys can just go play … and we’ll all come and it’ll be dope.”
It was an incredibly memorable experience with these people we’ve never met before. And just down the room from the hotel that we were staying in … is this park and these huge pillars, and all these cities, sister cities that Santiago connects to, and it was really spectacular.
I think it speaks a lot to the ethic that … [the] rock community [has].… There is something about the music, performance, interaction.
tn: Is the rest of your album based on other travels too, like “Raining in Kyoto”?
It’s in the name.… Dan had suffered the loss of a family member that was really powerful, and a lot of us have lost family members either on tour or … heading to tour, and that’s a hard thing to do, but … he was met with kindness … by an older man [when] we were at this shrine in Kyoto.
tn: You guys tend to paint yourselves as these perpetual underdogs, or at least I’ve heard Dan talk about this. Do you feel like that continues to fit in with this album? Considering The Wonder Years’ success, is the underdog narrative still personally relevant in your life?
Moreso underdog in purpose and drive, always trying to invest genuine effort into an album we can be proud of.
It’s important to celebrate achievements, but keeping it humble and trying to grow is even more important.
tn: Do you continue to see yourself as a champion of the pop punk genre?
Not particularly. If other people want to ... give us a label, that’s fine, but otherwise, I just want to continue creating music that we love and can be proud of.
The Wonder Years will be coming to Toronto on tour to support their new album with an all-ages show on Wednesday, June 6 at the Phoenix Concert Theatre!comments powered by Disqus