'The Journey Back'
Add Yellowcard [Ryan Key, Sean Mackin, Ryan Mendez, Longineu W. Parsons III] to that very short list of spirited pop-punk acts that made the transition from an indie to a major label and got better in the process. The SoCal by way of Florida band's brand of strident, post-emo pop has only improved with each release, even as their sound grew more anthemic and radio-friendly (and reached double platinum status).
Their first album since founding guitarist Ben Harper split the group, Paper Walls has been described by the band themselves as a sort of group therapy attempt, an effort to "tear down obstacles and heal old scars" amongst the five members. Unsurprisingly, the lyrics are direct and honest, while they've broadened their sonic palette to allow a tad more dissonance in with their urgent and propulsive pop-punk.
The songs "Shadows and Regrets," "Paper Walls" and "Five Become Four" mix thoughtful lyrics with a sped-up, catchy violin in a way that's both "mature" and the ideal soundtrack to your next extreme sports adventure.
Taking it from the top and what were your musical influences growing
up and how many still factor into your music today? Ryan Key: "Music really started to inspire me the most when I was about 13 I guess. Bands like Nirvana, Weezer, and Green Day got me playing guitar. All three of those bands are still important to me and my song writing."
For the Average Joe who may not have heard of you and was thinking of
buying your new CD, how would you yourself describe your sound? "I like to say melody driven pop rock."
Your album title 'Paper Walls' is a very interesting choice, but is
it named so for a more personal reason to the band, perhaps? "We went through some crazy ups and downs when Ocean Avenue took off. Our
whole lives changed in just a few months. After touring for 20 months we
all took some time off. I think during that time we all dealt with our
success in very different ways. Through writing, recording, and touring
on Lights and Sounds there was a sense of distance between us. I guess
Paper Walls is a metaphoric take on coming back together again."
With Yellowcard having formed in Jacksonville, FL, back in 1997, ten
years on and what has the band seen as the biggest changes in the
industry? "Obviously the internet has caused the most change in the industry. People can get what they want whenever they want it. That need for immediacy has really made things different. I think artists today just have to put in a lot more hours every day. Blogging, video tour diaries, myspace messages. All of these things get fans involved and
bring them out to your shows. In a world of ever decreasing record sales
the shows really are the most important thing now."
And just where does the bands name originate from anyway?! "Well, let's just say it is how we hold on to our youth. In high school Yellowcard was a term used loosely at house parties to signify a "party foul". With only a couple of days before the first show someone
received a Yellowcard and somehow it stuck."
How easy (or hard) is it to constantly create a new, vibrant,
wanted-by-the-public sound that both builds on and surpasses the musical
wonderment's/accomplishments that preceded it within the industry? "We really try not to think about what the industry standard is when
writing music. We just want to write songs that both challenge us and we
have fun playing."
Please tell us more about a couple of the more important songs to you
on this new album and what they mean to you personally? "Overall the songs on Paper Walls are closest to me in the lyrics. Shadows and Regrets is one of my favorites. We grew up in a place that is very rooted in its ways and leaving home to discover a new life continues to be a struggle for me. I think this song deals with where I am at this point in my life. More importantly I think it is a song that looks back at the past and forward to the future at the same time."
If there was one always-remarked upon, completely incorrect
media-strewn fact about the band that you would like to finally put straight - or come clean about - after all these years, what would it be? "Someone printed somewhere that I painted all the walls in my New York apartment black and I have been asked about it numerous times. I guess I would like to clear up that yes, I too get sad sometimes and like to write songs about it. I'm not black walls sad though."
If asked to record one for charity, what '80s (and possibly cheesy!)
pop/rock song would you love to cover today ... and why?! "Guns and Roses 'November Rain'."
Lastly, Exclusive Magazine love Penguins ... do you?! "Danny DeVito in Batman Returns. What an amazing penguin that was!"
Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk
'Paper Walls' CD Purchase Link
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