Floridian quintet Yellowcard first made a name for themselves with 2003’s ‘Ocean Avenue’; a record which combined the traditional pop-punk sounds with those of their electric violin player!
They first visited the UK in early 2004, and following the recent release of new album ‘Lights & Sounds’, they’ve returned for their biggest UK headline tour to date. Alex Gosman caught up with bassist Pete Mosely before their second night at the London Astoria.
So, this is the second night of your tour – how did things go last night, and how long has it been now since you first visited the UK?
Last night was amazing… we’ve gone from supporting Less Than Jake [in May 2004] at the Brixton Academy, and supporting New Found Glory, to being able to come over here on our own and play two nights at a venue this size…it’s awesome, and I think tonight’s show will be even better, because we’re more used to the venue! It’s been about two years since we first came over here, we played a couple of small promo shows, one of them at the Garage…but our first real tour over here was with Less Than Jake.
Do you have good memories of your previous shows here?
For the most part, when you’re up on stage and rocking out, there’s not much difference between the crowds – you could be anywhere from Australia to Canada, you know? Generally, we pride ourselves on being a live band, and we always get a pretty good response from the crowd; and when you tour as much as we do, it’s hard to keep specific memories of places!
Your new album ‘Lights & Sounds’ is more musically varied than ‘Ocean Avenue’, especially with the orchestral elements. Was this intentional, or did it just work out that way?
A bit of both, really! Whilst we were touring ‘Ocean Avenue’, we kinda got plagued with this ‘pop-punk’ tag – not that there’s anything wrong with pop-punk music, but it does kind of make you cringe when you here it, especially as we never set out to be a pop-punk band. But we do understand how ‘Ocean Avenue’ got that tag, given the time when it was released and everything.
Some people call us punk rock, and we definitely have our roots in growing up listening to that kind of music – bands like Bad Religion and NOFX – but we’ve never actually come out and said that we’re punk rock, because that’s a big thing to claim. We want to wear the badge of rock n’ roll, because rock n’ roll can go in so many different directions, thanks to bands like the Beatles – and that’s what we wanted to show on this record; that we can step outside of any box and musically branch out. Not in the sense that we’re trying to be different just for the sake of it, but to reflect the fact that we’re influenced by many different kinds of music.
The trouble with that is that you tend to alienate people who prefer your older sound, but as a band, we were really thirsty to just move on and step into new areas.
One song from ‘Lights & Sounds’ particularly grabbed my attention – ‘Two Weeks From Twenty’ [a song about a young soldier, ‘Jimmy’, killed shortly before his twentieth birthday]. Is that a personal story to the band, or is it more of a reaction to the current situation in Iraq?
It’s kind of a generalisation…it’s the story of a G.I, it’s got some anti-war sentiment in it, but it’s not as openly political like – say – Propagandhi. It’s very non-specific; it doesn’t name names or point fingers, but it relates to an aspect of the American Armed Forces that I disagree with – the way they use cheap tricks to recruit kids out of high school. We’re talking about kids that might not have the grades or money to move on to university, so the Forces come along and offer them this ‘educational experience, get you ahead in life’, that kinda thing, and the kids often sign up for it – not really knowing that they’ll end up going to war.
In the song, Jimmy is a kid from a typical industrial town in New Jersey, who probably has a future working in a local factory…but the factory gets shut down, so he has to take the only other opportunity he sees as available to him, and ends up going to war and dying at a young age. So it’s not so much a song about war, as how it impacts on the lives of a young soldier and his family.
Do you get bored of playing your older songs time and time again, or does the crowd’s reaction make it worthwhile?
Well, yes, some songs definitely do get really old…like when we were touring’Ocean Avenue’, we played those songs about 300 times in the space of a year – plus we played the song ‘Ocean Avenue’ itself twice as much as the other songs, because of TV appearances, etc. So yeah, absolutely, it does get old, but then you can’t think that every fan follows you from city to city every night, so you have to keep those songs in the set. And yeah, it does feel good to see the crowd go crazy when you play an old school favourite, so it kinda makes it worthwhile.
What are Yellowcard’s plans for the near future, after this UK tour ends?
Uh…more touring! Our new record just came out a couple of months ago, and we’d been touring for about four or five months as a kind of ‘pre-promotion for it, which is kind of unusual. Now that it’s actually been released, we’ll probably be touring it for most of the next two years, although we’ll probably get a few breaks towards the end. We’re hoping to play some festivals over the summer.
‘Lights & Sounds’ is out now. Check out www.yellowcardrock.com for more info.