The Wonder Years are amazing, I just need to let you all know my bias before getting any further into this. I reached out to The Wonder Years’ management a few weeks back not expecting a response, but instead I was met with complete cooperation and enthusiasm from Hopeless right down to Soupy himself.
So this past Wednesday I found myself in the cafe section of the Starbucks in Towson just talking with Soupy, vocalist of the band. And I use the term “talking” because moreso than most interviews I’ve done, this just seemed like a conversation. He shared personal stories, as well as the normal band stuff, and that impressed me completely. He’s the real deal, and so is the rest of the band. He’s extremely knowledgeable about all aspects of the punk scene and seems to know a lot of people, which after, talking to him for a half an hour, makes complete sense. The interview is after the jump, it’s a bit long, but it’s full of really interesting stuff. Enjoy.
If you could just start with who you are and what you do in the band?
My name is Dan Campbell, but almost nobody calls me that, other than my mom I guess. Most people call me Soupy, and I sing in The Wonder Years.
How was Europe, you just got back from Europe. How was it? The Kimbo Wants a Pepsi Tour [I’m a fucking idiot -ed.]
Oh no, Kimbo Wants A Pepsi was a US Tour. It was The Enemy of Europe tour that was in Europe. It was, I would say, some of the highest points I’ve ever had in this band, and then also one of the lowest. We did a couple of headline dates, those were great. We did the Slam Dunk Festival, which both of those shows, I would say, were two of the best shows I’ve ever played; two nights in a row, both unbelievable, just a ton of fun. A lot of great stories from that, a lot of great friends. And then we did a string of dates supporting Four Year Strong and Fireworks, and those were awesome. It’s cool to be able to go over to Europe and be able to go over with just a bunch of your friends. And Kyle from Fireworks turned 26 when we were there. So we sang him ‘Happy Birthday’ out in front of the Louvre and then went to the Eifel Tower. So it was like at midnight, on his birthday, in Paris with 20 of his friends, so it was great.
But then we missed our flights home and we lost $3,000 because of it, so… We got real lost in Germany.
Wait, just out in the roads? Just got lost?
Well, we didn’t have a GPS. We hired a driver and he didn’t have one and we were going by atlas. And here, you’re going somewhere, you want to get on 95, there’s 95 North and 95 South. There, there would just be 95. So you come to the interchange where you would normally say ‘Oh 95 North towards Philadelphia, 95 South towards DC,’ there it just says 95 and lists cities on either side, and none of those cities were the cities we wanted to go to. So we had to make a quick decision, and went the wrong way, and we missed our flights. So we had to wait three days and drive back to England — take a ferry back across the channel — and make a flight out of Heathrow, so that was kind of brutal. But otherwise, one of the best times of my life.
So I want to change to The Upsides. The album has been out for a while now,
It has been out since January 26.
Right, so one of the prevailing themes on the album was a new outlook for you and the band, are you still riding that high, or are you looking for the upsides?
Man, I’m great. It was kind of ironic, that when the record came out, I was not in the best spot. We actually just recorded bonus tracks for The Upsides, and one of the songs is about that. I was dating a girl for two years, we broke up right before the record came out, but even then, I thought the prevailing theme kind of worked because while I was kind of down at the moment, it was a different down than I had been before. Like in the past, I’ve been depressed, and just kind of been complacent, and ok with it, but this was a different sad. This was a sad where I was mourning what I didn’t have anymore, with the girl I was dating and a couple other things, but it wasn’t hopeless. I knew things were going to get better, and it was just a matter of waiting it out. And now I feel fantastic. We’re having some issues with our van right now, so I’m pretty stressed, but I would say I’m at the happiest point in my life.
Well I’ll throw in my two cents. Those three songs from “Melrose Diner” to “Hey Thanks” applied to me pretty well a few months back too with a break up, so it was cool to hear from someone else.
Yea, what’s cool about “Hey Thanks” is that I wrote that while dating that girl, and it wasn’t supposed to be a break-up song — it was just kind of a nice song I wrote for my girlfriend at the time, wasn’t even supposed to make the record. I was just playing it one day, and the guys liked it, and it ended up making the release. But it really worked well after the break up too, because we still get along great, I talk to her all the time, and it’s like ‘Hey thanks. Thank was a great two years, I appreciate it.’ It’s cool. I like that you can put a different spin on the song and make them kind of your own a little bit.
So I want to get to the big one, Hopeless [Records]. Why sign with Hopeless?
Why Hopeless? I’ve wanted to sign to Hopeless for a while. You look at a lot of labels right now that are putting out a lot of great bands, and some have this crazy long roster, and a lot of the bands on the roster are bands similar to us, and I don’t want to get lost in the shuffle anywhere. And what I liked about No Sleep [Records, the band’s old label] was that we were the only band that sounded like us on No Sleep, so I knew that if Chris had any channels to push us through, that we were the band that was going through and it wasn’t going to be a couple other bands. I liked that we had a small roster to work with, and that was a good transition to Hopeless, who don’t have a lot of active bands right now. I think (counts on his hand) two, three, four, five… maybe six, seven active bands…
And just lost All Time Low.
Well, not lost All Time Low. Gave All Time Low to someone. I wouldn’t chop that up as a loss for anyone. I think everyone is happy with how that ended up… Wait, I think I should go back and note… I feel like that may have come off as condescending. I really like All Time Low, I think they’re a good band, and I think they’re happy on Interscope, and I think Hopeless is happy with the deal they got for them, and that’s what I was trying to say.
But I like that the guys from Hopeless, Aaron from Hopeless called me this morning just to say ‘What’s up?’ I’ll just talk to the guys and it feels like a friendship, and that we’re working together, and I have ideas and he’s got ideas, and their marketing department has ideas, and we’re all working together to make things happen. And I like it that they don’t have a mold that we walk into and they put us through the, you know, the record company machine. We came in and I said ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if with the pre-orders we did this, and were able to do this kind of thing’ and they all said ‘Yea that sounds great, let’s make it happen.’ And they work with our ideas, which is something that’s important to me, so that’s why we went with Hopeless.
And I also love the fact that they do a lot of awesome charity work. They have a whole other label called Sub-City which is like a non-profit, and they do the Take Action Tour, and the Take Action comp every year, and they’re the only label I know of that’s doing that much for the rest of the world, and that’s important. I’m lucky to be able to play music, and able to tour and get to spend my life doing what I want to do, and I have other people to thank for that. But there are other people less fortunate who, if we can help them, that’s kind of great for us and that label.
So did you look around and talk to other labels?
There were a couple we spoke to. And there are people who work at them that we love, and yea some things that didn’t seem right for us. Some labels that had bands that, not that we sound like any of the bands on Hopeless, but a label could have bands so far removed from what we do that I just seemed like all the resources wouldn’t be helpful to us. There are labels that I think are great and wanted to just help us out but didn’t have the staff that Hopeless has. I think we made the right decision, and I guess only time will tell what will really come from that.
So now you’re re-releasing the record through Hopeless, and the bonus tracks you referred to, that’s for the re-release?
Yea the deluxe reissue it’s got four extra tracks on it. Two of them have not been heard before in any way, shape, or form — they’re totally new songs, one of them is like a fun take on a song, but it’s pretty much still the song. And then one is a completely reworked version of the song, completely reminiscent of the song it actually is, but it’s different lyrics, different structure; we really put a lot of work into giving people something that’s worthwhile instead of just regurgitating the same kind of bullshit for a re-release. Like ‘here’s an acoustic version of one of the songs, see ya.’ So I think we went ahead, and tried to put our best foot forward and do some stuff that we haven’t seen people do before and I think it turned out really cool.
So the song that’s different, is that “Logan Circle?”
“Logan Circle” has been totally and utterly rearranged. I want to give it some sort of clever title like “Logan Circle 2: The Fountain’s Revenge,” something like that, I haven’t decided that yet. But it really is like listening to a different song, whereas the other [redone song] is like listening to the same song, but in a different way. And then there’s new artwork. It’s all new but inspired by the artwork that is already there. So it’s a totally different take on the artwork that’s already in existence, so it’s almost like paying homage to what’s already there for the deluxe reissue. And it’s going to be a soft package issue, just like the The Upsides, we didn’t want to do jewelcases. And then we have some preorder ideas that are just like, I’ve never seen any other bands do them, and I hope people get really hyped on them because I think we’re going to do something cool with it.
You mentioned when the record was coming out, that you were planning on doing three releases this year. So that was the record, and you just did that split,
The split with Fallen From The Sky.
Right, so is this the planned third, or is there something else that you had planned?
Well, when I said that we had nothing to do with Hopeless. We hadn’t spoken to them at all. You could count this as the third, I mean there are four new songs, thats enough to be considered an EP. But if you’re counting this as a third, we might be shooting for a fourth. It would be the very end of the year, it would be a very small release, and we literally just started talking about it this morning, but it’s a really cool idea and I’d like to make it happen. So this would be the third and there might be a fourth.
This is about the split. It’s the “Under The Influence” series, how do they round people up for that? Because this is the 13th, 14th volume of this…
Yea we’re pretty late in the game.
So do they reach out to you, or do you contact Suburban Home, or what?
Well, Fallen From The Sky reached out to us and said ‘We worked out that we’re doing one of these splits, and we were talking about bands that we’d like to do it with, and we’d love to do it with you.’ And I like those guys a lot, and I like that series a lot. Frank Turner doing “Thunder Road” is just awesome, Lemuria do, well, there’s a lot of great covers on there I don’t want to get into all of them.
Yea Teenage Bottlerocket did a good Green Day cover,
Yea and The Ergs! did, I think Devo on that. That series is all over the place. But Fallen From The Sky came to us, and we’d been listening to A Place In The Sun by Lit all week that week, and we were like ‘We’re doing a Lit song. Yea, alright we’re in and we’re doing “Zip-Lock.”’ And we were going back to track some harmonies for The Upsides, we just had like a couple days in the studio, and we thought we’d track it then, so we did.
And that was the Facebook photo?
Yea it was a couple of days ago.
No that was for the new stuff for the reissue. We tracked “Zip-Lock” at the same time that we tracked The Upsides. This was like last August, September. And we actually tracked it with Matt, our guitar player, playing drums because Kennedy couldn’t make it back from school for it.
So it’s the first night of the Streetlight Tour. What are your expectations?
I’m nervous, man. The only time we’ve done shows as big as these were like one-offs. Well, a few of the Four Year dates in England were big, but we headlined Phili recently and that was slightly smaller, and we did two shows with Valencia. But a whole tour of venues like this is intimidating for me. We play basements, you know what I mean? [laughs] I’m also really excited because it’s our first tour as a six-piece again, which is cool.
What’s different, if I may ask. Who’d you add?
We had Nick Steinborn playing drums, he took Mike Kennedy’s place. Nick has now moved and he’s playing a rhodes and guitar, and Kennedy is back behind the drum set. So it added another dynamic, and we recorded like that so there will be rhodes and a third guitar part on a bunch of different songs on the new release. But I’m worried about knocking over Nick’s keyboard while I’m jumping up and down, and I’m worried about a lot of things, it’s just a weird vibe of space now that I’m getting used to. I think we’ll do ok. And also because we’re going to be playing to a lot of people who aren’t our fans, kids just there to see Streetlight, Supervillains and Dan [Potthast], and it’s our job to win them over, and that’s what we’re setting out to do, and we won’t rest until we win.
I was going to ask about that because it is a mainly ska tour and ska kids are kind of notorious for being like ‘I only listen to Bomb The Music Industry! and that’s it,’ you know what I mean?
Yea, but Bomb The Music Industry! is so good though! Right? I listen to To Leave Or Die In Long Island like five times a week, that EP is, or a digital 10-inch, that’s what he called it, he’s great though.
Totally unrelated but I was at the Fest this year and there was this rumor that he was going to play Enema Of The State all acoustic somewhere. He just seems like the coolest guy
Yea we were at Harvest of Hope, and it was mind-numbingly cool because they did a tag-team set with Andrew Jackson Jihad. So they were all on the stage, everyone in Bomb, I think there were like 13 people on the stage, because it was like the bass player from Bomb, and the bass player from Andrew Jackson. And then Jeff and the guitarist from Andrew Jackson, and then Mike was playing drums but there was also like a trumpet player, and two separate sax players, and a trombone, maybe two trombones, a keyboard player, maybe another keyboard player, and they were all up there and would just switch back and forth; they’d play an Andrew Jackson song then a Bomb song. I got to watch most of it before our sound check, but it was one of the highlights of that fest for me.
But as far as winning over ska kids, we’re gonna go up there and put on the same show that we always put on, which is don’t walk off the stage unless you’re covered in sweat and about to pass out. I’m going to try and make sure one of us is airborne 70% of the time, we’re going to play fast, we’re going to play hard, and hope that kids like it. Oh and naked. We’re going to get naked a lot.
To switch gears again, apparently the Man Overboard album leaked.
It did. I bought it this morning.
Oh, well there you go. But what they did was release a free single.
Yea, what’s the single? “Fantasy Girl,” right?
Yea actually. So I listened to it, and it’s a more polished sound, and I really liked it
Well yea, that’s because they recorded it with Jesse Cannon, who did all the songs on Before We Met, and Dahlia. But if you’re listening to things like Noise From Upstairs and the Transit split, they were recorded at Nik’s studio, the bass player from Man Overboard — which is obviously a smaller-budget studio than Cannon Sound. Cannon did Saves The Day records.
Really? I didn’t know that.
Yea he did… Under The Boards, I think, but I’m not 100% sure.
Well anyway where I was going with that was that it’s a progression, and their whole ‘Defend Pop-Punk Thing’ and you are listed as “Realist Pop-Punk” on your MySpace — and my friend actually calls you Existentialist Pop-Punk,
Existentialist Pop-Punk? Alright [smiles], cool.
But the thinking there is where do you see pop-punk right now?
Where do I see the genre? I see the genre as a strong statement for what’s happening right now. And I said this in an interview with Punktastic, but I’ll say it again, it makes me very proud that the reason the genre is where it is right now is because of the hard work of a lot of my friends. There are bands in pop-punk right now that are working harder than any band in any genre, touring tirelessly. I mean, Fireworks have been on tour since this time last year, and they basically just toured a year straight, and are writing a record right now. Not even like ‘Let’s go home and decompress for a while,’ but ‘Let’s go home and write a record.’ And they were already writing it; I saw them messing around with it while we were on tour.
I’m going to miss somebody, but obviously New Found is the grandfather of all this, and leading the charge, and I’m so excited to do a tour with them, that’s honor for me, man. I used to play the bass and I was, I don’t know, 15, and I saw them play on some late-night show, and I saw Jordan and I was like ‘I want to sing.’ So to be able to do a tour with them is amazing.
But New Found, Set Your Goals and Four Year Strong are really making a push to open the genre up, and then bands like us, Fireworks, Title Fight, This Time Next Year, Man Overboard, Transit, A Loss For Words, Such Gold, I Call Fives, Bright And Early, everyone, it just feels like family all over the place and I love it. I just love so many of those dudes, and the Slam Dunk Festival was amazing because our stage alone was: All Or Nothing played first, and then it way This Time Next Year, Crime In Stereo, us, Fireworks, and then Breathe Carolina, who turned out to be really nice guys, and The Rocket Summer, who saved us because we lost our bass pedal and they found it. But like that first chunk of five bands, all my best friends. And the other stage was like Hit The Lights and Four Year Strong and Set Your Goals and New Found and Every Avenue, so it was just, everyone was friends. And people you would think would be, who get bad reps because people don’t like their music or think they’re trashy or whatever.
Like Breathe Carolina
Breathe Carolina, and The Millionaires both turned out to be the sweetest people. Breathe Carolina had the sickest stage dive of our whole set. The drummer just did this crazy awesome, it was like a flying squirrel, off. And The Millionaires turned out to be really sweet girls. You go into this thinking, and hearing all this talk about the bands and you assume people are going to be assholes, but no one was an asshole, and that’s a really cool thing. And I find that especially in the genre…
[At this point a kid comes over to shake Soupy’s hand and it turned out the kid had won a contest that the band had a while back to win a custom made messenger bag, “one of one” as Soupy referred to it, so he asked to check it out and they talked for a minute or so. It was just another testament to how real and down to Earth that both Soupy and the rest of the band was, so it was actually more cool than any type of annoyance.]
What was I saying? It was probably stupid. I think I was just saying that pop-punk is cool, and my friends are cool, and I like it.
Now you’re the second person to say this, but I talked to Dave of Big D & The Kids Table and he said to give Millionaires a chance too. He was like ‘Give them a shot, they’re a bunch of cool chicks.’
They were so rad! Ok, so they were playing the after party, you have to find a video of this it’s so funny. They’re on their last song, it was the end of the night, and something went wrong with their DJ set up and it just started skipping and they were like ‘Uh, what do we do?’ And Ian from New Found, all the guys from Four Year, Set Your Goals, Crime In Stereo, This Time, Fireworks, everybody just ran onto the stage and started dancing with them, and they just went with it. And Robbie from This Time Next Year was just completely naked, Chris from Fireworks was stagediving off of the DJ booth to people on the stage, one of the girls from Millionaires got up and stage-dove. Everyone just had a blast.
And we went up with them in their dressing room after, and they were just really nice, and it was such a bummer because kids were throwing beers at them. And a few nights before that we hung out with them, they played a smaller after show after a show we played with Fireworks and This Time, and we hung out backstage and they were really nice. And they obviously don’t take themselves too seriously, one of their lyrics is literally “No talent/Just lucky,” and people were real mad, but they handled it well. People were throwing beers at them and they were like ‘You’re mad. But I have a cool job, and I just get up here and dance on stage and then go backstage and drink a bunch, and your job is probably terrible. Stop throwing beers at me.’ They were really rad. I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised, but I was kind of surprised..
Well, I’m surprised.
Yea they were cool.
Going off that, I don’t know if you realized that you did it, but you just name dropped like six different bands, and you guys really are all close? You all just hang out?
Yea that show was awesome because everyone got to be there, and after the first day there was this kind of caged in area where the buses and vans were, and no one left. We were all just there until like two in the morning, everyone just hanging out. It’s not like we were partying, we were just standing around, catching up. I mean everyone’s on tour with everyone scattered throughout, and we had just done a tour with Set Your Goals and This Time before we came over and it was good to see them again, and Fireworks are my best friends in the world, in a band or not in a band, I just call those dudes just to say what’s up. And we just did the Euro tour with Four Year and we’d done a tour with Crime In Stereo, so everyone knows everyone, we just hung out. It was great. That is probably the best weekend of my life.
Wow dude that’s great. Um, that’s about it, I have one more question though: Have you met Mark Hoppus yet?
Not yet man, some day it’s going to happen though. It’s getting closer. We’ve been talking to MacBeth shoes, and I’m not sure, but I’m under the impression that that’s Tom Delonge’s line, right?
I think so yea.
Ok well, somehow I’m going to meet Mark Hoppus one of these days. I don’t know how it’s going to happen but I will make it happen. I’ve made it a goal, I’ve put it out there and I will achieve it.
UPDATE – On a separate note, the band’s situation with their van has gotten worse, and wrote a small post about it. Follow the link, then buy some of their merch. These dudes deserve it.
DOUBLE UPDATE – Holy shit. AP.net linked the interview to their page, and there are now literally hundreds of people reading some of this that otherwise never would have. Big ups to the AP.net staff.