The Wonder Years: Pop Punk Gods But No Closer To Heaven
The Wonder Years aren’t sad anymore, and it’s easy to understand why: in between releases, wedding plans, side projects and extensive shows absolutely everywhere, there’s hardly any time. The Philly pop-punk lords are gearing up to head out here, playing off the back of their 2015 masterpiece No Closer To Heaven with a helping hand from Chicago natives Knuckle Puck. BLUNT caught up with frontman Dan “Soupy” Campbell to lament the death of Soundwave, talk tours and lobby for an Aaron West and The Roaring Twenties sideshow.
You guys are heading to Australia this May, but you were here just last year for Soundwave. What pulled you back to Australia specifically, so quickly?
Well, number one is that we came right before we made No Closer To Heaven and so we feel like we need to come off the No Closer To Heaven album. We need to get a chance to play these songs for the people of Australia. Number two: we did Soundwave thanks to AJ [Maddah] kind of saving our arses because we had to cancel our other Australian tour that was supposed to be a headliner really last minute because of a lot of logistical errors. A lot of things didn’t get done; not on our end. And so we were disappointed we had to cancel that tour and AJ saw us the next day and said, “Well, why don’t you just do Soundwave?” And we said, well, that’s a good temporary solution but it does leave us the problem of playing headline length sets so this is our chance to play non-festival sets, real long sets to span our whole discography and to really concentrate on the newer stuff.
Were you upset about Soundwave being killed off this year?
It’s a bummer, it really is. And it was insane just to see, I mean, we were on the ground so we saw it – and there were still so many people coming to it. But compared to the 2013 Soundwave, like with Metallica, obviously it’s a different number of people coming out. You’d like to see it do well and it’s a great festival – it was so much fun for the bands. Like, I think that any band you could talk to would say that they’ve never had more fun than doing Soundwave. What was particularly cool about Soundwave was sidewaves, where basically it’d take over a state for a night and there’d be a show at every venue. I used to like going, if we didn’t have a show that night. I would just pop around to all the venues in town and watch different sets. It was so much fun.
“I think that any band you could talk to would say that they’ve never had more fun than doing Soundwave.”
Speaking of touring, you posted a Star Wars-themed The Wonder Years shirt on your Instagram the other day. Are you going to be selling those when you come out here?
Do you think we should? We’ll probably put them on the webstore, but… bringing them to Australia… I mean, how did the movie do there?
It absolutely killed it here. Did you like it?
I loved it. I thought it was awesome. Yes, if it did really well, then I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t bring the shirt. We have to kind of adjust, like, “Is this gonna translate to this culture?” You know, we had a shirt we sell in the US that has like “Philadelphia” on it really big, or like, an American flag or something. And if we bring it to England or something, everyone says, “I don’t want this shirt, it doesn’t represent me at all”. Knowing that Star Wars did really well there, I think we can bring it.
Good to hear! A lot of people have been wondering if there’s any chance that, while you’re here, you might do a spur of the moment Aaron West And The Roaring Twenties set?
I had our manager look into it and I said, “I’d really like to do it, can we try to figure it out?” It doesn’t seem like there’s any physical time where I’m going to be able to. Our schedule is so jam-packed, which is pretty disappointing for me because playing Aaron West sets is one of my favourite things, it’s so much fun for me to do. I’ll talk to some people. I’ve got a lot of requests for it so we’ll have to see. If there’s a city where the show sells out, maybe I’ll do an Aaron West show and take a photo. I could do it like, after the show, or something. I’ll think about it, because I really love playing.
You lead a life of touring and I wanted to touch on the scene a little bit. Do you have anything to say in regards to respecting women in the scene? It’s been a big issue in the past year, and a lot of people have come forward about feeling uncomfortable at shows.
Well yeah, I mean, are we talking about musicians? Because all of the respect in the world to… I mean, at this point, almost all of the music I’ve been listening to recently is female fronted. Allison Weiss, Laura Stevenson, Julien Baker, PVRIS, Chvrches… I’ve been listening to a ton of female musicians. And I think that’s obviously a really cool thing, because you know, for a long time this community, as far as the performers, it was really male dominated. And I think that sends a bad message, or an incomplete message. It’s hard for me [to talk about it], because I’m a straight white man… but I’ve heard a lot of people tell me as a female fan that it’s so exciting to see someone like Lyndsey [Gunnulfsen, PVRIS] on stage, someone like Laura Stevenson on stage, and to say, “I can do that too”. Because I’ve always had that, right? Like, every show I went to my whole life in the crowd I looked up at Adam [Lazzara] from Taking Back Sunday, I looked up at Matt Pryor [The Get Up Kids] and said, “I could do that”. But to have that representation of really powerful, really talented female performers, I think it’s going to do wonders for this scene and community. I’ve been trying to use our platform to get those acts more attention as well, not that they need it. Julien Baker is killing it right now. I can’t stop tweeting about how good that record is. Have you heard it yet?
“To have that representation of really powerful, really talented female performers, I think it’s going to do wonders for this scene and community.”
I have! I loved it.
Oh my god I can’t. I listen to it every night. Every night, I listen to it. It’s so good.
I’m still listening to the PVRIS one from ages ago. That one is still doing incredibly well.
Oh god, they’re going to be the biggest band in the whole world. Fall Out Boy needs to watch their back, Paramore needs to watch their back because PVRIS is on the way!
Absolutely. Going off music for a second, you released a poetry collection a couple of years ago, but you said your life stopped lending itself to poetry. Have you thought of going back?
I think about it sometimes… There’s only so much creative output that I have and I just finished writing for two separate projects, and I just produced a record and I wrote a song for another band. I was looking at my notebook thinking, “Man, I’ve used everything”. Every last shred of things that I had written down has been used up. And the thing with poetry is that every time I sit down to write a poem it just turns into a song because that’s the medium I’m working with now. And at the time I was writing that I was in college, we weren’t writing a whole lot of music, because we didn’t see each other very often, so I could just take all that poetry. But then even if you read it and then listened to The Upsides (2010), you can see that I stole lines from myself on that record. Even then, the poetry was turning into song.
You’re 30 now and a lot of your earlier music and poetry relates to that kind of flux that you get into when you’re in your 20s. In retrospect of that whole decade of your life, is there any advice you’d give to your younger self or another 20-year-old that’s going through the same things that you did?
A couple of things I guess. One is just to keep hounding. Usually if there is a problem the solution is to work harder. I’ve found that to be very true very often. I think the other thing is when you get really depressed you get really selfish, and you start being a dick to people because you’re so upset with yourself. Maybe in my early 20s I would have loved to have gone back and said, “Hey man, maybe stop deflecting all your sadness out onto other people”.
The Wonder Years / Knuckle Puck / Our Past Days
Thu May 5th – The Triffid, Brisbane (18+)
Fri May 6th – The Lab, Brisbane (AA)
Sat May 7th – UTS Underground, Sydney (AA)
Sun May 8th – The Cambridge Hotel, Newcastle (AA)
Tue May 10th – The Basement, Canberra (18+)
Wed May 11th – Arrow On Swanston, Melbourne (AA)
Thu May 12th – The Corner Hotel, Melbourne (18+)
Fri May 13th – Fowlers Live, Adelaide (AA)
Sat May 14th – Amplifier Bar, Perth (18+)