The Wonder Years…Soupy On and Off the Record on Music, Mixtapes and Muscle Milk

If you’re into music, you have that one band whose lyrics are able to define a moment in your life, and when that happens you cling to them like no other. For me it was Good Charlotte (okay are you done laughing yet?) and for a lot of people right now in the pop punk world it’s The Wonder YearsThe Upsides won over many in 2010 and in 2011 they plan on making their mark even deeper with Suburbia I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing. Spending their entire summer on Warped Tour and giving kids and adults a piece of them every day, rain or shine.

I stood on the edge of the crowd as I knew all too well that a legion of adolescents would soon be cascading above the crowd, surfing fist pumps to the stage. I was right. As soon as The Wonder Years made one sound, there they went. Of course “My Last Semester” caused a widespread sing-along as did “Melrose Diner” but they crowd was all on board with newer tunes like “Don’t Let Me Cave In.” You really can’t go on and on about a Wonder Years performance because it’d get repetitive, so I’ll leave you with this, if you haven’t gotten a chance to check them out this summer, phew, you still have tons of time, so catch them through August on Warped.

As to where you can catch The Wonder Years after Warped? I got to stand around and chat up Dan “Soupy” Campbell and on and off the record, that supposed New Found Glory tour is something he has no idea about. What else did he have to say? Keep on reading for muuscle milk, Fireworks, basements and more.

Kendra: The Upsides was really acclaimed by a lot of people, so was there a lot of pressure when it came to making the new record?

Soupy: There was a lot of pressure actually not necessarily based on the acclaim, but based on the fact that we knew what we wanted to do as music fans, and what we would want from a band like us with a new record. And we knew that we didn’t want to write the same record exactly, but that we didn’t want to stray too far from that. So you kind of end up on a tightrope of balancing new ideas with, you know older song structures and making sure you don’t take a giant leap the wrong direction, um but that you don’t montanize what you’re doing. Also montanize isn’t a word, I’d like to trademark it, let it be known. So there was some pressure but we went into it really prepared and really organized and tried to stay level headed and think about every move we were making and make sure it was the right move. And through a system of different organizational structures and checks and balances, I think we came out with the best record we could’ve put out.

Kendra: Was the recording process as intense as it was for The Upsides? I know you were in a basement…

Soupy: The writing process for both records was in a basement. The difference was Upsides was made in a basement in Philadelphia in the summer and Suburbia was written in a basement in the suburbs in the winter, which are equally as shitty for different reasons. So we didn’t sweat, we shook and we didn’t have to bring in fans, we had to bring in space heaters, but you know it was a little bit nicer of a process because I didn’t live at the place we were writing the record. When we wrote The Upsides I was also living at that house so there was no getting away from writing, you were there and when you walked upstairs, you were still there and when I went to bed, I was still there. Whereas with this record I could go home and kind of recollect my thoughts by myself you know, I didn’t have to be around the rest of the guys. I just lived with Josh and our rooms are on opposite floors so that wasn’t an issue at all.

Kendra: But both are equally great records in the end, and with that, with the economy like it is I know bands aren’t making that much and fans don’t have as much to give. So if there was one way that fans could support the music they loved would you recommend buying the music or seeing them live?

Soupy: Does seeing them live include buying a t-shirt?

Kendra: No…

Soupy: No? Are we headlining?

Kendra: Yes!

Soupy: If we’re headlining yes, come see us. I mean come see us always! But if as far as where the money is going to go to us, if we’re headlining a show the most money would come if you we’re actually coming to see us play. Cause then it gets into something called backend if you meet the expenses of the show and then the extra kids, you get a higher percentage of the money coming in the door. So if we like sell out a show, but we only needed to sell out three quarters of the room to break the show even and make sure the promoter gets all their money back, then that last quarter of the room, we would get a lot more from that.

Kendra: In the fall, we’re excited you’re going out and opening for New Found…

Soupy: I don’t know about that…On the record I have no idea what you’re talking about and off the record I have no idea what you’re talking about.

Kendra: New Found Glory? Okay if this did happen and you did go out with New Found Glory, why wouldn’t Fireworks be on this tour?

Soupy: I don’t know who New Found Glory is which is the biggest issue here, but I know that Fireworks is going to be on an amazing tour in the fall that they’ve been confirmed on for a long time and it’s four or five really, really awesome bands on one tour, so I don’t know what tour you’re talking about but I do know it’s going to be an incredible tour.

Kendra: Well whatever happens, I hope you’re right. But I talked to you earlier about girls in pop punk, and they’re always so beautiful while they are talented, do you ever think there could be an average looking all female pop punk band?

Soupy: I would love to see that. I don’t know, I just don’t see a lot of girls that like play the instruments and what to do the thing. Every once in a while you’ll find one who’s got the drive and wants to be in a band and works hard at it, but it doesn’t seem to be a goal for a lot of girls in punk rock. I just don’t meet a lot of them, every once in a while you’ll stubble upon one who’s really talented and has a lot of great things. There’s a girl named Alison Wiess who does some amazing things, some singer/songwriter things as well as some full band stuff. She also plays in a band called Field Mouse that’s really good. I think they’re all female, I’m pretty sure. She plays bass for that band. Maura from Mixtapes is also incredible and I think Maura is a good example of a girl who’s not make-up pretty, she’s not hair salon pretty um, you know she just kind of hangs out and does her thing and is punk rock. But she is still pretty and is still, nothing against how Maura looks, she’s actually a really good friend of mine and I book her band, but like she’s not that iconic image but she’s still in a band and she’s still great at it so it doesn’t have to be about looks. I don’t think looks are an important thing necessarily.

Kendra: We’ll have to check these ladies out then,  and I have to ask, how’s Warped Tour going for you so far?

Soupy: Warped tour’s good. Warped’s a shit ton of work. From 7am to 9pm there might be like two hours where we’re not doing something. It’s hot as hell. And today is particularly bad because from our bus to the stage is approximately three quarters of a mile and when you’re pulling all that gear, like we’re pulling 100’s of pounds of equipment through the grass it really is not a pleasant experience.

Kendra: There’s no shortcut?

Soupy: No shortcuts. Actually there’s a long cut because when we’re don’t today we can’t  straight through the field because all the kids are standing there watching the show, so we have to go around the outside of the venue, it’ll be about a mile and a half.

Kendra: You should get like Hellogoodbye to help you. Give them like candy or something.

Soupy: Hellogoodbye? I mean they are ripped. I don’t know, every day Hellogoodbye starts working out, they work out really hard. And they’re really strong men, muscle milk that kind of thing. Their goals as a band; goal number one’s get buff, goal number’s make music.

Kendra: Lastly I like for people to make mixtapes for me, so if you were to make me a mixtape of the top 5 songs you were listening to at the moment, what would you send me?

Soupy: At the moment, um…The Mountain Goats “Game Shows Touch Our Lives,” Childish Gambino “Look at Me Now,” Fireworks um….what’s my favorite track on that record? There’s so many I love on that record. Let say “X’s on the Trees.” Well I’m really listening to a lot of Mountain Goats and Gambino which makes this really difficult. I want to kind of mix it up for you because a mixtape to me, well I listen to a lot of Mixtapes the band so Mixtapes “Hope is for People” and fifth song I’m listening a lot to right now, let’s do Frank Ocean “Strawberry Swing.”

Originally published on July 7, 2011

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