The world of pop punk has been growing and maturing over recent years. The whiney, teeny sound has been replaced with one more edgy and rugged and one of the bands at the helm are The Wonder Years.
The band which formed in Philadelphia in 2005 have become one of the biggest bands in the genre with one of the most dedicated fanbases too. Their mix of catchy choruses with rough guitar have become a staple with their sound and have recently released their 4th album, ‘The Greatest Generation’, which as the name suggests has been labelled by some as the greatest pop punk album of recent times.
Back in May we caught up with guitarist, Matt Brasch at their show in Liverpool. We discussed touring, breaking boundaries and growing friendships.
First things first, how is the tour going? Have you ever been to Liverpool?
Yeah, it’s going good. We had a few pretty rough things happen at the beginning with vans breaking down, but it’s going great now. Great to be back in Liverpool, we’ve been here a few times. We played this venue with Four Years Strong a few years ago.
Your latest album, ‘A Greatest Generation’, has been defined by some as its name claims as the greatest pop punk album of a generation. How did it feel making the album? What inspired the songs?
I can only speak musically because I didn’t write the songs but the lyrics do reflect what we’re all going through right now. Even though Dan writes the lyrics he tries, and does a good job of representing all of us through them. He’s described the record as a build up of all our past work, it’s got to the point where he realised there is no point complaining and the only way to get things done is to do it yourself and be a man about it and just do it, and that’s what this record is about- becoming the person that you wanna be.
What is your favourite song off it?
It’s probably ‘There There’. It’s kinda different to what we have done in the past and I believe it will help us be more diverse on the records coming in the future. It opens more doors musically.
How do UK and European crowds compare to those of the US?
We’re from the US so obviously we get the bigger numbers and the shows are pretty crazy. We’re trying to build up more in Europe. We’ve had a lot of great shows over here in England; we’ve been here over 10 times. The UK has become our second home.
You’ve toured with A LOT of bands, who was your favourite to tour with?
Going to say Fireworks, we’ve done so many tours with that band. They’ve became our best friends and we think all the same way and have the same ethics and it’s really easy to tour with them.
What’s your favourite festival to play?
I really love Groezrock, we just played that at the beginning of this tour, there’s always so many good bands playing it so as a spectator it’s great too. We did RiotFest for the first time this past year which was amazing; it was the biggest crowd we ever played to. Soundwave in Australia is great, they take care of you so well and no matter if you’re a big band or a small band they treat you the same. Warped Tour is fun too, Warped is one of those tours that I always wanted to play growing up and we’ve done it a few times and it was a big goal of ours.
What would your dream headliners be for a three day festival?
A lot of the bands I love aren’t necessarily ones that would be great headlining a festival but one of the bands I loved growing up was Suicide Machines they put on such an energetic live show and they’re such a tight live band, they play maybe one or two times a year now just doing benefit shows, last time I saw them was RiotFest 2011.
Brand New would be up there, we’ve been touring with them a bit recently and they’re absolutely incredible live. You listen to them on record and you’re like “hey these guys are good” and then you see them live and you’re like “holy shit!” Their guitar player, Vincent just shreds and it’s amazing to watch.
My final one would be Alkaline Trio. They’ve always been one of my all-time favourite bands lyrically and musically. I grew up with them and I can place where I was when I heard a song off of any one of their records.
Any funny festival experiences?
We played Groezrock a couple of years back and we skipped half a song. We started playing ‘Melrose Diner’ and we were so hyped up and we managed to mess up at one of the points and miss a whole verse and chorus of the song and we went out of the first chorus into the bridge which was funny.
Pop punk as a genre is growing all the time. Where do you see it going next? Who is the next big thing?
It’s really hard to say. In the pop punk scene there is obviously those bands that are the stereotypical pop punk bands but then there are the bands which are lumped into the scene but aren’t necessarily under the umbrella. Modern Baseball aren’t a pop punk band but they’re lumped in with all the bands they tour with, I feel that band is going to get a lot of hype and do a lot of awesome things. They’re such great guys, they put on awesome live performances, and their records keep getting better and better.
You’ve been together nearly 10 years. What has been the highlight of the past decade?
There have been so many amazing experiences over the years. We started out as a complete joke; we never expected to be a band in the slightest. So the fact we got to go on our first tour and we got to come to the UK and so many different places I would have never seen before is brilliant. So I guess travelling is up there. I feel like our friendships have built a lot over the past years, of course we argue every once in a while, we’re like brothers.
If I had to be specific, there is this one venue in Philadelphia called The Electric Factory and it was one of the biggest venues in our area. I grew up going to shows there and never dreamed of playing there and we’ve now played there so many times and sold out headliners two months in advance. That is one of the biggest accomplishments in this band. Another accomplishment is that I joined this band barely a guitar player, I played drums my entire live and started the band as a joke. I feel I’ve learnt a lot along the way, I know I’m not an exceptional guitarist but I feel I’ve improved a lot and I’m very proud of that.
What is next for The Wonder Years?
After this tour we’re going home and taking some time off. We’re doing Reading and Leeds and we’re looking forward to that. Other than that, there is nothing set in stone. There are things on the horizon but we’re still working things out.
The Wonder Years are set to play Reading and Leeds festivals as well as touring Australia. The lead singer, Dan Campbell, has set up a side project but it has been said that work is still going on for a new TWY album.