When you fall down, you get back up again. Some tend to forget this life lesson and YELLOWCARD’s story the past few years is a reminder why it should be followed. The Florida pop punk outfit have risen from the shadows showing a rare sense of passion. Situated on the tour bus before their show at Sound Academy in Toronto, bassist Sean O’Donnell reviewed the band’s steps to producing a new studio LP, how they received outside help and why their future looks brighter than ever.
They say absence makes the heart grow fonder; true or false?
This is true on many levels. I’m guessing you’re referring to the band’s return. I joined during the middle of the hiatus when the new album was being recorded so I guess I can speak for everyone saying that there is this new found sense of energy. Yellowcard have been around for a while now and they’ve toured non-stop over the years.
Doing that with your friends can be hard; you look at our tour bus and see there’s nine of us here and that we’re living in each other’s faces. When you do that for seven years, it’s nice to take a break and it was great for the guys because now everyone is excited to play music again. They kind of lost that for a while but now it’s back.
How has the band been feeling during this recent tour with All Time Low?
Its been really fun! It is a bit different now because on this tour, Yellowcard isn’t exactly the band everyone’s coming to see. There is fun in that we are trying to win new fans. We’re not playing an hour-long set to people who know all the words; we’re playing 30 minutes in front of people who may not know us at all or just know “Ocean Avenue”. It’s been a challenge but we’ve had a lot of fun. This is the longest run the group has done with another band.
Is it easier to win over some fans as the bands aren’t entirely similar?
There’s definitely similarities in the pop punk vein but it’s not the exact same. Their fan base is a bit younger so some people aren’t likely to grasp some of our songs as they’re louder. Like we’ve been playing a few fast songs in the middle of our set on this run and some listeners really get into it but then there’s some girls who don’t really appreciate it as much (laughs). That’s who we are; we’re full of energy. We’re not rock stars but that’s how we play.
“It feels good to hear people say nice things about your music but even if everyone thought it was an awful record, we’d still go out and tour and try to prove people wrong.”
What’s the band’s mindset like now compared to when you guys were in the studio this past Fall?
When you’re making a record, there’s this question of whether others will like what you like. Most of the time, you put that question in the back of your mind and work as hard as you can at what you’re doing until you have that waiting period once the album’s done. We ended up going separate ways and came back and noticed the response was really good for the album. That itself is great because we put our heart and soul into this record and people have shown that they really do care about it. Going from being really serious and focused to appreciative can be difficult but it’s rewarding in a sense.
Do you agree with others who say When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes is an example of Yellowcard’s strengths at their best?
Yes! People are saying that? I definitely agree with that (laughs). The record was a group project where everyone came in and did what they do best. We kind of noticed that when we were making demos and it’s something to be proud of. That’s great people are saying that about us though.
Was it difficult for you to step in and join a band with more than ten years of chemistry and work with a producer they were familiar with?
My former band had actually made a record with Neil Avron and I’ve known him since 2006. Not as much as the other guys because they’ve worked with him more, but working with a producer is an eight to ten week experience so we do know each other. I’ve known Ryan and the others for a while now as my old band toured with the group in 2003. I’ve kind of been in the Yellowcard world for quite some time so it wasn’t really an audition in front of people I didn’t know. I’m still getting used to actually being in the band because there are things you may not know about people and how they work, but they’ve been receptive. If it was a cold call audition, it would be entirely different.
Did working with an independent label push the group to be critical and overcome any challenges that presented themselves?
The only major problem we had was there was a bigger budget with Capitol Records. We still got to work with the same producer and though we didn’t have a lot of time to make the record, it helped in a way. It forced us to make decisions on the spot and it prevented us from making minor mistakes and re-evaluating our music because usually you’re right the first time.
That shaped the record into what it is now. Post-production, Hopeless Records have been amazing. They’ve been doing some crazy things. Like there was an iTunes promotion with a select amount of new albums on sale and it was Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Chris Brown, Rihanna and Yellowcard. Hopeless made that happen.
What major challenges did the five of you face during the past eight months?
None, when I think about it now. I think we’re all homesick and that’s about it. Everyone’s been touring for a long time so we’re kind of used to it. That’s probably the biggest challenge right now as we did a world tour in February and we had maybe two days off. The whole experience has been pretty hassle-free. You have problems at shows, like technical difficulties, but nothing too big. We did get kicked off the train in Russia because they have the worst border in the world (laughs). We were trying to leave the country and they wouldn’t let us even though we had tickets so we had to take taxis to go to Helsinki. That was probably the biggest issue (laughs).
Has the reception from critics and crowds this year altered the way the group feels about their future?
Not really. We love the record and right now it’s all about pounding the pavement and letting everyone know about the album and working as hard as we can. It feels good to hear people say nice things about your music but even if everyone thought it was an awful record, we would still go out and tour and try to prove people wrong. The positive response is great though, it’s pushing us to do more.
Well when you think about it, Yellowcard’s nailed the comeback and the future looks really promising; so what’s next?
Touring. A lot of touring. We have a lot of stuff planned. We’re going out with Good Charlotte in June and the year is just packed with dates. We’ll be back here doing a Canadian tour soon and we’re focused to let people know about the new music and personally discover more of it ourselves.
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