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Wonder Years, The - 11.13.12

Interviewed by: Drew Beringer (11/13/12)
On November 3rd, 2012, I spoke with Dan "Soupy" Campbell, vocalist of The Wonder Years, at the Los Angeles stop of the band's current tour with Yellowcard and We Are The In Crowd. He didn't want to divulge too much of his band's upcoming fourth album (we're saving that for earlier in 2013, so stay tuned for that), but we touched on topics like the current tour, the band's outside-the-box thinking on merch, and what it's like being someone's hero.

So this is the second show of the tour, so the first show was last night. How was it?

Last night’s show was awesome. I am going to be perfectly honest, I was kind of nervous about the tour just because we generally, and by we I mean this whole scene of bands that were associated with - everyone that everyone put us in a grouping with – we like to tour in packs like wolves. So when there’s usually a tour it’s The Wonder Years and Man Overboard and Transit and Fireworks and Set Your Goals and Four Year Strong. The two bands we’re on tour with - actually the three band’s we’re on tour with – aren’t so much a part of that pack. I mean, it’s not like we touring with Deicide. It all fits together. But I was worried our fans weren’t going to come out unless we were playing with the general crew – the gang. But last night was incredible. I had a really good time. It was a cool show because there was a barricade quote unquote but there wasn’t also. There was one but it was pushed against the stage – there was no security pit. So what that allowed for was kids could stage dive and crowd surf but the people right in front didn’t have to deal with it – like being kneed in the face because you had to jump to clear the little bit. I find that when we have no barricade there’s a lot of kids that want to stage dive but have literally no idea how to. They’re just breaking someone’s nose with their fucking shinbone. So this was really good mix of both. I was able to jump into the crowd a couple of times, the crowd was able do what they wanted, but no one got injured, which is always our goal.

So what can fans expect when they come out to this show?

I mean you’re already getting a lot of different things on this one. Um, there’s a band opening called Sandlot Heroes but I don’t know a lot about them. I just saw part of their set last night, so I can’t really speak to them yet. But you’re gonna get different flavors, different variances of – let me rephrase. Let’s imagine there’s a scale and one side was the fucking Sex Pistols and the other side is One direction and pop-punk’s all over the middle of that. You’re gonna get things that land all over that scale variant-wise, but you’re gonna get a good time regardless. Every band out there really gives it their whole fucking heart, which is the most important thing. Everyone’s really tight too; we’re the only band out of the three Hopeless bands on it that are using amps. Everyone else is going through these digital amp things so they all sound perfect every night, really like tight and really in, whereas we’re just loud as fuck which is kind of our thing. We have those three full stacks and that oversized 8x10 for the bass.

What are you personally looking forward to on this tour?

Actually I was just telling you about it little while ago but we’re setting up a little week-to-week fantasy football thing. Um I’m excited to play that with the guys, it’s gonna be fun. Mendez from Yellowcard is real deep in the fantasy game, that’ll be a blast.

Recently, you had a tweet about slowing down with Shallow Water, did you want to expand on that?

About it taking a break? Yeah, I felt like I had a lot of commitments. Obviously The Wonder Years is number one but I started working with Hope This Helps booking, which is a small kind of – it’s not an agency but more of a collective of guys that want to help other bands grow. So myself, Jason Parent from Cleveland – who’s just a promoter that everyone knows - Greg from The World Is A Beautiful Place, and Gary from Daytrader all quote unquote work there. So I’m booking I Call Fives, Living With Lions, Mixtapes, and Allison Weiss and that’s a lot of time and I feel like I was not putting as much effort into Shallow Water as I should be. So we got through the first year and it went really well. We gave away a crap ton of money to charities and I think we put out a lot of cool shirts and lot of cool product but I feel like it got to the point – every month is a lot to be buying a shirt so I think we needed to slow down on it a little bit. I’ll probably do one for the holidays and do it every couple of months.

Like quarterly?

Yeah. Maybe do bigger numbers or different things - maybe not shirts every time now and try to expand the idea. It’s a cool idea in theory but a new shirt every month is hard for a lot of people.

I’m gonna burn my fucking mouth on this (holding a hot cup of tea).

Are managing bands something you see yourself doing in the future after The Wonder Years?

I dunno. I enjoy it. I get a lot of gratification out of the organizational structure of it; that really makes me feel good about. It kind of calms my nerves to see everything in a spreadsheet. I like routing tours, that’s like a weird fun thing for me to just know what rooms bands need to go and how. The ins and outs of that kind of thing – it’s like a fun math problem or some shit for me, I dunno (laughs). So I could do it, I would like to do it, but you never know. Working in the music industry, as you know, is just as competitive as playing music. You feel that everyone who really loves music wants to be a part of it in some way or another and if they’re not in a band, they want to work at a publication, or they want to work as an agent or a manager and there’s not enough spots for everyone. I don’t want to assume there would be a spot for me – there’s not a spot waiting for me anywhere. I’m gonna work hard on it and I would like to do it someday. But for now it’s more about there are four bands that I like and believe in and that I want to succeed and anything I can do to help them succeed is, you know, good for me.

Of course, you have the book Year As A Ghost coming out soon, it’s pretty unique and cool and I know a lot of AP.net users are really excited for it. Do you see The Wonder Years doing more non-music projects like that?

We always want to give something that no one else is giving. And I just feel like everyone makes t-shirts, everyone puts out CDs and we do that shit too, obviously. But we always want to do a little bit more. I want you to have something that’s – I dunno- a little more time was put into. So the book’s awesome, we just did the plush dolls, which was really cool. I mean, I saw some people on the tumblr site just like “you fuckin’ cock suckin’ motherfuckin’ sell-out pieces of shit! Making fucking toys, who the fuck do you think you are? Kiss?” And I was like (throws hands up) but I like toys! I like toys so why wouldn’t I make that? I feel like the idea of a sellout is doing something you don’t want to do for the money. But we did want to do that – and there’s not a lot of money being made on that! They’re really fucking expensive to make! These are not like 25 cent little fucking things! When we were growing up we heard that Beanie Babies cost 25 cents to make and people were buying them for 500 dollars. Yeah, but that’s when you mass-produce them, when you make hundreds of thousands of them. When you’re making a thousand toys from a small company that’s making them – they’re not cheap. And we sell them cheap because we understand that it’s hard to rationalize paying more than 10 dollars for this plush doll. But there’s not a whole lot of profit to be made so I thought that was a funny thing. I guess, I dunno, but I think it’s important that we, despite all of that noise, strive to put out cool products. Maybe it’s a cool vinyl variant, maybe it’s a cool piece of merch that no one else is doing - jackets or hats or something that way. Just something that you can have where you can be like “oh, no one else made this and these guys put in the time and effort to get me something neat.”

And all your fans love the pigeon imagery and they’re drawn to it. I know a lot of -

I fucking knew I’d burn myself! I’m so bad at hot beverages!

Oh shit. You okay?

(Soupy nods)

I know a lot of people who bought that USA hat, which was kind of cool.

I saw those at Bowe’s shop – Bowe’s this guy who runs Cold Cuts – and he was like yeah. And I asked, “Can we have 36 of them?” And he said sure. I thought this would be funny.

Exactly, you know, being in a band is still about having fun.

Yeah, sometimes it’s just for shits and giggles. But we never don’t enjoy doing it. If there was something that was such an egregious bitch to make and we didn’t want it to be made – we wouldn’t make it. There’s no one pulling puppet strings in The Wonder Years. I feel like people assume that once you’re on bigger tours or whatever that there’s some manager that’s like peering at us through some slit in a window or something and telling us what to do via fucking telekinesis. Our manager Craig is a 27-year-old dude that we hang out with. He’s our friend. He manages our band totally but he doesn’t do anything without us. He more executes our ideas than giving us ideas to execute, which I think use to be a rarity but is becoming less of a rarity today.

Since the release of Suburbia, you guys have been on a whirlwind over the past 12-15 months, such as going overseas to play. You guys were just in Singapore, which I bet was awesome.

We did Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines, which was incredible.

And you have to think that when you first started The Wonder Years you probably never imagined playing music over in that area.

No, god no. I never thought we’d have a shot at that in hell.

So this tour is kind of like the last hoorah for Suburbia album cycle.

Yeah this closes the cycle.

Are you looking forward to taking some time off before starting it all up again with LP4?

We never have time off (laughs). I think I know what we’re announced up to so I can say that after this tour we have three weeks off but we’re gonna be rehearsing because we already wrote the record. The record is written. And we’re actually tighter playing those songs than we’ve ever been before recording a record. But we want to make sure they’re so tight that when we get in there we can push through it and really hit it. We don’t want to waste time fucking up a part 100 times when we can hit it the first time and move on and add more to the song. So we’re gonna spend 3 weeks in December at home drilling the songs. January, we’re recording the record and February we’re in Costa Rica and Australia then we’re planned out from there I just can’t talk about it yet. I dunno exactly how long we’re playing for, but there’s no break. The end of an album cycle for us doesn’t mean rest. The rest quote unquote – I’m doing air quotes, you can’t see them – the rest was that we were at home for the summer. But we were writing everyday. We got a rehearsal space above an abandoned sandwich shop and we wrote songs everyday.

What are some of your goals for 2013?

We know plan on making sure that we’re doing innovative things and always pushing the envelope a little bit. So that’s kind of the goal for us. I mean, in the future, I know I want to do- some more places I really want to play – we want to do South America, we want to do Brazil. We really want to do Japan. I would really want to do Hong Kong, Malaysia. We really want to do Spain and Italy, more of Canada and Western Canada. We want to do more of Mexico; we’ve only done Tijuana. We want to do Mexico City. We really want to do a DVD at some point. But these are all kind of like out-there goals. We’ll hit them at one point. We wanna play Alaska, we want to play all 50 states. But, you know, we have to take them in stride and fit them into what we’re already doing and make sure we’re not forcing too many things and burning ourselves out. So to say they’re all going to happen in 2013 is a stretch, but they’re all goals.

That sounds awesome. So going in a different direction – a lot of what I just read from AP.net and social media sites about you guys always features a lot of Wonder Year fans that look up to you as a personal hero. I would imagine that has to be equal parts flattering and frightening. How do you handle that?

I don’t handle it well, that’s for sure. You just try to take it in stride, I guess. It’s like no one looks at themselves as a guy to be looked up to. I’m just a fucking guy. I like professional wrestling and fantasy football and collect Simpsons’ bobbleheads. I like hanging out with my girlfriend and going skateboarding with her. I like sitting in my living room and watching TV shows with my roommates. We’re not extraordinary people. We’re just people. So you don’t want people to put too much stock into you because, as people, we make a ton of mistakes all the time. Or we do things people disagree with that I don’t consider a mistake, but people will be mad about it. Because the idea of a hero is - when you think about it in a comic book sense almost – a true hero only does the right thing but the right thing is based on the perception of the people that consider them a hero. So what I consider to be the right thing might not be the right thing for people’s perception of me. This is gonna get convoluted but you kinda get the point. There gets to be a lot of pressure to do the quote unquote right thing. I remember, we were on the Warped Tour and my girlfriend was flying home from the tour that day. She came out for a week and I drove her to the airport and came back for the signing. We do this signing everyday. We shake everyone’s hands, we take any pictures you want to take, we sign all this stuff. We say thank you. We’re cool to everybody because there’s no reason to be a dickhead to anyone. There’s no reason to be anything but nice to people. But I got a text message from my girlfriend and I checked my phone because she’s at an airport - what if her flight got canceled, what if I have to go back and get her? And someone gave me a heap of shit for it, like “don’t forget where you came from, man! You didn’t do this because you were checking your phone.” I did the right thing in my mind; the right thing was for me to make sure that my loved ones are okay. So you can never live up to what they consider. You never want to let anybody down. We’re just fucking people, if you want a picture we’ll take a picture. I don’t get why anyone wants a picture. I’m not a good-looking man (laughs) but I’ll take them! I dunno, it’s weird. You can never be who they want you to be, you just try your best to be the best person you can be. Stay true to your own morals, you be the best person you think you can be. I guess that’s where it begins and ends. A lot of people do a lot of shitty things; a lot of musicians do shitty things and take advantage of a lot of women, a lot of young girls. I don’t want to harp on anyone for doing what they want to do, your life is your life and doesn’t involve me but we’re a pretty fucking wholesome band. We don’t do particularly shitty things. We try our best.

Totally, I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be someone people look up to.

Yeah, it’s just weird because they don’t know you. They “know” me to an extent but we haven’t been best friends for years. You don’t know the inner workings of me, so there are certain things people assume of you and expect of you based on that assumption. And you can’t live up to them because it’s not who you are. I try my best to be me. I try my best to be nice to people because there’s no reason to not be. It’s kind of where it begins and where it ends, you know?

Many thanks to Soupy and Hopeless for doing the interview, make sure you catch The Wonder Years on tour with Yellowcard and We Are The In Crowd (remaining dates here.
 
Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 37.
11:47 AM on 11/13/12
#2
Xiegfried
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Awesome interview. I really want to meet the guys from The Wonder Years sometime. They all seem like really great guys who care about their fans.
11:50 AM on 11/13/12
#3
fenderstrat383
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Awesome interview. I really want to meet the guys from The Wonder Years sometime. They all seem like really great guys who care about their fans.
Exactly my thoughts. I actually read a lot of interviews and such before I even listened to their music, and their personalities are half the reason I decided to check them out.
11:50 AM on 11/13/12
#4
SteveD
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Good interview. Soupy has always seemed like a great down to earth guy.
12:15 PM on 11/13/12
#5
seventwenty3
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I never get why people want band members to be some hero. They are just guys, like everyone else. Has TWY helped a ton of people through their music? Of course, but that doesn't mean you should try to be exactly like them. Being your own person is more valuable than being someone else.

Soupy and all the other guys seem to be completely normal early 20s guys. That's why I like them. Also I've never seen them try anything with some young girl. Props to them for being stand up in a position where they really don't need to be.

Edit: I'll never forget when someone told Jake from Minus the Bear he was his hero, he looked him and goes "I just play guitar man."
12:25 PM on 11/13/12
#6
saddr weirdr
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I never get why people want band members to be some hero. They are just guys, like everyone else. Has TWY helped a ton of people through their music? Of course, but that doesn't mean you should try to be exactly like them. Being your own person is more valuable than being someone else.

Soupy and all the other guys seem to be completely normal early 20s guys. That's why I like them. Also I've never seen them try anything with some young girl. Props to them for being stand up in a position where they really don't need to be.

Edit: I'll never forget when someone told Jake from Minus the Bear he was his hero, he looked him and goes "I just play guitar man."
It's kind of understandable to look up to the person who wrote the words that pulled you through tough times. Fuck, that was a mouthful.
01:01 PM on 11/13/12
#7
movingxpictures
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I have a lot of respect for TWY dudes, but they're certainly not my heroes. If anything, I think it's almost gratifying to have such normal people making relatable, passionate music. It's like why people love Taylor Swift: she's "relatable" and writes her own songs.
01:17 PM on 11/13/12
#8
Br&New182
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We’re cool to everybody because there’s no reason to be a dickhead to anyone. There’s no reason to be anything but nice to people. But I got a text message from my girlfriend and I checked my phone because she’s at an airport - what if her flight got canceled, what if I have to go back and get her? And someone gave me a heap of shit for it, like “don’t forget where you came from, man! You didn’t do this because you were checking your phone.” I did the right thing in my mind; the right thing was for me to make sure that my loved ones are okay.

That fan/person is just overzealous and needs to relax. honestly, if a person's music means so much to you, wouldn't you want them to be happy? clearly if they're at a signing and checking thier phone, it must be important. kids these days.
01:19 PM on 11/13/12
#9
DylanPPPP
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I have a lot of respect for TWY dudes, but they're certainly not my heroes. If anything, I think it's almost gratifying to have such normal people making relatable, passionate music. It's like why people love Taylor Swift: she's "relatable" and writes her own songs.
Pretty much this.

I wouldn't say Soupy is my hero but I definitely love his mindset and what he is doing for the scene. He's just a regular guy and that's why I like him.
01:29 PM on 11/13/12
Alex DiVincenzo
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Can't wait to catch this show next weekend.
01:38 PM on 11/13/12
seventwenty3
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It's kind of understandable to look up to the person who wrote the words that pulled you through tough times. Fuck, that was a mouthful.
Haha, I completely get that aspect. I love tons of bands, but if Soupy came out tomorrow and said everyone should smoke weed daily, I wouldn't do it. I know I'm wired different than a bunch of people though.
01:46 PM on 11/13/12
MattBurkePhoto
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TWY are easily one of the most genuine bands in the game right now. Such solid dudes.
01:59 PM on 11/13/12
subplotofcrows
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The booking group is actually called Hope This Helps, not Hopeless Helps. Good interview otherwise, and I'm glad I bought my stuffed Hank.
02:05 PM on 11/13/12
Drew Beringer
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The booking group is actually called Hope This Helps, not Hopeless Helps. Good interview otherwise, and I'm glad I bought my stuffed Hank.
yikes, thanks for that correction haha
02:31 PM on 11/13/12
camperfrequency
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I have a lot of respect for TWY dudes, but they're certainly not my heroes. If anything, I think it's almost gratifying to have such normal people making relatable, passionate music. It's like why people love Taylor Swift: she's "relatable" and writes her own songs.

Same here. Only musical hero I have is Jimi Hendrix, that's understandable, he's a fucking legend.

And people must go through a lot of break-ups if they relate to T-Swift!

EDIT: Fucking great interview!
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