Pop Punk's Not Dead Tour Round Table Interview
Featuring: The Wonder Years, Man Overboard and This Time Next Year
This interview was conducted after an off-date on the Pop Punk’s Not Dead Tour in Jacksonville, Fla. It took place at a Denny’s across the street from a venue called The Pit, where This Time Next Year, Man Overboard, The Wonder Years and Set Your Goals just finished playing to a very, very packed room of over 300 kids. It was a small “day off” for the tour, but everyone was stoked on the show, which offered the chance for stage dives and crowd interaction with no barricade – the norm for the shows with New Found Glory. In this round-table interview, we discuss the PPND Tour in general, the dynamics of playing larger rooms, the fact that all five bands are supporting brand-new records, the pop-punk community as a whole, how New Found Glory never wants to see this genre die while they can do something about it, and how at the end of the day, all of these bands will go up together and go down together. Thanks for reading.
Alright, we’ve got a lot of people here so let’s just go around the table and everyone can say who they are and what they do.
My name’s Justin [Collier], I play guitar in Man Overboard.
My name is Pete [Dowdalls] and I sing in This Time Next Year.
I’m Josh [Martin] and I play bass in The Wonder Years.
I’m Dan [Campbell] and I sing in The Wonder Years.
My name’s Brad [Wiseman] and I play guitar in This Time Next Year.
Okay, you guys are obviously currently on the Pop Punk’s Not Dead Tour. It’s probably one of the best lineups of the year, especially looking at it from AbsolutePunk.net’s readership’s perspective. Let’s talk about the sense of community that goes on with a tour like this.
Dan: There’s mainly a lot of backstabbing. Pete: There’s a lot of spitting in faces.
[all laugh] Dan: See, well it’s a shame, because we kept saying, “Please, for the love of God, please take Fireworks and not This Time Next Year.” Brad: Ahhhhhhhh. Pete: I hate myself and I don’t even want to be here. Josh: I can answer the question. [all laugh] The four support bands have all been on tour with each other a bunch of times and for us to go out with New Found Glory and support them on this tour is awesome. I’m stoked to have kind of this family out on the tour. We all showed up the first day and there’s no weird, like, “What’s your name? Are these kids weirdos?” Everyone’s already friends and it creates a really comfortable environment. We all work together and support each other and it works. Brad: I feel like it gave the tour more of a vibe as something to look forward to. Like, “Oh man, two weeks until this tour. Can’t wait to see this band, this band and this band.” And I feel like all of us, ages like 14-16, I never, ever, ever thought in my life that I’d tour with New Found Glory just seven or eight years later. Dan: I’ve seen kids that they’ll be trying to categorize all of these bands – not just on this tour but in this scene in general – as like, pop-punk bands or the Defend Pop Punk movement or Gig Life or anything like that – and kids try to ask about what that all is, and it’s not really something that can be defined as a musical genre so much. It’s more like a group of people with the right idea and I think everyone on this tour has the right idea. I think that’s the most important thing to have in common. Justin: I feel.
[all laugh] Dan: Justin feels.
Let’s talk about recently, I think a lot of tours that your guys’ bands have been on recently have been less of a show and more of an event. When you guys get four or five bands and get a stacked lineup like this, is that maybe the reason more kids are coming out to shows? Is that going to be bringing more kids out, when it’s more of an event?
Pete: If you have a tour where you have four or five bands relevant bands like this, kids are bound to like a majority of the bands, you know? So it gives you more of a reason to be psyched. Whereas, if it was The Wonder Years and a few bands that maybe you didn’t really know, maybe you’d just wait to see them next time. But here we’ve got five bands that kids like or probably will like by the end of the night. Brad: I feel like, if you know one of the bands, you know the others. Justin: It’s definitely five relevant bands. Brad: Even if kids know The Wonder Years but they don’t know This Time Next Year or Man Overboard, and maybe they’ve heard of them, then they come to the show and they’re like, I’m definitely going to see The Wonder Years and Set Your Goals and obviously New Found Glory, but then I’ll get there early and check out This Time Next Year and Man Overboard. Josh: On any tour when you have friends in a positive environment, and the bands playing are all positive, then it becomes a positive environment for the people who come to the show. And that word spreads, because everything exists again on the Internet and that’s where everyone finds out about everything. And each night it’s like that, the sum is really greater than all its parts. It’s like, oh shit…this band AND this band AND this band are playing, AND THEN New Found Glory. It’s all the same idea and work ethic and realness.
[A group of kids walk in and see who is sitting at the table. One of them yells, “HOLY SHIT,” and I can’t hear anything for a couple seconds.] Pete: And also, Josh is there. Dan: Josh brings the realness. Justin: Real recognize real. Brad: True. Pete: True true true true.
How about the fact that every band on this tour has released a record within the last few months? Is it kind of an added pressure, to be directly supporting these records; do you feel a pressure to play some certain songs when you’re already playing a set list that might be shorter than normal?
Pete: I think, honestly, and I say this every night – every band has a new record where they have all stepped it up. Kids see that and that’s what makes this tour more hyped. For me, personally, there isn’t any added pressure. I want to play the new songs and let kids hear them because I think it’s better than what they did before. I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but I think it’s the same vibe. Dan: I definitely love our new record more than anything we’ve done, and I think that’s a common thing for most bands. But there’s definitely an added pressure, at least for us…kids want to hear songs from this record, others want to hear songs from this record. We don’t just get Twitter requests being like, “Can you please play this song?” We get Twitter requests like, “Play this song or I will fucking kill you.” Like, literally. Justin: There are the kids who read AbsolutePunk and the other websites, and they’re all on top of it and those are the kids that pick up the record the day it comes out. Those kids are going to know the songs on the new record, but then you’ve got the kids who mainly are going to see New Found Glory and maybe they know a little bit from your older record…we try and play a couple of new songs, and then add in the stuff that everyone wants to hear. Then next tour, we’ll add in a couple more new songs since it’ll be out longer. We just want to keep it exciting and not drag it down with all new stuff, we want to play the songs that kids know. Brad: Yeah, I mean, we all go to shows…when was the last time you went to a show and you were like, “Oh, rad, they just played eight new songs!” No one ever wants to see that. Everyone: A bunch of nonsense that I can’t make out about Converge and Paint It Black playing entire new records straight through and about a kid who jumped out of a tree at a Paint It Black show.
[Waitress comes and brings Josh and Dan these grilled cheese sandwiches with friend mozzarella sticks in the middle. Yesssssss.] Waitress: Can I get anyone anything else? Justin: No thanks. Brad: I’ll take another Coke.
This is all being transcribed.
On this tour, some of you guys are playing bigger shows on bigger stages than you have before. I know in Orlando, [This Time Next Year] said that was the biggest show you’ve ever played.
Pete: Yeah, actually the show last night [St. Petersburg] had a stage that was like eight feet tall. Justin: It was ridiculous. Josh: It was ignorant.
You guys play a type of music that is normally very crowd-interactive. Is it a different dynamic on this tour?
Josh: This is really the third or fourth big boy… Waitress: Was yours the Diet Coke? Someone: Yes. Dan: Get this all in the interview. Pete: [fluttering his eyelashes, and loudly] DIET COKEEEE. Justin: Big boy? Josh: What was I saying? It’s definitely a weird transition to go from a big, wide stage like last night… Dan: Looks like I have a little floaty in my Coke. Pete: There’s definitely something fun in there. Josh: Nope, Justin threw that in there. Justin: [on the other side of the table] Yep, that was me. Dan: Wow, that must have been incredible. Josh: There’s definitely a learning curve…
Thank you for remembering the question, because I kinda forgot.
[all laugh] Josh: It’s definitely something to get used to. I think for us personally, for The Wonder Years, we did that Streetlight Manifesto tour and the Warped Tour the whole summer, but you have to get in a different mindset for it. We just did a headlining run in the UK where the stages are a lot smaller, so you have to adjust your show and you try to come up with ways to make it more personal, like the kids are right in front of you instead of behind the barricade. Pete: I mean, it’s not hard. But a lot of tours we’ve done, they’ve been small clubs and VFWs, where the kids are right there, like today’s show, but on this tour we’ve got barriers and tall stages. This, for us, I feel like it’s our first big tour. Dan: You’re doing great! Pete: Thanks. But yeah, we get stoked on it. I’ve never seen kids react to us this way in such a loud, crowded environment before. Justin: Let me get a fry. Brad: Going into this tour, for us, everything is different. It’s a whole different style of touring where it’s much more organized… Pete: I hate it. I wanna go home. Justin: When you’re late, people get mad at you. Dan: Remember when you used to do shows where it was like, okay we go on at 9 o’clock, let’s show up at 8:30. Josh: Call the promoter, be like, “Yo, we got like nine flat tires…” Dan: There was a bear attack. Josh: Meanwhile, you’re cliff diving or eating at Taco Bell. But yeah, even though it’s all friends, it’s still very professionally run. But at least everyone is cool about it. Brad: But to me, it’s cool because we have to show up really early for load-in, but then we get to all hang out. It’s just a bunch of friends hanging out. It’s like, “Oh man, we’re here so early. Now we gotta sit down and talk to you guys for two hours.” I look forward to it. Dan: Really though, Jenny, who is New Found’ tour manager and Michael, their stage manager, make everything really easy on all of us. Brad: [to Josh] Are you dipping that in mozzarella sauce right now? Josh: Yes, it’s delicious. Brad: Dude, you’re killing it right now. That’s so tight. Everyone: A lot of a story about TTNY forgetting something on stage and NFG’s tour manager hiding it from them after.
I think one thing maybe everyone at this table has in common is that we all used to, and still do, listen to New Found Glory. I know for at least a few of you guys, it was even before you were in any bands. Let’s talk about New Found Glory and how long they’ve been around and how they’re kind of viewed as leaders in the pop-punk scene.
Josh: Well, influentially… Pete: “When you need a boy around you…just for the summer…” Everyone: “Don’t coming knocking on my door…” Justin: The chorus of the other one…“I’m Not the One”… Everyone: “I’m not the one, that she should bring home tonight…” Brad: I think their new record is one of the best things they’ve done in a while. Pete: I’ve always believed that New Found is the fucking cool band that can write any record they want to write and it will be good. With this record, I feel like they were like, “Let’s just do what we’ve always done,” and it worked. They are that pivotal band in this genre. I think that’s what makes this tour.
Personally, though…did you guys listen to them when you were younger, where they a big influence on you writing music?
Pete: Oh yeah, them and Saves the Day are the only two reasons why I wanted to be in a pop-punk band. Josh: Well yeah, their influence keeps reaching, like with This Time and Man O and their records being [produced] by the New Found guitar players. For us, I know, they’ve always been a huge influence. You think about it…and I keep wanting to say influentially, but I don’t think that’s a word… That’s definitely a word. Josh: Influentially, when you think about the top three pop-punk bands of all time…it’s Blink-182, New Found Glory and Green Day. At least in my brain, they’re on that level eternally. Everyone: [murmurs of agreement] Josh: They’ve had so much impact on the people who are 24, 25 and 26 who are touring. Everyone who’s trying to create records with that much emotion and power and lasting value.
[Someone burps] Pete: True, true. Dan: We had, I think 12 dates with New Found last year. So when we had lunch with like Cyrus and Steve, they would talk to us about how they handled their career. How they did do certain things and they didn’t do others that they felt pressured to do, no matter who was telling them what they should be doing next. They gave us a lot of sound advice that we used over the course of that year. Justin: Yeah, the number of times that Steve was like… “Dude! It’s your band. It’s your decision, 30 years from now, it’s going to be your decision.” Josh: Those guys are always really open to talking to all the guys on the tour. They’ve done this for a long time and they know what they’re doing, obviously. They’re always willing to just bullshit or mentor in some small way. They give their opinion, “Maybe you should do this, or maybe you really shouldn’t do that.” A lot of them definitely don’t hold anything back. Brad: They’re like the older brothers to all of us, but they definitely don’t need to be. They’re like, “You guys are all cool. We really respect what you guys are doing and we want to see you do good things.” And they’re giving us this pat on the back. For us, listening to New Found since we were like, 13 or 14 years old, that’s incredible. It’s not a common thing where you meet a band and they’re actually down-to-Earth and nice. Everyone: [A lot of murmurs about Brad’s first band ever which was called Wildcats or something. Then the waitress comes and brings the check.]
I guess for this half of the table, with Steve Klein producing the Man O record and Chad Gilbert producing the This Time record, what was it like working with those guys, especially now that you’re out on tour with them?
Pete: Well, Chad for us, he changed the dynamics of how we write and produce. We worked with [Brian] McTernan before, which was great, but having Chad was this dude who knew the music we wrote – it’s not necessarily rocket science – but he brought a lot to the table in terms of what it’s like to really be a recording band. And even on the tour, he’s come up and been like, “This song sounds really cool live, but maybe don’t do a harmony here.” Or like, “Brad should sing this part louder.” But he’s watching us and as a producer, I appreciate that because not only did he help us write the record, but he’s live. He’s helping us in real life. Brad: Yeah, he genuinely gives a shit about our band. I feel like, even with Man O and Steve, you guys kick it with him every day. When you guys ask him about a new song, he’ll tell you his opinion on it. Justin: Yeah, and he’s like, “That one sounded real tight,” or, “That one was cool except you played it four times too fast.” And it’s cool like that. Pete: Having that on the tour is really cool and it’s insanely helpful. Josh: It’s almost like he’s helping you produce the execution of the record. He did it in the studio and now he’s helping you change it and fuck with it for the live setting and I feel like that’s really cool. Brad: I feel like if you’re in a band and you’re producing a record, yeah you can produce it…but you have so much power to do other things too. Like New Found, they know the genre, but they can help us with touring opportunities, they can help us spread the word. In the big picture, they can help so much more. It’s not like we’re looking for that, but they’ve come to us with it. When we were trying to figure out if we wanted to produce with Chad, he was down but we didn’t know if we could get it right with the schedules and he was like, “Let’s make it happen, I can help you with so many other things…” Pete: “I can help you not suck!” Brad: Yeah, he’s just reaching out a hand, saying he gives a shit. He wants to help with the record and with the live performance and he even comes up with merch ideas. Dan: Like the “Fuck the Police” shirt. Brad: That shirt was Chad’s idea. Dan: New Found Glory is definitely interested in the preservation of the genre. Pete: They had bands that sort of helped them out when they were growing up and I think they enjoy sort of giving back and helping out with smaller bands, which is cool. Justin: They’re in a position where they can help if they want to, and if they don’t, they can just not give a shit and they’re still New Found Glory. But they do genuinely care. Brad: And it’s not like this is new, they’ve been doing it forever. Like one of the dudes from The Starting Line asked if we were stoked to be on this tour and I was like, “Fuck yeah we’re stoked, this is a whole new type of touring.” And he’s like, “I remember when Chad came up to us and was like, ‘I really like your band, let me try to push you guys on Drive-Thru and you should come out on tour with us.’” And that was 10, 12 years ago and they’re still doing the same shit. They’re still doing the same thing, looking out for the new up-and-comers. Chad was talked about back in the day with Dashboard Confessional and Further Seems Forever and all that, he’s always had people’s backs. You don’t find that in a normal, everyday scenario.
I guess to head towards the end of the interview here, I think the pop-punk scene in general sort of went through a time period where it kind of unfairly criticized. There has always been a number of good bands, but there were a lot of bad ones that people might have paid too much attention to for the wrong reason. But obviously the Pop Punk’s Not Dead Tour is something of a statement against that. Let’s talk about maybe where you guys see the genre going in terms of community and everything.
Josh: I think after being on Warped Tour and making friends with bands in other genres, our genre is so much different from everyone else’s. Everyone in pop-punk wants each other to succeed, and it makes sense because like, what’s good for New Found is good for Set Your Goals and us and everyone else. And what’s good for Four Year Strong is good for Title Fight and for everyone else. If these bands get bigger, it’s not like there’s room at the top for one. If one of these bands blows up – like, for real, for real – it can break down barriers for other good, talented, hardworking, honest fucking people, where we can have this really cool job for a little big longer. Whereas, in other scenes, it’s shit-talk city, man. It's just like, “This band sucks. They’re horrible people, I fucking hate their record. They’re morons. They don’t know what they’re doing.” Dan: “Backing tracks, backing tracks, backing tracks, wah, wah, wah.” Josh: [laughs] It blows my mind because we made friends with a metal band on the tour – I’ll leave their name out of it because I don’t need to say that – but they were super nice guys and we got along with them really well, but they just grew up in a completely different scene than we did. Some people on the other side of the fence, genre-wise, are real competitive where we are, as a genre, really supportive and we promote one another and want to see each other do well. Justin: We’re just at an advantage in general, coming from punk scenes which are really supportive, whether it be punk or pop-punk or hardcore. There’s a great scene in Philly and there’s a great scene in Jersey and in California. Brad: Everyone’s just got each other’s backs. I think the hardcore thing is a perfect reference. It’s like, we’re okay with going out – all of us have done tours where we go out and play a show with 50 kids – but you stick your average whatever other kind of band in there, and they’re like, “Yo, there were only 50 kids going off for our band tonight?” We would play shows, and I tell this story a lot, on our first tour ever we played a warehouse in Colorado Springs and there were like, maybe 30 kids there and 10 of them were going off. And we were like, “Holy shit, we’re in Colorado playing a show to 30 kids and 10 of them are freaking out. Two of them knew the words to every single song.” It’s like…not everyone, I feel, can have that appreciation. The difference with us is that I think we can all accept that that is awesome. Dan: I feel like there’s two points to be made. One is, our band at least, has literally nothing to do with hardcore music. We’re not a hardcore band, we just aren’t. Whereas, like, there are metalcore bands that have “core” in the name, they have a lot more to do with hardcore I guess, to an extent, but those bands in that scene have never played a show not on a stage. They’ve never played on a floor, they’ve never played a VFW. We came up playing basements together, and if we have to, we’ll go down playing basements together. Pete: That’s fuckin’ real. Dan: What would happen if it was cutthroat? What would happen if Man Overboard was like, sabotaging This Time Next Year and slicing their van tires? Justin: Sup, dawg? Brad: Sup? Dan: Then all of the rest of us never wanted to talk to them again. Who would you go on tour with? Of Mice and Men? Cool, enjoy your life, you know what I mean? Justin: Label-mates! Dan: If we all come up together, we can all keep playing together. There are bands that we enjoy being around, there are bands that we enjoy playing with, and we will keep doing these kinds of tours. I would much rather it be this way. Like I said, musically – nothing to do with hardcore – but ethically, I think we have more to do with that than any metalcore band on the face of the Earth. Brad: As long as you get it, you get it.
Alright, so I guess to wrap it up…everyone can just go ahead and plug whatever’s coming up? Just go ahead and tell us what the future plans are.
Waitress: Do you want more soda? Dan: Yes! Brad: For This Time Next Year, we’re doing a bunch of house shows, we’re doing some stuff with The Story So Far and holiday shows with Set Your Goals, then we’re doing January/February with Four Year Strong in Europe. Between those times, I’m going to go home for Thanksgiving and chill real hard. Justin: We’re doing some shows in December, we’re going to go headline the UK with The Story So Far in January/February. Brad books them. Pete: Brad, raise the roof.
[everyone looks at Brad] Pete: Raise the roof! We’re in Denny’s.
[Brad raises the roof] Justin: Then we’re doing more America shows, then going back to Europe after that. Josh: The day we get back from this tour, we’ll eat Thanksgiving dinner, get on a flight Friday night, do a UK/Europe tour with Yellowcard and Saves the Day, which I’m incredibly stoked about. I couldn’t be more elated to tour with Saves the Day. We’re gonna play some holiday shows and enjoy our friends and family through the beginning of next year. Dan: We have a couple months off for the first time in a long to try to do some other stuff. Maybe we’ll do some writing. Justin: Soupy’s getting married! Dan: Uh, yes I’m getting married to Justin’s mother. Brad: Whoooaaaa, cool. Justin: Thanks, dad! Everyone: Nonsense words. Justin: Yo, can someone out there on Tumblr please make an animated gif that says, “Soupy is my dad?” And email it to email@example.com. Thank you. Dan: Please make this happen. But yeah, that’s all we can talk about. Josh: Oh, and buy all of our new records. Dan: Listen Handguns, listen to Basement, listen to I Call Fives, listen to Bright & Early, listen to everybody else. Transit and Fireworks. Justin: True Things, The Story So Far. Dan: Polar Bear Club, A Loss for Words, Into It. Over It., everybody. Justin: Um, check out this band, they’re from California, they’re called This Time Next Year, they’re pretty cool. Pete: Ahhh, that joke again. Dan: It just keeps coming back. Josh: I think they’re the local talent. Pete: Ahh, this never gets old…
That’s about it. Thanks to all of the guys for sitting at a table in Denny’s and doing this for like 40 minutes when they could have been doing whatever they wanted. It meant a lot.