While on the road playing their first Warped Tour, Dan “Soupy” Campbell of The Wonder Years was extremely nice to sit down with me to talk about the tour, their phenomenal new album Suburbia I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing, and his literary heroes, with about ten minutes before he needed to be on stage. This interview was originally intended to be a video but due to some technical problems with the camera, it was best suited for a text format.
MEB: I’m Pat Haynes here for Mind Equals Blown and I’m here with Soupy from The Wonder Years. How’s it going, man?
Good. This is you guys’ first Warped Tour. How’s it been?
It’s been good. It’s been hard and good. Exhausting and positive are the words I would use to describe it.
Being a younger band on the tour, have there been any veterans who have kind of taken you guys under their wing?
Uhh, not a lot of wing-taking. Just kind of a friendship-circle-bond that we formed with bands like Hellogoodbye and Moving Mountains.
(Soupy pauses briefly to speak with his tour manager who he tried to reach prior to the interview).
Don’t put the part in with me yelling at him (laughs).
You got it (laughs). Alright, you guys released Suburbia about a month ago and it’s just gotten phenomenal reviews and I think it’s an amazing album…
Okay, thank you. I appreciate that very much.
Oh definitely man, I love it. How does it feel to be a part of this resurgence of pop-punk with other bands like Transit and Set Your Goals?
What I like about it is that it’s a bunch of bands that wanted to play the music they wanted to play and didn’t really care if no one was going to be interested or not.
Umm, when we all started touring there wasn’t really a big market for this. But we went on tour together. We went on tours with Man Overboard, with Transit, with Fireworks and A Loss For Words. Basically, all these bands kind of circled together and just went for it. Now we are on Hopeless, and Transit and Man Overboard are on Rise, and Fireworks is on Triple Crown, A Loss For Words in on Velocity, The Dangerous Summer are on Hopeless, This Time Next Year is on Equal Vision. It’s like all these bands that started out touring because we like doing it are becoming a force in this scene which is really interesting and really cool. What’s great is that we did it all on our own terms. No one bent to the will of anyone else to make this happen.
Right. Getting back to the albums, you are kind of known for writing extremely personal lyrics. How does that affect you doing it every day live and having kids scream along with it? Does it get weird at all?
It’s not really weird for me anymore. I got pretty used to it pretty quickly. What’s weird is that a lot of our friends who don’t really listen to this kind of music and just came to our record release show because they just wanted to see us play for the first time, that I think kind of expected us to play for like 150 kids, walked into this 1,000 person show and saw people singing lyrics about that and they were kind of shell-shocked (laughs). There are 1,000 people here singing about me getting my tires slashed by him (points off camera), you know? That was a weird moment for a lot of our friends to see.
Yeah. It’s been announced that you guys are doing a pretty huge tour after this with…
It hasn’t been announced! Not actually.
It’s not official yet? You can’t talk about it?
No, it’s just that it’s not actually confirmed yet.
Okay, I got ya.
Yeah, the world kind of told everybody that’s actually confirmed and like it’s definitely one of the tours that has been talked about and all those bands have been mentioned and I hope that it ends up being the tour, but until you see the ad-mat for a tour, don’t believe it.
Because things change so rapidly that the whole lineup could go out the window tomorrow. Even when you think that things are confirmed in this business, a lot of it isn’t. So, I really hope that we do that tour, and I really hope that all those bands are on it, but I can in no way officially announce that it’s been confirmed because things could definitely change.
Okay, yeah that makes sense. With this being your first time on Warped, what things have you guys kind of found to do in the off time?
There is no off time (laughs). If there is an hour that I’m not doing something, I lie down and try to recuperate. We, between press, signings, you showing up and hour before a set and leaving an hour after you finish, catering being like a half-hour wait, it’s just like all of a sudden “oh wow, there’s most of the day.”
Okay, yeah that’s pretty busy. Uhh, moving on to another topic, you’ve made your love of Allen Ginsberg pretty well known. What is it about his work that kind of speaks to you?
Yeah. My favorite thing about Ginsberg is that he challenged not just the idea of what stand-up poetry should be, but he was also constantly challenging precedents that were set by society. He was openly gay; he was Buddhist, more or less Communist. Things like that. All the things that were social norms, he was not, and he expressed those things through poetry and I like that. You know, I’m not as radical necessarily as Allen Ginsberg but I’ve never felt like I was 100% a part of what everyone else was doing. So I’ve always kind of sympathized with him. Empathized with him? Is it empathize or sympathize? I should probably know that.
I think it’s empathize, that’s what I’m going to go with (laughs).
I don’t know. This college education is failing me (laughs).
With your lyrics, you kind of connected a lot of the narratives from Suburbia with the previous record, The Upsides. Or at least there are little Easter eggs or something.
Yeah, there are little hints.
Yeah, that’s not something that a ton of bands do. What kind of led you to do it?
Well, what influenced me to do it was absolutely Craig Finn from The Hold Steady, who kind of strings all his albums together and it’s been a super impressive thing for me to watch him do and I kind of wanted to give it a shot. But also, we are writing songs about our lives, so even though it’s a different record, it’s still our lives. And if it doesn’t hearken back to that and if it doesn’t reference it, then it’s not being true to itself.
I got ya. I got a few more questions here.
I’ll try to make them quick, I know you’re running short on time. What albums from 2011 have been your favorites to listen to?
My one album this year is Gospel by Fireworks, which is incredible.
Yeah, it’s definitely great.
It makes us look like shit. It’s the best pop-punk record of the year by miles. They finished it before we finished our record. Brett was in California while we were tracking, and we were sitting off in our van outside the studio, and Brett played it for us and I said “I don’t even want to go back in the studio, this is too good.”
It’s too good.
If you could have any five books, albums or movies and nothing else ever, what would they be?
I would have Something to Write Home About by The Get Up Kids. I would have Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I would have a Hold Steady record. I would take Separation Sunday by The Hold Steady. I don’t know. I would take like some outstandingly long book that I haven’t read, so I can’t even tell you what it is, but something incredibly long. Whatever the longest book ever written is, I will take that (laughs). And, umm, I’d say Season Two of Arrested Development.
Awesome. Alright, our last question came from Dylan, he’s another one of our writers. He reviewed your album.
Oh yeah, he was at our show yesterday.
Yeah, yeah. He wanted me to ask who your favorite Disney Princess is and why?
My favorite Disney Princess…
Umm…I’ve always had a thing for Jasmine. She’s good. She’s a good looking girl (laughs). She’s kind of a stray from the norm.
Less of your standard, white Disney Princess. Jasmine. Final Answer (laughs)!
Alright man, well is there anything you’d like to add? I know you got to run soon.
Yeah, I got a set in like 15 minutes so I got to go, but I’ll talk to you guys soon. Thanks a lot.
A big thanks goes out to Soupy for taking the time to talk to us so close to his set time. The band absolutely destroyed the Nintendo 3DS stage and if you go to Warped this summer and don’t see the band, you will be kicking yourself afterwards.