STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
After surviving another punishing tour schedule, the boys are back.
The day Lansdale’s breakout rock stars, The Wonder Years, officially release their fifth full-length album, “No Closer to Heaven,” they’ll be at Siren Records for a five- or six-song in-store acoustic performance and signing.
Want to get in at 7 p.m. Sept. 4? Admission is free when you pre-order “No Closer to Heaven” at the store, 25 E. State St., Doylestown, or by calling (215) 348-2323. You’ll need to show ID, and because space is limited, a pre-order of the CD or LP (a two-record set with etched vinyl on one side) is good for one admission only.
Pre-orders will be available for pick up before (starting at 11 a.m. Sept. 4), during and after the mini-concert/signing.
The emotive pop-punk band has offered a healthy sample of the new album, posting the videos for the songs “Cardinals” and “Cigarettes & Sinners” — and more recently, the audio of another new song — to www.thewonderyearsband.com.
“The ‘Cigarettes & Saints’ video is probably my favorite video we’ve put out,” said guitarist Matt Brasch in a sit-down interview at Digital First Media’s office in Lansdale.
Of the new track “I Don’t Like Who I Was Then,” he said: “I feel that song is like what our older, core fans are gonna like.”
Meanwhile, the dramatic video for “Cardinals” shows singer/lyricist Dan “Soupy” Campbell running down a street in a suburban development carrying a man who appears to be unconscious. When he finally reaches an ambulance, it pulls away before any medical attention can be given.
“The real shame of that video is it was shot in slow motion. I was running full sprint. That kid is 130 pounds. At the end of the day, I did (the carrying run) 12 times,” said Campbell in a phone interview. He gave credit to training at a crossfit gym in Horsham for the stamina to complete the shoot.
Contrary to information that was on The Wonder Years’ Wikipedia page, the man being carried by Campbell is the brother of the video’s director, Brasch said.
For fans that live closer to the city, there’s an in-store performance and signing at 1 p.m. Sept. 5 at the Avenue of the Arts FYE store at 100 S. Broad St. in Philadelphia. “We want to support local record stores, and at the same time, we think there should be music in your big box stores,” Campbell said.
The “No Closer to Heaven” CDs that will be sold by Target will contain two exclusive bonus tracks. According to Brasch, it’s the first time ever the band has had any leftover material after wrapping up recording sessions for an album. It’s ironic because, according to Brasch, Campbell had to battle through writers’ block to complete the lyrics.
“The (theme) of the record,” Campbell said, “is yes, you may never reach the goal … but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying.”
And that’s not all. A Thanksgiving Eve concert — along with the bands Motion City Soundtrack, State Champs and You Blew It! — is set for 7 p.m. Nov. 25 at The Electric Factory, one of the biggest Philly market venues The Wonder Years has performed at as a headliner. “We planned it that way,” Brasch said, noting that it’ll make it easy for the members of the band — all alumni of North Penn and Wissahickon — to be with their families for the holiday.
The logistics of being on the road earlier this year were far from easy, however. Once again, they were part of the Vans Warped Tour, at one point playing 19 shows in 20 days. “Our driver, he was a trouper,” Brasch commented.
“It’s the hardest tour in the world to do,” Campbell said of the steady schedule of 13-hour days. “It took a really serious toll this year.”
New places the band played this year were Alaska and New Zealand. They flew to Christchurch, New Zealand to discover that the city was still recovering from an earthquake that hit four years ago. “A lot of the city was in ruins,” Brasch recalled.
A rigorous search had to be made to find enough functional equipment to put on a show in a church building there. “We used to play shows like that at the YMCA in Lansdale, where the dressing room was a day care,” Campbell laughed, adding that VFW Post No. 32 and the North Penn Valley Boys & Girls Club were other neighborhood places where they played their first shows.
Recently The Wonder Years were up against Panic! at the Disco, Paramore, twenty one pilots, A Day to Remember (who won), and letlive for “Alternative Press” magazine’s 2015 Best Live Band Award. “We didn’t deserve to win that award,” Campbell said, humbled to even be mentioned in that company.
Socialize at www.facebook.com/thewonderyearsband and on Twitter @twypoppunk.