Sep. 21, 2005 - Issue #518: Superstud
What are you, yellow?
So-Cal punkers Yellowcard are back with an album that's political... but,
When pop-punkers Yellowcard set out to write their latest album, Lights and Sounds, they chose to do so not in the comfort of their Southern Californian home, but in New York City. Rumour has it that it had something to do with the album’s expressed distaste for L.A. and the Hollywood environment, but according to Yellowcard, the retreat to the east coast had much more to do with reconnecting to a more real, non-show-business lifestyle.
“We spent the first couple of months in New York just getting back to regular life,” says bass player Pete Mosely. “We’d been on the road for about 18 months straight, touring on [previous album] Ocean Avenue, so we kind of wanted to take time to ourselves and find a favourite restaurant and favourite bar—the normal things that we hadn’t been able to do for a while. We spent a few months doing that before we realized that we had to be in L.A. in a month and had to get writing the record. But we really needed that time to just become civilians again.”
An apt choice of words, it seems, given the assault that the band has launched on President Bush in recent years. Having appeared on the Rock Against Bush compilations and spoken out against the administration in interviews, it’s no surprise their new album contains anti-war lyrics and a song about a GI getting killed. When pressed about the ubiquitous nature of anti-Bush sentiment in today’s music, Mosely admits that while the band clearly injects a message into their music, changing anyone’s mind about politics isn’t what Yellowcard is really about.
“Politics and music don’t run hand in hand—at all,” says Mosely. “We come from a punk-rock background, so we’ve been exposed to those band who do make it run hand in hand, but their sole goal is to be a political band. We personally feel that we’re not a band because of politics, but we do want to use it. There’s definitely been a certain amount of deceit, and we’re not trying to tell people how it is. We do want to use our position to provoke, though. A lot of the American public is really blind; they hear what they want to hear and go on about their lives.”
Just as Yellowcard hasn’t abandoned their outspoken ways, they haven’t abandoned their ideals, instead adjusting their mode of delivery to accommodate a music-loving public that has been inundated with artists protesting against Bush. “The song on our new record, ‘Two Weeks From Twenty,’ is a story we made up about a guy who went off to war and at a young age and lost his life, and we’re throwing it out there and you can either see it as fair or unfair,” explains Mosely. “We don’t use the word ‘war’ in the song, though, or mention anything about the president.”
While the band have toned down their attack, Yellowcard is still very conscious of preserving the sound that propelled them from a their lot as a little-known pop-punk band to mainstream stardom. And while their breakout album Ocean Avenue may have taken a few critics by surprise, anything new they produce from here on in will be scrutinized and talked about even before it hits the shelves, a fact that Mosely and the rest of the band are very aware of.
“That’s a lot of the reason it took us a few months to get around to writing the record,” he explains. “We reached a certain point and just had to take a step back to get perspective. We had a record that was successful and we had to keep that up to avoid the sophomore slump. There was a feeling that now we have someone to write for beside ourselves, since people are now paying attention to us as a band. We have a huge MTV audience, and we knew we could write a record to please them. We kept away from that, but we definitely are aware that more people are going to be looking to what we are doing from now on.” V
With Moneen and Rufio • Red’s • Fri, Sept 23
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