It’s almost been a year since Four Year Strong set foot on these shores, so Faye caught up with them all in the midst of their month-long Eastpak Tour in London, as the self-proclaimed ‘double-sided dildo’ explain how they “bridge the gap from ass to ass” and lots more.
Faye: How are you all today?
Dan O’ Connor (vocals & guitar): Excellent, every thing’s going good.
Josh Lyford (synth & vocals): Life is stoked on things.
Faye: The last time you were over in the UK was in November of last year on the Easycore Tour, can you tell us what you’ve been up to since then?
Dan: Oh, shit. Fuck, what did we even do after that tour? That was in November, and then we did a holiday tour with Set Your Goals, then we did Taste of Chaos with Bring Me The Horizon, Thursday, Cancer Bats and Peirce The Veil.
Alan Day (vocals & guitar): We released a cover record.
Dan: Then in the summer we did a tour with Set Your Goals, Fireworks, Polar Bear Club, Gravemaker, and also Crime in Stereo and A Loss For Words, then we have recorded a new record and finished tracking it, the day before we left for here and that brings us up to the present time of being in the UK.
Faye: So, you’re currently on the Eastpak Tour with Alexisonfire, Anti-Flag and The Ghost of a Thousand, how’s it been so far?
Dan: It’s been good, it’s been awesome, I’m pretty stoked on it, the kids have been good.
Josh: The bus doesn’t smell like piss.
Dan: Yeah, the best bus we’ve had, which is sweet. The bunks are very, very comfortable.
Joe Weiss (bass): They are.
Dan: So much so that it’s almost too comfortable.
Alan: So much so that I wake up at 2pm every day.
Faye: Had you heard much of The Ghost of a Thousand before this tour?
Dan: I hadn’t.
Joe: I had just seen them in AP [Magazine] in the States or something, but right before we came on was the first time I heard them.
Josh: I actually really like the band, though.
Dan: Yeah, I like them a lot, they’re great dudes.
Josh: They’re very rock ‘n’ roll. [mimics a riff and air guitars]
Faye: When you were last over, I was talking to Joe, and you said you’d definitely be doing your own headline tour the next time you’re over, unless you’re offered a really cool support slot, is that what happened here?
Dan: Yeah, pretty much. I mean, we really want to do a headlining tour, we were actually just talking about it a couple of minutes ago. We really want to try and do one, like when the new record comes out, we want to try and come over and do a headlining tour for it.
Faye: I know there’s some spare dates on this tour, how come you’re not doing any headline shows this time round?
Dan: Nobody asked us to do any headline shows, nobody likes us any more, you guys are already over us. We’re yesterday’s news.
Alan: We’re not cool any more.
Josh: We put out the cover record and now everybody hates us.
Faye: [laughs] I’ll get onto that later! This will be your first time touring Europe, are you excited about that?
Dan: Yeah, super stoked.
Josh: I’ve got a boner about this long.
Faye: Can you describe exactly how long for people reading?
Josh: I would say…
Dan: The size of your calf, from your knee to your foot.
Josh: Yeah! Did you know that your foot is also the same length as your forearm? It’s fucking crazy.
Dan: And between your eyes, you can fit one of your eyes, it’s supposed to be the same size as one of your eyes, it’s crazy.
Josh: I don’t know how this started. [laughs] But going to Europe, it’s above where we are now, I think.
Joe: What?! Ok, anyway…
Faye: What do you mean by that?
Josh: It’s on a map, to the east, I don’t know. [laughs]
Faye: Four Year Strong is known for your innovative hybrid of pop-punk and hardcore, pretty much creating a new genre and spawning a lot of similar bands, how does that make you feel?
Dan: Yeah, it’s flattering. It’s pretty cool, there’s definitely like a lot of bands coming out in this genre of music, which is cool…
Josh: Some of them need to get some haircuts.
Dan: Yeah, that’s true, they need to tone down on the colours a little bit.
Josh: It’s a very bright genre.
Dan: A little too bright.
Joe: A little too gooey.
Dan: Yeah, every thing’s gooey and bright, it’s covered in semen and boogers and guts.
Josh: If you take any one of those things, it’s alright, but when you combine them it’s an unhealthy combo. [laughs]
Dan: Yeah, just not mixed together!
Faye: What do you actually call your sound? Because I’ve heard a bunch of names thrown around, like popcore, easycore, softcore, happy hardcore, etc.
Josh: [laughs] Softcore?! I like that!
Dan: I don’t know, it’s just what we play, we don’t really call it anything. I think when we start calling it stuff, it starts to get lame. I just think whatever, it’s music.
Alan: It’s punk rock, simple as that.
Dan: Yeah, we’re going to keep changing, so putting a name to it isn’t really going to make much sense, because maybe the next batch of these bands are going to song completely different.
Alan: Yeah, maybe our next record is going to be dance-pop-techno.
Dan: It is, it’s pop-techno. No, it’s going to be tropical-bongo-country-American rock-screamo music.
Josh: We’ve also recorded lots of different guns firing.
Dan: Yeah, post-techno screamo-core with guns firing.
Faye: So, you released Explains It All this year, a cover album of songs from the nineties, why did you release that instead of a ‘proper’ album?
Joe: For fun!
Dan: We did it for fun and we wanted to give kids something to listen to while we finished writing our next record, we didn’t have it done yet and we had some time to go do something. We had talked about it forever and thought it’d be a good chance to do the cover record we had been talking about, just to give kids something else to listen to.
Josh: Wait until the show tunes record comes out, featuring Alan dancing with a cane. What other genres can we do?
Alan: We should do a Christmas record.
Dan: Then we should do a Four Year Strong Thanksgiving record.
Faye: How do you feel about some fans feeling bit duped of a ‘real’ album?
Josh: We’re just a bunch of jerks.
Alan: The reason why we did it was to make people mad at us, so they don’t like our band any more.
Dan: Yeah, no press is bad press, right? Just get everyone pissed off at us then they’ll eventually like us, right? Is that the way it works? No?
Josh: They can hang in there, we’ll have the new one coming pretty soon.
Faye: You released Explains It All on Decaydance and I Surrender Records, so you’re still signed to I Surrender? How does that work?
Dan: They’re kind of like co-op, basically I Surrender and Decaydance 69 and we’re the flowing juices in the middle, that’s pretty much what it’s like.
Jake Massucco (drums): They both ejaculated at the same time.
Dan: We’re both fully in I Surrender and we’re both fully in Decaydance.
Josh: A butt to butt 69.
Alan: We are the double-sided dildo.
Joe: That bridges the gap.
Dan: [laughs] Yeah, we bridge the gap from ass to ass. I like that as a slogan, “Four Year Strong, bridging the gap from ass to ass.”
Josh: We should make a t-shirt out of that.
Faye: Did you receive any backlash from fans and peers when you signed to Decaydance?
Dan: Not really, surprisingly. We all expected to get like a big backlash from signing to Decaydance, but kids were actually pretty stoked on it.
Josh: They should see that we’re going to be putting on make-up for the next record.
Joe: Our hair’s going to be so long, we’re getting hair extensions.
Josh: We’ll be using hair strengtheners.
Dan: And wearing the tightest jeans you have ever seen.
Faye: So, you’ve finished tracking your new record, can you tell us a bit about that?
Alan: It’s actually called Four Year Strong Does The 80s.
Josh: …In The Butt.
Dan: Watch Out For AIDs, It’s The 80s! I mean, right now, we’ve got all the songs done and we don’t have a name for it yet, we don’t have any song titles or anything like that. The songs, it still sounds like Four Year Strong, but we wanted to mature a little bit, we wanted to concentrate more on song writing and writing better songs, instead of better parts, and I think we did that. We hope that kids who like Rise or Die Trying are still going to like it.
Josh: We covered the covers we covered on Explains It All.
Dan: [laughs] Four Year Strong Re-Explains Everything.
Alan: We just played the songs just as they were originally written.
Dan: Yeah, the new record’s just a mix tape of those songs, we don’t even play on it…
Josh: Presented by Four Year Strong.
Dan: But, yeah, the new record is pretty cool, I think kids are really going to like it. Well, I hope kids are going to like it, I like it. That’s all that matters.
Joe: I hate it.
Dan: As long as I like it, that’s all that matters.
Faye: Yeah, you’re the singer, he’s just the bassist.
Faye: Are there any specific sound changes? Do you maybe go down a more pop-punk or hardcore route this time?
Dan: We didn’t really concentrate on that really, like “Oh, let’s make this more poppy or harder.” We just wrote it, it’s kind of how we came about the album artwork for the last record, we didn’t really think about it, we just drew out ideas and it just kind of came together.
Joe: We never really have to think.
Dan: We’re not thinkers, we’re more doers.
Faye: Who produced it?
Josh: The ‘Machine’.
Dan: He did two Lamb of God records, Every Time I Die’s Gutter Phenomenon, Boys Night Out’s Trainwreck, an Armor For Sleep record that I don’t know what it’s called, some Gym Class Heroes stuff, a bunch of different stuff.
Faye: Do you know when we can expect it to be released?
Dan: We’re hoping like a January release, right after the New Year, hopefully. That’s when we’d like it to be out, if all the stars align and everything works out, pretty soon after the New Year.
Faye: Did you feel there was pressure with this record to match or top Rise or Die Trying since it pretty much became a classic?
Dan: Yeah, we have big shoes to fill, I guess, as far as Rise or Die Trying is concerned, but we didn’t try to re-write Rise or Die, we wanted to write a new record, either kids will like it or they won’t.
Alan: We’re going for the sophomore slump, we want to be a one-hit wonder, then have a comeback, we’re creating a slump, so we can have the glorious comeback.
Dan: We have like a five-year plan, we put out a good record, then put out a cover record – that’s cool, but some kids don’t like it, then we’ll write two really bad records and the fifth record is going to be fucking awesome. It’s going to be the best, we already have it written. We have it in a vault, it’s fucking great stuff.
Faye: I heard a rumour that you’re not so much into Rise or Die Trying any more and have kind of grew out of that music, is there any truth to that?
Dan: I like Rise or Die Trying, it’s a fun record. I don’t like It’s Our Time, if people ask me that, then no, I don’t like record.
Josh: No more Go Long Dad.
Alan: With Rise or Die Trying, we played it for two years straight and playing it, it’s still fun, it’s just we’re definitely ready for new stuff. We’re not, not into it, we wrote the music because it like it.
Dan: The problem with Rise or Die Trying is that it’s only 30-something minutes long, so in order for us to fill a set, we have to play every single fucking song off the record, so we’re ready to throw some more songs into our set and play different songs. Basically, we’ve been playing the exact same songs, just in different orders for the past two years, so we’re stoked to play some new ones.
Faye: You recently played the Great American Hardcore Fest in September in Boston, how was that? Do you find that you’re still accepted in the hardcore scene?
Josh: That show was so much better than I expected it to be, I had a great time.
Dan: Yeah, that was really fun, there were definitely enough kids that were for us to keep me happy, and that’s all that really matters. I love playing with and seeing all the bands that were on that show.
Joe: And I think it’s kind of transforming, it’s not about people considering us to be hardcore, it’s more like hardcore kids are cooler and listening to us as a pop band or something like that, they don’t have to be ashamed of it.
Faye: Didn’t Set Your Goals play that too? How do you feel about the comparison you always get?
Dan: Yeah, they’re a cool band, I mean, we all grew up listening to the same music and we’re all around the same ages, so I guess that comparison makes sense. We’re all kids from the hardcore scene, but listen to poppy music and wanted to play in a poppy band. I guess it’s coincidence, it makes sense.
Faye: I believe that Dan and Alan are straight edge, how did you get involved with that lifestyle and why is it right for you?
Dan: When I was in like seventh grade going into eighth grade, going in between, I found out about straight edge and just thought it was awesome. I found out about it from my friend Matt and listened to bands like Strife and stuff like that, and just got into it like that, and got addicted.
Alan: I heard about it from a friend and his older brother, and it seemed like the right thing for me, and I’ve been ever since.
Faye: So, how is it being in a band with other members who aren’t so straight edge?
Dan: It’s horrible.
Alan: Yeah, we’re going to break up.
Dan: They like to rub it in our face just as much as we like to carve X’s into their backs and stuff like that
Josh: You should see the scars, it’s brutal.
Alan: We get in full armour and have wars. On the last tour, we never did, but we talked about having an ultimate Frisbee game of the whole tour, edge vs. non-edge, but the people that weren’t straight edge had to be wasted.
Jake: Would have been so fun and you guys obviously would have won!
Dan: It’s fine, I mean, we all get along well and everybody respects each other. I mean, if it wasn’t for how much money the band’s making we probably would have broke up a long time ago.
Alan: If only that were true.
Josh: I smell like shit, just throwing it out there. It’s weird, because I have deodorant on, so you can smell the aroma of the deodorant mixed with my own personal brew. It’s good stuff.
Faye: As you know, I collect your vinyl and bought the signed test press of Rise or Die Trying on eBay for $250, do you collect vinyl? If so, is there any artist or band you avidly collect?
Joe: I’m not a vinyl guy, personally.
Jake: I’ve got every Minus The Bear vinyl I can get my hands on. I’m trying to up my vinyl collection a little more, I have a lot of old vinyl I don’t really listen to anymore, so I’m trying to get stuff I actually listen to now.
Dan: I have a hockey puck that’s signed by Scratch, he was the mascot for the Worcester IceCats, but he’s not anymore. I’m pretty stoked on that.
Faye: So, I’m flying to Boston tomorrow for Have Heart’s last show, staying in the Back Bay area, can you recommend me some places to go, in and around Boston?
Dan: For food, you go to Grasshopper, Grasshopper is in Allston.
Joe: Map out Newbury Street.
Dan: Go to the aquarium, it’s really fun.
Joe: The aquarium is awesome, there’s penguins there!
Dan: The penguins rule, they’re my favourite part.
Josh Lovell (FYS tour manager): You’re going to be right near Newbury Street, so Faneuil Hall.
Dan: You should get some corn chowder there, it’s mad good.
Josh Lovell: Anywhere that’s touristy is actually cool.
Dan: You should do the Freedom Trail.
Faye: Change the record, who should we be listening to?
Dan: Polar Bear Club.
Jake: Minus The Bear, of course, I say that to anyone who asks me for a band.
Alan: Bon Iver, Fireworks.
Faye: I think that’s about it, is there anything else you want to say?
Josh: Party on, wooo!
Josh Lovell: The thing that sucks is that “Party on, wooo!” will be put in.
– Faye Turnbull.
Many thanks to Four Year Strong, for more information, visit: www.myspace.com/fouryearstrong