There is no better feeling than watching the blossoming flower of a band grow into something as unique as the Wonder Years.
Headlining its first Chain Reaction show on Wednesday night, the band members displayed just how far they have come in the last couple years, especially in the wake of the band’s most recent release, “The Upsides.”
“We’re progressing, reaching new people we’ve never reached before,” said Dan “Soupy” Campbell, singer and lyricist.
Hailing from Philadelphia, the Wonder Years formed in 2005 as more of a joke band displaying a throwback style to the genre of pop-punk.
The band released its first full-length album, “Get Stoked On It!” in 2006. Littered with songs about ninjas, zombies and some later regretful references, the album gained the band some mild popularity, but little respect.
“’Get Stoked’ On It’ was a joke and wasn’t taken seriously at all,” Campbell said.
What attributed to the band’s building fan base is their constant tour schedule. Currently the band will begin an American tour with headlining act Set Your Goals and then head over to Europe to open for Four Year Strong and Fireworks.
“It will be a new dynamic to be able to support and play bigger shows to a bigger audience,” said Josh Martin, bass player and self-proclaimed screamer of loud things.
After a string of 7-inch releases, the band released their second full-length album in January titled, “The Upsides.” The album branched away from the comedic tone of “Get Stoked On It!” and replaced it with a heavy theme of anxiety, relationships, and growing up. Both fans and critics of the band heavily applauded the dynamic shift in tone. Thanks to the extensive experience the band has taken from touring the past years, the new album’s maturity was greatly welcomed.
“We all lived to together and we were together all the time,” Martin said. “That contributed to tying the record together musically.”
Campbell said that the album took a large influence from bands like The Hold Steady and Latterman, and that the album’s writing process was composed as a large analyzation of Campbell’s life problems.
“It started with a notebook and I had general ideas for songs,” Campbell said. “The lyrics were just directly my thoughts.”
A large aspect that attributes to The Wonder Years are the lyrics from Campbell. The tone of writing resembles styles found in punk bands and takes the form of poetry rather than melody lines. The band members described their journey writing the new album as a collaborative experience, comparing previous writing methods of separating music and lyrics and replacing with a team effort.
“We would write it together,” Martin said. “It worked out better by teaming up and doing it.”
The process included Campbell coming up with melodies and lyric ideas and presenting them to the band.
“He would come up with ideas, and we would try to translate them into more coherent musical thought,” Martin said.
Hitting the stage to a crowd of about 60 people, the Wonder Years, including other members, Nick Steinborn on drums, Casey Cavaliere on guitar, Matt Brasch also on guitar, played a long set of about 45 minutes and concluded with a two-song encore.
The band opened up with the first song of its recent release, “The Upsides,” “My Last Semester.” Right from the first words in the introduction of the song the crowd got off their feet and sang every word. Circle pits, fist pumping and some conservative mosh pitting, consumed the crowd.
As Campbell took the mic, he mentioned the label they are signed to as an entity that is coming up. The same could be said for the Wonder Years. Noted as one the label’s biggest acts, the Wonder Years are just beginning to gain momentum in its musical careers. Pop punk fans will have a lot to look forward to in this band’s coming years.
Michael Escañuelas can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.