Back in the early 2000s, many a pop-punk band released a record that helped define a generation, full of songs whose messages became our words to live by, and anthems that helped us to vent and understand the world we lived in. Now in the early 2010s, the bands who birthed those records for us are celebrating the music's 10th birthday, typically with an anniversary tour, leaving a crowd of late-20- and early-30-somethings with a renewed sense of youthfulness while still wondering where the hell all this time has gone.
Yellowcard, one of the many pop-punk bands who made a name for themselves during the early part of the last decade, setting themselves apart with the use of a violin, are celebrating their seminal 2003 record Ocean Avenue not just with a tour, but also with an acoustic re-release of the record that launched them to the forefront of the scene. We spoke with frontman Ryan Key about the tour and re-release via e-mail before the band hit the road, which will bring them to the Oakdale Theatre on Sept. 8.
Yellowcard started as a high school band at formed at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville, Fla., before Key joined after graduating. "At that time, our biggest dream was to be a part of Vans Warped Tour," he says. Warped Tour was and still is a quite effective one-shot-deal for seeing dozens of the biggest names in pop-punk in one fell swoop. Back in its heyday, your inclusion in Warped Tour could make or break your entire career, or at least determine where you'd fall among the superstars of the time.
Yellowcard released Ocean Avenue, the band's major label debut, on July 22, 2003. "We had been recording in bedrooms and traveling in a van for a few years at that point," says Key. "Then we were working with a world-class producer in one of the most famous studios in the world. I think there was such a high level of inspiration," he says of the album's recording process, at Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood, Calif. "Those 13 songs were really magic." Now a decade later, Ocean Avenue and its title track kind of carry a double meaning. We still remember what it felt like to be 19, confused and clinging to someone we thought would fix it all, if they would just give us a chance. Or having a problem with someone that today would seem immature and petty. But the underlying messages are still clear, and still resonate with us where we are in our lives now. "Ocean Avenue is a record about hope and determination. I think we still believe in that today," says Key.
Ocean Avenue Acoustic re-imagines those 13 songs, allowing their still-relevant messages to carry over. "We tried to find a way to put the songs in an acoustic setting, but not lose their original energy," says Key. Key had surgery on his vocal chords in 2006, which has changed the tone of his voice a bit, something he thinks suits the new song versions well.
The acoustic record definitely has a different feel, possibly a lack of youthful angst, or maybe this is what it sounds like to know better. An older and wiser Yellowcard will perform these songs for an older and (hopefully) wiser crowd of fans, my generation's version of the nostalgia tour. "I think it will be a pretty nostalgic experience for all of us," says Key. "I can't wait to hear everyone singing with us on this tour."
Yellowcard, with Geoff Rickly
Sept. 8, 8 p.m., $25, The Oakdale Theatre, 95 S. Turnpike Road, Wallingford, (203) 265-1501, oakdale.com.