Late additions to this year’s Eastpak tour, and celebrating the release of ‘Explains It All’, I caught up with Four Year Strong vocalist and guitarist Dan O’ Connor to talk all things pop punk, 90’s covers and movie quotes.
You were added to the Eastpak tour as a replacement for The Fall Of Troy, was it an easy offer to accept?
Dan O’ Connor: Yea, we didn’t have anything else planned at the time so it worked out. We were kind of scared because we were supposed to go in and record the new record, and we worried that now we had this tour deadline we wouldn’t have time to do it. But we decided to accept it anyway. It’s a great tour, with awesome bands and great places. It all worked out as we were able to finish tracking before we left. Everything just lined up.
You’re now about a third of the way into the tour, how has it been so far?
It’s been great. The UK’s always been awesome for us. This is our third time here. We love coming here. It’s just a great experience. All the kids are awesome and the shows are really great. Yesterday was awesome in Glasgow. Pretty excited for tonight because the last time we played in Leeds, at the Cockpit, we did a headlining show with Set Your Goals. It was a really great show.
You’ve recently released your 90’s covers album ‘Explains It All’. Who came up with the idea for that?
It was something we’d been talking about doing for a long time, like a real long time – even when we did ‘Rise Or Die Trying’, like how much fun it would be to do a covers record, especially 90’s songs because that’s the music we love and grew up listening to. We’re very much into that type of music. It pretty much came about because we didn’t have enough songs written to go into the studio with, and didn’t have enough time to record a full album of originals. We thought it’d be cool to give the kids something to listen to and hold them over.
Do you think it’s fair that some people might compare the album to New Found Glory’s ‘From The Screen To Your Stereo’ albums?
Well yea, we’re a pop punk band that’s done an album of cover songs. Both ‘FTSTYS’ albums are great albums and New Found Glory are great friends of ours. We didn’t do it to bite their style, we kind of just did it. We really just wanted to put something out for people to listen to. It seemed like, not really the only option, but we’d talked about it so much, it was like if we were going to do it we might as well do it now.
Out of all the covers on the album, which would you pick as your favourite?
I really like ‘She’s So High’ right now. I also liked doing ‘Ironic’ just because it was funny.
It does standout as perhaps a less obvious song choice for Four Year Strong to cover…
It’s funny because that’s one we didn’t plan to do. It was really, really late in the studio; we’d tried a couple of other songs that didn’t really work out. Some songs, we couldn’t change them enough, they didn’t work, then somebody brought up ‘Ironic’ and we just started jamming. It just came together last minute.
You’ve already mentioned that the new album’s been tracked, so how far away is it?
We’re hoping to have it out in January. That’s the hope to get it out right after the new year. We’ve still got to do all the mixing, marketing, and all the artwork, sleeve design.
You’re known for using movie quotes as song titles. Will this continue on the new record?
We don’t really have working titles for songs, we never set out to use a movie quote. It’ just pretty much what we do – sit around, watch movies all the time. We hear lines in films, repeat them all the time and they become inside jokes. How we name a song tends to be based on inside jokes. We just try to have fun naming the songs. Why not?
So when can we expect to see Four Year Strong back in the UK?
We don’t know for sure yet, but we’re hoping before the summer, like May or something. If not after the summer. We want to try and come over for a headlining tour of the UK. We’ve always wanted to do UK headline tour – we did a couple of headline shows that have been awesome; the Cockpit one, and one at London Underworld.
You last toured the UK with New Found Glory, have just toured the US with Thursday, and now you’re touring with Alexisonfire and Anti Flag. Who would be your dream tour mate?
We’ve been so lucky to have toured with some really great bands. There are some big ones out there that obviously everybody would like to tour with, people like Blink 182. It’s funny because a lot of the bands we listen to aren’t our style of music. We’re just a touring band who love touring. We love meeting new bands, making friends with new bands. We’re actually really big fans of touring with bands we don’t necessarily fit with. On this tour we’re not really matched with Alexis or Anti-Flag… we kinda like that. Sometimes we’re the soft ones on a hardcore line up, sometimes we’re the hardcore ones on a softer line up. It’s fun, you have to change – the harder crowds like it more intense onstage, the softer crowds like you being funnier.We just want to keep things different. It keeps us on our toes.
As 2009 is drawing to a close, other than your own, what have been your favourite albums of the year?
A new album that came out a few weeks ago, The Swellers new album (‘Ups And Downsizing’). It’s a great album. We did a tour with them this summer and they’re phenomenal live. That album’s just awesome, I think they’re going to do a lot of good things with it. The new Every Time I Die record is awesome too. I really like that record. What’s really cool is that although they’re known for being really fast, this one is really cool and trudgy. There’s been lots of good stuff. The new New Found Glory is awesome, and the new Set Your Goals is really great.