HISTORY IN THE MAKING
MAJOR LABEL WOES, UNFAVOURABLE REVIEWS AND CAREER SETBACKS NEARLY BROKE FOUR YEAR STRONG, BUT CAN THE MASSACHUSETTS PUNKS TURN THINGS AROUND ON THEIR NEW SELF-TITLED LP?
When we speak to Alan Day, he’s using his solitary day at home to put up a backyard fence for his dogs before leaving for tour in the morning. Being on the cusp of touring is a familiar feeling for the singer/guitarist, particularly given the road miles he’s clocked up over the years with Four Year Strong. “I missed a majority of my final year of high school touring with Four Year Strong,” Day recalls. “From then until now, and it’s continuing, I’ve just always been touring. When we first started, we were touring 10 months a year – two weeks off here, two weeks off there – but you’re just so busy and it stays that way for years. There was a long time where being on tour was more comfortable than being at home. It’s just what I knew.” It’s never fun losing your favourite act to the trials and tribulations of band life, and when artistic differences rear their ugly heads and the Real World beckons, things can look bleak. Back in 2013, speculations arose about whether or not Four Year Strong had called it quits. They’d been quiet since 2011’s In SomeWay, Shape Or Form, which Day admits wasn’t well received by fans and critics alike, and they’d been picked up by a major label only to be dropped three months later. Throw in some gruelling bouts of touring and it’s a wonder we’re even here interviewing Day at all. “In our career, we were very, very fortunate when things first started to take off with our first fulllength,” begins Day. “Things were gradually getting better and better and [ In SomeWay, Shape or Form] was the first time in our career where things noticeably got worse. That then really magnified our problems within the band and it made being on the road a lot harder – and it had already been hard – so making it harder was not a good thing. It was just a no-brainer that we kind of all needed to get away from each other.” While the rumours of the quartet’s demise were only that, Day candidly explains how close the band came to chucking in the towel and inadvertently joining the ranks of beloved former ‘00s alternative bands. You know, the kind that deliver nostalgia pangs when they pop up in listicles, throwback playlists, and when you shuffle that long-lost iPod you misplaced several years ago. “There were times when we had talked about breaking up, more out of anger with each other ‘cos there was a period of time where we weren’t all getting along very well,” offers the frontman openly. “We’d have these long phone conversations about where we wanted to take it, and it would end up like we were teenagers, boyfriend and girlfriend, being like, ‘Fine! Well, maybe we should just break up then! Okay, bye!’ It was pretty stupid. But, none of it was real; we never actually did break up, we never as a band got together and went, ‘Alright, this is it’. Sometimes we were afraid of that and we felt that, but at the end of the day, when it came down to it, we didn’t want to let it go. We worked so hard on something for such a huge part of our lives, why were we just gonna throw it away?” The man makes a valid point. Lest we bum you out with all this talk of break-ups, it’s about time we mentioned that it’s not all doom and gloom for the
bearded punks. Following their major label grief, they were picked up by modern punk powerhouse Pure Noise Records (home to The Story So Far, State Champs, Hit The Lights et al.), who, to Day’s relief, seem more concerned with how they can rear a band’s career than instantaneous album sales. “My theory is that instead of putting all their eggs in one basket, they [major labels] need a million baskets just in case,” Day explains. “So we were just one of the many that they were like, ‘Oh, might as well pick them up just in case their album blows up outta nowhere and sells five million records and they become the biggest band ever. You know,
just in case.” Four years away may seem like an eternity when it comes to the lifespan of your average alternative band, but returning to what they know – and what they undoubtedly nail – saw the band’s fanbase swell. If their self-titled LP sounds like four dudes in a room just banging out melodic, meaty pop-punk, then that’s because that’s exactly what it is. They shacked up with Converge guitarist Kurt Ballou, who’s usually known for his hardcore production credits, and rehearsed like they’d never rehearsed before. “We kinda went out on a limb working with him,” Day tells us. “We’d always wanted to, so we got the chance and went for it and it was a completely different process to what we’re used to. Part of his process is he just kind of expects you to play it, and play it well, versus using vices like the computer and editing to make everything perfect. We just really had to be well rehearsed, and at first we weren’t. It was very scary, especially being a bit underprepared going into it, but we worked through it and it came out fuckin’ awesome. “When we decided to get back at it and make this EP [2014’s Go Down In History], and make this fulllength, we got back to our old way. We were like, ‘You know what? Let’s cut all the fancy shit, let’s get back to what we know’. I think we’re in the best headspace we’ve been in for a long time as far as writing goes.”
Go Down In History served as a tasty precursor to Four Year Strong, even if Day admits that the band had their doubts about releasing new music after such a long time away. Fans can be fickle with what they like, as can the music industry with what it favours, but once Day and the gang started to see people coming around to the band’s new material and Warped Tour came a-knocking, the resulting hype got their blood pumping again. Four Year Strong are back from the brink and they’ve got the self-titled album to prove it. “The more we kind of discussed [self-titling the record], the more we thought it was a really good idea because of how much we actually like this album. We’re very proud of it as writers, but also as listeners. I feel like we really enjoy the songs that we wrote and we really felt happy with the work that we did and the way that it came out.” Guys... It’s time to get excited about Four Year Strong again.
FOUR YEAR STRONG
IS OUT NOW ON PURE NOISE/SONY.