On March 9, 2015 Yellowcard played a spectacular joint headlining show with Less Than Jake. Frontman Ryan Key took some time out to chat about everything from the band’s success previously supporting Less Than Jake, to their new headlining status, his ventures outside Yellowcard, and his true love of Star Wars.
I’m joined by by Ryan from Yellowcard. How are you doing today, sir?
Key: I’m good man.
Now first of all I want to ask how’s it been touring with Less Than Jake and Chunk! No Captain Chunk!?
Key: It’s been amazing. We’ve toured with both bands before on the Warped tour last summer so we got to know them a little bit. Less Than Jake, it’s a pretty special thing to be here. One of the first tours we ever did was kinda booked all the way through and we knew there would be people at the shows and doors to the venues would be unlocked and all that kinda stuff way back in the day was 2002 I guess. We were opening, the first out of 4 bands opening for Less Than Jake, so to be here in the UK co-headlining is just rad, it’s just awesome. It’s kinda full circle. We haven’t done any proper touring like this since 2002, we’ve done Warped tour a couple of times together, it’s really cool to be back out here and like I said we’ve known them for so long, we’re friends and it’s rad to be on tour with people you know and respect and there’s a lot of that on this tour, it’s awesome.
So you said you opened in 2002 for Less Than Jake and now you’re here co-headlining, was this something you envisaged could happen?
Key: I don’t know, you know from back then I’m not sure, things like this now we’re always getting all these amazing opportunities to keep doing tours like this and keep making music and stuff. Not to say it’s expected now but it wasn’t a shocker when the idea came up at this point in our carrier, but to look back and see how far we’ve come though is pretty amazing and in 2002 I don’t think we had our sights set on touring overseas yet or anything like that at all, so I don’t think this is something we would have seen happening.
Check out the song “One Bedroom” here.
Have there been any memorable moments from the tour? Anything you want to share?
Key: We’re just getting started. I think the fact that we’re here in London, I believe both nights are almost or already sold out so I think these 2 nights are going to be pretty memorable. Really been looking forward to doing 2 nights here in London, it’s been a long time since we’ve sold this many tickets on a Yellowcard show or a co-headline show like this, so its amazing that we’ve been a band that’s been touring for 15 years and we’re still here operating at the level that we’re operating on. Not a lot of bands are lucky enough to stay on that wave for that long and we feel really grateful that we still have the opportunity. We haven’t had any wild party nights yet, nothing crazy, no strippers or anything shown up on the buses, but hey, the tour’s just getting started so we’ll see, it’s probably gonna get pretty rowdy.
Well you’re in London and Camden so.
Key: Yeah I hear it gets pretty dodgy around here.
Dodgy fun, well the Suns gone down now, but you’ve got a show to play. Now you’re heading over to Europe next, is there anywhere you’re really looking forward to playing in Europe?
Key: We have a day off in Paris, that doesn’t answer the question directly as we’re not playing, but I really enjoy that city and haven’t got to spend much time there even though we’ve toured there in the city and I’ve spent a lot of time here in England, London and we have days off everywhere but in Europe it’s pretty random where we may get a day off so I’m looking forward to having a day in Paris to get around and do stuff. As far as the shows go, it’s hard to choose one, I mean we’ve had a lot of success in the last 3 or 4 years in Germany, we’ve been touring relentlessly overseas since we started making music again in 2011, so I’m looking forward to those shows as they’re pretty off the rails.
So of course London, top city, the rest of the UK though have you got any particular favourite places you like? London’s the best, le”s face it.
Key: London is pretty amazing, it really is. I enjoy when we’re in Scotland, I guess my ancestors are Scottish, I’m probably a mutt, I probably have 50 different types of European decent, but yeah I’ve always enjoyed being in Scotland. I’m really hoping still to play some other cities other then Glasgow, that’s all we’ve gotten to play so far in a decade and a half of touring so we’re hoping to do that and also I wanna get back over and visit Scotland as a tourist and not a musician and just go and see the rest of the country because I’m kinda drawn to it for some reason.
Scotland-wise, make sure it’s the summer because in winter it’s basically north of the wall from Game of Thrones.
Key: Yeah, I mean there’s certainly a parallel drawn there isn’t there.
There really is, the map is kind of England.
Key: Scots are the wildlings.
You never heard it from me. Now you’re also heading over to Russia later this month, are you looking forward to this? Have you been to Russia yet?
Key: Yeah I’ve been, I’ve actually been many times, my wife is Russian and so her family is there so we spend a lot of time there. We played several shows there as well actually and in the area, we’ve gotten the chance to play in Ukraine and Belarus as well, we’ve done some cool stuff. We’ve played a lot of Eastern European shows I never thought we’d play, Slavonia, Slovakia, we’ve played in Prague and Turkey, we’ve done a lot on the eastern side of the continent, but Russia is a pretty familiar place to me now and I really love it there and I love Moscow, it’s an incredible fricking city. I finally got to visit in the summertime once last year. I’ve been there maybe 10 or 12 times or something and I’ve only gone in summer once. The shows are amazing though, we’ve played a couple of shows in Moscow when there was around 1000 people or so and they just go off, it’s awesome so definitely looking forward to that.
Now aside from this tour have you got any memorable memories from any other tours you’ve been on? Any particular countries?
Key: Where do I start man, we’ve done so much cool stuff man and we’ve been so lucky. We co-headlined a festival in Brazil one time with Fallout Boy in front of close to 50,000 people, we got to play direct support for Linkin Park in Japan in the super arena in Tokyo for 2 nights. There’s so many big moments for us over the years. I mean even here in England we headlined 2 nights at the Astoria before they took it down and you know that’s something we will always remember. So we have a very epic story with all the stuff we’ve gotten to do, and all the tours we’ve gotten on, and the bands we’ve played with, so its honestly hard to choose one.
Well you’re touring quite a lot at the moment, but when you’re not on tour what do you like to do to unwind, what takes you of focus a little bit?
Key: Lately, not a lot. I’ve really shifted gears with getting into writing and producing music outside of Yellowcard so I tend to hit the ground running when we get home and I just want to get into the studio and start writing and working. I recently moved to Nashville, Tennessee and just try to get involved and meet people and press the flesh and get to know the songwriting community there and really get involved, so it’s good to have something like that to look forward to in a work-sense. I mean obviously getting home and seeing your family and loved ones and stuff is something you always look forward to, especially as you get older to, the more and more you want to be at home with the people you love then be out on the wild ride of touring all the time, but to have something you’re exited about to be working on when you get home is something I’ve not necessarily always had, so it’s really cool to have it now.
You mentioned writing things aside from Yellowcard, are there are some side projects we can expect to see at some point?
Key: I don’t think with me fronting them or anything like that, I just really enjoy songwriting and I’m just learning a lot about the community of writers, it’s a whole different world then what we’re in and being from a world where people write and produce their own music, and then there’s a whole world of people who don’t, performers and artists with these incredible voices that are out looking for songs to play, and as a writer it’s a fascinating prospect to think “wow, this huge, massive international superstar could someday be singing my song” and that’s where you set the bar and where you want to get to, so I’m trying to learn about it and get involved in it.
Check out the song “California” here.
You released your first album last year, well not first album, but first album in about 2 years last year. Why did it take so long to come out? What were you guys doing during this time?
Key: We were touring, we’ve done 5 releases in 4 years so we’ve been hammering it hard, 2 of the releases were re-recordings of old records in acoustic format but nonetheless full-length records. We released Ocean Avenue acoustic in between kind of, in between the previous full-length which was called Southern Air and our current record we’re touring now which is called Lift The Sail. In between those 2 we did release Ocean Avenue acoustic to celebrate the 10th anniversary of that record and we did a whole world tour supporting that and playing the whole record start to finish, so that’s why there was a break in new material, but there wasn’t a break in material. As soon as we got of the road from doing the Ocean Avenue thing we didn’t take much time off, a month or so and then we got right back in it and started writing Lift The Sail.
The questions now are more about getting to know you a bit more, kinda fun, so Star Wars or Star Trek?
Key: That’s kinda a no-brainier for me, my entire right arm is tattooed with Star Wars characters. I think JJ Abrams did a phenomenal job with the Star Trek reboot with the new films, I think they’re really great, but I never got into it before that.
It’s fascinating because there has always been this rivalry and now JJ Abrams is doing Star Trek as well, do you think he’s going to do well with the new films?
Key: I do, I think it was pretty amazing he denied, denied, denied he’s not going to leave Star Trek, then everyone knew he would. Having seen the first trailer it was really exiting, I’m hopeful, it looks really good. I know they’re using a whole lot of practical effects which really gets me exited, it’s not going to be the CGI fest of of cartoon characters that the prequels were, I don’t think so anyway. I feel like he’s kinda made a promise to fans like me that these films are going to do justice to the original films and without being to hip for their own good. I think he’s pretty good at finding a balance.
Beer, cider or spirits? What’s your tipple of choice?
Key: I’m a wine drinker actually, but I do enjoy all, I enjoy all. I’m certainly not a drinker, I don’t think I have a problem but I do enjoy a cocktail from time to time. I’m a whiskey drinker, but I love going out in search of a good beer as well, but if I’m just getting home and kicking back and unwinding for the day I like to have a glass of wine.
This is only relevant if you like games, but PlayStation or Xbox?
Key: I’m an Xbox player and have been because we got, I don’t know in 2004 or something, we had a song on Madden and the consoles we got for free, here you go, this is to celebrate the game and they were Xbox consoles so I’ve just always played Xbox, I didn’t make a decision on my own, my hand was forced.
Loud party club or quiet bar?
Key: A quiet bar.
I think that comes with age, I used to love clubbing, now I prefer going somewhere we can drink, chat and have a laugh.
Key: Yeah, it’s just the club I’m not that much of a get on the dance floor kinda guy, I never have been, but there was really only one other reason to go to a club and that also fades with age, I’m not chasing tail at the clubs you know?
This question it only works, hopefully you’ll get it, but do you remember a TV show called Celebrity Deathmatch?
Key: Of course.
If you were in a Celebrity Deathmatch with anyone, bare in mind were looking at a comedy answer here, who would it be against? What would go down? How would it happen? Who would win? Would you win, would the other person win? What would happen? It could even be Less Than Jake. Vying for the headliners slot for the night.
Key: I think it would be myself and Chad from New Found Glory and we would have to include Magic cards somehow, they would have to be like actual spells because Chad is a pretty seasoned UFC fighter so we couldn’t actually fight because he would actually kill me, it would be an amazing rip your head off and pull your spinal column out of the whatever it would be, so we would have to be casting spells or something because we play a lot of Magic cards together.
I want to thank you so much for speaking to PureGrainAudio today, good luck with the show later, and Star Wars tattoos, there is enough respect for that my friend. Thank you very much.
Key: Thanks man!