by Erik van Rheenen
Four Year Strong sprung a corker of a surprise on the pop-punk community by announcing both the flawlessly follicled Worcester outfit’s deal with Pure Noise Records and return to the recorded music fray with the Go Down in History EP — with a marathon stint on the Vans Warped Tour to match. Fans heralded the summer of 2014 as a kind of redux version of 2009. The “Easycore Revival” banner was unfurled. The band was back to chugging out hardcore-tinged pop-punk, the tracklist boasting the same kind of silly movie-referencing song titles that were part of Rise Or Die Trying and Enemy of the World’s none-too-serious charm. Listeners rediagnosed their malaise for 2011’s In Some Way, Shape, or Form and its grungy, alternative rock leanings as three year’s worth of selective amnesia. It’s like the album AbsolutePunk reviewer and occasional PropertyOfZack contributor Thomas Nassiff called (albeit fairly), “ a beast of a heavy, radio-y rock group” buoyed by a veering, Rise Against-ish turn towards the alternative charts and an “’okay’ overall performance” never happened. Easycore is back, baby!
If Nassiff, an incredibly savvy writer with his finger pretty firmly on the pulse of the vein of pop-punk popularity, thought In Some Way, Shape, or Form was the first step towards Four Year Strong’s ascension to radio airplay and kicking down the door of being an amphitheater playing, name-brand rock band, well, why the hell isn’t Go Down in History the same kind of mature alt rock as its forerunner? I’ll take the blame and freely admit I spurned ISWSOF as the moody older brother to RODT and EOTW, an album that stands in the corner with its arms crossed, biting the inside of its cheeks as its two more famous, playful younger brothers run amok and get into all kinds of juvenile antics. I missed the rabble-rousing sing-alongs and breakdowns and lyrics that just felt right finger pointing to. Whether I was pointing them at Alan Day and Dan O’Connor in concert, or at the ceiling of my car didn’t matter. Those records were fun, and ISWSOF was dour, straight-faced, and serious.
PropertyOfZack Senior Writer Jesse Richman headed out to Warped Tour a few weeks ago to sweat while watching bands, but to also do some great interviews for the site.
by Jesse Richman
POZ: Can I get your name and what you do in the band?
KF: My name’s Kyle [Fasel], I play bass guitar in Real Friends.
We’re about halfway through Warped Tour now. How are you guys holding up? It’s a long haul.
It’s been really good. We did three weeks of it last year, so going into it we knew it was going to be tough. But this is the first tour we’ve done where we’re in a Bandwagon, which is like a small bus.
Did you do it in a van last year?
Yeah, we did three weeks in a van, which really wasn’t that bad honestly. A lot of people are like “how did you do that?” But it’s not that bad. You can’t do the whole thing in a van though, I don’t think. I would kill my bandmates. It’s nice having a shower and a bed to sleep in and to not worry about driving, because this tour is so intense. This tour is made for a bus. So that’s really saved us. And then on the other side of things, all the shows have been awesome. A lot more people than expected, really.
I was going to say, from last year to this year, I imagine a lot more people know who you guys are. What’s the crowd reaction been like compared to last time?
There were a lot of markets we played last year where, when we played this year, there were two or three times as many people, which is cool. That’s a good gauge for growth. It feels good to see that growth, knowing that exactly a year ago — almost to the day on Warped Tour — we played the same exact city and there were half as many people, or a fourth the amount of people. We played in Las Vegas, and last year we played at 7:30 and there were like fifty people there. This year we played last again, and we played in front of probably 300 people, which is really good for Las Vegas.
Let me take it back a little bit, to the Greatest Generation Tour that you guys did a couple months back . You were second on the bill for that tour, but I would say, at least when I was at the New York show, that other than The Wonder Years, the crowd was there primarily for you. Has it felt like a rocket ride? Has it caught you off guard? Or does it feel like more of a slow build?
I definitely don’t think it’s an overnight thing with us. A lot of people say “oh, you’re blowing up” lately. I don’t really look at it that way. I look at it more as growth. Things are different than they were a year ago, but I don’t really realize it until I actually stop to think about it. With me and all my bandmates and everyone involved with the band, we see every step. So I think it feels like more of a growth to us, but to the public eye it maybe seems overnight. But we’ve been a band for almost four years, we’ve been touring full time for a year and a half. So it’s definitely a growth thing for me.
It seems like every year there’s one band on Warped Tour that has the “next big thing” check mark on them, and it seems like this year you’re that act. What’s the tenor been like backstage?
Backstage it’s been cool, because we’ve had a lot of the metalcore bands, they’re like “oh, I love you guys!” Which is kind of cool! We’re on Fearless Records, and so is The Word Alive, and their singer mentioned to some of my guys that we’re his favorite band on Fearless. Which is cool to see, because I’m sure people who play that type of music — it’s not my thing, but I respect it — I’m sure it’s refreshing for them to listen to a band like us. I guess. I dunno.