Interview – Four Year Strong

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I got the chance to chat with Alan Day from Four Year Strong before their sell-out show at the HMV Institute, we talked about the new album, touring and the fact that he’s not ashamed for people to know he loves Coldplay!

How’s it going?

It’s going good.

You had time to explore much of Birmingham today?

I went to that huge mall, it was big and the Ben Sherman store was going out of business so everything was on sale. I got some real good bargains.

Its your second show in the UK tonight, how did it go in Brighton last night?

It went great, it was our first time headlining in Brighton I’m pretty sure or at least in a very long time and it was amazing. Tonnes of kids and just people going crazy. I’ve heard that it’s hard to get kids to move around in Brighton but they were definitely moving around. It was a great show, definitely a great way to kick off the tour.

What are your favourite things about touring in the UK?

The shows are just amazing, the fans here are just so dedicated and they appreciate so much or seem to appreciate so much bands coming over here. It’s so much different then America, because bands are touring so often in America people take that for granted and they don’t always go to shows. There like ‘Oh, I’ll see them next time they’re around’ or ‘I saw them 2 months ago’ so when bands come here I feel like kids really appreciate it and kids come to the shows and go wild.

I saw you at Hevy last year, was that fun playing a headline show?

That was actually one of the funnest shows we’ve ever played because we were so, so tired. We hadn’t slept in like 45 hours because of flying, it was just crazy and we were so delusional from being so tired that we played really terribly but we had so much fun. The only reason it sucked was because we were so tired we had to be in the venue all day until we played which was at 9 o’clock at night.

Did you get to check out any bands?

Not all that many because we were trying to take naps in the dressing room because we were so tired and we had a lot of interviews and photo shoots to get through, it was a really busy day. But I walked around to catch a few bands when I could.

It was announced recently that you’re going to be supporting Blink-182 when they come over here in June, are you excited about that?

We are so excited about that, we’re playing here I think? The only 2 places we’re playing are Birmingham and London but it’s going to be amazing. We were supposed to do it with them last fall and it got postponed and now it’s a bummer because we would have been able to do the whole thing then, now we can only do 2 shows. That’s just cross that off the bucket list, play a show with Blink-182, play a show at the O2 Arena in London; it’s going to be amazing.

I imagine it could be quite nerve-wracking; do you get nervous before shows?

Not really, I get excited, I get anxious, I don’t think nervous is the word. I’m always really excited to go out and play.

Your latest album was a change in direction for you and divided a lot of fans, was the reaction something you expected?

In a way yes but I think more than anything we were ready for it. I think we expected it and if it were to happen we had braced ourselves. We knew we were doing something a little bit different but the thing is when we were making it we were keeping our fans in mind so much. Everything we were trying to do that was different we tried to keep our fans in mind and do it in a way that they would get or that they would like. So, it could have been worse! We tried to keep all the elements that we thought people really latched on to like the energy and the heaviness, all the elements we kind of carried along but showed them in a different light.

Have you started writing any new material or are just concentrating touring this album?

Yeah we are just going to tour, we haven’t started writing but we want to soon.

Four Year Strong by Katie Hovland Print

Your touring schedule is looking pretty heavy for the next couple of months, is it hard to balance home life and band life?

I’m so used to it I wouldn’t say it was hard but its definitely a bummer sometimes when you just want to be home. For instance I just moved into a new place a couple of months a go with my girlfriend and we moved into the apartment, 2 days after I left for tour. So she lived in the place by herself for a month and a half before I even lived there, so I was paying rent on this place I wasn’t even living there. It gets tough sometimes.

What are your favourite songs to play live off the new record?

The only ones we’ve played off the new record are ‘Stuck in the Middle’, ‘Just Drive’, ‘Sweet Kerosene’ and ‘Heaven Wasn’t Built to Hold Me’. I think out of them ‘Stuck in the Middle’, the kids seem to react really well to it.

Do you still like playing the older stuff?

I have fun doing everything we do, I mean if we were to play an old song and the crowd would not care about it then maybe I’d get bored but playing old songs and fans just explode with energy its all worth it.

There are quite a lot of band members in other bands that have side projects is something that any of you would consider doing?

Not really, I think it would be cool to do at some point. There are so many different types of music that I love other than what we do; I’m big into folk stuff and bluegrass so that’d be cool.

Do you think you’ll ever do another cover album like Explains it All?

There hasn’t been talk of it because when we did it didn’t really go over all that well and everyone wanted new, original material. We had a lot of fun doing it but I think we got that out of our system, I don’t think we need to do it but it was fun so I would do it again.

What were the highlights of 2011 for FYS?

Releasing our new record, a lot of that year was spent making the record, it was an amazing experience, we had so much fun and we learnt a lot.

What are your plans for 2012?

The band I’m really into right now is Balance and Composure, so good! We just did a few shows with them over the holidays and they are so good live and their new record is so good!

What were your favourite albums from last year?

Of last year? I don’t know, Mumford and Sons, I guess that was more 2010 but I love that band. Bon Iver is my favourite band of all time like 100%. I’ve seen him play 3 or 4 times, a couple of times to not that many people at all and then once in front of 2500 people, he’s kind of blown up now. It’s one of the best bands I’ve ever seen live, incredible and I just love that band.

Do you get the chance to go to any shows?

For a while I didn’t but I try to get to shows as often as I can, it just always ends up that I’m not home. I’m a huge Coldplay fan; like love them, they were playing in Boston but we were on tour. Same thing with the Foo Fighters, they’ll be playing in Boston and we’ll be on tour. I try to check out lots of things, I went to this cool bluegrass show last time I was at home over the holidays. That was a cool intimate show.

With the economy in a really bad way has that had an effect on the band?

There a lot of things that affect the band financially and I’m sure that’s one of them but I think the biggest one is that the music industry as a whole is collapsing because of illegal downloading and all that. No one buys records! Like when Lars from Metallica first tried to sue Napster back in the day everyone thought he was being greedy because people were downloading music and he saw it as stealing from him. At the time it was seen as greedy because he was already a millionaire but at this point in time its got so bad, its not even about making that extra million dollars its about making any money at all.
Even the record companies are collapsing because they have no money. I don’t know whether I support SOPA, I’m not in support of it but I’m in support of the idea of cracking down on illegal downloading because there’s got to be way to stop it. I know really there isn’t, for anyone that goes on the Internet there’s always going to be a hacker that’s twice as good and that’s going to find a new format of downloading. There’s got to be a way of cracking down on it in a more specific way, the problem with SOPA is that its so vague, its so broad, intellectual property theft but anything can be that such as sharing a picture on a blog. It’s too broad; hone that in to more specific things like just certain websites.
I am guilty of downloading because if its there you do it. There are no consequences, though I’m guilty of it if I wasn’t allowed to do it anymore, sure my life would be a little less convenient but I’d be more than willing to start paying for music again.

Do you think the rise of vinyl and records coming back will help?

It’s coming back in a big way but still doesn’t stop everyone downloading. I think the difference is the people that would have bought cd’s aren’t buying cd’s they’re buying the record because it’s more a collectors item. Your probably not even going to listen to it on a record player you’re going to put it on a shelf or hang it on your wall and download the record.

Thanks for Alan for taking the time to chat to Birmingham Live.

Hannah Sebestjanowicz

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