On March 9th, Worcester’s own Four Year Strong, purveyors of pop infused hardcore, delivered their latest album “Enemy Of The World” to music fans everywhere. Some fans feared that with their first album on Universal Motown/Decaydance Records, Four Year Strong may become a victim of the machine and lose their edge but the only “Machine” the band fell prey to was the producer of the same name who guided them seamlessly through the recording process and helped them deliver the perfect follow up to “Rise Or Die Trying”.
While “Enemy Of The World” does have a more polished feel, it’s fueled whole-heartedly by the Four Year Strong spirit. Kicking off the album with “It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now” the lyrics speak volumes “..don’t fix it if it isn’t broken..” and while the band diplomatically declined to comment on the specific meaning of this lyric we can all draw enough from it to know that Four Year Strong is committed to bringing their loyal following the music that that made us all fans from the beginning.
While their music blends the boundaries between hardcore and power pop/punk, this band has never been one to slap a label on their sound. Going into the writing process for “Enemy Of The World” all they knew was that they wanted to capture the essence of their live performance as much as possible and try some new things with the end goal of writing a great record from start to finish without forcing anything. “Enemy Of The World” delivers just that, picking up right where “Rise Or Die Trying” left off and even offering up a few surprises along the way.
We caught up with proud New England native and Four Year Strong keyboardist/vocalist Josh Lyford to talk about the making of the new album, their allegiance to New England and all things Four Year Strong.
Hailing from West Palm Beach Florida and moving from local scene to big time was a big step for the power pop band Hey Monday, consisting of Cassadee Pope on lead vocals, Jersey Moriarty on bass guitar, Mike Gentile on lead guitar, Alex Lipshaw on rhythm guitar, and Elliot James on drums. Tight as ever since they’re been friends since their school days, this band doesn’t disappoint on their debut cd “Hold On Tight” that is chock full of pop rock anthems sung by a lead with an amazing set of pipes.
Currently out on tour with labelmates The Academy Is…, this band is ready to take the world by storm. Already on their track record are two songs on CitizensFOB mix-tape CD, and not to mention being backed by Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz’ label Decaydance.
With their debut CD hitting stores this week, lead singer Cassadee took a minute out of their crazy touring schedule to sit down with us and give us the lowdown on what to do when on tour and to never give up on your dreams, despite what others say!
Interviewed by: Ellen Leonard | October 2008
You were all in bands before Hey Monday. How did the band form and where did the name come from?
The band formed from all of us knowing each other in West Palm Beach local scene. They were all in different local bands for a long time, and we all just kind of came together eventually. I’ve known Alex since we went to high school together, and I’ve known Elliot for a few years from the local scene also. I met Mike in the eighth grade because we went to the same area of schools, I met him at like a basketball game or something like that. Then Jersey came in a little later than everybody, but he’s still just as much a part of the family of all of us.
The name, we had so many problems coming up with a band name and it’s just getting harder and harder for bands these days to come up with names because different bands make up a name and put it on MySpace. We didn’t want to get involved in that if something happens and they file a lawsuit. We were having a pretty hard time. We decided to put up a contest on friendsorenemies.com, and a girl named Hilary from San Francisco submitted Hey Monday. We just like how contradicting it is because people usually don’t like Mondays. For us, it’s just like saying hello to a new week. And also that for our job, a Monday is kind of like a Saturday with what we do, so it’s kind of a cool idea!
The past couple of months must have been a whirlwind for you! What was your first reaction when you got the news that Pete Wentz’ label (Decaydance) wanted to sign you?
That was the craziest feeling ever just because we’ve all been Fall Out Boy fans for a long time and never in a million years thought we would be signed to his label or anything! We’ve all looked up to them, especially Pete, just because of how smart he is as a business man in all the career decisions he makes. Finding out that we were going to be signed to his label was probably the most overwhelming feeling that I think all of us have ever felt, for sure!
Your debut album was just released this week! What was the recording process like for this album?
It was crazy! We pretty much recorded it in a month and a half. We all basically lived in New York for a month and a half in this little studio and just recorded. I guess it was just kind of like a normal recording experience. We’d go in every day and lay out whatever you can, and we had certain weekends off and just explored the city, but it was a lot of fun! It was kind of a little taste of touring, but not really, with all of us living together for that long. We worked with two of the most amazing producers, Sam Hollander and Dave Katz, and they taught us a lot, so it was definitely a learning experience.
You just shot and released the music video for your first single, “Homecoming”. What was it like shooting this music video? It looked like fun considering a lot of it was a concert-like sing along!
It was so much fun! Asbury Park (the bowling alley where we recorded) was really great because we heard a lot of the history behind it and legendary bands played there. We were just honored to be able to do our video there. The thing that sticks out the most to me is how many times we had to perform that damn song! I should have counted, but I’m pretty sure it was over fifteen times performing full out. Some of us had breaks here and there, but Elliot, our drummer, was the one who had to really had to go full out because he was in every shot behind everybody. He didn’t really get a break. The extras were incredible, they were all really sweet and really good! The director, Noah Schulman, was really good too. I think he’s the next big thing because he’s just very cooperative and calm on set. He doesn’t get too crazy or pushy or anything like that, and his work is just really great. We’re really happy with the way it came out. It was an experience for sure.
You are just ending a tour with The Cab, A Rocket To The Moon, and This Providence. What has it been like touring with these bands, considering this is the first major tour for this band and how has the crowd response been?
Touring with these bands has been amazing! We’re so happy with the way that everybody is. They’re all so nice and welcoming. These bands have been touring a lot longer then we have, and they just took us in with open arms and have been teaching us and giving us advice and everything, we really appreciate that. The crowd response has been amazing. We weren’t trying to expect anything because we’re so new, and we had never toured before, but there have been kids in the audience that were singing the words, and they’ve been going nuts during our set and it’s so much fun! Kids aren’t afraid to come up to us and take pictures and things, which means a lot, it’s been incredible.
After this tour ends, you start up on a tour with The Academy Is… and We The Kings. Do you think this tour will be any different from the previous tour, and why or why not?
The venues are a little bigger than this one, but I don’t think it’ll be too different. I guess touring is touring. It’s a nationwide tour, also, and this one was only a west coast tour.
Do you ever feel it’s hard being a girl on a tour filled with all guys?
No, not at all. I am due for a pedicure and manicure, but I can definitely deal with it, I’m not high maintenance. The guys look at me as just one of the guys, so I don’t get treated differently.
Who would be your dream band to tour with?
I think there’s a few! Blink-182 would be sweet, that would be awesome because we’re all huge fans of them. Fall Out Boy would be insane just because we’ve been to their concerts before and they play from new stuff to old stuff, and it’s a really good show that they put on, so to be able to see that and hang out with them every night would be really cool.
What are some things you now know are a necessity when on tour?
Definitely trying to eat right instead of eating fast food every day! Towards the beginning I was pretty good at eating right, but I’ve been slipping on that. I gotta get back into the groove! It’s very important to take your vitamins and eat well when you can. Sleep is always good to.
What music are you listening to these days?
I am listening to Sherwood. I can’t get enough of them! I’ve been listening to them ever since their first CD came out, their new CD is just amazing. As a whole, we listen to a lot of Mayday Parade, Four Year Strong. There’s a band that we’re really good friends with in Tallahassee called Go Radio, they’re pretty good.
What is the coolest thing a fan has ever done for you?
A few times fans have brought us food! A girl Michelle, she’s like one of our biggest fans, she brought us cupcakes once! She bought me a scarf for my birthday. Then, these other girls were a part of someone’s street team on the tour, they brought us homemade pizzas, which were really good! Even the reactions that we get from fans, like when they’re really excited to meet us, that’s the greatest thing ever.
What is your ultimate goal as a band?
We really want to last. We want to be around for a very long time. This is our dream, we gave up everything for this. We love music so much, we want to continue doing it forever. We want to make time with music. I mean, I know it’s a lot of band’s goals and that it’s hard to reach, but we really want to try to do that and reach out to people on a level that our songs are fun. We want people to listen and get inspired! Our goal for this CD was to make people happy and tap their feet, but we also hope the lyrics reach out to people in a way that they can relate because every word that was written was written from experiences.
If you had to describe your music to someone who had never heard it before, what three words would you use?
I’d have to say fun, upbeat, and uplifting.
You’ve come so far in such a short time it seems. Any advice for music fans out there who aspire to be a touring rocker someday?
Never give up! I know that sounds cheesy, but really, there’s going to be so many times when you get rejected and people say mean things to you and it makes you want to quit, but if you believe in yourself enough, you’re going to be able to make it. It’s kind of like if you’re positive enough about it, then it will happen, you just have to keep working really hard at it. A lot of people in general think that it comes out of no where, but you have to work really hard for it. So just keep working hard and don’t give up!