Four Year Strong

Cover albums are somewhat of a rite of passage for musical groups. Four Year Strong released their contribution to this phenomena, Explains It All, this summer on Decaydance. As a follow up to Rise or Die Trying, Explains it All has gained the band even more recognition and praise. Punknews contributor Gene Axton recently talked to Josh Lyford (vocals/synth) about Four Year Strong's debut album, their contemporaries, their new endeavors, and Train.

Are there any songs you guys had to leave on the cutting room floor for Explains It All, and what are the chances those will be released on compilations or 7"?

We had a list about 100 pages long of songs we wanted to record on Explains It All, so we definitely had to leave a few behind. As a band, in general, we have a lot of unrecorded songs, a b-side record is a definite possibility one day.

Looking back on it today, are there any songs you wish you had included in Explains It All?

I was pushing pretty hard to do a lot more ridiculous older-era hardcore songs, but we did get to do a cover of my favorite band, Reach The Sky, so I’m totally content with how it turned out.

What’s the story behind the message from Train about their omission from Explains It All? How did you guys react and respond?

This made me crack up. To be totally honest I was convinced that the message was real when I first heard it. I found out later that the singer from Train is really close with some of our friends so once I got the joke I couldn’t help but love Train even more. I mean, let’s be real, "Meet Virginia" slayed everything. What could we have done to improve it?

You guys recorded the follow up to Rise Or Die Trying and Explains it All. What’s the focus you guys are taking with this new record? Is there anything having a heavy influence on your new songs, such as certain themes or other musicians?

We never try to take ourselves too seriously, and this record is no different. On the other hand I think we went into this with the perspective [that] this is our follow up to ROD, a lot of people wont like it because it isn’t ROD, so we almost had more freedom in a way. At the end of the day I’m 100 percent proud of this record and we had no limits, this is Four Year Strong with 3 years of straight out touring under their belt, we're a tighter unit these days. I didn’t know what my strengths and weaknesses were 4 years ago, I was just a kid learning how to be on tour, how to play the keyboard properly, I had never really sang before FYS. This is Four Year Strong knowing their identity a little better.

Speaking of Rise or Die Trying, [it] was the album that generated a lot of buzz for you guys and catapulted you to national tours and positive critical recognition. Looking back on it, what are you happy with on that record and what do you hope to change or expand on?

I love ROD. On the other hand looking back, there were a million things that could’ve been improved on. However, with that being said, if it wasn’t for that record and how it turned out, we never would have gotten to where we are today, I still love all the songs on that record and I cant wait to keep playing them with songs from the new record as well.

In 2008, FYS became a member of Decaydance Records, a subsidiary of Fueled By Ramen. What has changed since then for you?

Well when we went to Decaydance, they had no affiliation with Fueled By Ramen, so it was just us, I surrender and Decaydance. They have treated us incredibly well, they take care of us and let us do our own thing. If it wasn’t for Pete and Decaydance I think a lot of the incredible things that have gone well for us over the years wouldn’t have come to fruition.

The members of New Found Glory are elder statesmen when it comes to producing catchy tunes with a distinct edge. What was it like to tour with them and what did you pick up from them for the future?

NFG are awesome dudes, for the most part I could spend years touring with those dudes. They paved the way for bands like us and do it all without the cocky bullshit attitude. They’re like we are, just a bunch of dudes who play music and have fun. Most of them are a bunch of hilarious pranksters and they keep shit lighthearted. They helped us out a lot bringing us out, and we appreciate all they’ve done for us.

When one thinks of the pop-punk/hardcore mixture that’s seen an explosion over the last few years, Set Your Goals, A Day To Remember, and Four Year Strong come up as the flagship bands of the genre. What are your opinions on the distinct styles that your contemporaries bring to the table?

I think the whole thing is interesting, as far as us and Set Your Goals, we had the same influences on different coasts and did our own thing, it was a similar formula that produced two very distinct and palpable bands. We both came up on hardcore and pop-punk, it was only natural to get to these relative points from there, Set Your Goals are some of our best friends.

What currently active bands would you guys like to tour with that you haven’t already?

Hmm, I would love to go out with Comeback Kid or Bane. I know its a bit out of our realm, but if that could happen I’d fucking cum everywhere. Also Hot Water Music, if they still consider themselves active.

As fellow music fans, what is Four Year Strong currently into and what do they recommend to their fans?

Fireworks. Last Lights. Mountain Man.

Is there anything else you’d like to say about the new record?

Check it out, I think it will do justice to what we've tried to build for ourselves. We’re all very proud of it and can’t wait to release it.