Yellowcard has two things that most pop/rock bands would kill for: a violin and a multi-platinum album. When their 2003 release, Ocean Avenue established the band as one of the big names on the pop/punk scene, Yellowcard hit the road to make an even bigger name with fans. After touring for 18 months in support of their Lights and Sounds album, Yellowcard is at it again with Paper Walls, which hit stores back on July 17. As the band readies for another tour, we caught up with Yellowcard violinist, Sean Mackin to talk shop about life on the road and the band's success.
JUICY BANDS: Are you looking forward to heading back out on tour to support the new album, or are you just soaking up the downtime?
SEAN: We always say that we can sleep when we're dead. Yellowcard is really excited to have our new album, Paper Walls, out there and the response has been so positive. We have so many fans taking good care of us, so we just can't wait to get out on the road and see everyone to make some new fans and just live in the moment right now.
JUICY BANDS: What was it like to jump up to Canada to play with Nickelback and Puddle of Mudd?
SEAN: It was really exciting. It was only three shows. We had a great opportunity to play with Nickelback and over three shows, we played for about 30,000 people. I think the hardest part was flying straight from Sydney [Australia] to Winnipeg. That was quite a long day, but it was well worth it once our bodies caught up to the time change. I think something needs to be said about Nickelback. They've sold freakin' 20 million records, and they're still the coolest guys. They were so accommodating to us and they have more pyro in their rock show than Kiss had in their day. They really know what they're doing, and they do it well. It was really nice for Yellowcard to see Nickelback in their environment and learn something from them.
JUICY BANDS: Who was the rowdiest band on that brief tour?
SEAN: I think because we were tired and Nickelback were nearing Vancouver, they had family around, it was sort of a subdued meeting. We made plans to hang out later this year or next year, hopefully, and they said they'd bring us back out on tour. We'd be totally grateful to go out and play for their audience again. It wasn't really a rowdy tour. I don't have any great stories.
JUICY BANDS: Is it fun to hop out and do a short, three-show tour, as compared to going out for months at a time?
SEAN: Of course, it's fun to do any type of show. Not always do you have the luxury of getting into a routine and doing an eight-week long tour, like we're doing in the fall with Blue October, but we have the coolest job in the world - we get to play music for a living. Whether it's one day or three days or whatever the scheduling gods may have in store for Yellowcard, we'll take it right on the chin.
JUICY BANDS: You guys have a month of downtime before heading out with Sum 41 and then Blue October. What do you like to do to fill up the down time?
SEAN: It's really nice for me. I actually get to have a little down time, spend some time with the lady and work on the car and just lay low for a bit. I get to practice a lot and write some songs. Ryan Mendes and Ryan Key are out right now doing a radio promotional tour, where they're traveling around the United States, thanking everyone, shaking hands, doing interviews at all the radio stations that play and support Yellowcard. Some of it's down time, and some guys are working. I guess it just goes to show that Yellowcard never really gets a day off, which is fine by us. We're really excited about the release of Paper Walls and we're kind of doing anything we can to stay on top of it.
JUICY BANDS: What type of car are you working on?
SEAN: I have a 350Z that I'm madly in love with. Ryan and I, we sold our cars for our first band. In 2004 I had saved up everything to buy a car. I mean, it's just a Nissan Z, but I love it to death. It's sort of my statement of manhood, like, "Hey, I bought my own car with music, with my violin." It's a really cool feeling that I had.
JUICY BANDS: When you guys went back into the studio to record Paper Walls after touring for so long, was it therapeutic to put an end to life on the road?
SEAN: It was a little bit of a relief to say, "OK, we worked as hard as we could, we've had the physical trip-ups, and we've had all the record label things that could happen to the band." Let me tell the story from the beginning. With Lights and Sounds, pulling the trigger by going out on tour, then the record label telling you that the album's going to come out six months later, really made things difficult on the industry side. Then, with Ryan having his vocal chord issues and that being such a problem, not just for him but we all felt the frustrations of that for him - not being able to control one of our most precious instruments was really difficult. I think once we had everything kind of figured out and we had the label on board and they were ready to pull the trigger on the new Yellowcard album, it was just really exciting for us to go, "You know, we've really gone through some sh*t, but right now we're focused on making the next Yellowcard album. We have a great opportunity here and it was nice to clear our minds and focus on the next chapter in the Yellowcard story."
JUICY BANDS: Where did the idea of the "Yellowcard Sessions" come from?
SEAN: I don't exactly know who to give the two thumbs up to. I think one of our video guys who has been around forever, Dave Garcia, he works with Capitol, but he's a freelance guy who's been a really good friend of ours, did a bunch of B-roll footage. I think he was part of the brainstorm session with the management and the record label and Yellowcard itself, so we just wanted to really revamp our Internet fan base. I think we missed the first wave with MySpace and Yellowcardrock.com, our Web site, kind of went the way of the buffalo, because of how powerful MySpace was. We kind of missed out on that, and we were like, "We need to get out there, and we need to hang out with our fans more." At the same time, YouTube was kicking ass, so we were like, "You know what? Let's just put something up every week," like, "Hey, our fans can check us out here." Sometimes it took a little longer to load and sometimes we were a day late, but we definitely made an effort in the midst of all the other things we were doing, to hang out with our fans and show a different side of Yellowcard, more like, "Hey, we can goof off and have a good time and things are really fun in the studio," and just show that energy.
JUICY BANDS: What type of impact did that level of intimacy have on your work?
SEAN: We weren't completely surrounded by cameras at all times, but Yellowcard has always had an open-door policy with our fans. We're not like the "super-ego maniacs in Us Weekly" type of band or anything like that. We come from really humble roots where we tour in a van and we hang out at shows with all of our fans at the merch booth, and out in the parking lot. There was a time where we used to not be able to afford hotels and places to stay, and we used to sleep on couches and floors at people's houses. Those are the stones that we built the city on. While we now can afford hotels in the cities that we're staying in, we don't forget those days and share small parts of our lives with our fans and with our friends as well. I guess it's a small way of giving back to the people that support Yellowcard.
JUICY BANDS: Since you were also posting rough cuts of various tracks, were there any nerves about posting unproduced tracks?
SEAN: I think there might have been some apprehension from the record label itself, but there are so many recordings of shows. I think the whole point of Paper Walls is we're really comfortable in our skin right now. We know we're human and we make mistakes and we're not trying to show everyone that we're over-produced and we're perfect. A lot of those demos came from before we were recording - in the practice room - and they were just brief glimpses into what we were doing to show our fans, "Hey, we're working here and we want you guys to be a part of it, and we feel like Paper Walls is going to be a big deal." We wanted to share as much as we could with our audience. I play the violin. It's one of the hardest instruments to play, and I know that I'm going to make mistakes. I know the other guys feel the same way, but it's all sort of give and take with our fans. They give so much, and we want to give back, too.
JUICY BANDS: Paper Walls has a heavier sound, just like Lights and Sounds. Did you intentionally try to keep the rock element in there?
SEAN: When we recorded Paper Walls, we wanted to take the best of our previous albums, "Lights and Sounds" and "Ocean Avenue". "Lights and Sounds" was more of a departure for us. I think we wanted to show our fans something different from Yellowcard, and we wanted to grow as musicians, so we took that sharpened rock edge and all our sonic developments from "Lights and Sounds", and we coupled that with a little bit of the old school flavor from "Ocean Avenue". We took the energy and melody of "Ocean Avenue", and basically what you have is the finest of what Yellowcard has to offer.
JUICY BANDS: You guys also inked a deal to promote Heroes on NBC. Where is your primary focus with the new album, on the road or on other opportunities?
SEAN: I think that Yellowcard is just focused on each day and each opportunity. We have a great opportunity with Heroes. NBC approached us and they were like, "Hey man, we want to check out some of your stuff," and they actually used it on the Heroes season, and that was a great opportunity for us. Then, with the radio picking up the song - we're not Linkin Park and we're not Nickelback - but one of the things Yellowcard loves to do is share our music with as many people and we're really excited for the release of Paper Walls. We just want to get out there and see what each day holds.
For More on Yellowcard
be sure to check out:
Yellowcard Official myspace:
Yellowcard Official myspace: