Recently at Vans’ Warped Tour in Camden, NJ, I sat down with Ryan Mendez, guitar player of Yellowcard to talk about the tour, bands they are excited about, their new record Southern Air, and their Fall plans. It was an absolute pleasure speaking with the man, and it only got me more anxious to see what Yellowcard has in store for us in the coming months.
You can check out the interview in two different ways after the break (because I know some people rather read), either the actual audio from the interview, or the transcribed version.
Could you say your name and what band you play for?
My name is Ryan Mendez and I play guitar in Yellowcard.
How’s Warped Tour going so far?
It’s been great. Today has been phenomenal so we’re all really happy about it. Weather isn’t always phenomenal on Warped Tour, it’s usually ridiculously hot and humid. So the tour overall has been great, the crowd has been amazing, some of our best friends in the world are out here and we get to hang out with them every day, so we couldn’t be happier.
Who are some of the bands you’ve been watching, old bands but also newer acts if you’ve been catching those?
So there’s a band from the UK called You Me at Six who are awesome guys and a great band. I’ve always known about them and we have a lot of mutual friends. I knew they were going to be on this tour and I was specifically looking forward to hanging out with them and we’ve totally been doing that so we’re stoked about that. There’s a harder band called Memphis May Fire that both myself and our bassist Josh have been really, really into, pretty much my favorite new band on the tour. We like a lot of harder stuff and they just rip. Super nice guys, and we’ve been hanging out with them a bit. And then there’s this band that we’re friends, some of the guys from Story of the Year have a new band called Greek Fire, and they’re incredible. They actually just left the tour, they did about a week of the tour. I wish they could have done the whole thing, but I tried to watch them as much as I could while they were here, they’re an amazing band.
It’s been a few years since you guys have been on Warped Tour, and from what I’ve been gathering crowd reaction has been better than previous years.
It almost has, yeah.
Why do you think that the reaction is better now, or if it isn’t better, what do you think that it’s attributed to?
I don’t know. It’s interesting because last time we did the tour was in 2007, and we did about half the tour and it was definitely good, the reaction was good. I think the energy within the band was definitely not very good and our bassist ended up leaving the band a couple months after that tour. There was definitely some drama and not a positive energy.
Now it couldn’t be more positive. Everybody is on the same page, we’re reenergized, we got a new record coming out, we just finished coming back last year after being gone. It went as well, as we could have expected it. I think there’s something about the energy within the band that is portrayed on stage, and I think you can tell. The crowds have just been amazing.
Since the last time you were on, how has Warped Tour changed in regards to how you’re looking at it as a festival?
Honestly I think the biggest change is just the predominant style of music. When I was growing up and going to Warped Tour, my first Warped Tour was in ’98 and there was so much of the melodic punk stuff off of Fat Wreck Chords and Epitaph and that kind of stuff. Now there’s so much heavier stuff, so much metalcore and screamy stuff, which like I said earlier myself and my bass player are all about, our drummer as well. So we all totally love that stuff but it’s just interesting to me to walk around the tour having gone so many times and seeing that be so predominant.
We’re going to transition to Southern Air [New album coming August 14, 2012 via Hopeless Records]. Could you talk about the writing process? You guys just put out When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes last year. How did you guys change gears so fast?
That’s interesting cause honestly last year we toured 30 countries, 150 shows and we were gone for 200-something days. At the end of the year the last thing we wanted to do was go into the studio and write more. We just put the record out in March so it hadn’t been that long so we all just kind of agreed to just build on the momentum we just kinda created, so we’re just going to go do it anyways. We just sat down to write and at first I was not so much worried, but just feeling exhausted, going “Okay, what are we going to do?” and then it all came out so fast and so easily. I don’t know how it happened. Three weeks later we pretty much had the whole record written.
Yeah we were like “Whoa, how did that happen?” But there it was.
Is there an overlapping theme throughout this record, or was there a general vibe you were trying to create?
No there wasn’t. We didn’t really go into it with a specific agenda. The one thing that we wanted to do was specifically to not overthink anything. We just wanted to write stuff that was fun, like, “oh that’s an awesome riff, cool, move on let’s do something else.” Just kind of envision what was going to be fun to play live, things to get kids to jump around to, and have fun and tons of energy [that is] uplifting and positive.
I was actually in Florida a few weeks ago and I was listening to your guys’ records and I could hear the influences from the general atmosphere from the area. Is that a conscious thing [when writing] or is that something that happens organically?
I think it happens organically. I’m actually one of the only members not from Florida, but Ryan, Sean and LP all are. Ryan writes the lyrics, and I think that’s a lot of it too. Nobody lives in Florida anymore, but I think those guys all consider it as home and that’s where they’re from, and I think that’s kind of the vibe of the title track “Southern Air.” It was kind of like that and Ryan lived in Georgia for a couple years and it’s also that whole realm. It’s not really conscious, it just sort of happens.
If you have two songs from the record that you’re most excited to play live, as you guys transition to a Fall tour, what songs are you excited to show people?
That’s an interesting question because….
[someone in the room interjects] “Awakening” is soooo good.
[laughs] That’s probably one of the ones I was going to say, the first song on the record, “Awakening.” I think partially because it’s fairly straightforward and it’s really energetic and the response that we’ve gotten for it online has been really great. Other than that it’s a tough choice because we wrote everything to record it, so we actually haven’t sat down and played the songs. So sometimes you get to playing a song and you realize, “Man, I love this song but I hate playing the song depending on how you have to play things.”
So I really don’t know, I think “Awakening” for sure. Honestly, I think the second song as well, “Surface of the Sun.” It’s super energetic, super heavy, and I think that will be a fan favorite live song.
Fall plans. Do you have any?
We do. We will be touring the states with bands that we are not allowed to announce yet. It will be coming up pretty soon, and I think that almost everybody is going to be really excited about it. It’s going to be an awesome lineup for sure. [EDITORS NOTE: This turned out to be a tour featuring the likes of The Wonder Years and We Are the In Crowd]
Written and conducted by: Tyler Osborne