Sitting on the front step of his house, shaking slightly in the November chill despite a winter coat, Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell was writing in a notebook trying to figure out his next record. “I just couldn’t sit inside any more,” he reflects. “[I was] just sitting there and writing. Not even writing lyrics, just ruminating on the concepts. There were three pages filled with what in the world was frustrating me and then trying to hone in on why that was happening and how I could fix it. All of a sudden it just popped out. I ended up writing this line, ‘I’m no closer to heaven, but I’m going to keep walking’. Shit, I get it now,” Dan remembers. That moment of clarity spearheading the emotional and progressive charge that is the fifth The Wonder Years album, ‘No Closer To Heaven’. “It’s about the idea that we should be striving for progress at every turn and that we shouldn’t be resting on our understanding. It’s almost scientific and I really think people are going to love it.”
Talking during one of his rare off days from the Warped Tour – “It’s the hardest tour to do; really, really exhausting, but it’s always rewarding to work hard” – Dan is “incredibly, unbelievably excited” about the imminent album. “Every time I get to show somebody new, I get like a giddy child. I can’t wait for you to hear it,” he starts. He’s less nervous than normal ahead of its release and for good reason. “We’re really confident that this is inarguably and unequivocally our best record. There’s not even a shadow of doubt in my mind – I know we put everything we had into it. I know it’s our best record yet and I know that’s all we can do. We’ve made a really, really great record,” he enthuses. “I don’t mean that to sound really cocky at all but I’m confident it’s our best work to date, I’m confident our fans are going to love it and I’m confident that some people who didn’t like our band before are going to love it. Honestly it’s been hard for me not to leak the record myself, I’m so excited for people to hear it,” he adds with a smirk.
“We’re not offering answers. I hope people understand that we’re not going to get everything right. We are not the gospel for anything but hopefully we can point you in the right direction and that’s what we’re doing with this record. At no point do we feel like we’re offering solutions, what we’re doing is trying to show you the questions. Whether it’s about pharmaceutical sales and the abuse of prescription drugs, systemic racism and class and privilege, manhood, violence and abuse or losing a friend to a tragic accident; it goes from those issues to how you handle relationships. How you handle being loved, loving someone in return and how you’re there for the people who need you in life. Whether it’s about any of those things, we’re not here to tell you the answer, we’re saying start thinking about the question and maybe you can be the solution to it.”
Read the full interview with The Wonder Years in September’s edition of Upset, out on Friday 21st August. Order a copy here.