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The Wonder Years… And a pigeon named Hank

If you didn’t already know, Philadelphia pop punk band The Wonder Years were in town for two days and we had the opportunity to speak to them just before their gig at TAB. It couldn’t have been any more spontaneous — the interview was held at the lift lobby of a hotel along Orchard Road!

It was the band’s virgin experience here in Singapore and they admitted that before embarking on their first South East Asian tour to Bangkok, Singapore and Manila, they’d “never been to any Southeast Asian country on holiday or as a band”. Confessing their collective ignorance about our tiny island, they were humbly honest about their (lack of ) prior knowledge about Singapore and had even asked a local crew member if English was a language spoken here. “We had no idea [about what Singapore had to offer] and we were flattered someone asked us to play here.”

That said, the boys feel that it isn’t such a bad thing not having any “preconceived notion about any country”. Because then, you can “dive right in and experience it as it should be without assuming something about it”.

The band will be heading to the Philippines for the Bazooka Rocks Festival after their show tonight in Singapore. Asked about the massive festivals they’ve done and which one left the biggest impact on the band, the boys uniformly agreed on the three: Warped Tour (USA), Groezrock (Belgium) and the Slam Dunk Festival (Leeds, UK). But they added that since each event took place in a different venue, the experiences were unique and incomparable.

Next year, The Wonder Years will be playing at the Soundwave Festival in Australia, headlined by Metallica, Garbage and Blink-182. When asked how it feels to play with these big bands, the boys see it as a stepping stone for their career. “It’s a real gig, we don’t play covers at the bars that you go to with your shitty friends. This is real, this is what we do, and we work really hard, and this paints a better picture of what we get to do.”

They’re especially excited to meet American veteran bands, The Offspring and Fozzy. That eagerness was further expressed when they began bantering incoherently amongst themselves about Fozzy lead singer, Chris Jericho, and WWE. Male wrestling talk… Yes. Moving on.

“You get to learn a lot from bands like that and it can be very rewarding to talk to some of these guys.”

These tours also give The Wonder Years the chance to meet and exchange expertise with other bands. “You get to learn a lot from bands like that and it can be very rewarding to talk to some of these guys.” And it doesn’t necessarily have to be music tips, but advice on, say, flying. For instance, Ryan Key from Yellowcard was said to “know more about frequent flyer miles than anyone on the planet” with his intensive research on airline mileage. “He’s a Diamond member. He (gave) us tips on how to get cheap and free luggage check-ins and such.”

Talking about flying, have you noticed the pigeon mascot in the band’s music videos or album art? We were curious about how Hank (yes, the pigeon has a name!) came about, and the boys had a lot to say:

“The first thing with pigeons is that our old keyboardist had a vendetta against them. They just started talking about dirty birds everywhere. He hates them. So we decided to put it as the cover of a 7” we did. It’s called Won’t Be Pathetic Forever… Then we started adopting the pigeon as a sort of a mascot. Not the particular Hank pigeon, but a pigeon in general.

“We were not very welcomed, but we didn’t need to be welcomed, we were gonna create our own welcome.”

If you wanna get some ideology behind it, it’s because as we started progressing as a band, not a lot of people paid attention to us or cared if we were there or not. We were not very welcomed, but we didn’t need to be welcomed, we were gonna create our own welcome. If no one wanted to book us, we would book ourselves. If no one wanted to put our records, we’d put out our own records. If no one wanted to manage our band, we’d manage ourselves. Didn’t matter. That’s the same way a pigeon lives; everyone across the board hates pigeons. They’re unwelcomed yet they flourish everywhere.

Casey had a friend in college that did costume work and she put a lot of hard work building (the mascot). We had it in the car and we said, well, do we name it? And Casey immediately said, Hank. His name is Hank. Now it has a Twitter and Facebook (account).”

By Serene Yap

 

For fans of the band, we’re pleased to inform you that Hank has also been made into a limited edition plushie and can be bought online!

Also out for pre-order is a soft cover book filled with 200 pages of photos, lyric-book scans, hand-written tour stories and artefacts compiled by the band titled ‘A Year As A Ghost’.