Words: Miljan Milekić
Four Year Strong is one of those bands you just have to love. Their energy and positive vibes are simply contagious. Record after record, the band offered something new and fresh, while still being themselves, and doing what they do best. Earlier this year, they released their brand new album ‘Brain Pain,’ and we caught up with them to discuss it. Check our interview with Alan Day below.
First of all, on a yearly basis, how much money you spend on a conditioner to keep your beards so awesome?
Alan: I don’t condition at all. Just shampoo, that’s all I need.
‘Brain Pain’ is out, and it seems like it all happened so fast. It’s been a little over a month since the first announcement, and the album release, with quite a few songs and videos in between. Why did you choose this approach to kick it off with a bang?
Alan: Honestly, we feel like we’ve never been that organized before a release, so this time around, we wanted to come out of the gate swinging. That was one of the biggest goals with the rollout of ‘Brain Pain’ – have all of our ducks in a row and have a solid plan. It ended up feeling like a pretty solid release schedule, so I’m pretty happy about that.
From what I had the chance to see in forums and fan groups I’m in, people love it so far. Are you happy with the feedback so far?
Alan: Yeah, we’re really excited about the feedback. It’s like 99% positive, which is not what we’ve always gotten from our releases, so it feels really good. The band had a lot of conversations before even writing any of the songs about what we want people to take away from this record, and the reaction has almost been verbatim what we had discussed. It’s amazing.
Once again, you’re firing on all cylinders on the new record. How hard is it to stick to your “everything goes” mentality, to experiment, and yet keep your fans happy?
Alan: One of the main goals while writing for ‘Brain Pain’ was to be able to experiment with a crazy wide variety of genres and styles that we are all inspired by, and apply it to the Four Year Strong formula, in a way that our fans would appreciate. Believe it or not, as now 30-something-year-old men, we don’t listen to pop punk with breakdowns in it in our spare time. We listen to EVERYTHING else pretty much. So it was a challenge trying to incorporate some of those inspirations that feel authentic to us, without it sounding completely inauthentic to our audience.
It seems like you’ve found your home at Pure Noise, and that you have no intention of ever leaving. How is it to work with them? Are they really as great as everyone says they are?
Alan: Yes they are that great. Probably even greater. We definitely have no plans on parting ways with them, why would we do something stupid like that?
A couple of years ago, you went on a Rise or Die Trying 10th Anniversary Tour, playing the album in its entirety. This year is the 10th anniversary of ‘Enemy Of The World,’ can we expect something similar? Maybe an 11,5-year anniversary tour?
Alan: We would love to do something along those lines, but we also really want to focus on our new album, so it’s hard to say. There are no solid plans for anything at the moment, but hopefully, we’ll figure something out!
Both records were a staple in your career, but it seems like they are even bigger now than they were at the time of release? When writing it, did you think it could be so relevant in ten or fifteen years?
Alan: Definitely not. I mean, most of the songs on ‘Rise or Die Trying’ were written when I was like 16-17. It’s pretty amazing that people are still around supporting us after that long. And it’s even more amazing that those same fans are supporting our new music as well.
Back in 2017, you released ‘Some of You Will Like This, Some of You Won’t,’ which was a little change of pace from what you normally do. How did you get the idea to go into something like that? How did you end up with the name, and which side has more people?
Alan: We have always done a lot of acoustic performances over the years, Dan and I have a lot of fun doing it. We just wanted to do something for fun that showed another side of the band that’s always been there. For every Four Year Strong record that been released, there was an acoustic song, and/or ballad type of song that got cut from the album right before we release it because we were afraid of what people might think of it. So we figured – let’s just let it all out in one go. The name was something Dan came up with as a joke, and everyone laughed, and was like “But let’s actually name it that, who gives a shit.” And luckily, it seems like most people are on the “like it” side.
On that record, there is a song called ‘Let Me Down Again,’ which is one of my favorite Four Year Strong songs, and somehow, I kinda expected it to receive a full-band treatment and maybe end up on the next record. Was that ever an option, and is there a chance for something like that in the future?
Alan: That was actually the only song on that album that was written specifically for that release. Everything else was re-imagined songs from previous releases or unreleased songs. We wanted to write a new song because we were just having too much fun in the studio making it, and this song, kind of, just happened. It was written entirely in the studio, and we pretty much wrote and recorded it as we were writing. It was a very organic song, it just, kind of, happened. I don’t know that we’ll ever re-record it, but it would be fun to breathe some new life into it.
You guys have a significant following in the skateboarding community – you’re welcome at the events, your song has been included in the Tony Hawk’s game back in 2015, and there are even people doing the custom Four Years Strong decks around the web. Do any of you ride, and how involved are you with the extreme sports community?
Alan: I used to skate with Jake a lot when we were kids, but I broke my ankle pretty bad when I was like 17 and never really got back into it. I was too scared. (laughs) Joe used to be pretty into BMX when we first started the band. I don’t think Dan ever skated or anything. We’re all too old now. We don’t want to go and break a hip.