On September 22, National Voter Registration Day, Philadelphia’s The Wonder Years issued themselves a challenge: to register 1,000 new voters/voter actions by October 20. If the goal was reached in time, they’d release a new song.
Well, they did it. In collaboration with HeadCount.org, today The Wonder Years celebrate making their deadline and registering over 1,000 voter actions with the release of ‘Brakeless,’ a brand new song streaming everywhere now.
Over the course of their career, The Wonder Years have consistently evolved, reaching new heights from record to record. So naturally, they found a way to challenge themselves when deciding how to properly commemorate the upcoming milestones of their earlier work. Written and recorded in the style of their 2010 breakout album ‘The Upsides,’ ‘Brakeless’ is one of two new songs that The Wonder Years crafted to help commemorate the back-to-back 10 year anniversaries of that album and its follow-up, 2011’s ‘Suburbia I’ve Given You All & Now I’m Nothing.’
“I was going through old hard-drives full of demos and voice notes when I stumbled onto an idea I had that never got brought to the band” vocalist Dan Campbell explains of the retrospective writing approach on the new song. Listening to it ten years later inspired an idea: “what if we tried to go back and write songs that sounded like those records? What would that sound like?”
Using that voice note as a jumping-off point, the band put themselves back in that headspace, shaking loose old memories to create something that would feel at home on ‘The Upsides.’ To do that, the entire team from that era was brought back to help – Steve Evetts, who produced ‘Suburbia,’ agreed to produce and Vince Ratti, who produced and mixed ‘The Upsides,’ came back to mix. The artwork was also done by Mitchell Wojcik, who created the original and iconic ‘Upsides’ album cover.
And much like ‘The Upsides’ found The Wonder Years and Campbell at a turning point, ‘Brakeless’ came together despite the disruption of a global pandemic and a hurricane that flooded several members basements and the control room at the studio they were recording in. When the band finally came together to record, they did so in masks and face shields after temperature checks and hand sanitizer. It also obviously wasn’t safe for anyone to fly, so through some mix of technology and magic, Steve produced from his studio in Garden Grove while the band tracked at Retro City in Germantown, PA. The result is a song that has the energy and gallows humor of their breakout record but with the experience and creativity that comes with 10+ years of touring and releasing ever-evolving music.