High energy, hardcore influenced pop punk. Sounds awesome right? Think New Found Glory if they hung out in NYC a bit more, or maybe Worcester, MA; which is about an hour outside of Boston, and where the guys of Four Year Strong are from. "Kids there are just always awesome, just put on a good show. It's almost like the kids are playing our show for us, because when the kids go crazy we go crazy," singer Dan O'Connor says, "We actually don't play Boston too much, actually Worchester is like our home town, that's where we play."
These five guys came together in high school, (incidentally Dan and Jake did not graduate). "Um, in high school we were just like, a bunch of random kids, my self, Alan & Jake went to hardcore shows back in the day. That's how we met--well actually I met them through Alan's sister. I met Alan and Jake because I wanted to start this band because I'd been in hardcore bands forever and I wanted to start a pop punk band... it was fun because we were all just kind of like, kids that were into harder music that wanted to do the pop punk thing. Where Four Your Strong came from, technically, is we stole it from a Get Up Kids song, because there's a lyric that is "Five Year Strong," so we were like we gotta change the number."
"We never really set out to snag on somebody's style. We wanted to be a pop punk band to start out with [because of] our background, where we came from and the bands we listened to when growing up. This was the first time we'd ever tried to do a band like this, we'd all been in harder bands growing up, it just kind of came up with more of an energetic harder edge, just naturally. We're friends with New Found Glory, Hit The Lights, Set The Goals. I really think all those bands really bring something special to the table. New Found Glory especially, we all grew up listening to New Found Glory, we're huge New Found Glory fans. Being on this tour [with New Found Glory] is amazing for us. They're that band that worked really hard and never sold their soul to the devil...Those are the type of people we respect, they do exactly what they want to do and kind of just roll with it."
"Roll with the punches" is the first line in FYS' single "Bada Bing! Wit' A Pipe." On their MySpace page you'll find the video, which proves that these guys don't take themselves too seriously, as they dress up as various characters. It's one song out of almost a dozen that come together to form "Rise or Die Trying," the bands first album on their label. "Rise or Die Trying," well the songs on that album, kind of just ties together to what the bands have done up to when we recorded... It was kind of like all the hard work we had done over the year was coming to a head, this album was going to define all the hard work we did. In a couple of songs we had used the words "Rise or Die Trying" it kind of became a thing, especially around our home town, like a phrase. It was something we were all familiar with, something we felt passionate about, and something the fans could connect with."
If a pseudo catch phrase was not enough the Massachusetts natives find ways to incorporate movie quotes into their lyrics and titles constantly. If you listen closely you'll hear lines from "Top Gun," "Home Alone" and "Pirates of the Caribbean" to name a few. "We love movies. Alan, myself & our merch guy, Josh watch movies constantly. I have a PSP that's full of movies that I watch, and a hard drive that I carry. Alan buys like ten movies a week. We're the type of band that once you hear a funny line in a movie we'll repeat it a billion times. That's how we come up with song titles, we're like 'dude we should totally be a song title.'" Same with lyrics, we actually wrote a song a while back that never got released called, 'Sparkle Motion.' It was actually a slower song about the movie, [Donnie Darko]"
Besides music, some bands are known for their long hair, some for their fashion sense, Four Year Strong is known for their beards. "Did you all plan to grown beards," I question. "No!" Dan chuckles at the question, "It really was like--I grew a beard, 2004 because I had a family member that was in the hospital for a long time, and I was in the hospital for like three weeks with them. My family member ended up passing away, and we had a funeral, and if I shaved I would have been all broken out and would have looked horrible so I decided to trim it into a beard... and it looked nice. I liked it so I kept it. Randomly [other] band members started getting beards. Pretty much when we started touring full time, we were kinda like what's the use of shaving we all look like crap anyway, why even try to look good when we're all dirty & smelly on tour. We might as well not give a shit. The whole beard thing kinda came about like that, and I like it, it's warmer..."
You can catch these guys toughing out the cold weather for a few more days after Christmas with a string of holiday shows, three of which are on the East Coast with Every Avenue, Set Your Goals, and Energy. After that, they'll be "...recording in January hopefully, we want to try to have it out late Spring, beginning of summer. As of right now it will be on both labels. We're really excited about it, and really stoked to get in the studio and get some new music out to kids."
The two labels he's referring to are I Surrender Records & Decaydance Records. The guys are on both labels, although they definetely depart from the usual Decaydance sound. "We're on I Surrender, because we met Rob and the people that work for the label, and they wanted to work with the band, and we got to know them and really liked them a lot. That was really important to the band to make sure that we worked with somebody we got along with a personal, friend level. The band is very personal to us... With Decaydance it was the same way. We're friends with Pete and friends with other people involved in that label through the management company, Crush. We've been friends with them and when they asked if we wanted to do something Decaydance and I Surrender, we were like 'yea totally.' If you have the choice between having your friends, that you know worked really hard to get to where they are run your band, as opposed to some random guy in a suit, that sits behind a desk that you don't really know, we always pick people we can trust."
"Where do you see yourself in five years?" "I don't even know where I'm going to be tomorrow." "You're going to be in Richmond tomorrow." "That's right" "I don't know where the band will be... I know where I'd like to be, I'd like to be happy." Oh and by the way, if you've got three grand to drop you can buy fouryearstrong.com from the guy in China who owns it. [CO]