Yellowcard's Ryan Key on recording vocals in a hospital as his wife mended from a broken back

Categories: Interviews

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Megan Thompson

It's been ten years since Yellowcard (due on Tuesday, January 21, at the Black Sheep in Colorado Springs, and Wednesday, January 22, at the Aggie Theater in Fort Collins) and released Ocean Avenue, and while jumping on the Anniversary tour train, the Florida-bred pop punkers decided to do things a little different. Instead of simply touring the album in its entirety, the act recorded a new one, Ocean Avenue Acoustic, as a way to reintroduce both itself and its fans to the thirteen-song collection that jump-started the outfit's legacy as pop-punk heavyweights.

See also: Ryan Key on Paper Walls, and his persistent throat problems

As a tribute to its fans in smaller cities, the five-piece decided to reignite the tour that ended in fall, spending the next few weeks in towns they missed the first time around as a sort of last hurrah for the act before holing up in the studio to work on the next album in its ever-expanding discography. Ahead of the band's pair of Colorado shows next week, we got a chance to chat with vocalist/guitarist Ryan Key about the tour, new album, and the personal strife he endured while recording Ocean Avenue Acoustic.

Westword: What made you decide to play the album acoustic instead of plugged in for this tour?

Ryan Key: We had noticed there were a lot of bands in the last couple years and in the next couple years having the tenth anniversary of some pretty important records in our scene of music, so we knew we wanted to do a tour to commemorate the anniversary, but we wanted to do something more -- something memorable -- for us and our fans. We've been touring so hard for the past three years...we just wanted it to be something new and different for everybody.

What other songs can we expect on the set list?

It's going to be pretty similar to the first leg -- a lot of new stuff...Getting onstage and seeing people singing the new songs, and seeing how the new record spans generations of our fans who have been around since 2001 or 2004, and so many fans we made that are much younger and much newer to the band, and seeing them all sing those new songs is the most inspiring thing to us. It makes us want to keep making more new music.

What was it like recording Ocean Avenue Acoustic ten years after the original album was released?

The whole process, for me, was pretty wild. I was in the vocal booth when I got a phone call that my wife, who's a pro snowboarder, had broken her back on the mountain. We were in the middle of recording, and I shut everything down and immediately went to Reno, where she was hospitalized for her initial surgery.

I was actually producing with Erich Talaba -- he's been our engineer since Paper Walls, so he was really close with the band, and he packed up his studio into his Volkswagen and drove from L.A. to Reno. They have a little hotel in the hospital, and we setup a studio in one of those rooms, and Erich and I finished the record in a hospital.

I was bouncing back and forth between the ICU and the vocal booth, so that was pretty emotional for me to go through that and revisiting these songs that were so important to me and the band. Singing it for me was special in a way, even though I was going through such a terrible thing. Going through the emotions I was going through and going through the emotions of tracking the vocals on a record was pretty insane.

I know your new album is in its infant stages, but what can you tell us about it at this moment?

I've written more than I usually do at this stage...everyone in the band is really spread out geographically right now. Usually, Ryan, Sean and I start writing together early on, but that's kind of hard to do this time. We've talked a lot about it though, and the general consensus is we want it to be really big sounding. We want to open it up big and wide.

Songs that we reference are "Be The Young" and "Only One," so more stuff like that maybe...Also, I'm not sure where I'm going to go lyrically with it, but going through this insane personal experience, I've got some big, anthemic things to say, I think. In my mind, it doesn't necessarily warrant a punk rock record or a pop punk record, but we're going to see where it takes us.

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