Wilkes-Barre record Store Gallery of Sound host acoustic show on The Wonder Years No Closer to Heaven album release tour
WILKES-BARRE — There’s a decade of history between the genesis of The Wonder Years and the release of their fifth studio album, “No Closer to Heaven.” The venues have gotten bigger, the tours have gotten longer and the band members have gotten older. The themes of each album have mirrored the band’s progression; the playful song titles and collegiate cultural commentary that shaped their first two albums bled into the animosity, acceptance and crushing pressure to live up to personal expectations that reverberated through the latter half of their discography.
The band will release the latest chapter of their story on Sept. 4, but fans in Wilkes-Barre can hear special acoustic versions of new tracks a day before that when The Wonder Years play Gallery of Sound.
The Wonder Years Bassist Josh Martin started playing music because it got him out of class and, whether or not he knew it at the time, that was a very pop-punk thing to do. His parents bought him his first bass at the tail end of his fifth grade year and his horn playing older brother introduced him to punk/ska stalwarts Less Than Jake soon after. That was when the idea of being in a rock band first took hold of Martin.
“I thought, you can make music that sounds like this?! That’s so sick,” Martin said. “That’s when it kind of all changed for me; when I heard that I wanted to be in a punk/alternative rock n’ roll band. That’s kind of where it all started for me.”
The rock band fantasy isn’t uncommon among adolescent males, but Martin made it a reality with The Wonder Years. The music that Martin makes with his band mates—guitarists Matt Brasch, Casey Cavaliere and Mick Steinborn, drummer Mike Kennedy and vocalist Dan Campbell—has taken them around the world. The band has added another 13 songs to their repertoire with “No Closer to Heaven,” and they’re excited to share them with the rest of the world.
“We’re really excited about it because it’s been a long process so far,” Martin said. “It’s been good, but it’s been long. Every writing process for us is a little different, but there are six of us that work together to write it—there’s not one main songwriter. This time we allowed ourselves to try more things.”
Martin noted the time signature changes in “The Bluest Things on Earth” and the slower, emotionally charged tracks “Stained Glass Ceilings” and “Cigarettes and Saints” as moments that will stand from the rest of The Wonder Years’ catalog. The band will be pulling songs from that catalog, including those on “No Closer to Heaven,” for their acoustic show at Gallery of Sound on Sept. 3.
“We’ve reworked some of the songs from the new record to play, which I’m really excited about,” Martin said. “I think it’s always fun to play them acoustic; they sound a little differently and they have a little different meaning when you slow them down. It’s also a really good way to interact with people who support us. People that come to these shows have seen us play a lot of these songs really loud. It’s a little different take on them.”
After their acoustic album release tour, The Wonder Years will embark on a string of fall dates with Motion City Soundtrack. Martin said that the Motion City song “My Favorite Accident” was one of the tracks he shared with his band mates to help shape their sound a decade ago, which makes them touring together sort of a full-circle moment. The Wonder Years experienced a similar moment this summer when they took part in the Vans Warped Tour, which showcased the pop-punk revival they helped spearhead. Martin and the other five members of The Wonder Years aren’t just writing their own histories anymore—they’re part of the stories of their band, their genre and the fans that support them. The next chapter hits stores on Sept. 4; nothing after that has been written yet, but if history tends to repeat, it’ll be a page-turner.
Reach Gene Axton at 570-991-6121 or on Twitter @TLArts
IF YOU GO:
What: The Wonder Years acoustic album release tour
Where: Gallery of Sound Mundy St.
When: Thursday, Sept. 3 at 6 p.m.
How Much: Fans who pre-order The Wonder Years’ new album, “No Closer to Heaven,” will receive a wristband for priority entry. If wristbands don’t sell out, space is first come, first served. The album is available on CD for $11.99 or as a double LP on blue with opague burgundy swirl for $23.99.