Yellowcard’s Ryan Key Looks Back On 10 Years Of “Ocean Avenue”

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It’s been ten years since the release of Yellowcard’s Ocean Avenue, arguably one of the most well known pop-punk albums of the 2000’s.

It also marked a huge turning point for the band. Though only their sophomore effort, it catapulted Yellowcard into the mainstream and around the world.

For the album’s anniversary, Yellowcard revisited Ocean Avenue and reworked the entire thing acoustically. The band plays the Oakdale this Sunday, Sept. 8, to perform the new rendition in its entirety.

In advance of the show, frontman Ryan Key responded to a few questions via email looking back on the album and talking about what’s next for Yellowcard.

Take us back to when “Ocean Avenue” was written. What was the process and how did it flow? What influenced the album?

Key: The core of the music was written in Lake Arrowhead, CA. Our guitarist at the time had a family vacation home there. We had been on tour for two years straight so we retreated to the mountains to clear our heads and start writing. We then brought what we had to Neal Avron, our producer. It was our first time working with Neal and man did we have a lot to learn. We spent a couple months in a rehearsal studio with Neal before moving in to Sunset Sound, a legendary studio in Hollywood, CA. The whole experience was insane for us. We had never done anything on such a huge scale before.

Did you expect the amount of success the band with the album?

Key: We just wanted to get on the main stage at the Vans Warped Tour. We had no idea that the record would carry us to the heights that it did.

How was it revisiting the songs on “Ocean Avenue” for the ten year anniversary?

Key: It was amazing. We had a lot of fun making the record. Going back and relearning the songs that we haven’t played in so many years was fun. And breathing some new life into the songs we always play was awesome too.

How much of wanting to recompose the album could you credit to nostalgia?

Key: Not much. The whole idea was really based around the tour coming up. We wanted to do something a little more than just play the record on a tour. So recording the acoustic album to then be performed live was something we thought would make it fresh for the band but be really special to the fans at the same time.

Do you look back on your mindset when writing these songs and thing ‘wow, I was so naive,’ or ‘wow I wish I knew (X) or (Y) back then’?

Key:I look back and think “Wow. Look at what we accomplished with those 13 songs”. There are certainly some things that would have been nice to know back then, but all in all we learned from everything along the way.

Recently you penned a letter to your younger self. What was the story behind that?

Key:It is a feature for Rocksound magazine in the UK. They have done several of them with other artists and approached me to write for it.

How is your wife doing? [Note: Key’s wife, a snowboarder, was recently in a very serious accident that left her paralyzed. Key mentions it in the aforementioned letter.

Key: She is hanging in there. We have a long, hard fight ahead of us. But she is the strongest person I have ever known. it is inspiring to say the least.

Has touring been difficult because of the accident? How have you worked around things?

Key: It hasn’t been as difficult schedule wise as it has been emotionally. It is really hard to be away from her right now with everything still being so new.

What’s the future of Yellowcard?

Key: Tour for the rest of the year and then we will start thinking about some new songs I guess. I try not to think too far out.

And one final question that I always like to end with… what was the best or worst thing you’ve ever eaten on tour?

Key: Best meal ever was in Japan. I have been to the same restaurant a couple times. It is a Kobe Beef place that only seats about 12 people. I would never be able to find it without someone who knows it’s there. But it still holds the Gold medal for me.

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