The new Yellowcard CD, “When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes,” can be viewed as a fresh start for the group’s career. The CD arrives nearly four years after the group’s previous release, “Paper Walls.” It’s on a new label, as Yellowcard has moved from major label Capitol Records to indy label Hopeless Records. And the new CD follows a hiatus of roughly two years that seemingly has rejuvenated the group.
But it’s not as if the guys in Yellowcard planned to step away from the band or have the group’s career take such a pause. Instead, the band’s career was essentially forced down that path.
“It was kind of unfortunate circumstance with the label,” guitarist Ryan Mendez explained during an early March phone interview. “It got bought and they had to freeze spending and it (“Paper Walls”) kind of got shelved. Unfortunately we had no choice in the matter. We were kind of just getting started, and it kind of went downhill. Like I said, it was kind of not really something we had control over.”
Once promotion for “Paper Walls” ended, Yellowcard — which includes Mendez, singer/guitarist Ryan Key, violinist Sean Mackin, drummer Longineu Parsons III and bassist/keyboardist Sean O’Donnell — faced basically two choices. One was to go right back into making a new CD. The other was to put the band on hold and step away from music for a time.
Making a new CD really wasn’t really an option, Mendez said.
“There’s only so much you can do as band when you’ve just spent months and months and months making a record, and someone says OK well you can try working on another record right now,” he said. “Well, you’re creatively spent. Making a record is quite a process and it takes a lot out of you. “You can’t just kind of make yourself feel musical and go do that again,” he said.
So Yellowcard decided it was a good time to go on hiatus.
“It came out to be the perfect thing to do at the time, just to take a step back and just kind of breathe and analyze what was happening and move on,” Mendez said.
The setback with “Paper Walls” put the brakes on a career that had seen some considerable high points over a fairly short period.
The band, which had formed in 1999 in Jacksonville, Florida, had started its career by releasing a full-length CD, “One For The Kids,” in 2001 and an EP, “The Underdog EP,” in 2002 on independent labels before signing with major label Capitol Records.
The band’s first release on Capitol, “Ocean Avenue,” put Yellowcard on a whole new level. That 2003 album sold about two million copies, while spawning radio hits with the title track and “Only One.”
Yellowcard responded to “Ocean Avenue” with “Lights And Sounds,” a 2006 CD that shifted away from the punkier elements of the band’s earlier albums toward more of a traditional power pop sound. It was a solid album, but it didn’t catch on as well at radio and stalled out at about 400,000 units shifted.
Then came “Paper Walls,” a CD that brought back a bit of the punk element, while also retaining the more straight-forward pop of “Lights And Sounds,” followed by the decision to go on hiatus.
It wasn’t until toward the end of 2009 that the members of Yellowcard began feeling the itch to make music with each other again. The group spent much of 2010 writing and demoing, a span of time that Mendez said allowed the group to fully develop its new songs.
The music that emerged on the new CD is fits well within the musical template of “Paper Walls.” Yellowcard lets its punk influences show on songs like “The Sound Of You And Me” (an especially caffeinated track), “For You, And Your Denial (which features Mackin’s violin adding extra melody to the hard-hitting song), but goes more for a classic power pop sound on “Soundtrack,” “With You Around” and “Life Of Leaving Home.” The group also found room for a pair of ballads, “Hang You Up” and “Sing For Me.”
Mendez agreed that “When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes” sticks within Yellowcard’s established musical range.
“I think the reasons why the people were originally excited about the band are still evident in the new record,” Mendez said. “But I think it (the sound) is a little more refined. I think it’s edgy, but not in a forced way.”
Mendez also likes the way the new songs translate live. For now, though, the group isn’t getting to play much of “When You’re Through Thinking, Say Yes” in concert. As opening act for All Time Low, the band only has a 40-minute set, much of which is devoted to fan favorites.
“It’s kind of a fast and furious set, just trying to get the crowd pumped up and give some of the fans that haven’t seen us for awhile a few songs,” he said. “It’s been going really well.”
Yellowcard will play South Florida on Thursday, March 31 at Revolution Live, 200 W. Broward Blvd. Ft Lauderdale. Show starts at 8pm. Tickets are $34. For info: www.livenation.com.