Pop punk’s The Wonder Years — whose name definitely didn’t come from the television show — spent those years in the ’90s, the heyday of family-friendly punk bands like New Found Glory and The Ataris.
“We hit the era of moving past your parents’ music to your own in the ’90s, so it was stuff like MxPx and Saves the Day,” lead singer and songwriter Soupy Campbell said. “My parents weren’t telling me to love it, and the radio wasn’t, either, and it timed out really nicely for us.”
Other bits of growing up in that decade were equally, if not more influential, and living in a Prozac nation contributed to a great bit of depth bands of the sort don’t seem to provide.
The group’s debut album was lighter fare, but the follow-up, “The Upsides,” found them looking for something a little more satisfying. The six guys holed up in Campbell’s ex-girlfriend’s apartment during a sweltering Philadelphia summer to pen that impactful sophomore effort.
“People say things to the effect of, ‘It’s like you are writing songs about my life,’” Campbell said. “We’re not writing brilliant, fantastically metaphoric prose; it’s songs about my life, and it turns out I live a very similar life to a lot of our fans.”
Like many, his life deals with everyday bouts with depression and anxiety, and many have come to appreciate a group so willing to speak openly and candidly about the matter. “The Upsides” also offers a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.
“A lot of it came from me realizing that … you are always going to struggle with it, regardless of the situation. It could be the ideal place you’ve always wanted to end up, and you are still going to have those nights,” Campbell said. “You are never going to win the war against your own head, but you can steal a few battles.”
You’ll never win the war against your own head.
The Wonder Years have received loads of good feedback concerning the album’s message of hope and practicality. Their next effort, “Suburbia: I’ve Given You All and Now I’m Nothing,” comes out in June and was inspired by the Allen Ginsberg poem “America,” dealing with the equally pertinent topic of where home is. Thursday’s show at The Conservatory will see the uncovering of a few of those tracks, in what has become a nightly therapy session.
“Playing the songs night after night, you start to read more into your own lyrics … things that are there that you didn’t know were there for a while,” Campbell said. “It’s cathartic writing the songs, but it becomes just as cathartic playing them.”