At first blush, Dan “Soupy” Campbell's lyrics and Charles Bukowski's poetry and prose have a whole lot of nothing in common. In The Wonder Years, Campbell backs up buoyant Melodic Hardcore/Pop Punk with defiantly upbeat verse, coping with trials, travels and tribulations by maintaining a silver lining mentality. Bukowski, on the other hand, was a downtrodden cur of a writer, providing one unflinching look at his fucked-up reality after another. Alcoholism, misogyny and other unsavory subjects were his forte and his world was never about to improve, so finding similarities between the two seems impossible until Campbell explains what he enjoys about Bukowski.
“He's so direct,” the vocalist says of the late writer. “If you read a Bukowski novel, there is no fluff, no metaphor; it's just him telling the story. The main thing from him is not to take the crushing disparity he portrays but to take the way he portrays it.”
Bassist Josh Martin, one of The Wonder Years' vital cogs, even devised a term for Campbell's lyrical style — Realist Pop-Punk.
The tag was a bit of a joke at the band's outset, but Campbell now embraces it.
“What makes it Realist Pop Punk is that the lyricism is completely direct,” he says.
This isn't exactly true, as metaphors and other literary devices make appearances, but the gist that these stories crib right from real life. “Logan Circle,” for example, is really about his first reaction to seeing a fountain finally turned on in Philly.
Discussing The Wonder Years' next record, Campbell says that its sound will draw from several new influences — among others, Thursday, American Football, The Mountain Goats and The Hope Conspiracy — but the crux will still be Pop Punk.He clarifies things: “Just because it's influenced by Hope Con doesn't mean it sounds like Hope Con, in the same way that just because Bukowski influences my writing doesn't mean I'm writing about the ever-crushing weight of life.”
The Wonder Years play the Mad Hatter Sunday, April 10 with guests Fireworks, Such Gold, Make Do and Mend and Living With Lions. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here.