Interview The Wonder Years: ‘We Can Be The Greatest Generation’

Frontman Soupy Campbell reveals just what he’s gone through to be a part of The Greatest Generation.

At the end of the 20th century, a journalist named Tom Brokaw declared that the generation of American citizens that grew up sandwiched between the Great Depression and World War II was, in his opinion, “the greatest generation any society has ever produced.”

Nowadays, we may not be facing open war, and our financial crisis is a different beast, but it’s undeniably difficult for young people to shake the feeling that, despite the positives, there’s still something missing. In a world where we are conditioned to believe in the value of education, careers and family, our eyes have also been opened to depression, expectation and fear of failure.

“Colloquially, the generation in America that grew up in the Great Depression was called The Greatest Generation,” begins The Wonder Years’ frontman Dan ‘Soupy’ Campbell. “It was because they were selfless and they were determined and brave and they took something that was falling apart nationally and worked to build it back into something that was prosperous.”
‘I need to put these issues aside.’
The band’s newest album comes emblazoned with that very title; a title that some seem to believe our own generation doesn’t deserve. “I think that our generation gets written off a lot for not being that; we’re apathetic and self centred. I think it’s less that and more that we have a couple of years given to us by previous generations to figure out who we are and how we can be great. It doesn’t have to start when we’re 18 or 19. Maybe we have to finish college first, then we need a couple of years to get out heads straight. Now, we have the chance to really do some great things.”

The idea that these are issues being dealt with on a pop punk record may seem bizarre, but for Campbell, music is something that he’s always used to explore his more introspective side. The band’s second full-length ‘The Upsides’ was a cathartic journey of dealing with his own mental health, while their third effort ‘Suburbia, I’ve Given You All And Now I’m Nothing’ saw him attempt to figure out his place in the world.

This album continues in that vein, standing as the band’s conclusion in what has come to be the sort-of-existential trilogy. “‘The Upsides’ says I need to work through my mental and internal issues,” explains the frontman. “‘Suburbia…’ says to work through the external issues, of where I sit in the world. Then, this one says I need to put these issues aside because those are stopping me being the person I want to be. I’m focusing too much on the problem and not enough on the solution.’

While this record marks a great realisation for Campbell and his band mates, concluding this chapter of their lives, he’s also quick to confirm that this album – this band – doesn’t mark their limitation: “I think that gets taken a lot as ‘This record is our opus and the beginning, middle and end of greatness for us’ and I don’t think that’s true. I think every one of the band has aspirations to do great things outside of the band as well. It’s not just about making music. We have a lot of good years ahead of us and we wanna do a lot of good for the world.”

That’s something he also feels mirrored with our entire generation of young people, for which lies the real inspiration behind this album’s title. “I think that we can be the greatest generation: we can be great across the board, across the national boundaries, across societal boundaries. I think that we could change the world for better. I don’t think that we could be complacent enough to call another generation the greatest.”

Just wait until Brokaw gets a load of that.

The Wonder Years’ new album ‘The Greatest Generation’ is out now via Hopeless.

Read the full interview in the 20th May edition of DIY Weekly, available from iTunes now.

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