by MNN staff writer, Elisabeth Erdmann
Yellowcard’s humble beginnings as a group of friends from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville, Florida have made them into the group that they are today: a down-to-earth, music-loving group of guys who wake up every day to do the thing they love the most—make music.
On Friday July 13th at Warped Tour in Holmdel, NJ, I sat down with Sean Mackin, the violinist of Yellowcard. Sitting backstage at the PNC Bank Arts Center, Sean gave me a glimpse into his life as a member of Yellowcard.
Music News Net: So Sean, why violin?
Sean Mackin: Why not! But in all seriousness, most bands use some type of string arrangement or strings on their records anyway, so it’s nice that we can bring that to our live settings. Back when Yellowcard really began in about 1997 we were just a group of friends that went to an art school.
Of course, I was in all the music classes, but I had a group of friends and we liked the same type of music, and so out of this circle of friends we started a band. That’s really kind of the beginnings of why I play violin in a band. I never thought I’d be in a band. My friends opened my eyes to writing songs and I bring a different element to the band.
MNN: And what art school was that?
SM: Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville, Florida.
MNN: How long have you been playing the violin?
SM: Just over 20 years.
MNN: Oh wow, amazing. So, how often are you guys asked to play Ocean Avenue?
SM: Well, I think know we’re going to play that song anyway.
MNN: Do you usually have it planned to play that songanyway?
SM: Absolutely. I mean, I [had] never experienced anything like this or whatever but we’ve talked
to artists who we look up to and they always say, “You kinda have to give them what they want”. And we’re totally blessed to have a pocket in our career where there are 3 or 4 songs that people insist on hearing every time [that] we play. Totally flattering and uh, we’re fortunate to have that. So if someone wants to scream their lungs out to a Yellowcard song then we’re absolutely gonna play it for them.
MNN: Awesome. And so the new album drops when?
SM: August 14. It’s called Southern Air, it’s coming out on Hopeless Records, and it will be our second full-length record in two years. We did an acoustic version of the last record, as well. I don’t think we’re going to be able to put out a new record every 6 months, or continue that but we worked really hard to be able to tour as long as possible. And really, the gift was the Vans Warped tour…Kevin Lyman has been a part of our band’s history for a long time and he asked us at the end of last year if we wanted to do the Warped Tour and we of course said yes, but if we didn’t have a new record then we wouldn’t be able to tour in the fall which is a very busy time for a lot of musicians. So, we bit the bullet, we took 3 months off, we wrote and recorded a record with Neal Avron, and we’re back at it! We’re very, very excited.
MNN: That is so great and really exciting. What can be expected from the new album? Is it different, anything new?
SM: I think what we tried to do was focus on our strengths, and so there are a lot of familiar textures from all of our past discography, I guess you could say. But, um, it’s a really powerful thing when you and your good friends are all focused in the same direction. Yellowcard was really firing on all cylinders and it was a nice moment where everyone in the band came together. It’s a little bit more of an aggressiveness [on the album]…you could say we added some steroids or testosterone to it, but we have a very optimistic charge and positive sound. We kinda somehow branded this “summertime
feel”, but we have added a little bit of the edge, so hopefully people like it.
MNN: Well I know I’m definitely looking forward to it.
SM: Thank you!
MNN: No problem. How was Warped Tour, the whole tour, been?
SM: Amazing. Yeah it’s nostalgic in a way because in 2004, which was a really high point in Yellowcard’s “life”, we did this tour with The Used, Taking Back Sunday, and now we have new friends here [like] All Time Low, and We Are the In Crowd. We met some great guys from overseas, You Me At Six, Tonight Alive…you know, every day is like summer camp. You’re witnessing it right in front of us. You wouldn’t normally be able to have a group of friends touring together. Every day has been amazing.
MNN: It must be somewhat like a reunion with those guys who were there in 2004.
SM: Yeah, that’s absolutely what it is. You know, in 2002 we got our first run; we did 20 days on the Warped Tour. We did ten days on one of Kevin Lyman’s stages and ten days on what was then a Drive Thru Records stage. And that was like, the dream for our band. We just wanted to have fun, play
shows, and be on the Warped Tour because all of our heroes were on the Warped Tour. And then ten years later, we’re headlining the main stage and it’s just incredible.
MNN: And you’re of course playing every date, right?
SM: Yeah. We’ve had four runs where we’ve been on the main stage, and this is the third time we’ve
done the whole tour. It’s such a blessing.
MNN: That’s so great. I guess this will be our last question: Who, musically, is your biggest influence?
SM: He’s not with us anymore, but his name is Bach. He’s really old [laughs]. But seriously, I spent a lot of time playing a lot of his pieces and I didn’t really realize the type of musical interpretation a classical musician needs to have. When you’re young, you’re more about learning to play something right, and in tune, instead of playing your own song. And I think that the guys in the band have
opened my eyes to [being able to give] my interpretation of it. So going back and revisiting those songs is like falling in love with his melodies and how dark it is all over again. But it’s still really beautiful and passionate. Really, Bach is my biggest influence.
MNN: That’s a great influence to have. Thank you so much for chatting with me!
SM: No, thank you so much for wanting to talk to me! I hope to be interviewed by you again soon.