Years Down Release Kinetic and Catchy New Single "Famous"
Denver-based pop-punk band Years Down look towards the future and reinvent themselves with energetic and memorable single "Famous."
Since 2019 pop-punk starlets Years Down have had big dreams of making it big in the genre scene. But while a band may have all the grand designs of making it far in the industry, every act's humble beginnings are bound to have a few hiccups. It didn't stop Years Down from picking themselves up, recovering their losses, and becoming their best version of themselves artistically. Sometimes when you lose something, you gain something better than what you started with. This seemed to be the case with Years Down when they recruited new members Dylan Beresford and Sterling Swanson to the band.
“Before joining Years Down I had basically hit the self-destruct button on the life I had been building. I left all my friends and the town I had been living in for ages, ended a serious relationship of several years that just wasn't working. I moved to a completely new place halfway across the US to start over and pursue my dreams of being in music. ”
Since then, Years Down have combined their creative energies and prismatic influences to produce something fresh and meaningful. Having not looked back, they have only looked forward to the bigger and brighter future that awaits them ahead. The result of this progress is their new single "Famous," a song that was just as much of a journey to write as it was to experience. While the track talks about bridging the gap of dreams and self-doubt within your craft, there is a little more going on beneath the surface besides tackling one's struggle with the rise to fame and self-doubt.
How did Years Down come to be? What made you guys want to be a band at the time?
Ben: Years Down was founded in 2019 with my high school friend and former bandmate Tim Rice and I. We had previously played in a group together, and after some time off, we decided it was time to rekindle our dream of playing music for real. We posted an ad that resulted in Griffin Mather joining up on vocals, Aaron Fowler on guitar, and John Nicholas on bass. After jamming together for a while, we encountered some challenges and hurdles that ended in the departure of Aaron and Tim. They were replaced by Dylan Beresford on rhythm guitar, Sterling Swanson on bass, and John moving up to lead guitar. It's been pretty nuts since then, we've gotten our first real tour under our belt, written tons of new material, and played a bunch of shows, really solidifying the team. If I was to point to one reason I wanted to be in a band, it's got to be my love of music, I've always enjoyed playing, and the fact we get to play for actual people is just too cool.
Dylan: Same, I've always wanted to play music and have been in and out of bands since I was young.
Griffin: This is honestly something I've dreamed of doing since I was a little kid, and because of where I used to live it always felt out of reach. So when I saw the listing on craigslist after I moved here I jumped at the chance to join up. I've always had an affinity for this style of music and I promised myself if I ever got the opportunity to try my hand at singing for a band id take it.
Sterling: As corny as it is, music is the only outlet that really allows me to relax and enjoy myself. I also enjoy the strong bonds and friendships that are forged within bands. Sharing those kinds of creative experiences with others is unlike any other thing in the world.
What are your musical influences? How did they make their way into your latest single, "Famous?"
Ben: My musical influences range from classical to current day, and really anything that sounds good tbh. The inspiration for writing Famous was to express my desire to make a lot of money lol I know it sounds super petty but that sorta was my inspiration and to be fair I wrote this song at the age of 20 and was really tired of being poor. I think you can definitely see the influence of my music taste in both the lyrics and the instrumentation, I'm a huge blink and green day fan.
Griffin: I grew up on pop-punk and alternative bands, pretty much as soon as I was capable of picking my own music, I gravitated towards bands link New Found Glory, Fall Out Boy, Good Charlotte, and Sum 41. I can actually remember when i got my first taste of pop-punk, I had woken up super early to watch cartoons and stumbled across FuseTv, they were running a block of music videos that featured NFG "My Friends Over You". FOB "Dead On Arrival" ( the tour footage cut) and Good Charlotte "Lifestyles Of The Rich And The Famous", I was hooked.
That morning directly led to me acquiring my first and most prized CDs as a preteen, "All Killer No Filler" and "Sticks And Stones", I can remember playing those end to end thousands of times, I knew every word, by heart. From pretty much then on I stayed plugged into pop-punk and began exploring all the adjacent genres, discovering hardcore, easycore, all the cores, haha. It's been crazy cool to find bands like state champs, ADTR, Neck Deep, and The Story So Far, as they were coming up and watching their journey as they grew to the artists and reached the place they have in the scene today.
I still regularly seek out new bands to this day, I'm always looking for the next interesting vibe. I'm currently head over heels for Belmont, Heart Attack Man, and Calling all Captains, they are just absolutely killing it right now. So bearing all that in mind, I think it's pretty easy to see how my taste and history made their way into "Famous". From the unclean vocals on the circle pit Esque outro to the more clean verse melodies, I can see direct correlations to artists I grew up on.
Sterling: I started my musical journey in a middle school band on the trombone after getting turned down for my request to play percussion. I played throughout high school and went to college for music as a trombone major, picking up bits and pieces of other instruments along the way. My influences were always ska/ska-punk based with bands like Streetlight Manifesto, Less Than Jake, Mad Caddies, Goldfinger, etc. I started truly listening and getting into punk/pop-punk when I picked up the bass sometime after graduating college.
I joined a punk band with my best friend and instantly grew to love covering bands like blink-182, NOFX, Yellowcard, Sum 41, and Green Day. When I joined Years Down, I expanded my listening with bands like Belmont, WSTR, We Were Sharks, and Belvedere. I think the fact that we all pull from different sources of inspiration really makes our music stand out. It gives a different perspective to each song you listen to.
What was the writing and recording process like for this single? Knowing what the track is about, I expect this was more of a journey into crossing those barriers of self-doubt in your craft and creating something that you would be happy with, but at the same time, you are also writing about that same thing.
Griffin: To have the answer to this question make any sense, you need a little pretext. Years Down is a very collaborative effort creatively, Ben and I frequently work on lyrics as a team, often pulling from both of our pasts and previously written material that just didn't have a home yet. In this particular instance, Ben already had a decent majority of the song composed before our meeting and me joining the band, he had these phenomenal riffs and chord progressions tethered to some pretty scathing lyrics, the bones were all there and ready to be assembled it just needed some finishing touches.
I made some edits and reworded portions of the chorus, chopped up the melody he had in a few places to fit my style and ability a little better, and took over writing the lyrics and melody for the last half of the song. Interestingly enough, Years Down is actually my first band and "famous" was also the first song we wrote together, to say I was self-conscious when coming up with what I added would be an understatement.
Although, if we are being honest, the words came somewhat easy after a little effort, and the whole process proved to be genuinely cathartic. When it came time to record the song, the process was certainly challenging, but also pretty fun too. Taylor Hahn (our go-to guy) is a superstar producer, he's been around the local scene for a good while and has worked with just about everybody in our genre in town. The guy has got these crazy positive vibes, he just exudes this coach energy, like, he's going to push you to give it everything you have, really expect the world from you, but it’s all in service to making the song as good as it can be and because of who and how he is, you want to lay it all on the table for him.
Ben: So when I started writing this song, I was 20-21 and in a different band that ended up breaking up a month or two after I started writing it. Fast forward a few years, I re-introduced it to Years Down and Griffin ended up finishing off all the lyrics for the gaps that I had in the song and finishing off the end as well.
I know we sort of tapped into the lyrical meaning of this song in the question before, but there are deeper themes at play here than just self-doubt and the quest for fame. Can we talk about that? What was going on at the time when you guys decided to write this song?
Griffin: As mentioned before, a lot of our writing process is extremely collaborative so I can only speak to the meaning I was able to glean out of Ben's words and, of course, the meaning behind the lyrics I added. When I first read what Ben wrote, I immediately saw the potential for the song. To have this sort of narrative arc that plays out as a conversation between two people, so much of what he had already composed had this super conversational feel about it. Almost as several lines such as, "and you can't even see me when I'm staring in your eye", were ripped from very real arguments he had. So I took that structure Ben laid out and expanded on it, drawing on my personal experience of being in a relationship with an unsupportive partner, and how their words/actions caused me to question myself and my dreams.
Before joining Years Down I had basically hit the self-destruct button on the life I had been building. I left all my friends and the town I had been living in for ages, ended a serious relationship of several years that just wasn't working. I moved to a completely new place halfway across the US to start over and pursue my dreams of being in music. It's abundantly clear in the lyrics I contributed that I was burning bridges and all too happy to be doing it, for example, I came up with the line in the chorus "if you don't like that you can forget my name then" as a sort of call out to the people who weren't supportive of me.
Other bits I added have the same sort of vibe like "cut all my ties from that old dead-end town" or "don't call, don't text, don't even speak my name" and helped round the song's conversational narrative out with a conclusion. While some of what I wrote may have the appearance of confidence, I also injected some elements of self-doubt and depression. This had been built up in me over the past few years with lines like "I don't know, I don't think, I can do this anymore, So take my body and this bottle and retire to the floor".
Ben: I actually first got inspiration from the movie “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou" which references the Robert Johnson story of how he sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for musical talent. So basically when I first started writing this song all I wanted to do was make money and get famous, however now I realize it has a much deeper meaning and that’s what I love about music, and the music Years Down makes. At first, it can mean something simple and base, but then it transforms into more that you never knew was there until you really think about it. Keep it simple or dive deep. That’s what music’s all about.
At the end of the day, I think this is one of those songs that the listener is going to relate to it in their own way. Whether it be a relationship where you don’t feel supported, or a career where you just want to move up the ladder and get to that next level. It’s also a little negative to though because selling your soul is pretty much the easy way out to attain those things. But nobody’s perfect.
What have you taken from this song personally that you want to share with listeners?
Ben: Don't sell your soul short.
Griffin: Not everything is meant to stay the same. Not everyone is destined to be a part of your life forever, so don't be afraid to burn it all down because sometimes that dream is worth chasing.
Dylan: I don't smoke pot so I cant relate; just kidding. I would say, if you find something you're passionate about, don't be afraid to give everything you've got to see it through and make it happen.
Sterling: When I listen to and play through Famous, the idea that music is the only thing I want to do in life really sticks with me. I've worked nonstop in the food/customer service industry for the last 10+ years, and the only thing keeping me there is the freedom to play music and go on tours whenever I like. The lyrics that I can relate to most in this song are "Hey you. Look at you. What exactly is it that you do? You wanna judge well I say take off the shoe, put another one on just to see what’s new" because I hear it all the time as an aspiring full-time musician. "You want to do WHAT?" "That will never happen," "You'll never make it." The only thing you can do at that point is shrug it off and push on because, in the end, you determine your fate and what you make of yourself.
What is next for you guys?
Griffin: Even though it's a meme at this point, we do have some "big things coming" over the next few months and even more grandiose plans for 2022. As far as the rest of 2021 is concerned, we will be dropping another single this December with a music video to accompany it. Before the year's end, we will be premiering one more brand new track as well as a remix of one of our other previously released songs.
In regards to the future for Years Down, in 2022 we will be returning to the studio this march with the extraordinary Taylor Hahn to record our debut ep that will drop later that summer or early fall. Then shortly after we wrap the recording on the ep, we are going to be hitting the road for a 14 day run around the midwest in the late spring or summer and hopefully rounding out the year with another short tour of the east or west coast in the fall or winter. Of course, with tons of local shows, surprise weekenders out of town, and other random stuff along the way.