One day, Vin Accardi was a 17-year-old student at Gen. Douglas MacArthur High School in Levittown, playing electric guitar with some friends in a basement. The next day, or so it seemed, he was skipping Mondays and Fridays to schlep to weekend gigs in Baltimore and Virginia. By the time he graduated, he had signed a record deal, and soon his hard-rock band, Brand New, was performing before hundreds of screaming kids on the Warped Tour. "The first few years of that are a blur," Accardi recalls by phone from the band's gear-storage space in Bethpage. "I can only compare it to a kid going to college for the first time, or something, and joining a frat and going to parties all the time."
As the 9-year-old Long Island quartet prepares to release its fourth album, "Daisy," on Tuesday, Accardi, now 26, reflects on the rush of the band's success. Brand New's debut, 2001's "Your Favorite Weapon," sold 300,000 copies, as singer Jesse Lacey's lyrics about tortured European love affairs, self-hate and substance abuse rubbed against Accardi's punk-rock guitar chords in just the right way. Loosely following the emo formula built by such bands as Dashboard Confessional and Promise Ring - sad, personal songs set to buzzing, Nirvana-style rock - Brand New put out good albums, upgrading from clubs to Warped to "The Late Show With David Letterman."
"You're away so much, and you're trying to keep yourself planted at home, and you're honoring your relationships with family and friends at home, but you're trying to be swept up in this [music] world," Accardi says. "You don't know how to explain it to people. . . . You start to feel a bit aloof. You start to feel a bit like a ghost. It'll beat you down. It's great to play music in front of crowds, but the other hours spent in a day become very taxing."
A rougher style
Over the band's first three albums, Lacey wrote most of the lyrics, developing his brooding, sarcastic perspective on party scenes and young love. In 2003's "Soco Amaretto Lime," he murmurs: "I'm gonna stay 18 forever / So we can stay like this forever / And we'll never miss a party / 'Cause we keep them going constantly." (Nicely undercutting the upbeat lyrics, Lacey chants things like "cut me open" and "sun-poisoned" between the verses.) "Daisy" is more of a piece with 2006's dark, grown-up "The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me" - although the new album is rougher, more jagged, detouring into thrash metal, allowing Accardi, drummer Brian Lane and bassist Garrett Tierney to show their strength as a heavy rock band.
For the first time, Accardi writes several songs - and he contributes some of the most intense lyrics on "Daisy," particularly "Gasoline," which breaks into Lacey shrieking, "It feels like dying!" "I started to present my lyrics as well as melodies to the rest of the band," Accardi says. "There was no talk of Jesse asking me for help or anything like that, but to some extent, after the first three records, that guy was pretty drained, especially after 'The Devil and God.' That was a pretty heavy record, and that took its toll on us."
Accardi is friendly and gregarious during a half-hour interview, but he has a few bleak things to say. Informed of Lacey's recent interview in metal magazine Kerrang! - which vaguely predicted the end of Brand New - Accardi doesn't disagree. "Everybody's starting to sort of feel that maybe they want to spread their wings in other areas of interest in their life," he says. "I don't think that's to say you'll never hear from Brand New again, or there's a hiatus coming up or anything like that. But you have the weight and confusion of what's going on in the record industry and how everyone is handling business now. . . . We're grappling with how we can continue to be in that world. So there may be some changes on the horizon. There is a feeling of this band not being the same band as it has been for the last years."
Then again, Accardi seems especially excited about "Daisy" - particularly the curveballs, like a bluesy guitar bit in the middle titled "Be Gone," and the operatic 1922 sermon recording by Bertrand Brown that segues into hard-core metal on the opening "Vices." "Working together was never more collaborative," he says, as the band prepares for a U.S. tour beginning in mid-September which winds back to the Nassau Coliseum Nov. 28. "A lot of these songs were written with touring in mind: 'How are we going to keep ourselves excited, and physically challenge ourselves as well?' People may have noticed a lot of days off. That's because Jess and I are anticipating our voices are going to be blown out quite often."