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Wonder Years' Dan Campbell brings his alter ego to Vans Warped Tour

"The Wonder Years" -- from left, guitarist Nick

"The Wonder Years" -- from left, guitarist Nick Steinborn, guitarist Matt Brasch, singer Dan "Soupy" Campbell, drummer Mike Kennedy and bassist Josh Martin -- perform during a Warped Tour in California stop in June 2015. Credit: Megan Thompson

In 2005, Dan "Soupy" Campbell helped start The Wonder Years, a band that has since emerged as one of punk's most popular acts.

"The Greatest Generation," the Philadelphia band's last album, debuted at No. 20 on Billboard's Top 200 chart.

Later this year, The Wonder Years will release its fifth studio album, and Long Island fans can expect to hear at least one song from it during the band's Warped Tour set on July 11 at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater.

In addition to his work with The Wonder Years, Campbell plays a Warped set as Aaron West, a fictional character who fronts Aaron West and the Roaring Twenties.

Campbell spoke with Newsday from a Warped stop in Mesa, Arizona, where he was trying to avoid 113-degree heat.

How much of The Wonder Years is straight autobiography and how much is storytelling?

I would say you're looking at 95 percent autobiography. It's almost all my story. I kind of look at these records as a journal, which is interesting because then you look back at it a couple years later and think like, "Man, what a dumb kid I was."

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Anything you create, I'm sure if you kept a journal in high school and you went back and read it, you'd say, "Wow, that was stupid [stuff] that I thought."

So isn't Aaron West also the stuff you were scribbling on the side?

Aaron West stuff is totally nonbiographical, which is, I think. what makes it interesting. The Wonder Years is autobiographical. Aaron West is the biography of a fictional character. So in stark opposition to what I'm doing with Wonder Years, I'm trying to create a character, write for him.

Is it kind of cool to be writing for someone who isn't you?

It's really cool, and it's really freeing and it taught me a lot. It taught me about understanding that fiction can be just as emotional as fact. When you think about it, how many TV shows and movies have made you cry, how many books have made you laugh, how many of all these things have affected you? And it's all fiction, but despite that, it's all really still very real and very visceral, and I find that as long as you're writing using base emotions, people are going to connect to the song.

Everyone understands loss, the base emotion of loss. So people connect to a song through that and everyone has empathy, and you can have empathy for a fictional character, as well.

It seems like you've watched pro wrestling for a long, long time and you've listened to punk music for a long, long time. Did wrestling teach you anything about selling your product, selling yourself to a crowd?

One hundred percent, 100 percent. I mean it's one of the basic marketing principles of wrestling.

The Wonder Years has a new album coming out later this year. What can we expect from that?

You can expect the thing that we are proudest of in our career, beyond a shadow of a doubt. There's not 1 percent of me that says maybe something we did before this is better than this. Every ounce, every cell in my body is saying this is the best work The Wonder Years have ever produced, and it's not even close.


WHAT Vans Warped Tour

WHEN July 11, starting at 11 a.m. (ending at 9 p.m.) at Nikon at Jones Beach Theater

TICKETS $41.50


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