“It sounds like I'm singing to some girl somewhere, but in actuality what I try to do is sort of make the person I am singing to a metaphor for our hometown. I kind of turn the place we're from into a person to sing to.” Ryan Key (in “Ocean Avenue”)
Yellowcard is an American pop punk/alternative band formed in Jacksonville, Florida in 1997, and based in Los Angeles, California since 2000. Currently, the band consists of lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Ryan Key (joined in 2000), violinist Sean Mackin, drummer Longineu W. Parsons III (1997), lead guitarist Ryan Mendez (joined in 2005) and Sean O'Donnell (joined in 2010). Yellowcard rose to fame in 2003 thanks to their first major label album, “Ocean Avenue” (Capitol Records), which spawned the gold singles “Ocean Avenue” and “Only One.” As of October 2004, the album has been certified double platinum by the RIAA. The follow up “Lights and Sound” (2006) marked the band's highest charting album on the Billboard 200 to date with the peak of 5. The band released an additional album, “Paper Walls,” in 2007 before going on hiatus in early 2008. Yellowcard reformed in 2010, and released their latest, “When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes,” in March 2011.
Childhood and Family:
Yellowcard was formed in 1997 in in Jacksonville, Florida after meeting at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. The band adopted their name from soccer penalty signal, whose name they borrow in reference as foul when partying. The band's original members included drummer Longineu W. Parsons III, lead guitarist Ben Harper, bassist Warren Cooke, guitarist/vocalist Todd Clary and lead vocalist Ben Dobson. Violinist/vocalist Sean Mackin was not a member yet although he was featured on some of the band's songs.
Dobson left the band in 1999, and was replaced by Ryan Key (born December 17, 1979), an alum of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, in 2000. After Todd Clary quit in 2000, Key also took on the role of rhythm guitarist. Shortly thereafter, at the urge of Key, the band moved their base in Los Angeles, California.
In 2002, Warren Cooke decided to quit, and the band asked an old friend, Peter Mosely, from Inspection 12, to play bass for them. While the band recording the “Ocean Avenue” album, Mosely left Yellowcard to focus on his band Inspection 12 and was replaced by Alex Lewis. Lewis later was asked to leave when when Mosely decided to rejoin Yellocard in 2004. He would leave the band again in 2007 to pursue other endeavors. Joshua Portman took over his place until the reformation of Yellowcard in 2010, after which Sean O'Donnell of Reeve Oliver becomes a permanent bass player.
Lead guitarist Ryan Mendez joined the band in 2005 as the replacement of Ben Harper, who quit after conflicts with the band mates.
While still in Jacksonville, Florida, Yellowcard released a debut album called “Midget Tossing” on April 1, 1997 through DIY Records. Members included Ben Dobson, Ben Harper, Todd Clary, Warren Cooke, Sean Mackin and Longineu W. Parsons III. The band's sophomore effort, “Where We Stand,” followed in 1999. The album was released by Takeover Records, a label created by Ben Harper.
Vocalist Ben Dobson left after this album. After Ryan Key, a former member of the Californian Tooth & Nail Records band Craig's Brother, joined the lineup, the band changed their music style from hardcore punk to pop punk, in addition to moving their base to Los Angeles, CA.
In 2000, Yellowcard recorded their first EP, “Still Standing.” Upon the release of the EP, guitarist Todd Clary departed the band. Key took over the post, while also maintaining his original duty as lead vocalist. The EP helped the band get their first recording contract. In June 2000, the band signed to Lobster Records.
The studio third album “One for the Kids” was released on April 17, 2001 on Lobster. The album was produced, engineered and mixed by Darian Rundall. It was followed by “The Underdog EP” on July 9, 2002, which was released on Fueled by Ramen Records. The album and the EP both were well received by fans. However, bassist Warren Cooke soon left because of personal problems, and was replaced by old friend Peter Mosely.
On July 22, 2003, Yellowcard released the fourth album “Ocean Avenue,” the band's debut with major label, Capitol Records. Produced by Neal Avron, the album received mostly positive reviews from critics and debuted at No. 61 on the Billboard 200 by selling about 11,000 unites in its first week. It eventually reached its peak at No. 23, and sold over one million copies in the United Sates alone. The album also charted at No. 149 in the UK Albums Chart and No. 8 in New Zealand.
Written by Ryan Key, the lead single “Way Away” was released on May 30, 2004. The song was met with a good reception from critics, and reached No. 15 on the Billboard Alternative Songs, No. 22 on the Billboard Mainstream Top 40 (Pop Songs) as well as No. 63 and No. 87 in the UK and Australia, respectively. The title track “Ocean Avenue” followed on September 5, 2004. The song became the band's first Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and also their first single to achieve gold certification. It also charted at No. 13 on the Billboard Pop Songs, No. 21 on Billboard's Alternative Songs, No. 22 on the Adult Pop Songs, and No, 65 on the UK Singles Chart. The third and last single from the album, “Only One,” was released on January 25, 2005. The song peaked at No. 15 on the Modern Rock Tracks and No. 28 on the Mainstream Top 40. It has since received gold certification from the RIAA.
When the popularity of “Ocean Avenue” started to fall, the band spent some time contributing to various soundtracks. They first recorded the song “Gifts and Curses” for the “Spider-Man 2 soundtrack” (2004), which reached the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 (#7), and then a cover of Lagwagon's “Violins” for “Rock Against Bush, Vol. 2 “ (2004). Also in 2004, the band performed “Breathing” (from “Ocean Avenue) on the compilation album “Warped Tour 2004 Tour Compilation.”
After nearly two years of touring, at the beginning of 2005, Yellowcard took a few months off. During this period, Ryan Key and Peter Mosely moved to New York City to write the songs for their upcoming album, while the rest of the band stayed in L.A. In March, they regrouped in L.A. and began working on their new album. The fifth studio album “Lights and Sounds,” which marked the band's first concept album, was eventually released on January 24, 2006. While the band was promoting the album, lead guitarist Ben Harper parted ways with the band.
“Lights and Sounds” debuted to mixed reviews from contemporary music critics, but it managed to reach No. 5 on the Billboard 200, making it the band's highest charting album to date. The album later was certified gold by the RIAA. Outside the US, “Lights and Sounds” charted at No.6 in Australia, No. 67 in Austria, No. 4 in Canada, No. 11 in New Zealand, No. 73 in Swiss and No. 59 in the UK. The first single “Lights and Sounds” peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks and No. 50 on the Billboard Hot 100. The second and final single “Rough Landing, Holly” peaked at No. 27 on the Billboard Hot Modern Rock Tracks.
Yellowcard returned with a new studio album, “ Paper Walls,” on July 17, 2007. The album received good reviews from critics, and reached No. 13 on the Billboard 200 as well as made the Top 10 on both the US Alternative (#5) and Rock (#6) albums chart. The first single “Light UP the Sky” peaked at No. 32 on the US Adult Pop Songs and No. 41 on the US Alternative Songs. “Paper Walls” marked the band's first album with guitarist Ryan Mendez, the last with Peter Mosely, and the last studio album to be released through Capitol Records.
On January 22, 2008, Yellowcard released a live album called “Live from Las Vegas at the Palms,” which was recorded in October 2007, while the band were on the Blue October tour, at the Palms Casino Resort’s Pearl Concert Theater in Las Vegas. The album peaked at No. 6 on the Top Albums Chart in the US store.
In April 2008, Yellowcard declared in an interview that they would be going on an “indefinite hiatus.” In the following month, the band departed Capitol Records and was left unsigned.
After a couple of years, Yellowcard reformed in 2010, with the addition of new bassist Sean O'Donnell. Their seventh studio album, “When You're Through Thinking, Say Yes,” was released on March 22, 2011 on Hopeless Records. The album has received strong critical acclaim. It reached No. 19 on the Billboard 200, No. 5 on both the Billboard Rock Albums and the Billboard Alternative Albums, and No. 2 on the Billboard Independent Albums. In the UK, the album reached No. 5 on the Rock Albums chart and No. 41 on the Top Albums charts. The lead single “For You, and Your Denial” debuted at No. 100 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart for the chart week ending February 5, 2011. It was followed by “Hang You Up” and “Sing For Me.”