Some bands prefer clubs. Others favor theaters or outdoor festivals. Yellowcard fancy high school cafeterias.
The burgeoning punk band has performed in some 50 lunchrooms in recent months, along with playing more traditional treks like the Vans Warped Tour or going on jaunts with such groups as the Used.
"When I was a freshman in high school, I certainly had to sneak out of the house to go to a rock show," singer Ryan Key recalled recently. "So it's kind of nice to be able to go and show up for lunch and play and then kids that wouldn't get to come see us play get to see us during the day, which is pretty cool."
The cafeteria gigs, which Yellowcard play for free, were the brainchild of Key and the band's booking agent. The two developed a section on the band's Web site that invites students to have their principals set up a show in cities where the band is already playing.
"We try to sell some records and just hang out with kids at school and kind of put ourselves out there, making sure they know we are doing it for them, not for us," Key said.
The shows have been key in developing Yellowcard's solid fanbase, although scoring a hit with "Way Away" has not hurt either. The song is the first single from the summer release Ocean Avenue, which Neal Avron (Everclear, New Found Glory) produced.
"It's the story we have sort of been through as a band in the last couple of years, moving from our hometown in [Jacksonville,] Florida, out to [Southern] California and starting to tour really hard and just sort of following our dreams," Key said. "Hopefully other people will take that song and apply it to their own lives and be able to kind of get out of whatever they are stuck in and don't want to be in."
Yellowcard, the only Warped Tour veterans to feature a violinist, will soon follow up "Way Away" with the album's title track.
" 'Way Away' is a little harder than some of our other songs, [whereas] 'Ocean Avenue' is kind of in the middle of the spectrum of where the record goes," Key said. "I think it would be a good song to put out and show that we can do kind of a different thing."
The song and the album are named after a famous street that runs up the entire East Coast of Florida — sort of. "It's actually Ocean Boulevard, but don't tell," Key said whispering. "You can't rhyme with Boulevard. Artistic freedom, right?
Since Yellowcard moved to SoCal in 2000 and released One for the Kids on Lobster Records, the band has been touring nonstop, with the exception of the few months spent recording Ocean Avenue.
"We toured with some amazing bands, some older bands that we have looked up to for a long time and learned a lot from them," Key said, name-dropping No Use for a Name and Lagwagon. "We hit the road and didn't really come back."
The band is on the road now and will join Less Than Jake in mid-November. "They are good friends of ours but they are quite a bit older than we are and they take care of us on the road," Key said. "They are super-cool guys."
Yellowcard will finish out the year in Japan. In each of the cities, they hope to hit a high school earlier in the day.
Yellowcard tour dates, according to Capitol Records:
- 10/21 - San Antonio, TX @ Sin 13
- 10/22 - Oklahoma City, OK @ Green Door
- 10/23 - Albuquerque, NM @ Launchpad
- 10/24 - Tucson, AZ @ The Rialto
- 10/25 - Ventura, CA @ Ventura Theatre
- 10/28 - Bakersfield, CA @ The Dome
- 10/29 - Orangevale, CA @ The Boardwalk
- 11/4 - St. Louis, MO @ The Pageant (with Less Than Jake)
- 11/5 - Milwaukee, WI @ The Rave / Eagles Ballroom (with Less Than Jake)
- 11/6 - Chicago, IL @ Riviera Theatre (with Less Than Jake)
- 11/7 - Minneapolis, MN @ Quest Club (with Less Than Jake)
- 11/11 - Seattle, WA @ Showbox (with Less Than Jake)
- 11/12 - Portland, OR @ Roseland Theater (with Less Than Jake)
- 11/13 - Eugene, OR @ Wild Duck Music Hall
- 11/14 - Petaluma, CA @ Phoenix Theatre
- 11/15 - Santa Cruz, CA @ The Rio