Yellowcard lead singer shares thoughts on band’s future

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Ryan Key plays during Yellowcard’s sixth Vans Warped Tour. Key sat down for a Q&A with WSN.

Alexa Spieler, Music Editor

With pop punk band Yellowcard fresh off the release of its new album “Lift a Sail,” Ryan Key, the band’s lead singer, is changing his career. In a phone interview with WSN, Key spoke about his recent ventures into the music publishing business, as well as the enormously positive reception of the album and how the album marks a shift in sound for the group of Florida natives.

WSN: Lyrically, “Lift a Sail” is vulnerable. Were you anxious at all about creating such a vulnerable album?

RK:  Much of the album is connected with my wife and my experience. My wife is a professional snowboarder and she suffered a horrific spinal cord injury last year. She was paralyzed below the waist. Leading up to the album, there were a lot of dark places that we went to. I was able to get past that and start writing, and in the end, it came out exactly how I wanted it to.

WSN: Was the album therapeutic for you?

RK: Yeah, it always is. That’s one of the things about being a songwriter — you get to hash it out on your own. It got a lot of weight off my shoulders. Writing, in general, is always therapeutic for me.

WSN: “Lift a Sail” is a very different album from your past work. Are you trying to step out of pop punk at all?

RK: Yes, I think we did that with “Lift a Sail,” anyway. I think we’ve really started ourselves down a [new] path. I don’t know where it’s going to take us, but it’s possible that it won’t be pop punk. Whether I’m writing for other people or writing for Yellowcard, I never want to be trapped in a box.

WSN: I know that you’ve been interested in getting more involved with the publishing side of the industry. Are you currently pursuing publishing?

RK: Right at this moment, I’m not. I just recently found a place in Nashville, and I’m moving in and getting settled here. So, I’m trying to rush through it all and then we’re out [on tour] next week. When I get back, now that I do have a place there, I’m excited about furthering my career outside of the band.

WSN: Has publishing always been something you have been interested in pursuing?

RK: I’ve had a stronger desire to in the past year, but I’ve always tried it out. Yellowcard signed its first publishing deal in 2004. I would do some stuff here and there, if the publisher thought that I was right for a session. But I think I’m just starting to realize now that there’s a lot of opportunity to set yourself up for when we’re not touring. Right now, it’s on fire, but I’m married now, and you never know what the future is going to hold. I’m not saying the band is going to break up, but who knows if years from now we’ll still be touring nine months a year. I’m just more aware of that now as I get older.

WSN: How do you feel about your upcoming tour?

RK: I’m so ready. It’s been a while, but just knowing that we’re going to be playing these new songs and the show itself is going to be really special. These songs are not necessarily our usual, where people will lose their minds in circle pits. I’m really excited, because I think that these songs are going to connect, in a major way, emotionally. I’m really excited to feel that energy, because I know that it’s not going to be quite as off-the-wall as it usually is for us.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, Oct. 16 print edition. Email Alexa Spieler at [email protected]