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Something Corporate, Yellowcard co-headline Sunday

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University Board is bringing a Sunshine State-cum-California transplant and an Orange County native in the form of Yellowcard and Something Corporate, respectively, for the second spring concert of the year Sunday.

Both bands have been blithely placed in the pantheon of punk and modern rock, but Yellowcard and Something Corporate eschew traditional conventions through style and unique instrumentation. Yellowcard might sound like a cadre of other punk acts if not for the band’s intricate arrangements and the presence of Sean Mackin, who adds melody and flavor to the band’s sound via violin. Likewise, Something Corporate, whose balance of guitar and piano drives most tunes, offers far more sonically than typical rock fare.

Although both bands have been around since the late 90s and have almost 10 albums and EPs between each other, it is only in the last year that both Yellowcard and Something Corporate have seen their musical stock rise so dramatically with television and radio spots as well as their current tour.

From the classroom to the stage

For the members of Yellowcard, careers in music began at Jacksonville Florida’s Douglas Anderson School for the Arts, a most unrocking environment in which the five friends quickly began cultivating a mix of punk music with introspective lyrics. Despite the staunch school environment, Yellowcard guitarist Ben Harper said the school bred a very musical atmosphere where students often practiced classical arrangements by day and started rock bands by night.

“The art school was a thing that created an environment that made you want to form a band,” he said during a break while on the road in California. “You were so into all these creative outlets you wanted to start a garage band.”

While attending the arts school in 1997, Harper said the idea for the then unnamed Yellowcard was hatched. Drawing from influences like NOFX, Bad Religion and a host of other conscious, intelligent punk outfits, Yellowcard was born out of a love of melodic punk.

The group’s name, however, referred to the soccer penalty, although Harper said the moniker was coined while partying instead of on the soccer field.

“When we were in high school, we would go to parties,” Harper said while laughing, “and if someone spills a beer or something, they get a yellow card. If they get one more they’re out of the party for good.”

Although Yellowcard’s lineup has seen some changes since forming in 1997, the group seems to have found solidity with Ryan Key on vocals and guitars, Mackin on violin and vocals, Harper on lead guitar, Longineu Parsons on drums and former then current member Peter Mosely on bass after the spot was filled by Alex Lewis for a brief period.

Other pop-punk contemporaries rely on simple arrangements and rudimentary chord structures, but Harper said the band’s musical tutelage helped each member develop more sophisticated chops than are commonly found in the genre.

“(It made a difference) in just how much we practiced,” he said of Yellowcard’s early development. “I’d play three hours of guitar a day or practice scales, and it also taught Ryan (Key) how to really sing and develop personality and characters on stage.”

Aside from the level of each member’s musical development, the obvious element separating Yellowcard from its contemporaries is the presence of Mackin on violin. Although Yellowcard has garnered attention for integrating violin into its music, Harper said Mackin’s introduction to the band was easier than most might imagine.

“The band had started and he loved that type of music,” Harper said of Mackin. “We first brought him in on a slower song and we thought (his violin) was cool sounding next to crunchy guitars.”

Harper also said Mackin adds a lot to the melodies and harmonies within Yellowcard’s music, as his violin riffs often mirror or accompany an existing guitar line or play off a vocal line.

“He’s all over the place,” Harper said. He’s so creative and such a good songwriter that he can do everything. … He’ll do all sorts of layering and counter melodies and all sorts of stuff.”

Entering the majors

After forming, the band recorded a string of EPs, including the now out-of-print discs “Midget Tossing” and “Still Standing” before getting signed to Lobster Records and releasing “One for the Kids.” It was the aforementioned “Kids” that first caught the eye of Capitol and eventually landed the band a deal on the major label.

With the deal for Capitol inked, Harper said the band was holed up in hotel rooms and studios, writing new material naturally rather than rushing songs the way Yellowcard had been forced to in the past.

“We didn’t have days jobs, and we weren’t living out of a van anymore,” he said of the changes brought by the Capitol deal. “We wrote, and wrote, and wrote and had the natural process of making a real record.”

Harper explained the lengthened writing process gave the band the opportunity to fully flesh out song ideas and ensure each song’s lyrics matched the music and each element fit perfectly.

“It all depends on the theme (of the song),” he said of the writing process. “It’s all about writing a riff and having it be thematic or slow, or intricate or rocking, or a ballad… and then going from there.”

Success can’t change a thing

The band’s debut for Capitol, “Ocean Avenue,” was recently certified gold, and the video for the title-track single is receiving heavy rotation on music networks Fuse and MTV. The band’s profile has risen, but Harper said he’s more content to write songs than worry about the pressures of success. Harper did say, however, Yellowcard’s current tour with Something Corporate and recent success has afforded the band a number of perks.

“We have lighting and semis and our own monitors and boards, and it’s a whole other world for us,” he said with an air of excitement creeping into his voice. “There’s pressure, but it’s fun, man.”

Along with Yellowcard’s current tour with Something Corporate, the band has plans of touring in Europe after May then joining the Vans Warped Tour. Then, they will tour in Australia and Japan and record a followup to “Ocean Avenue.” The daunting schedule, however, is par for the course according to Harper.

“We like to work hard,” he said. “We might all burn out someday, but we gotta do this while we still can.”

Yellowcard’s tour mates Something Corporate will co-headline Sunday’s show with duo The Format opening.

The Santa Monica, Calif. natives – Andrew McMahon on piano/vocals, Josh Partington and William Tell on guitar, Clutch on bass and Brian Ireland on drums – made a name for themselves with their Drive Thru/MCA Records release “Leaving Through the Window” and a rigorous touring schedule. The band’s followup, “North,” is largely about living on the road and being away from home.

Although the band prominently features piano, McMahon has insisted in the past that Something Corporate is not a “piano band,” but a rock band.

Yellowcard and Something Corporate have been touring all spring, and the pair’s tour runs through May.

Something Corporate/Yellowcard tickets went on sale March 22 and initially sold more than 250 tickets the first day of availability.

“Both bands did really well on our surveys. Yellowcard had a lot of write-ins,” UB Concerts Coordinator Joe Atamian said previously.

The show begins at 7 p.m. Sunday night at Lantz Arena. Tickets are still available and cost $8 for students with a Panther Card and $15 for non-students.

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Something Corporate, Yellowcard co-headline Sunday