This past Thursday, I had the opportunity to sit down with Sean Mackin, the 24-year-old violinist and singer of the up-and-coming punk quintet Yellowcard. Here are some excerpts from the interview.Campus Times: Give me your 30-second life story.Sean Mackin: I’m Sean – I play violin in Yellowcard. I’m from Jacksonville, Fla. I was born in Denver, Colo. Yellowcard was formed from a circle of friends. We did some recording, got signed with Lost Records, dropped everything, moved to California, where we dug into the local scene and we’ve just been touring non-stop since 2001. We were on Warped Tour 2002 and then this year for 2003 we were on the Warped Tour again for half of it. We’re just touring, touring, touring, and this summer we released “Ocean Avenue,” our major label debut.CT: How did you get the idea to incorporate a violinist into the band?SM: Actually, Ben [Harper] and I had been playing guitar and violin since I was 17 and he was about 15. I was going through some really cool improvisational changes on the violin, strict classical background, so the idea of playing my own music and writing my own solos was very different for me. Ben was very blues-oriented and learning classical, and I was very classical and wanted to learn blues and improv and stuff like that. I got an acoustic pickup for my violin and we just tried it out and I started showing up at practices. I started playing and I’d learn riffs to other songs on the violin and stuff like that. Once Ryan [Key] joined the band, we really got into working out the violin. It wasn’t an idea like, “hey let’s be different,” it was like, “hey dude, Sean’s a homie, so let’s jam.” It was pretty cool.CT: And how long have you been doing the back flip?SM: For a long time, even before the band. Just being a jackass, kind of just doing it and actually Dan in like ’99 was like, “hey you’re doing it, so why don’t you do it on stage?” I’m like “uh” and he’s like “I bet you can’t do it” and I’m like “I bet I can do it and land it right on a downbeat.” Thus began the back flip, so it was pretty funny.CT: Yeah, that was my favorite thing that I saw on the Warped Tour.SM: It’s definitely a gimmick – “We have a violin player and he does back flips.”CT: What was it like being part of the Warped Tour?SM: It’s inexplainable, just one of the most amazing things. You’re playing with bands that you never even dreamed of seeing. To watch the whole Warped Tour as a project, like set up and take down everyday is amazing. But it’s great, a melting pot of hardworking musicians. Everybody calls it punk rock summer camp and that’s what it really is. It’s day in and day out, you’re hanging out with your good friends or bands that you look up to or bands that look up to you and it’s just, music surrounds you. It’s the ultimate.CT: What kind of experience is it being on the road almost every day out of the year?SM: It’s an amazing opportunity, we get to play music for a living and we get to entertain. Hopefully people enjoy what we do. There are pluses and minuses to everything in life. But I think there is a huge plus to being able to play your own music and have your own fans sing your songs and I don’t know. It’s pretty amazing. It’s a great feeling, [and] we’re very grateful for where we are at.CT: Is there a favorite place you’ve been or a favorite thing you’ve done on the road?SM: Just being with my best friends, if I like the best thing we’ve done, like every accomplishment we have, our band’s been further than we thought it would be we only dreamed we could be in a position like this, so yeah, everyday is pretty amazing. The favorite place I’ve ever been is – we just toured Japan for the second time and my mom was born there and I’m American but I’m half Japanese, so being over there was like a treat for myself and to witness the culture and stuff was pretty amazing. CT: Tell me a little bit about “Ocean Avenue.”SM: “OA” is a story about where we are at to date both personally and musically. I guess you can say it’s like the coming of age of Yellowcard like from way, way back home. All 13 songs are our story of moving to California, dropping family and loved ones and friends and following the dream. That’s what “Way Away” is about, and then “Back Home…” It’s just a very good story that Ryan tells and musically that’s just where we’re at. We’re very proud of that recording, we worked with Neal Avron – great producer, amazing sixth member of the band. He just had the exact same vision for us.CT: If there is one thing that you could say about Yellowcard to people that don’t know the band, what would you like them to know?SM: Actually, two things. First, for people who don’t know us, we love our music and we love what we do and we love each other. And to the people who know us, who’ve gotten us to where we’re at, thank you for taking us to where we’re at and thank you for being a part of what we’ve created because we couldn’t have done it without them.CT: Any final words?SM: Thanks to anyone who listens or cares and we’re going to see you soon, we’re going to tour everywhere. So thanks.Rodano can be reached at email@example.com.
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