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Grand Rapids band This Is The Year stays real, stays positive

This article includes mature content:
Strong language.

Pop-punk group makes music about life's ups and downs, but wants to work toward making sure the ups outnumber the downs.

/photo courtesy of This Is The Year

Find out more about This Is The Year

This Is The Year's Facebook profile

Download their album here

/photo courtesy of This Is The Year

/photo courtesy of This Is The Year

Local band This Is The Year describe themselves as “posi-punk.” Posi-punk could be described as positive punk rock along the same veins of popular rock music.

“One of our biggest re-occurring themes is, ‘shit’s not great, shit’s not terrible, but you can always work towards getting better,’” says Dallas McCulloch, the bassist and vocalist of the band. “This is punk for dudes with beards in their late 20s with drinking problems.”

The band’s origins begin with jam sessions between drummer Matt Stacks and guitarist Alexander Wolf. After jamming together for fun for a few years, they invited McCulloch along to help write some more songs. Finally, in December of 2012, they officially adopted the moniker This Is The Year. The subsequent months saw them write and record a demo, as well as go on tour in the upper Midwest.

“Basically a 2100-mile scenic trip around Lake Michigan,” McCulloch jokes.

The band lists many different artists as influences. Stacks lists Snowing as a band that has influenced him heavily, including how he drums. McCulloch quickly lists acts such as Get Up Kids and Saves the Day.

“Lyrically, one of my biggest influences would be Digger. In general, I guess I try to rip off the whole ‘dudes that should not be singing that high but still do’ group. I’m a baritone in real life; I just don’t sing that way,” says McCulloch.

“Our song structure goes: Alex comes up with a really sweet riff, and then Dallas and I will work on it,” Stacks says. “I’ll figure out drums, and Dallas is like, ‘What notes do I need to play?’”

“They write songs, bring them to me, and then I put lyrics to everything,” McCulloch says. “Then I'm like, 'alright guys, this song is about a mixture of me trying to fight my alcoholism, my ex-girlfriend, and chicks that hate me now.'"

On July 9, This Is The Year released a four-song record entitled “As the Eternal Non Gender Specific Cowperson.” The album’s title stems from punk band Against Me!

“They have an album called ‘As The Eternal Cowboy,’” Stacks explains. “But the singer, Tom Gable, went through a sex change and is now called Laura Jane Grace, which is awesome and we support that. But their album name ‘As The Eternal Cowboy’, then coming out as transgender…” He laughs. “It’s all well-intentioned. We mean no offense to anyone. We’re just laughing at that one singular album’s name is all.” The play on words in their album name seems to have been well-received, as Laura Jane Grace herself favorited a tweet on Twitter containing This Is The Year’s info and the album artwork, which is a parody of the artwork for “As The Eternal Cowboy.”

The album is full of lyrics that embody the posi-punk message. The songs grapple with real issues and hard situations, yet have within them a desire for improvement, both of the self and of social situations. This kind of non-idealistic yet positive message is clear on the song “I’m Not Drunk, and I’m Telling Everyone.”

The song opens with the line, “Right now I think I'd give my life about a B- /Which isn't terrible, but there's certainly some room for improvement.” After explaining more about giving up excessive drinking, the song then closes with “I’d like to get my life up somewhere around a B+ / I think that is a reachable sober goal.”

Rick Johnson at Cold War Studios, a friend of McCulloch’s, helped with the recording of the album. The band hopes to physically release a 7” vinyl sometime later this year.

The band is currently preparing for another tour, as well as playing more local shows.

Their record “As The Eternal Non Gender Specific Cowperson is available for download on This Is The Year’s BandCamp site. On September 12, This Is The Year will be playing at The Intersection with The Flatliners.

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