Story: Brendan Manley
Photo: Chris Saunders

When Four Year Strong vocalist/guitarist Dan O’Connor looks out at the crowd during this year’s Rockstar Taste Of Chaos tour, he expects to see plenty of unfamiliar faces, some of whom have never even heard of the up-and-coming Massachusetts melodic-punk outfit. But armed with a scorching debut album and an intense live show, FYS plan on recruiting legions of new fans by the close of each night’s set.

“We’re super stoked on [Taste Of Chaos]. I think it’s going to be a really fun time, and I think it’s going to be cool because we’re going to play for a lot of new kids,” O’Connor says, calling from home during a rare holiday break from touring. “Whenever you get to play the ‘win kids over’ game, it’s always really exciting.”

FYS’s full-length debut, Rise Or Die Trying, showcases the band’s impressive ability to fuse the melody of pop-punk with the aggression of hardcore, juxtaposing smooth sing-along choruses with explosive gang vocals alongside intricate guitar riffs with brutal breakdowns. The end result is a sound that’s tough to classify, yet offers something that appeals to a wide range of tastes. If prior FYS shows are any indication, the diverse assortment of TOC attendees presents not so much a problem as an opportunity. “We like to try to challenge ourselves as far as our fans go. We’ve always been stoked that you can come to our shows and see hardcore kids, metal kids and pop kids,” remarks O’Connor. “It’s great seeing these different kinds of kids come together.”

The band-which also include vocalist/guitarist Alan Day, drummer Jake Massucco, bassist Joe Weiss and synth op Josh Lyford-developed their trademark sound by combining the elements of the bands they personally love, ranging from punk to metalcore to indie rock, but it is their passion for heavy music’s inherent live energy that drives not only their songs but their performances. During their stint on the Easycore Tour last fall where FYS opened for pop-punk stalwarts New Found Glory-it became quite clear that Rise is the kind of record that sounds even better when heard from a sweaty circle pit. It’s obvious that FYS’ alloy of melody and mania was key to their getting noticed by Pete Wentz, whose Decaydance label will be issuing their next album this summer.

“The reason this band sound the way [we do] does is because we all grew up going to shows where there was heavier music. What was cool about those shows was the energy, and how much energy you give off live,” says O’Connor, who also spent some time after high school playing with Massachusetts metalcore act Bury Your Dead. “It’s not about watching the band go crazy; the kids go just as crazy. The shows are so much fun.”