Vocalist/lyricist PETE DOWDALLS takes AP track by track through THIS TIME NEXT YEAR’S new album, Drop Out Of Life.

“Drop Out of Life”
This song ended up being the first song we wrote for Drop Out Of Life. Denis [Cohen, guitarist] and I had been jamming out riffs and making up vocal melodies in the back of the van on Warped Tour when this song came together. The chorus to me stuck out the most, and we just ended up working around that. Lyrically, the song is about my girlfriend of six years leaving me because I was 25 and still in a band. The whole idea behind “Drop Out of Life” is that you shouldn’t have to abide by someone else’s rules and standards. I felt like I tried so hard in life to have some sense of normalcy and stability, but I found out that its all just a façade. I was with this girl because I was scared to strike out on my own. When she left me, it put so much of my life into perspective. I was free to do whatever I wanted and be happy.  Simply, that’s “Drop Out of Life.”

“Better Half”
“Better Half” is purely a dedication to all my friends that have stood by us since we started the band back in 2007. It's my way of showing them they have mattered so much to me over the years. In my life, my friends are the anchor. Without them, I wouldn't be doing this band. Specifically, this song is about all of our friends that have stuck it out with us on tour—the friends that dealt with the 48-hour drives, constant Taco Bell and creepy rest stops. These are the best people I know, because they took time out of their lives to help see us through ours. They are the ultimate support for this band, and I love them for that.

“Living Hell”
This song, to put it simply, is about hating every job I've had in the last couple of years. I've worked everywhere, from Baby Gap to a diner. I wanted to show others that being in a touring band sometimes comes with a price, and you will probably end up working some bullshit job just to get by. However, the song was my way of saying that even though the job sucks, it’s worth it in the end. It's my ultimate ‘fuck you’ to all the terrible bosses I had and people that shit on me during my time at these jobs. It is my muse to want to do something more with my life than serve burgers and omelets to senior citizens.

“Last Call”
“Last Call” is a song about my time being single and trying out Walnut Creek's local bar scene for the first time. To be blunt, I was not cut out for that shit. This song is about a girl I had known since high school that ran into me one night out at the bars. I had been watching her (like a creep) all night hitting on other guys and taking tons of shots, basically being way too sloppy. At the end of the night, she took me home. I ended up seeing this girl for a minute until I found out a couple weeks later that she had a boyfriend of 5 years.  For some odd reason, that really put me off to the “bar scene.” I felt like the guy, that bro-douchebag that hooks up with your girlfriend while you're on tour. I couldn't handle myself being that way or being associated with that sort of lifestyle. This is a song, to me, more about trying to figure out why we treat others like shit—especially the ones we love.

“Modern Day Love Story”
Lyrically, this is a song compiled of everything I wanted to say to my ex-girlfriend but never found the guts to do so. After we had broken up, we literally didn't speak for over a year. This song is everything I had built up inside myself put down on paper. It is meant to be cruel and hateful because at the time, I felt she deserved nothing less from me. I was finally free to say whatever I wanted to this girl for the way she treated me, and it felt good. There are some pretty heavy lines towards the end of that song, but I felt that for this one in particular, I had to be very honest. It was the best way for me to destroy a shitty past I shared with someone else.

The Spoontonic Lounge is a relatively unknown bar in our hometown of Walnut Creek. One night after my birthday, my friends and I decided to go out for drinks at Spoontonic to quell our hangovers. The night before we were celebrating at a bar in San Francisco when Denis ended up getting head-butt in the nose. Long story short, I ended up with a black eye and broke my right hand. The song is about the next night at Spoontonic, which we spent laughing about the previous day’s events. It's basically a song about embracing the low points in life and spending them with your best friends. Life is too short to be depressed, but I do feel like you learn a lot about yourself when you're at a low point. My friends showed me that you must celebrate life, even when things go wrong or seem bleak.

“Matchbook” is about a friend of mine from high school that set himself on fire a few years ago. It was my way of trying to understand how someone could be that tormented by their depression. It was my way of trying to understand why you would want to kill yourself in such a terrible way. Most importantly, I wanted to tell his story, for what it's worth. That's that as they say.

“My Side Of Town”
“My Side Of Town” is a very upbeat song with kind of a darker undertone to it. Lyrically, it’s about dealing with being stuck at home for long periods of time between tours. It's about losing your mind at some shitty job or sitting at the same bar every night. Basically, it’s about how living at home is such a love/hate relationship. It was my way of dealing with the fact that I'm not getting any younger and that I should probably get my life together. However, I wouldn't be able to be touring if my parents didn't let me live with them. [Laughs.] The song is really just a Catch-22 [about] the conundrum of living at home.

“Get It, Got It, Good”
A lot of my peers from my hometown are incredibly condescending when it comes to our band. People constantly ask, “Where's the money!” or “Got any groupies?!” Personally, questions like that drive me crazy, because I know they are trying to knock me down a peg. It's their way of making fun of what we do as a band. This song is basically a giant “fuck you” to anyone and everyone that has gone out of their way to tarnish us as people and as a band. It's about being proud of who you are and what you do in life, no matter what.

“Note” is a song about all of the people, past and present, that have told us we weren't worth shit as a band. I used this song especially as a way of not giving up on what I love so much. If I could, I wouldn't change a thing about this band and the direction we've gone. This song is basically about being out there on your own and not giving up. We've had very few people that have been good to our band and they know who they are. In a weird way, this song is very much a testament to those that have stood by us and those who haven’t.

“This is an Airport Train”
I actually got the name of this song from riding the BART train here in the Bay Area. One night I was headed out to San Francisco to meet up with some friends, a couple days after my girlfriend and I had broken up. I was feeling really down and just wanted to have a good time that night. The train I had to take to get into the city is called “SFO Airport Train.” While riding out, I was thinking to myself about everything that had happened and what the future had in store for me. Mid-thought, I heard the train operator over the PA announce, “This is an airport train, airport train.” Something about that sentence struck me in such a pivotal way. Metaphorically speaking, I was on a train headed to San Francisco to hang out with some great people. This was the beginning of me moving on from my past, a first step towards a new future. I ended up calling the song “This is an Airport Train” because symbolically it was taking me away from all the shit I had left behind in Walnut Creek. It was my way of saying to the girl I thought I was going to marry that you will never see me again.