It was around this time last year when pop-punk outfit THE STARTING LINE came out of hiatus to play a few holiday shows around their hometown of Philadelphia. This year, AP convinced frontman KENNY VASOLI (second from left) and pals to reconvene for a very special fan appreciation party on Dec. 17 at the North Star Bar in Philly—an intimate venue TSL have never played as a full band. While only a handful of fans will be able to see this once-in-a-lifetime show, diehard devotees should consider booking a bus ticket to Philadelphia—this is only one of two shows the band will play this year. It will also be the first time they play their only new song.

People were surprised when we announced the fan appreciation party, since the Starting Line already had a holiday show scheduled for the following week. What was it that made you guys want to do this show in a smaller club?

I had wanted to do something like this for a while. I’m not gonna take credit for it, because it wasn’t my idea, but I definitely thought it would be cool to get into a small place again and play an intimate show—which we haven’t done in ages. But I’m pretty sure AP approached management about it, and we were all instantly into the idea.

What do you think will make this show different from your already-scheduled holiday show?

The setlist is gonna be a little bit different. We’re actually playing a new song that’s not really out there yet. To me, it’s the Starting Line trying to sound like Kings Of Leon trying to sound like the Pixies. That’s my interpretation of it. But I really like it, and everybody seems to be really stoked on it.  It’s called “Luck.”

Obviously there’s new material being written, so does that mean the Starting Line are closer to returning from hibernation than people thought?

“Closer” is a good word. We’re slow moving. “Luck” is our only new song, but we have the drive to wanna write more. Eventually, we’ll work toward the goal of making another album, but we’re just taking baby steps.

You all have other commitments in other bands. Do you have any time frame you’ve put on the Starting Line to accomplish anything, or is it more, “If it happens, it happens?”

It’s more, “if it happens it happens.” I don’t think anybody’s really going anywhere, and it seems like everybody’s willing to work at that pace, which is good for me. I have a lot on my plate. I think the more sporadically we do it, the more it makes us want to do it.

This is the second year in a row the Starting Line have played holiday shows, and some people might be saying, “I thought this band were broken up.” What word would you use to best describe the Starting Line right now?

We’re “casually active.”

It’s like “friends with benefits” but instead it’s “bandmates with benefits.”

[Laughs.] Yeah, we’re all just having a lot of fun playing together right now, and we just wanna keep that spirit. We’ve toyed with the idea of touring next year, but it would have to be the right tour. We’re just not interested in burning anything out.

So what’s the “right” tour in your mind?

For me, it’d be cool [to tour] with a band like Saves The Day—a band with a lot of history as well.

Is it true you guys have never played the North Star Bar before?

We’ve played it acoustic, but we’ve never played it full-band before.

Did you ever go there to see shows?

Yes, all the time. I saw Owen there once and that was really good. There’ve been a lot of off-the-cuff bands I’ve seen there, too, like Diffuser. It’s a great place. I think I saw Matt Pryor play there as New Amsterdams right as [2003’s] Worse For The Wear was coming out with Straylight Run.

What’s going on with your other band, Person L?

We’re putting out a four-song split with Weatherbox. It’s new songs from both of us. It’s looking like that will be coming out early next year.

Between that and the Starting Line’s tour of Australia in February, what’s the next thing on your personal agenda?

I’m really taking it step by step. I try not to plan too much because it seems like opportunities come rolling in when I don’t do that. I’m just playing it by ear and writing with everybody. For the winter, I’m gonna just try to be creative and output a bunch of material.

Since it’s the end of the year, I couldn’t let you off the phone without asking what your favorite albums of 2010 are.

It was such a good year in music that I had to make a list. [Laughs.] My favorite record of the year was [This Is Happening by] LCD Soundsystem. I saw them at Bonnaroo and had, like, an amazingly religious experience seeing them. Then I went to see them in Philly on their headlining tour and I had an even better time. They’re ridiculous. Just the way they’re set up onstage and [frontman James Murphy’s] whole attitude, it’s really interesting to watch. It’s exciting because they’re sort of becoming the Talking Heads of our generation.

What else is in your top 10?

My no. 2 was the Radio Dept.’s Clinging To A Scheme. I’m just finding out about this band this year, but as soon as I got that record, I was hooked on it. It’s become a real pop gem for me and opened my eyes to simplistic pop songwriting. My no. 3 is Beach House’s Teen Dream. It’s kind of a failsafe. There’s really not a bad song on it. I also had Four Tet’s [There Is Love In You] on there, along with [The Cradle by] Colour Revolt and [Transference by] Spoon. It really was an amazing year for music. alt