In the spring of 2013, Dan was working for a pharmaceutical company. At this point, Four Year Strong were still inactive. He hadn’t even spoken to Alan in months. The job was a full-time gig, and his first real attempt at living a nine-to-five life since the band had taken off. Then, suddenly, he was offered a promotion. He relays the story seven years later with all the excitement of someone booking a root canal appointment. As serendipity would have it, though, that very same day Alan called him up out of the blue. Sure, they had all gone their separate ways, and of course Alan would understand if Dan wasn’t interested but… what if they got together and tried writing again? For Dan, it was a no-brainer. “I quit my job and we went full-forward with the band from that time on,” he says, of that sliding doors moment. He might have been a few short weeks shy of climbing the corporate ladder, but deep down he knew that what he really needed was for his best friend from eighth grade to invite him back to band practice. Four Year Strong went on to release 2014 EP Go Down In History, and the quartet haven’t stopped since.
“We’ve had that typical band story of putting out an album that no-one liked, and then it all goes downhill,” says Alan today, laughing off their crisis of faith. “Honestly, I’m glad that happened to us, because if we had stayed where we were right before all of that happened, I don’t know if we’d be as strong as we are now.”
He takes a deep breath and sighs. “We learned a lot from how bad things can be.”
“We did a lot of growing up that we [previously] didn’t have time to do,” says Dan, of the break from the band. “We all did our own things. When I first started touring, I was living with my parents. So you want to be out on tour all the time, because that’s where you have fun, and where you get to hang out with your friends. Now I have my wife, and I have my family. There’s a greater pull to be home. It’s about finding that life balance between everything.”
Fast-forward to 2020. The quartet have released their seventh album, Brain Pain, through Pure Noise Records. They’ve re-centred their vision as a band and forged ahead. But it’s come, once again, as a result of tremendous soul-searching and self-examination. As Dan sings in the chorus of the title-track, ‘I wish that I could focus my hopeless wandering mind / I’m losing perspective, tearing out all my insides / Looking in from the outside’. For him, it’s about reconciling the two stark, opposing realities of being the arrow-straight family man and the nomadic, globe-hopping pop-punk musician.
“As a 35-year-old,” he reflects, “becoming a full adult and having all of these responsibilities, am I actually the guy onstage who’s going crazy and screaming? Or is that…”
He pauses, searching for the right words.
“It’s not an act, but how much of my actual personality is that? Am I just acting the way that I think an at-home family guy should, and I’m actually the guy onstage? Or vice versa? Who am I, in that spectrum of personality and character?”