Interview with Ryan Mendez, Yellowcard Guitarist, published in Guitar Digest in 2007
Mitchell Blatt: What do you think about Lights and Sound compared to Paper Walls?
Ryan Mendez: Its hard for me to make the comparison because I joined after they started writing Lights and Sounds, then I wrote on Paper Walls, so it’s going to be more from the fan’s standpoint, because I wasn’t involved with it. I think both records are great, but Lights and Sounds had more orchestration, more strings, and the song-writing was more rock oriented. On Paper Walls, I think we just wanted to sit down and play new songs. We didn’t want to have any kind of conceptions of what was going to happen.
MB: Do you think they had conceptions about what was going to happen when they recorded Lights and Sounds?
RM: I think there was an effort to step up the musicianship and step up the depth in more of a rock direction. Like the guys have say in past interviews, after the success of Ocean Avenue, they just wanted to show people what they had to offer.
MB: Do you think Yellowcard ever feels any pressure to avoid the pop punk label?
RM: I think that in the past, the band has, but these days, we just feel that we are going to make the music we want to make, and if people like it. I think that labels aren’t something we want to worry about anymore, because it just gets in your head, and there’s nothing you can do about it. People are always going to call you what they want to call you, but it doesn’t change your music.
MB: How did you get to know Yellowcard?
RM: I was in a band called Staring Back, and we were in Santa Barbra, CA, with a label called Lobster Records. Yellowcard came up from Jacksonville, FL, in 1999 to try to sign with the label. We met up with them and became good friends with them and kept in contact.
MB: How do you think it compares riding your own band to success versus joining an already successful band as you did?
RM: It’s not necessarily a difference where one is going to be better than the other. I think both have their advantages. When you start your own band from scratch and one of your records becomes popular, obviously, it’s going to feel good knowing that you helped build it. At the same time, when you join a band that’s popular and you’ve played in bands before, you still appreciate what you have, because you come from the background of hard work and struggle, but for whatever reason, those bands didn’t work out.
MB: It’s been reported that you are a big hockey fan, and you guys preformed at the NHL’s Draft party. Do you like other sports besides hockey?
RM: Hockey and soccer are my two favorites, but I also like football and basketball. I’m not the biggest baseball fan, but I guess you can’t like them all.
MB: Being a Detroit fan, how did it feel to have the Pistons knocked out of the playoffs by the Cleveland Cavaliers?
RM: I feel like we dropped the ball. I think there was some thought that it was going to be an easier series and they didn’t step up. I think that the Cavs are a good team and are on their way up, and I think the Pistons are kind of staggering a little bit. I think next year is going to be a big year in terms of seeing where they’re at. But, yeah, I was disappointed. I think we underestimated the Cavs, and it shouldn’t happen again.
MB: Why do you support Detroit teams when you grew up in Southern California [after being born in Detroit]?
RM: That’s ultimately still where I came from, and a lot of my family still lives there. I visited Detroit every year. For all the holidays, we were always going back there. My whole family, except for my mom and myself, was still in Detroit when I was growing up. All my uncles and everyone were exposing me to the Detroit teams, and I still feel that is the place where I am from.
MB: What were your favorite bands growing up?
RM: I listened to a lot of the same punk that the other guys were listening to. All the Phat Records and the Epitaph stuff was basically all I was listening to when I started to play guitar. I also listened to the classics like old Metallica and Nirvana, and stuff.
MB: How have your tastes changed?
RM: Now, I listen to a lot of harder stuff like European metal.
MB: Does that influence your music with Yellowcard?
RM: It definitely influences my guitar playing. I like to bring that edge that a lot of metal bands have. The metal stuff I listen to is real melodic. It definitely influences my guitar playing and writing riffs.
Feature photo taken by Wikipedia author IllaZilla, used under Wikimedia’s Creative Commons License: Source