Yes Virginia Is After Your Hearts
An Interview with Danny Newell

Words by Nick Hodgins — New Jersey

New Jersey — Yes Virginia is a five-piece pop punk band based out of Bergen County, NJ. The quintet just finished recording their second EP entitled After Your Own Heart and has an upcoming east coast tour in the works.

Currently the band consists of lead vocalist Danny Newell, lead guitarist Dylan Wolf, rhythm guitarist Mike Averna, Nick Rogalsky on drums and Anthony Pantina on bass and vocals. Yes Virginia formed just two years ago and has already been through one drummer, bass player and two rhythm guitarists, but Newell assured me the current line-up is in it for the long haul. “Each one of us is so dedicated to our role in the band, our music and ourselves; this is the most fun I’ve had in the entire band experience, this lineup, these people,” Newell said.

After Your Own Heart is Yes Virginia’s second EP and contains four brand new tracks and one re-recorded from their earlier days. The band worked with Nik Bruzzese of Small Hill Studios for pre-production and Rob Freeman of The Pilot Studios for post-production.

I asked Newell to take me through the recording process for Yes Virginia. “So basically we took in the songs, which we have acoustically to start, go over all of them and break it down section by section. We’d start with the drums and then write each part as it goes. It was very simple, like if it was ba-ta-ba-ta we might change it to bata-ba bata-ba,” he explained while air drumming. The band was sure to analyze every detail, no matter how small, in order to produce the best work they could. “It was definitely frustrating at times, because we’re trying to nail the right part and put that exact guitar strum with the drum pattern. Every little detail was looked at,” he said.

Once they were finished with pre-production, the band traveled to The Pilot Studios in Boonton, NJ to re-record and add the finishing touches with Freeman. “Pilot Studios was amazing,” Newell began, “It was a gorgeous, gorgeous studio. Rob is one of the nicest guys I ever met and he was able to provide a ton of insight towards our music, we had a lot of fun over there recording. That’s where we really got to sound like Yes Virginia, at Pilot Studio.”

After Your Own Heart is all about what we’re going for because so many people, they’re not chasing their dream and they’re not going for anything,” Newell said, “I have so many friends who are just going to college to go to college and I have so many people look at me like ‘Oh he’s doing music,’ but if you don’t go after it then you have no chance.”

While Yes Virginia stays true to the pop punk genre in their own music, the same cannot be said about where their influences come from. From classic pop-rock to heavy metal, these guys are all over the place when it comes to individual favorites. “Me personally, I like a lot of poppy-music like The Temptations and I absolutely love The Beach Boys,” Newell explained. “Our guitarist Dylan learned how to play by listening to Avenged Sevenfold, he’s straight metal. Our drummer Nick listens to hip-hop and Blink-182, our rhythm guitarist Mike and bassist Anthony both listen to pop-punk. Pop-punk is the common ground and that is what we play.”

The band gained a lot of exposure last April from a “Call Me Maybe” cover they posted on YouTube which reached over 100,000 views. “Oh Call Me Maybe,” Newell said laughing, “One of my friends heard it before it really blew up and told me Yes Virginia had to cover it. I called my guitarist over later that day and we agreed it was too catchy not to give a shot. Hitting 100,000 views was a great feeling and it really helped to get ourselves out there.”

After Your Own Heart can be found on iTunes, Spotify, Bandcamp and anywhere else music is sold or streamed digitally. The band also has physical copies for sale at five dollars each. Yes Virginia will be competing in The Break competition this year for a chance to play the Surf and Skate Festival in May, with the first show taking place on February 17 at the Stanhope House in Stanhope, NJ. In addition, they are currently working on scheduling an east coast tour for After Your Own Heart. Yes Virginia will be opening for Senses Fail at Rutgers University on February 8th at the Rutgers Student Center, sponsored by RUPA. | New Jersey