Substream Approved: Light Years

Light Years
photo: Andrew Wells

“We write a lot of songs about how we’re old pieces of shit,” jokes Light Years vocalist/guitarist Pat Kennedy. If there’s one trait the band has, it’s humility. Joking around about leaking their new record, Kennedy quips, “Tens of people are going to be excited.” The Cleveland pop-punk group are humble, but their new album I’ll See You When I See You should get everyone excited.

Their debut album, I Won’t Hold This Against You, seemed like a tough act to follow, but its follow-up LP, I’ll See You When I See You, syncs up perfectly alongside anyone’s favorite pop-punk albums. Yet, if it were to be the band’s send off into adulthood, it would one for the books. Drawing key elements from Blink-182 to New Found Glory and Saves The Day, I’ll See You When I See You rounds out as a modern swan song of youth not far from the aforementioned pop-punk legends.

“We’ve been a band now for so long, [I think] we’ve [finally] figured it out; our sound and what we want to do,” says Kennedy. “I’m too old to care what the kids want to hear—we just want to make ourselves happy at the end of the day. I think we did that.”

With less songs about heartbreak and more about the reality of growing up, Light Years showcase their talents as individuals with clean guitar breaks, loads of melody and heavy variations of textured tones. The record shines with bouncy intros and catchy bridges with the band “all on the same page” and expectations pushed aside. Taking influences from how “being in your mid-20s sucks” and toxic relationships, Kennedy says the title of the record is a way for the band to keep things open-ended.

“We are getting older and real life starts happening,” the frontman begins. “Our guitar player just got married. It’s insane, but it happens when you get older. A lot of that has been coming into reality. I’ve been living in this weird music bubble for the past four or five years. [You wonder], ‘What am I supposed to do without this?’ A lot of the songs deal with that and what could happen after this.”

The reality of disbandment looms its ugly head every now and then, but Kennedy says Light Years will be hitting the road for a while with Neck Deep and State Champs this winter. “I don’t want to get a real job,” he says, neglecting to mention his full-time gig as an assistant manager of a local Subway sandwich shop. If I’ll See You When I See You gains the praise it deserves, hopefully the dudes in Light Years won’t have to.

“I would hope if someone ever said, ‘Have you heard of this band Light Years?’ this record would be the one [they mention],” says Kennedy. “I’m not saying I want this to be our last record, but at the end of the day if this were our last record, I would be very proud. I hope we can continue to be a band, but if it does end, then I think we made a record that is good to go out on.”S

A version of this piece was published in Substream #49.