Yellowcard's new album inspired by frontman's love story

The last one and a half years have been a heartbreaking roller-coaster ride for Ryan Key.

Like a dramatic episode straight out of a TV series, the 34-year-old frontman of US pop punk band Yellowcard saw his life change forever after his partner's horrific accident.

In April 2013, Key's girlfriend, Russian professional snowboarder Alyona Alekhina, 26, suffered a spinal cord injury during a practice session in California. It left her paralysed from the waist down.

What happened next could drive you to tears.

Two weeks after Alekhina was hospitalised, Key married her in the intensive care unit of the hospital where she was undergoing rehabilitation to walk again.

He also penned a moving letter to his younger self in Rock Sound magazine, saying: "You will finally understand what it really is to love someone more than you love yourself... Nothing you have planned for your life will happen the way you want it to, so just roll with the punches and remember that like Anakin (Skywalker), there is good in you still."

In an e-mail interview with M, Key provided an update on his wife's condition.

"She is fighting every day to make a full recovery," he said.

"Watching her work so hard, it has been nothing short of inspiring.

"This has no doubt been the most difficult time in our lives. We've both had our ups and downs. We are taking it one day at a time and trying to be there for each other the best we can."

When Key wasn't in the hospital at Alekhina's side, he was in the recording studio, pouring his emotions into songwriting.

The result is Yellowcard's anthemic seventh studio album, Lift A Sail, one that Key readily admitted documented the couple's darkest moments.


"The record was very much inspired by the events in my personal life," he said. "As a writer, it is next to impossible to go through something like this and not express through song your thoughts and feelings."

Tracks on Lift A Sail include the haunting Madrid ("Take me home/ I am lost in the world"), named after the city where Key first met his wife, and the hopeful Illuminate ("We hope to write from what's been done/Look for a future no one else has sung").

Florida-based Yellowcard, which also includes violinist Sean Mackin, bassist Josh Portman, both 35, and guitarist Ryan Mendez, 34, will be in Singapore next week for a concert, following their successful performance here in 2012.

Key's family tragedy is the second devastating blow to the Yellowcard camp.

In December 2011, Mackin was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. In an interview with The New Paper in 2012, he said that he had undergone surgery to remove the malignant tissue in his neck and was getting radiation therapy and chemotherapy sessions in between gigs.

When quizzed about his bandmate's battle with cancer, Key said: "I am not sure if (he) is considered (to be) in remission at this point. All I know is Sean is still up on stage every night ripping it up.

"In my opinion, that is all the evidence we need to know that he is winning."

WHERE: The Coliseum, Hard Rock Hotel Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa

WHEN: Dec 10, 8pm

TICKETS: $78 from Sistic ( or 6348-5555)

This article was first published on December 3, 2014.
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