A Day To Remember
A Day To Remember are renowned for combining pop-punk hooks and metal-core breakdowns – an aggregation that even lead singer Jeremy McKinnon deems to “makes no sense whatsoever”. However, by disregarding pressure to make music that “makes sense” within the confines of a given genre, the band have grown a legion of fans.
A modest attitude coupled with unrelenting motivation has seen A Day To Remember surprise themselves with their success. “We were never supposed to be where we are right now – it’s weird,” reflects McKinnon. “We were just a bunch of kids from a shitty small town – Ocala in Florida. Our band should have topped off at playing in front of 500 people a night, but for some reason we’re selling out 5,000 packed venues in the ‘States right now; that is absolutely fucking retarded! We never even wanted that when it came to this band – we just made the music we wanted to play and the music we wanted to hear.”
McKinnon attributes this unexpected and positive reception to the fact that the band’s material is so relatable to fans. “By reading the lyrics and listening to the songs you can think ‘hey, this is what I’m going through right now’ – and I think that means something to kids. They can listen to a record to make them feel better about going to school or having a fall out with a friend, and what’s more important than that? If you can write songs that can really strike a chord with people and actually help get them through something in their life, I think that’s fucking awesome.”
A Day To Remember are due to release their fourth studio album What Separates Me From You on November 16. When questioned about the forthcoming release, McKinnon reveals that we can expect a greater influence from aggressive hardcore music, and that the band’s previous metal-core breakdowns are often replaced with “pissed-off, mean sounding riffs”. “We didn’t do anything consciously different, were we just kind of going with the flow, and what came out was a much darker album – even the more poppy side of the record is a bit more serious and a little darker.”
This slight deviation from their previous sound seems to have evolved quite naturally for the band, and as the primary songwriter McKinnon admits that songs just seem to “hit him out of nowhere.”
“It’s not even like I’m writing a song, it’s more like I’m remembering how to play a song,” observes McKinnon. “I’ll know what I want to say and what I need to play underneath it for the most part. Usually I’ll have a major portion of the hook immediately.”
The process of writing and recording the new album didn’t deviate a great deal from the process undergone for the band’s 2009 album Homesick – despite the departure of guitarist Tom Denny (replaced by Kevin Staff) in the interim. “For Homesick it was me and Tom writing, then bringing the songs to the band so they could make changes. This record was much the same, as Kevin and I would write the songs and bring them to the band.” Tom Denny continued to contribute to the new record however, and the band worked with producers Chad Gilbert and Andrew Wade who also helped to create Homesick. “With those guys we have the same vibe and the same feel that ADTR has always had, and that’s important.
“We didn’t want to completely change the way we sound and if you were to get rid of any of those guys we’re not ADTR anymore. It’s like we’ve just added another awesome member to the team and I’m really happy with what we have because of it. That sort of thing doesn’t happen too often... we’re fortunate to have a friendship above everything else.”
Homesick was heavily concerned with the touring lifestyle, and the new release is said to be similarly themed. What Separates Me From You is occupied with the divide that exists between a ‘normal’ existence and a life of constant touring. “The title of the record ties all the themes in,” discloses McKinnon, “it’s about separating ourselves from our peers, and the strain this lifestyle has put on our home lives.
“We’ve been away so much, so that’s what the last record was about, but this one is more about the fall out of being a workaholic,” he elaborates. “I love [touring] and it’s exactly what I wanted to do, but at the same time no matter how much I love it, it is a job. I had a few loved ones pass away on this last record cycle, and that really gets to you. When I’m at home I feel like a piece of crap and I can’t wait to get on tour, but then I go on tour for a month and really want to get back home see the family. Then, after a week it’s like I’ve got to get the hell out of there again. I’ve made this never ending circle when I’m never happy, ever,” emphasises McKinnon, then seeming to recognise a hint of melodrama, he laughingly adds, “That’s not exactly true; I’m happy a lot.”
Across all of their releases, ADTR’s passionate drive to make something of themselves through their music is a prevalent theme. When asked where this motivation derives from, McKinnon relates that he is driven so strongly because people neglect to take music seriously. “People constantly tell us that we can’t do something, and I work so hard at what I do, I refuse to believe them.”
A Day To Remember are living proof that following your heart (excuse the cliché) does ensue success. “The way I look at things, you can do literally anything you want to do as long as you actually care about what you’re doing. I’m not saying any kid can just go up there and do whatever they want to do; you have to really care about what you’re doing. It’s not just like ‘Oh I want to be in a band so I’ll just be in a band.’ This is what I’m supposed to be doing,” the vocalist accentuates. “I write music because that’s what makes me feel better about living life. These songs mean a lot to me and I put a lot into them, so I refuse to believe that you can work this hard on something and have nothing to show for it.” McKinnon needn’t worry, because if the crowd’s reaction when ADTR last appeared in Australia for Soundwave 2010 was anything to go by, the band’s efforts are much appreciated by their fans. “It takes us aback every time,” says the singer, in regards to the reactions of foreign crowds. “I go into this every day trying to ground myself. I walk out on stage every night and think – this is the show where everything starts going south,” he laughs. “It is gonna end one day. I’m never gonna be that guy that is so caught up in the moment that I believe our band is going to be the biggest band ever, forever. It’s not the way it goes, so I’m just gonna enjoy it while I can and try and keep myself grounded ... We’re fortunate to have fans that understand us.”
A Day To Remember are excited to return to Australia for the No Sleep Til festival later this year. “I love festivals and I especially love Australia,” enthuses McKinnon. “It’s awesome ‘cause [festivals] are not so much about just you, they’re about everyone, so it’s a little less focused. You play, go do a signing but then you have the rest of the day to wander around and see any band you want.”
No Sleep Til Melbourne sports a fantastic line-up of both punk and metal acts. “I’m keen to see NOFX, because they’re my favourite band,” admits McKinnon. “I’ve never seen the Descendents so that’ll be cool, then obviously there’s our friends Parkway Drive, August Burns Red and Confession. It’s gonna be a good time.”
A DAY TO REMEMBER will appear at No Sleep Til Melbourne at The Showgrounds on Friday December 17. Tickets are on sale now from nosleeptil.com.au. Their new album What Seperates You From Me will be available on Tuesday November 16.