A Day To Remember: Bullfights And Breakdowns
We talked pre-show playlists and Australian shower heads with the legendary hardcore band.
Header image by James Hartley.
I still remember hearing A Day To Remember for the first time as an awkward, 15-year-old high school kid and, even then, feeling like I was listening to the soundtrack to my adolescence. I'd just started to acquaint myself with what everyone at the time was calling 'screamo' music, and a mate (who can claim responsibility for putting me onto around half of my now favourite bands) burnt me a mixed CD filled with Atreyu, Story Of The Year, The Used and a stack of other tasty mid-2000's favourites. Track number one was A Day To Remember's You Should've Killed Me When You Had The Chance. 'Holy shit, what is this!?', I remember asking myself after hitting the replay button for a fourth time. I'd never heard anything like it; here was a band that could switch from squeaky clean, sing-a-long pop choruses to face-melting breakdowns in a heartbeat and make it seem so normal, as if bands had been doing it forever. It was like listening to blink-182 on roids, and I fucking loved it. I could tell that this band was going to become unexplainably important to me and to so many other confused and angry teenagers, what I didn't realise was how important they would remain to me as an adult.
Now, over a decade on and three single releases into unveiling album number six, A Day To Remember prove once again that they are the benchmark for heavy music, on all fronts. The sincerity that these five guys inject into every song they write and the energy they carry on stage with them when they play simply cannot be matched, and those two key ingredients have been at the core of everything the band has achieved. The dudes have worked their fucking arses off for over a decade, and despite their various successes, their goal every time they walk on stage is to make it their best show yet. Countless bands have tried to imitate what the Floridian five-piece have done over their 13-year career, and countless bands have fallen short - there will never be another band quite like ADTR.
We had the absolute pleasure of chatting with A Day To Remember frontman Jeremy McKinnon in the midst of their massive run of US dates with blink-182 to discuss their upcoming Australian tour, gnarly Australian shower heads and the band's forthcoming, sixth studio record, Bad Vibrations.
On being out on tour across the US with blink and being long time fans of the band:
I'm just fuckin' longboarding around the parking lot here in Virginia Beach, we're on the blink tour tonight and we play in two hours. It's been fucking magical. Tonnes of people every night, they're into our show and blink-182 could not be cooler to us, seriously, so it's been the best tour we've ever done, hands down.
If you were to ask us who are the top three bands that we've ever wanted to tour with, blink is definitely one of them, and they're probably number one. So yeah, it's like the best case scenario for us.
On finally being able to drop Bad Vibrations:
Oh man, I can't wait. It's been a long time coming. We finished it in like September last year-ish, so yeah. September the second it's out, we can't wait. We actually just put out a new video for Bullfight, like 10 minutes ago.
On comparing Bad Vibrations with ADTR's first record, For Those Who Have Heart:
I do think me saying that has been taken a little out of context from what I originally meant. What I meant is, it's similar in two ways; one being we haven't written a record as a band, and when I say that I mean like all five of us just in a room writing songs together, since For Those Who Have Heart, so that's a big reason why I say that. Then number two; I just think it's one of the heavier records that we've written in a while, and I associate that also with For Those Who Have Heart, which was like a straightforward breakdown-fest. So yeah, they're the two reasons that I say that.
On Bad Vibrations being the heaviest record the band has written in a long time:
I think the majority of the guys in the band just enjoy playing heavy music and these last few records I've just had so much fuel that I would bring to the table that we couldn't always fit that heavier side in. I just think the guys were ready for a heavier album and I didn't really have that much material this time, so what can I say?
On changing up the recording process between BV and the last album, Common Courtesy:
I was at my maximum comfort level for Common Courtesy and Bad Vibrations was probably the worst possible way I could write a record (laughs), but we needed that, you know what I mean? It was about getting everybody in the room, getting outside of that comfort zone that really I didn't mean to create, but I had set up this process that made me comfortable, but nobody else in the band. So, it was just that time - get everybody involved, go write a record as a band - not just a few of us, and get everybody attached to it, let's go push these songs that we all believe in together; that's what it was all about. We're all very proud of what we just did, but some people did really well in this scenario and then some people struggled, because it pushed them out of their comfort zone. I think, for example, Paranoia, could never have existed if we hadn't of made this record this way, and I think Paranoia is one of my favourite songs we've ever written as a band, so there ya go.
On how A Day To Remember have managed to remain relevant across so many years and records:
I think the subject matter has a lot to do with it and with people feeling attached to the music; real things that happen to everyday people and it's not written like your standard, boring pop songs. It's got a pop structure to it, even though they're heavy songs, but the lyrics are real and you can tell it's coming from a real place; I think that really matters. I think the live show matters as well, it's not just the same boring shit over and over again. We get the crowd involved and make even the people who don't give a shit about us have a good time and I think that goes a long way. And yeah, I think we write catchy shit too, so it all matters.
On the band's live performances and why they love putting on a spectacle every time they get on stage:
Growing up, I always wanted to see shows like you'd see on MTV from the 80s, with all these big, 80s metal bands in arenas with lights and fire and crazy production. So to us, ever since we've been headlining and we could actually spend money investing in our shows; we've done it, because we're really just trying to put on the show that we wish people would've put on for us when we were kids, because it just wasn't happening in rock music - or at least in the rock music that we grew up listening to. So yeah, it was always about that, just putting on a show that we would've wanted to see, that we think the inner child in us would've wanted.
On the band's love for punk and hardcore music, and how they work it into their pre-show ritual:
All of those late-80s, 90s, early-2000s punk records are gonna be my oldies, I already know it - they're the majority of what I listen to, still to this day. I listen to everything, don't get me wrong, but I'd say that time period in punk, pop-punk and hardcore is what makes me, me. Every night before we go on stage we've got a heavy music playlist that we go through and we've got a punk playlist that we go through to get hyped for the show.
We usually do the punk playlist two hours before we go on and then we switch it an hour before to what we call the 'Game Time Playlist', which only includes songs that, if all five of us are at a concert - the song doesn't get added to the playlist unless at least one us has to mosh when it's being played in front of us - that's the prerequisite for a song making it onto the playlist. So there are like 60 of those that we shuffle before a show, and if we're not listening to that one, we also have a really good rap playlist that does the same thing for us.
On Australia's unbeatable shower heads:
We spent some time at, I think it's called Surfer's Paradise, on the Gold Coast - that was one of the most magical things we ever did. In the room we rented they had the thickest shower head and the best shower pressure I've ever had in my life, I've been trying to find that shit ever since but I just can't find the same one anywhere.