Interview: Derek Sanders (Mayday Parade)

Mayday Parade Singapore

Tallahassee, FL pop-rockers Mayday Parade recently dropped by Singapore as part of their first Southeast Asia tour. We caught up with vocalist Derek Sanders to talk about their forthcoming release.

Let’s go straight to the new album, which is coming out in October. Do you have a release date and title yet?

It’s October 4th, and I’m pretty sure it’s just going to be a self titled album. It’s just going to be Mayday Parade.

Any reason to go with that?

For a bunch of reasons. First, we had tried to come up with a few different options, but there was nothing else we liked as much. Two, it means a lot if this was kind of a statement like: ‘this is who we are right now’. This CD was kind of a big deal for us. We wanted to go back to just doing it the way we’d originally done when we started this band, to make a CD that we loved. That was the only thought process going on, which was to make an album we love, songs that we love. Whereas with the last album, there was some co-writing, a lot of label involvement and producer involvement. There was a lot of things didn’t go the way that we liked, so we were happy to have this opportunity to go make a CD that we love. And that’s the most important thing. There’s not really a theme to it, at least the lyrics that I wrote were just about growing up, being in different relationships with different people, just whatever I’m feeling or thinking at the time.

When bands choose to self-title their albums, it’s usually to set a new direction with their music. Is that what’s going on?

Yeah it’s just, you know…at the beginning, we did the EP “Tales Told by Dead Friends”, then “A Lesson in Romantics”. And then Jason left the band and there was a lot of controversy over that. Honestly when he left, I don’t think we ever really sat down to talk about it, about where we were at and which direction we were going next. We just kept touring and stayed as busy as we could, and things were great. But when we did “Anywhere But Here”, we didn’t have a solid idea of what the band was, or what the band wanted to do. We just went with whatever that was coming at us. We signed to Atlantic and they were telling us to do all this co-writes, and work with David Bendeth..it was stuff that we didn’t really wanted to do, but we didn’t try and fight it too much. We just let it happen and ended up making a CD that we didn’t really love or care about as much. Not that we don’t love that album, but there were definitely songs that we wrote that we would much rather have on the album that we weren’t able to do because we had to do the songs that Atlantic wanted us to. So after that experience, we came together and realised like, ‘listen, this is not why we started this band’, we started this band because we wanted to make music we love and play for people. That’s the bottom line. For this CD we went back to that, and it was awesome and what works best for us. So yeah, this is who we are now, and hopefully this is who we’ll always be.

How many songs were written?

We wrote about 16 or 17 songs, and there’s 12 that are on the album.

Did you record the extra songs, maybe to release as b-sides in future?

No we didn’t record them, just the 12 for the album. For the others, I don’t think they’ll ever be heard. If we had recorded them, then we might release as some point but..we’ll see how it goes.

Is there anything on this album that you are particularly proud of?

The whole thing! We are extremely proud of it, we love it so much. I can’t wait for it to come out, I think people are going to like it a lot. It’s really cool.

You chose to go back to Zack Odom and Kenneth Mount, who produced your debut full length. How do their individual styles complement each other in a way that makes them better than just having one producer?

They’re just a team, you know. It’s hard to say what it is..there was a week where Kenneth had his second kid -he had a son- and he wasn’t there, so it was just us with Zack, and that was great. But there is definitely a dynamic that isn’t there whenever they’re not together. They’ve been best friends for a long time. It’s hard to pinpoint it, but they just work better together. They are very easy to work with, obviously they will make suggestions and do their jobs, but they are not going to pressure you and change things if you don’t wanna change. If they come up with stuff and you’re into it, and it’s cool and it works well. But if they come up with something which is like “uhh I’m not too sure about that” then they are cool to let it be the way it is. They are very smart guys, very talented guys who have a great ear for music and recording. They are very fun, very nice, and the environment is always very friendly.

How did you find time to write and record the album when you were on tour most of the time?

We do a lot of writing on the road. A lot of the time I will sit down with an acoustic guitar and come up with ideas. In this past January, we all came together to write the album. I’d written a lot of stuff up til then. We kinda just put it all together and everyone threw in their ideas. We got together in a beach house in Florida for a month and lived there. It was great to be able to get away from everything else and all the distractions, to be able to write music all day, and we pretty much finished writing the album there. Then in February, we recorded it. Being able to focus entirely on the album was really huge for us, and we were glad to do be able to do that.

Any memory that stands out from the whole album-making process?

It was so much fun, as much as it was work I guess. Every night when we were done, we would hang and chill and make a bonfire outside or something. It’s the way it’s always been for us, the five of us in this band for five-and-a-half years..touring and creating music. We’re family, friends and business partners..we just love being able to hang out and work together. It was just a lot of that.

Will the album be released via Atlantic this time, while you’re still with Fearless Records? How’s that holding up?

Actually we’re going to be on ILG now, it’s called Independent Label Group, whom we’ve worked with a little bit before when we were on Fearless. They’re great people and they are very pumped about it. I think Fearless is still going to have some involvement as well, but I’m not even too sure on all the little details about that stuff, I’m bad with all that…

ILG is owned by Warner Music Group, that’s kind of indirectly having another major label involved.

Yeah, it’s kinda complicated, so I’ll have to sit and explain for a long time how that worked out. But basically, ILG are going to be releasing the record. We’ve been talking to them a lot, and they’re definitely into the album.

Even though you are able to continue doing well under an independent label, what is usually the push for bands like yourselves to move on to a major label?

I would say the biggest thing is more money for recording, a bigger budget for recording, and a bigger push for radio and MTV. They just have a bigger staff. But the problem for a band like us is that..we’re just not a radio band. We created a fanbase by ourselves going on tour and playing our music. We liked the people at Atlantic and some things were really cool, but we were not the right band for that kind of thing.

Do you think at some point the band would consider being independent?

Very likely, who knows? It’s hard to tell, but I’d say we would all like to be at some point, but that’s just way too far ahead. I don’t even wanna think about the next album, let alone a few more albums down the road. We kinda just play it by ear and take each day as it comes. But nowadays, it’s becoming more and more possible to do it on your own without the help of a label, as long as you’re willing to put in the work yourselves, and that’s really cool.

Since you’re missing Warped Tour to come to Southeast Asia this year, do you miss anything about it?

In 2006, we followed it once but we didn’t play, we just sold CDs. We played three weeks in 2007, and the whole thing in 2008 and 2010. I love Warped Tour, it’s definitely different from your average club tour. It’s a little more stressful in some ways, but I love the fact that there’s 50 bands there and you can walk up to anybody’s bus and hang out and see all the bands that you love. It’s just so much fun every single day and every single night..never a boring moment.

Do you have any exciting plans leading up to the release? Headlining tour?

Yeah! It still depends on a few things hopefully. We’re doing a tour with All Time Low in US and Canada, and I’m so excited about that tour. The Starting Line’s going to be on a little bit, The Cab and Cartel are on some of it, We Are The In Crowd is on most of it, so that’s going to be great. In October when the album comes out, we’re going to do a US headline tour which we are still talking about right now so it hasn’t been finalised. And then probably we’ll be taking December off, then in January 2012 we’ll probably hit the road and tour for the whole year.

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