It’s been a decade since pop rock five piece Mayday Parade graced us with Tales Told By Dead Friends, let that sink in for a second. Since then, the band have gone on to release four more stellar studio albums, all sewn intricately together with their emotional lyrics and upbeat melodies, though for their latest release ‘Black Lines’, there was some new stitching added in the form of their new raw sound. After washing up on UK shores to promote the album live, Mayday Parade rolled through each show on their way to Manchester where we caught up with singer Derek Sanders to talk new sounds, fans and the future.
I’ll start with your most recent release ‘Black Lines’, you experimented a little with the sound and worked with Mike Sapone. How much did he contribute to finding that new sound?
I’d say it’s a lot of factors, really. To begin with, I think the reason we even wanted to go somewhere new in the first place was that we wanted to switch things up a lot more with and make an album that stood out from everything that we’d done before and that sounded different sonically or felt different overall. ‘Monsters In The Closet’ to us, it was like we were starting to repeat ourselves and so the idea was to go ‘okay, let’s take ourselves out of our comfort zone to do something different and rework and relearn how to even record an album.’ So that was really the idea and then Mike came in and Mike was really open-minded with experimenting and just trying out anything. We wanted this album to be a little more rough and kinda raw sounding, he seemed to be really cool and on board with that. So whenever we got there, yeah, Mike is just super smart and super talented, very friendly and easy to work with and certainly helped us to realize this idea that we had.
Speaking on sound, some bands like the music they make but others listen to the polar opposite. What is it like for you, what are your music tastes?
It’s a little bit of a lot of stuff. I certainly listen to a lot of stuff that is in the same veins as of what we do. Growing up, the first stuff I started listening to was what parents showed me; obviously classic rock, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Queen and what not. Then I got into a lot of 90’s rock, I was really into it and all of us, you know, it was a huge influence for all of us growing up. In high school I started getting into more emo stuff, pop rock and pop punk, bands like New Found Glory, Saves The Day and Get Up Kids, all that. I like to think that hopefully all of those influences come together to help us do what we do and I think you can tell a little bit, the newest album especially. It has like a 90’s rock vibe to it, which I’m real pumped on. (On particular bands listened to for ‘Black Lines’) We would sit on a 90’s alternative rock station on Pandora, when we’re hanging out and just listen to that stuff and talk over it. I was listening to a lot of like, you know, Third Eye Blind but I was also listening to a lot of darker, heavier stuff like The Smashing Pumpkins, Nirvana, Bush.
Were you worried at all by how well it would do, not just with the new sound but also with leaks being so huge and not a lot of people paying for music anymore?
Not really. I think that’s what’s cool about us and where we’re at now, we’ve been a band for over 10 years and we feel like we don’t have to worry too much. We feel like the reason we made ‘Black Lines’ the way we did was because we decided ‘let’s just go and truly make the album that we want to make’. It’s that freedom to do whatever you want and know we’re still able to tour, play shows and stay pretty relevant I guess. I think that’s the best way to do it, you know, to make music that makes you happy and then everything else falls into place.
How have you found transitioning ‘Black Lines’ from the studio album to the stage?
It’s actually been really, really cool because those songs are like they almost were made for playing live because they’re so impactful and heavier than most of the stuff we’ve done before. I feel like they translate well to live, there’s just a lot of energy and a lot of fun to play, it’s a good time.
You were saying there’s a lot of energy when you’re onstage but how do the personalities differ of the guys who step out there, to the guys who are relaxing offstage?
I’d say for most of us it’s true, especially for me, I’d say I’m a pretty introverted person. Most of the time I’m kind of quiet, you know, a more to-myself kind of personality but when we go onstage I try to let loose and just go nuts. So for me in that case it’s kind of polar opposites and for most of us, I’d say that’s it we’re more of an introverted bunch of dudes. Normally in a band you’d see a bunch of guys that are really outgoing and they thrive in the spotlight and love the attention. We’re definitely more to-ourselves kind of people who just love to go out onstage and have fun.
You also mentioned that you’ve been doing this for over 10 years. How does it feel knowing you’ve been doing it this long but still have a solid fanbase?
It’s really amazing and we’re so lucky. I think about it all the time, how lucky we are to still be out here doing it – travelling around the world as much as we get to and play shows like this. All we wanted to do when we started this band was be able to travel the world and play these big shows for people, so it’s incredible and it’s crazy that it’s been 10 years. It’s flown by for sure and we wanna keep on doing it, certainly for as long as we can, you know we realize that it’s not going to last forever. We’ve seen a lot of bands who have had the momentum and, I don’t know, something has happened along the way and it all just stops, so we’re just going to enjoy it while we can.
A lot of bands over the past year or so have thrown in the towel. A Loss For Words had their last show in December, Man Overboard just announced a hiatus but you guys are still going strong. What’s your secret?
I don’t know, it’s hard to say really but I’d like to think it’s a couple of things. I’d like to think one is that, within our band we kind of grew up together. I’ve known most of the guys for like half of my life, close to twenty years. So we all grew up playing music together and I feel like we really struck gold when we started this band. For years we had all played in these different bands and we were trying to find the right people to play music together with, so when we all came together to do Mayday Parade it was exactly what we wanted to do and we were willing to completely dedicate our lives to making this happen. One, we appreciate how lucky we are to be out here doing it and we want to make the most of it. Also we stayed, over ten years as a band, we stayed very busy touring on the road and meeting people, trying to build this core fanbase that has been amazing. We have a lot of super dedicated and wonderful fans.
I read that you guys are pretty tight as a band and rarely fight. You also said before that you’ve been friends for a long time. Do you think this has helped in keeping the line-up, minus one change, the same?
For sure, I think that’s huge and I’m so grateful for that. Who knows what the future holds but I feel like the five of us, used to be six you know, but the five of us have all been in the band since day one. I can’t imagine, like if somebody left I feel like the band would just break up. It’s hard to imagine someone else coming now, at this point and I just don’t see that being a possibility because it’s just such a close knit kind of group.
Has there ever been any moment at all where any of you thought ‘okay, maybe this isn’t working, maybe we should stop’?
There’s times were we think about slowing things down a little bit maybe, or taking a little more time between albums. We stay on the road a lot but we don’t tour as much as we did when we first started, so we have kind of slowed things down slightly. Now we’re all close to 30 or in our 30’s, so I don’t imagine that for the next ten years we’ll be touring quite as extensively or if we’re still a band ten years from now even. But maybe – take a band like Jimmy Eat World for example, they’re not out grinding and pushing out like they did 15 years or so ago. They’re still able to put out an album, make good music and tour whenever it makes sense to, so I’d like to think there’s a long future ahead of us we just might not keep going at the same rate that we’re going now.
You mentioned you have a dedicated fanbase and you still seem really accessible to them. Some bands tend to lose that connection after doing this for so long, how have you kept it?
I think the biggest thing and most important thing is that after every single show, I can’t speak for all of us necessarily but for the most part, we go out and talk to anybody who is out there and take pictures, sign stuff and listen to their stories. I think that from day one we’ve done that at every show so I think that’s pretty huge as far as connecting with people. There’s no better way to do it, you know, you can talk over social media but there’s nothing like face-to-face interaction with people. I think that’s a big part of it and trying to let everybody know that we care about them, we’re here for them.