It was to a sea of young teenagers clad in black denim, band shirts, Doc Martens and heavily applied kohl eyeliner that Mayday Parade played their penultimate UK tour date in Oxford’s 02 Academy. I caught up with the Florida-based alternative-rock band’s lead singer, Derek Sanders, and rhythm-guitarist, Brooks Betts, prior to their sold out ‘Meet-and-Greet’ to discuss their tour, albums and musical influences.
After spending time exploring the rainy city, Sanders was definitely excited for the night’s performance. “I woke up this morning and thought ‘There’s only two shows left in the UK, that’s wild! I’m looking forward to tonight, and obviously London’ll be the biggest night of the tour, so it’ll be good.” Two days before their sold-out show at London’s KOKO, the band certainly haven’t let the traditional British weather deter them from enjoying the tour – “Minus the rain, it’s been pretty awesome,” Betts laughed, “But one really cool thing about the tour was doing Dublin for the first time, that was awesome.”
After their London show, the band have been travelling across mainland Europe playing a string of sold-out shows, but they still greatly enjoyed their 2014 UK dates. Betts particularly enjoyed the familiarity of the country this time around: “It’s interesting because when I get off the bus, I may forget what certain cities look like, or what the venues looked like last time. However, this whole tour I wake up and look out, and it’s like yeah – I know where I am”. It appears that this has been the case for Sanders also, declaring that Monsters Overseas is “One of my favourite tours that we’ve done over here”. Mayday Parade picked Divided By Friday, Decade and Man Overboard as their support acts, and the bands certainly seem to get on – from watching the Superbowl together in Liverpool to enjoying Guinness in Ireland, their collective Instagram accounts have been very active the past few weeks. Sanders is especially enthusiastic about the other touring bands – “Sharing a bus with Man Overboard is great! They’re awesome dudes to be able to hang out with all the time. The rest of the bands on tour are great too, such nice people.”
Although the tour title directly references the band’s fourth studio album, Monsters in the Closet, the band’s set list included songs from their other albums. Sanders feels like the band’s latest offering is “a culmination of everything we’ve done before, with a step forward as well. It’s what we’ve tried to do with each album – and what we’ll probably keep trying to do.” Betts added that he feels it is “one of the most diverse records we’ve done”, before correcting himself, “No – it is the most diverse record we’ve done, and that’s pretty cool to me”. This diversity has made it the current favourite release of the group, although they admit that “generally it is the newer stuff that you like more”. This time, however, the band feel as though they have found their own sound – what Sanders has named “a Mayday Parade sound. I feel like we’ve accomplished that for this album, and it’ll keep moving that way in the future.”
The albums are definitely a collaborative effort from all five band members, with a Florida beach house being the hub of activity for the last two album writing periods. “Everyone brings material they’ve been working on over the last year or so of touring, and we just take it all and put it together.” The material apparently ranges from basic ideas to almost complete songs. “Once everyone adds their flavour, it becomes a Mayday Parade song,” Sanders explained. “Yeah, its interesting,” Betts added, “so if Derek has the idea, it’ll sound like a Derek song, and if someone else has an idea it sounds different – I think it comes from older influences we had growing up as kids, so I think its interesting how it works together.” This collaboration means once neglected songs can make a return – ‘Girls’, Betts favourite song on the newest album, was brought back by the band whilst in the beach house.
Keeping up with pop-punk tradition, Mayday Parade enjoy long song titles – ‘The Torment of Existence Weighed Against the Horror of Nonbeing and You Be the Anchor That Keeps My Feet On the Ground’, ‘I’ll Be the Wings That Let Your Heart Soar in the Clouds’ demonstrating this nicely. “I feel that for a lot of songs, if they’re gonna be a radio single, people like simple titles because then someone can go out and find what the song is, and purchase it easily,” explains Betts. “I like to think that we’re more of an album orientated band, so its more important to have an album title thats catchy and easier to remember than the actual song titles.” Sanders sees song-naming as an opportunity that the band like to “just have fun and do whatever we want with”. He also looks to other bands of the genre -“It was partly inspired by other bands, like Taking Back Sunday and Fall Out Boy.”
Indeed, these bands were part of a collection that shaped and inspired the musical preferences of the band members during their late-teens. “Taking Back Sunday, New Found Glory, Brand New, Jimmy Eat World – all those bands at that time influenced us and are a big part of why we play that music that we play.” Jimmy Eat World are a band that Sanders is clearly a big fan of – he’s especially excited that they’ll be playing Australia’s Soundwave Festival alongside Mayday Parade in late-February and early March. A lot of big names are lined up for this festival, with Betts being particularly excited about seeing Stone Temple Pilots, System of a Down and Korn. He was even looking forward to Blink 182 being there, until Sanders gently corrected him – Green Day are playing instead. “It’s gonna be amazing,” he then continued, “We’ve done it once before and its such an incredible tour. They really do take care of you! There’s a lot of flying involved but there are also days off. It’s just a good time.”
Post-Soundwave the band are jetting off to South East Asia for four shows before returning to the USA, where, after a short time-off, they are playing Warped Tour from June to August. Sanders hopes that in the future the band’s touring schedule will be less intense – a sentiment most likely connected to his young daughter, who turns three this year. “We’ve been going at the same speed for a long time and doing amazing stuff all around the world. If we can keep doing this, but maybe slow down the touring part, that’d be great,” he mused. “We’ve been pretty full throttle for a while. So, maybe tour for six months out of the year, as opposed to eight. We want to just keep going out and making albums, going out and then supporting them – we love doing it, so that’d be amazing.”
Following the end of Warped Tour at the beginning of August, the band’s schedules are relatively clear. “We would love to do some big festivals in the UK,” Sanders confessed, “but we don’t know anything yet”. Fans of the band will certainly be hoping for appearances by the band across the festival scene, but it looks like only time will tell if Mayday Parade will be returning to the UK this summer.
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