July 10, 2012
Straight from the pages of the new special Vans Warped Tour edition of RAGGED, we’re thrilled to give you an exclusive excerpt from our feature story with Mayday Parade! Catch us on Vans Warped Tour all summer long and download the entire issue featuring more photos with the band for free right here.
The members of Mayday Parade have had a great year. The Tallahassee, florida, quintet’s eponymous third album instantly cracked the Billboard Top 20 chart upon its release last October, and the band has just put out a video for the record’s second single, the heartbreakingly earnest ballad “Stay.” If the unprecedented success of the new album feels extra sweet for the band, it might be because Mayday Parade is the band’s first full-length written without any input from labels, outside songwriters, producers or former bandmates.
“For the Atlantic Records album [Anywhere But Here, 2010], we ended up writing a bunch of songs, and the label picked the ones they liked and didn’t like,” says singer-keyboardist Derek Sanders, speaking from his Florida home, where he is spending time with his girlfriend and newborn daughter between tours.
“Their picks didn’t always line up with the ones we liked,” he says. “We did a bunch of [outside] co-writing, which we were hesitant to do. It was a cool experience, but it’s not what works best for our band. We wound up with songs we didn’t care about or believe in as much.”
After the release of Anywhere But Here, the band parted ways with Atlantic in favor of a creatively liberating deal with ILG, an indie label that also happens to be backed by the marketing and distribution muscle of Warner Music Group. Now, the band had full creative control. “When we did this last album [for ILG], nobody heard the album until it was done except for us,” says Sanders.
That particular sense of dedication began when Sanders and guitarist Brooks Betts first met in junior high school and quickly decided to pursue music above all else—often at the expense of their studies.
“We spent most of our lives trying to find the perfect matchup of people to be in a band with, people who were as dedicated as we were,” says Sanders. “That was the goal from the beginning. ever since I met Brooks, we’ve pretty much dedicated the majority of our time and effort and energy to music. We didn’t try nearly as hard in school; we just focused on bands and our music.”
In the early 2000s, Tallahassee’s DIY music scene revolved around a group of warehouses that were rented out by various bands and friends for rehearsals and shows. Encouraged by the close-knit music community in their hometown, Sanders, Betts and bassist Jeremy “Cabbage” Lenzo formed a band called defining moment in high school.
“[Bands like Taking Back Sunday] were our big inspirations and influences,” says Sanders. “I felt like there were a lot of [like-minded] bands, though the scene wasn’t as oversaturated as it is today.”
After graduation, Sanders, Betts and Lenzo decided to skip college in favor of a self-booked US tour. The young band’s low profile often resulted in playing to just the other bands on the bill and the sound guy. The boys made new fans the old-fashioned way: sleeping on strangers’ floors every night and staying on the road for months at a time.
Two years later, defining moment merged its roster with that of another promising Tallahassee band called Kid Named Chicago, which featured singer Jason Lancaster, guitarist Alex Garcia and drummer Jake Bundrick. Within a few weeks, the new band was dubbed “Mayday Parade.”
The newly formed band’s first objective, according to Sanders, was to follow the 2006 Warped Tour around the country and sell CDs in the parking lot of every venue. To accomplish this, the band went into the studio to record the Tales Told By Dead Friends EP, which sold 20,000 copies without any label support.
The following year, after co-writing the band’s debut album A Lesson in Romantics, co-lead vocalist Lancaster left the band for personal reasons. The album was released to widespread acclaim and eventually sold over 176,000 copies.
(Continued in the new issue of RAGGED…)
posted by Staff