Their new album ‘What Separates Me From You’ is about to drop, and in this month’s Rock Sound we’re bringing you the full story on its creation. But what about the creation of the band itself?
This month’s Rock Sound coverstars are A Day To Remember, a band who by now need no introduction. In our extensive article in the magazine they discuss everything from sacrifice to ‘Superman’ by Goldfinger and in this online-only interview the band talk about their roots – their hometown of Ocala, Florida and how the band was born.
What was the first moment A Day To Remember was an entity?
Jeremy McKinnon (vocals): “Tom [Denney, ADTR’s original guitarist] called me, we were both in two random local bands, called Two Days Too Late and All For Nothing, and he said he was starting a new band and asked if I wanted to sing for it. I thought it’d be cool so we got together with our original drummer Bobby. We wrote a song and we loved it, and it was better than everything our other bands had come up with, so that was who we were. We didn’t have a band name yet, so in the first week we went through a TV guide at Tom’s house and we found a movie called End Of An Era, so that was our name. Literally the next day we had a practice with this kid Bobby was friends with, and his girlfriend had come up with the name A Day To Remember, so we got him to stay in the band because it was a great name. He stayed for a few weeks and played a few shows – every show he walked off so we kicked him out. Then we got together with the better members of local bands, which was Neil (Westfall, guitar), Josh (Woodard, bass) and (drummer Alex) Shelnutt. Tom eventually left right after we recorded ‘Homesick’ and we got Kevin, who brought what we were lacking live and writing-wise.”
Josh: “So it was me, Jeremy, Tom, Neil and our original drummer Bobby. We had a tour booked in three days and Neil and I were just fucking around, trying to start a side-project metal band, and Alex was already in a metal band, so we went over to his practice space and he looked just like a little kid playing drums, he was 15.”
Neil: “Bobby quit, and Josh was talking to Alex online, and he asked if he wanted to play drums for A Day To Remember and he said, ‘I have to ask my mum’.”
Josh: “I went over to his with the album on my laptop and played him some stuff and asked him to play along. He said he thought he could do it so I was like, ‘Cool, we’ve got practice tonight.’ He said, ‘I don’t have any drums.’”
Jeremy: “…and he played every song better than our original drummer, who wrote the parts. He played it perfectly.”
Josh: “That whole tour we knew we wanted him in the band, so we started giving him shit to induct him into the band. It almost drove him away!”
Alex: “(Indignantly) It did!”
Josh: “We asked him if he really wanted to continue being in the band and he said he didn’t know if he wanted to or if he wanted to keep being in High School. We were like, ‘Oh fuck…’ We hazed him so much – every time he raised his voice we’d shout ‘SHUT THE FUCK UP! SKATE HOME!’”
I arrived in Ocala last night and it was pretty dead, even for a Friday night. What was it like growing up here?
Neil: “Last night for you was what it was like the whole time.”
Josh: “There was NOTHING to do, which is why I think people got into the hardcore scene. You’d have people wearing preppy clothes there because there was nothing else. So many people would hang out, we had multiple venues which have all shut down. Drew Russ was Seventh Star’s bass player and he’d bring all the bands through here if they needed a stop in Florida. People wanted to start bands to play these shows – every week there was four shows.”
Jeremy: “I wish that still happened. We can’t play here now. There was a messageboard for our hometown that everybody went on and that helped.”
As you’ve said in other interviews, when you get home you hanker for being on tour…
Jeremy: “This is the choice we made in our heart.”
Neil: “We’ve been on the road for longer than that… we know what it’s like and it’s what we do. We know how to do it and we’re good at it.”
Jeremy: “All you need are the little breaks. You come home and it’s awesome, but you hit that third or fourth week and you think, ‘Shit, I don’t care how well we’re doing because I feel like a fucking loser. Everyone else has jobs and I’m just sitting there. You try to convince people to come hang out with you and they have to go to bed early.”
Josh: “And you’re thinking, ‘I have to go to bed early because I have a whole load of nothing to do.’”
Is it weird when you hear bands talking about the misery of touring life?
Josh: “No, it’s hard. But we’ve got it down.”
Jeremy: “We wrote a fucking record about how hard it is! Seriously – anything you do, no matter how much you love it, is going to eventually turn into a job. This is just what we love to do. There are ups and downs but it is a job, still. But it’s a job we love doing.”
Kevin: “We’re just lucky to have the thing we love most in the world as our job.”