"You don’t want to take all this time in the first place for you not to be sure of it. You know what I mean? No stone unturned, as far I’m concerned" - Jeremy McKinnon
Photo: Jimmy Fontaine
Back in August 2019 A Day To Remember revealed that their 7th album 'You're Welcome' was scheduled to be released on November 15. Just a week before it was set to drop they then announced that the record would be delayed until 2020. Though there was no full-length, the music that ADTR did release in 2019, the Marshmello-collaborating 'Rescue Me', bouyant 'Degenerates' and pummelling 'Resentment', showed that despite the delay they were continuing to push the boundaries of what kind of music the band can play in 2020.
We caught up with vocalist Jeremy McKinnon to find out how the album is getting on, what's inspiring them and how they're feeling about hitting the road this summer.
So let’s take it back to August when you announced ‘You’re Welcome’. Compared to then, where are you up to with the album now?
Says Jeremy McKinnon: “I think we would have said this back then as well, but it’s very close. And when I say that, it genuinely is very close. We’re talking in the very final stages of finalising the last few mixes. The album artwork is well underway and really close to being done as well. So in no time we’re going to be making some announcements.”
So what have the last six months been like for you guys? What were the things that made you want to push things back and carry on working on 'You're Welcome'?
“Honestly, we just didn’t have all of the mixing in place. So there was a song or two that I still wanted to try some things on - because I’m always tweaking things as long as people will allow me to. I’m happy to say that I was allowed to do those things and I think everybody would agree that those two songs in particular sound much better. So it’s really just taking that extra time to try every idea before we call it done.”
So how have you been doing that?
“The thing is that A Day To Remember is not just one band with just one sound. Depending on the track, it sounds like a totally different genre or subgenre of rock. It’s hard for us to mix records because how do you just pick one guy when you have a song which is more on the poppy side and another which is more metalcore? So with this record we’ve been saying ‘Let’s send this song to this guy’ and ‘Let’s send this one to this guy’. We’ve been able to really pick and choose who we think will do spectacular for certain types of songs. So adding multiple people to the mix can really slow things down as well.”
The reality of being in a band doesn’t always cater for when inspiration hits. You never know if you’re working on something that could take the band to a completely different level…
“That’s the thing. You don’t want to take all this time in the first place for you not to be sure of it. You know what I mean? No stone unturned, as far I’m concerned. Let’s give it everything we have. If we think that we can improve something, let’s do it. We’ve missed the deadline anyway. That’s not to say we’re going to push it back any further! But the thing is that we did miss the deadline, so let’s make that matter.”
So how is it sounding? What has changed in terms of what sort of music you want to make since ['16's] ‘Bad Vibrations’ coming out and now? In many ways that was the album where you were able to really do what you wanted freely after having to fight for ['13's] ‘Common Courtesy’…
“Yeah you’re right. ‘Common Courtesy’ was a struggle. The process took a long time and then there was the really big gap of time in-between where we weren’t sure if things were going to work out and if the court case was going to crush us. Then it goes to ‘Bad Vibrations’, which in hindsight everybody needed so they could feel connected to the music again. We thought it was very important to get into a room and be a band again. Whatever comes out comes out. It was about creating together from scratch, which is the first time we’ve done that since the first two albums. So with 'You're Welcome' the difference is being supported by a group of people who respect you and are amazing at their jobs. Having a huge team of people who have great and creative ideas that add to the situation. So I had a bunch of songs saved up this time that I believed in and I had a label who wanted me to write just as much as possible and get me in a room with as many people who I thought were awesome creatively as possible. People would always joke when I came in to a room saying ‘Are we going to write a song with a breakdown or what’ and I would say ‘Let’s just write a really good song and I’ll worry about making it an A Day To Remember song’. That’s how every song we write is written anyway.”
Well that’s demonstrated pretty brilliantly in the three songs you released last year. ‘Rescue Me’, ‘Degenerates’ and ‘Resentment’ are so different but they still have that core ADTR crunch to them. It shows off the spectrum of what sort of music you’re able to create at this point in your career…
“For sure and it feels good to hear someone say it. It’s been an awesome process throughout. We’ve got a tonne of songs that feel very different and there are bits that feel very much the same. They’re just put together differently so that they sound fresh. We’re pushing in so many different directions and I also think we’ve got one of the heaviest songs of our career on here as well. I’m really excited about that one. We had to make it match with the rest of the record in terms of production, but the bones of it is what makes me so excited.”
So what’s been inspiring you lyrically? What is the core feeling or message of this album, if there is one?
“I don’t know if I can summarise what I think it all means together. It’s very much like a normal A Day To Remember record. Even on the songs where you would think there’s this clear and conscious message when they all come together, that wasn’t planned. I’m very much doing the same thing lyrically as what I’ve always done. Writing about the stuff that I’m going through in everyday life. But just like life, things are always changing. I keep telling people that it’s a happy record compared to records in the past. There are multiple songs on this record that just feel fun. It’s not all aggressive or mean, it’s a happy-go-lucky ‘Man we had a really crazy night’ or ‘I can’t wait till I get what I’m working for’ feeling. It’s all over the place but I reflect on that as a very positive thing.”
For you, becoming a Dad is the biggest way in how your life has changed. So to be able to take the joy from that and perhaps put it into your art is something that you can always be proud of…
“That’s exactly it. It’s been a very positive few years, so it has absolutely trickled through. Not to worry, people will still have some angry songs to get down to."
You’re coming back to play some dates in the summer in the UK and Europe. How does being on the road make you feel now compared to in the past?
“There’s always still that first bit of excitement when you’re getting booked up and you know that you’re going to be playing new songs. There’s that unknown of ‘Is this going to work or not going to work?’ That’s always a really exciting time. I kind of associate it with being a comedian. A comedian will do an hour-long special and then they’ve almost got to scrap everything. In the same way we have to go back out and learn how to perform and entertain in front of a crowd all over again. It’s always evolving and changing and it’s still exciting because of that."
“I remember when ‘Homesick’ came out and it was almost like a light switch was flicked in the UK. The record had leaked two weeks prior and we had seen some positive stuff online, but nothing that made us think things were going to be crazy when we got over there. That first show we played in Manchester was one of the craziest things I’ve seen in my life. Everybody doing the ‘The Downfall Of Us All’ chant when we’re about to go on stage and we’re all looking at each other like ‘Holy shit, is it going to be like this forever?’ Then we went home and it hadn’t done that yet. America took a little bit of time to catch up. So you just never know what you’re going to get when you put out a record. It can be this slow building thing or it can be a light switch. It’s different every time.”
It can be so easy to feel the effects of touring so much over the years and start to get that urge to slow down, but when different things pop up for you to get excited about it reminds you of that original thrill that comes from being in a band…
“If anything, I think it’s made me more productive in the time that I’m away from home. We were doing double time on that tour we did in the States with Beartooth and I Prevail when it came to finishing writing this new album. Some of the songs were done but I said I wanted to try a few things production wise in some spots that I thought were rough. Our producer Colin Brittain, who has been awesome with this whole thing because I’ve been a nightmare to work with, flew out on the tour for like a week straight. He would set up and we would work before the show, then we would play the show and then work after the show. On off days we would set up in the hotel room and me, Kevin [Skaff, guitarist] and Neil [Westfall, guitarist] would do nothing but work on finalising these tracks. All this was happening while we were playing the shows and making sure we had everything we needed to play the show. In the same way I said we are making this record matter, I’m making being away from home matter too.”
How has it felt playing shows that people are still coming out to and getting excited about despite the fact you have the album’s release lingering over you?
“I just think about our fan base and how amazing they are and how we’ve been supported for this long. The fact we’re still breaking attendance records and playing places that are new territories for us, business has never been better over the last few years. I think that adds to the happiness and freeness of this record too. To feel like ‘Let’s try and do something special that doesn’t feel like the same thing’. Let’s give people an A Day To Remember album that feels like us but also makes them feel like this is new.”
So how has your relationship with the band changed up to this point?
“I know this is a dangerous thing to say and I know how quickly music can change, but with the support not changing after it being so long makes me feel like we’ve got to that point where we’re a band people will want to see forever. I don’t know the answer to that question yet, but all we can do is try and do something special and I think that people will support us.”
It’s amazing to reach that point where you no longer doubt yourself. Where that feeling in your chest is right and the realisation that making those hard decisions has paid off…
“Absolutely. If I’m honest, every positive in my life has come from making those hard decisions in life. Going against the grain and doing the things that people have said ‘I don’t know if that’s going to work’. It’s those moments that have even allowed us to be in this position. When you’re feeling something like that this late into your career, why wouldn’t we? That’s why we’re here in the first place.”