With next month’s release of ‘What Separates Me From You’ the Florida punkers are making their bid for greatness. Rock Sound is bringing you the full story behind the record
A Day To Remember are a bonafide phenomenon, a band as derided as they loved – and they are adored - who have carved out their own success on their own terms. But with ‘What Separates Me From You’ they’re going to transcend all the shitty scene politics and bitching to sit atop the pile, to be aped and ripped off for the next decade or so while imitators desperate for an undeserved slice of their success try to ride in their slipstream. This isn’t us editorialising or hyping them up: this will happen, regardless of whether or not you like them.
In this exclusive web-only interview the band discuss the genesis of the record, the thinking behind the title and their embrace of the dark arts…
How come this new album has emerged so quickly? Was there any pressure from your record label Victory?
Jeremy McKinnon (vocals): “Not at all. They were actually surprised too – when we were working on ‘Homesick’ and they said to us, ‘Hey guys, we actually need a record’ because we were taking so long. We were so focused on touring the other record we hadn’t written anything, so it was a big learning experience for us and we wrote it all on the road, but because we did all that and we learned those lessons so we were writing constantly while we were touring for this last year and a half. It seems like a really fast thing that has happened but we’ve been constantly working on it the entire time.”
Having heard the album it’s like you’ve made a similar leap Blink-182 made when they made their self-titled record…
Neil Westfall (guitar): “That’s what we’ve always tried to do. We’ve always just tried to make it better – we’re playing what we want to play, and you learn that from being in a band as long as we have. It’s a refining of our craft.”
Josh Woodard (bass): “Exactly. It's our witchcraft...”
Jeremy: “As you heard, there’s a lot of black magic in it. And if you play it backwards it’s actually telling you things.”
You're constantly writing and tracking on the road, so for you guys the progress is gradual. But for the outside world it's a big jump every time you release a record - is it hard to put something out that's an accurate representation of the band?
Jeremy: “I’ve already got stuff that didn’t make this record that we’re saving. Why waste something that could be awesome? I’m never a fan of throwing something on a record just to fill a slot – every record we make we try to make every song one you can’t skip. I want to make a record you can listen to all the way through every time, and if a song isn’t good enough we move on. There’s a song on this record – it’s not done yet – and I’m really excited about it, and it was written for ‘Homesick’ but Chad did something funny over the top of it and it’s taken me this long to get that out of my head. We finally got it there and I’m really happy with it.”
What's behind the title?
Jeremy: “It was actually really hard to come up with a title for this record – and that’s another thing, maybe we’ll do something like this in the future and I don’t want to say we definitely won’t, but I really do not like it when bands self-title a record. I think it’s a cop-out. I like it when a title means a record makes sense all together. When you write songs they have to be good enough to make the record, and it’s the same with the titles.”
Kevin Skaff (guitar): “When a band makes a self-titled record every single song on that album has to be what that band is all about.”
Neil: “Blink-182’s self-titled album was cool because every song was what that band was about. Their whole career was on that CD.”
How late in the day do you come up with titles? And how do you get them?
Jeremy: “I’ve got my iPhone, and I go on my notes and every time I see something I like I write it down, so a lot of the time titles are something that mean something to us only, or to someone I know only. Me and that person will know what it’s about, but no one else. There’s a lot of really personal stuff that people won’t understand, and this album has been the slowest for stuff like that, because I knew I wanted to call a record ‘Homesick’ for a while, and a lot of the titles I knew what I wanted to go where, but this time I’ve been concentrating on making songs perfect. I’m not worried about the titles, they’re going to come.”
Is there a theme to this record?
Jeremy: “Absolutely. The title makes sense with every single thing that’s talked about on the record. ‘Homesick’ was the same, but this record is a lot more personal and darker. I know it’s new and it’s easy to say it’s your favourite stuff, but I’m a lot more attached to these songs than I’ve ever been. This record’s going to mean a lot to me.”