A Day To Remember are one of the biggest bands in the world right now. After taking on their label in a legal battle that prevented the release of their latest album, ‘Common Courtesy,’ the band is finally releasing the album in Australia through 3Wise Records this month. Guitarist Kevin Skaff recently took the time to chat to killyourstereo.com about the album, the band’s upcoming appearance at Soundwave Festival 2014, and damaging cars in Italy.
Hey Kevin, how are you doing this morning?
Good man, how are you?
I’m well. Thanks for taking the time out to chat to killyourstereo this morning, do you want to kick things off just by telling me what’s happening in the A Day To Remember world right now?
Right now, we’re practicing for a little acoustic, week long radio promotion we’re going to be doing in London and Germany, so we’re gonna hit that. Then next month, we’re doing a few radio shows here in the United States, and then January we’re doing the UK, Germany, Europe, all that good stuff. Then in February, we get to play good old Soundwave.
You guys have recently put out your latest record, Common Courtesy. A month after the release, how have you found the reception?
It’s probably the most well received record we’ve put out. Usually, we get about 50% of people love the record, and 50% hate it, but so far not many people have been saying negative things about it, so it’ been pretty awesome.
There was quite a public court case surrounding the release of Common Courtesy, between you guys and Victory Records, which almost stopped the album from coming out altogether. How does it feel to actually have the record out after all of that?
That whole ordeal was one of the biggest weights on our shoulder. Ever. The day that the judge decided to let us put the record out was literally the greatest day of my life. Originally we were meant to know at the beginning of the week, but in the end we didn’t find out until the end of the week, just a few days before we put the record out, so they literally waited to the last minute to get that to us, but in the end it was awesome.
How have you found the release process this time around, doing things independently, rather than with the backing of a label?
It was definitely very different. It was a big learning experience for us, just because of the fact that for us, it was such a crazy process, but a very rewarding process for us at the same time. When you think about it, there were no ads for this record, there was nothing on TV, no billboards, nothing. It was just five guys, who recorded the record, telling their fans that they were releasing the record through their website. We sold more copies than we could’ve imagined in the circumstances.
Despite there being that huge lack of promotion for Common Courtesy, the reception has still been huge. What does that say to you guys about where you’re at as a band right now?
Honestly, it tells us that our fans are f***ing awesome! (laughs) And that they’ll stick with us through thick and thin. We couldn’t be more thankful about having them on our side. It’s just a really good feeling.
Have you guys preferred doing things on your own, or is it likely that you’ll sign with a label aside from Victory in the future?
Everything’s kind of up in the air right now, but at this moment, we’re enjoying being able to control our own schedule and everything. It’s definitely a freedom that we like having. No one like’s being pushed around and told ‘You have to do this, you have to do that,’ and get rushed into putting something mediocre, and we’re happy that we don’t have to do that s**t anymore. We can put out whatever the f**k we want, and make it sound as awesome as possible.
As a guitarist, how did you try to challenge yourself on Common Courtesy?
It was all about just being better than the last record. That was the biggest challenge I put to myself. Also, just being in a room with other accomplished musicians, you always find yourself trying a little bit harder to step outside of your box. I mean, playing with Tom Denney, playing with Chad [Gilbert], playing with Andrew [Wade], you know, they just sort of make you better whether you know it or not. It just sort of becomes a natural thing, and you don’t even notice it happen.
What do you think sets Common Courtesy apart from previous releases from the band?
I think it’s a lot more cohesive. The flow of the record is good. I like how personable the record is too. Whether that be lyrically, or the little tidbits you hear between songs. All that stuff is real by the way. None that is fake s**t. I like that about it.
Lyrically, the album has received a great deal of praise. In that respect, what are the tracks that stand out most to you from the album and why?
I really like ‘City of Ocala.’ I think a lot of people can relate to that. Especially having grown up in a small town myself, it’s good to hear that feeling put into it. Also, being a touring musician I relate to it quite a bit. I really like the lyrics for ‘The Document Speaks For Itself,’ as well, for obvious reasons.
You guys are touring the country as part of Soundwave Festival next year. How do you feel about coming back?
Soundwave is our favourite tour to do. Ever. Whenever we’re asked to do Soundwave, we’ll be there. It’s always awesome to look forward to, especially with the lineup this year. The lineup is insane!I love so many of the bands on there next year! We’re really looking forward to coming down and playing for a whole bunch of people.
With that in mind, what bands are you looking forward to sharing the stage with down here?
Definitely f***ing Green Day (laughs). That is huge. Some other bands you might not think though, Alice In Chains, Alter Bridge. We’re heaps excited for that, especially Alter Bridge. They’re our Orlando homies!
This will be your fifth time touring the country in just over three years, and given Australia’s location and the size of the market, that’s unusually often for a band of your size. What is it that keeps you coming back?
The shows are great. All of our Australian fans our amazing! Your country is honestly the best place on Earth, why wouldn’t we want to be there! (laughs) I pretty much want to live there anyway, so touring there as much as we can is the next best thing. (laughs)
Do you want to share some of your favourite experiences of the headline tours or festival tours you’ve done down here in recent years?
One of the first one’s that comes to mind is the first time we did Soundwave, and I think the first show was in Melbourne, and my guitar was having the worst f***ing problems ever. That feeling you get when your instrument isn’t working, you’re just f***ing angry. But then, looking out at how many people we were playing to and the response we were getting, and I just had a great time, even though my guitar sounded like s**t. (laughs)
How was it touring with some of the other international bands you brought down, like The Devil Wears Prada or Underoath?
Well Prada, we’ve known for years. Those guys are some of our closest friends. Underoath is a funny story, really. We did a tour with them in the US first, and it was like, we didn’t even f***ing talk to each other. We just talked s**t on each other. Like, we though ‘Oh, these guys are f***ing senile,’ and then they’re just like ‘these young punks think they’re the coolest thing ever.’
When we got to Australia and toured again, I think it was the first night, we went to a bar together and just got really drunk and we we’re all just like “why on Earth did we hate each other? I love you guys so much!” (laughs). Now they’re some of our best buds, and we hung out every single night. I miss those guys being around too, and I miss them being a band.
You said earlier that Soundwave was your favourite tour in the world. What would you say sets it apart from other festivals around the world?
It’s just how ridiculously accomodating they are to the artists. You get there, and you feel genuinely appreciated for playing your music at the festival. It’s not like over here where they go “here, have a case of water, look after yourselves, and we’ll see you at your set time.” It’s great weather, the fans are f***ing awesome, it’s a huge festival. Australia’s awesome, flying to every show is awesome, the food is great, and there’s really just nothing to dislike. So yeah, best tour in the f***ing world.
After having just released your fifth album, how do you go about selecting songs for a setlist, particularly if you only have limited time such as a festival set?
Doing an A Day To Remember setlist f***ing sucks. (laughs) We have enough trouble as it is, and people are liking a lot of songs off this new record, so we’re just like “what the f**k are we gonna do? we’ll have to play for at least 2 hours” and so our bodies are gonna hate us when we get old (laughs). I reckon we’ll add like, 3 or 4 definite songs, while getting rid of a few older songs, and then there’s gonna be the kids who are all like “why don’t you play this song, what the hell?’ because it happens every f***ing time. (laughs)
Having seen you guys live quite a few times, I’ve noticed that every show you seem to pull out some new things. What can fans expect from your show this time around?
Well, if I told you it wouldn’t be a surprise. (laughs) I don’t know hey?! We’ll definitely be playing some new songs, but we have no idea what we’re gonna do.
I might just give you a few quick ones to finish up with; what’s the first record you ever bought?
Oh, you don’t want to know. It was TLC’s ‘CrazySexyCool’ (laughs).
That’s an interesting one! (laughs) Last record you bought?
I think the last record I bought was actually ours. No lie. I know it’s kind of dumb and selfish, but I did it.
If you could play a show with any band in the world, living or dead, who would it be?
Living or dead? That one’s tough. I’m going to go with living, just because it makes things way easier, and that’d be the Foo Fighters.
Good call, good call. Craziest tour story (excluding anything on the end of I Remember)?
You’re killing me here! (laughs) Pretty much any night you go out with Neil is bound to be crazy. I remember we were out in this bar in Italy, with these people we had just met at a bar, and Neil accidentally ran into a car while we were walking, and broke off their side mirror. Anyway, these Italian people that were following us thought it was so funny, that they just started ripping off the side mirrors of the cars as we were walking past them, and we’re just like “f**k dude, we’re going to get in so much f***ing trouble”!
(laughs). All right, we’d best rap this up, so do you have any final words for your Australian fans?
We can’t wait to see you guys in February, and it’s going to awesome!