Pop rock kingpins Mayday Parade have been a band for ten years, and to celebrate they’re releasing their fifth studio album ‘Black Lines’ and a retrospective documentary titled ‘Three Cheers For Ten Years’. We spoke with frontman Derek Sanders ahead of the dual-release to talk about the new direction, being around for a decade and a return to Australia.
Despite its pretty good overall reception, your last album copped a bit of criticism for its similarity to past releases. Do you listen to the criticism and does that inform your next album’s direction, or was it a personal decision to make ‘Black Lines’ so different?
I think a little bit of both. I definitely pay attention to the criticism and stuff, at least at first, because it really is a very strange thing, because it really takes a while after recording and releasing an album to really kind of see it for what it is, you know? It’s really weird, when you’re writing and recording an album and you’re living with these songs every day, it’s hard to objectively look at it without all that in mind. So I pay attention to all that stuff at first and then my own opinion of it kind of becomes more clear with all that in mind I guess and we assess what we should do with the next album from there.
More specifically, ‘Black Lines’ is a lot darker sounding than your previous releases. Is that reflected in its themes, are they darker, or are they the same, and the music just has a bit more energy in terms of its heaviness?
I’d say [again] it’s a little bit of both. What’s strange is that it was never really an intentional thing; we didn’t really ever say that we wanted this to feel darker necessarily. It just kind of worked out that way whenever we were all writing the songs. So for whatever reason, that’s kind of the way it ended up happening. But it wasn’t really planned that way I suppose, no.
The chorus on ‘One of Them Will Destroy the Other’ has the lyric ‘he’s gonna come around any one of these days’. Who is ‘he’? Is there a particular theme for that song?
There isn’t really one, honestly. It’s kind of hard to explain, really, but honestly, that song kind of went from…it started whenever I was at my house. I’m always messing around with songs and recording songs. A lot of the songs I record aren’t ever used for Mayday Parade and are very different kind of styles and stuff. I kind of thought that would be the case with that song, ‘One of Them Will Destroy the Other’, when I started working on it. I wanted to make this crazy, chaotic song, that’s almost like a drug trip or something, you know? And when I first started recording it I thought ‘this is just kind of whatever’. And then when it actually came together I thought ‘this is actually really cool’ and I sent it to the guys and they all liked it. It really is kind of hard to explain a lot of it, it’s kind of meant to be nonsensical, chaotic almost, there’s not necessarily a meaning for that I guess.
I can understand that it’s more about the emotion that it creates. You mentioned that you have songs that you don’t use for Mayday Parade. What do you do with them? Are they personal or are you planning another project?
I actually don’t know. I’ve actually been wondering a lot of that lately, I kind of realised how much of all this stuff I’ve worked on that I’ve never done anything with and I feel like I should do something with it. I don’t really know what, I don’t know what that’d be, I sort of had the idea of putting together or at least recording and releasing some of these finished songs, just on my own or maybe as some kind of side project kind of thing. But I don’t know, who knows? I certainly am interested in getting involved with stuff for now. It’s just tough because obviously Mayday Parade is the biggest aspect of our lives; it’s tough to really put a lot of effort into anything else right now musically. But I do have a lot of old stuff that hopefully I’ll be able to do something with one day.
Moving onto to the documentary, you guys have been in the scene for ten years. Was that the reason you wanted to release the documentary at this point or has the idea been around for a while now?
We’ve always loved the idea of doing a documentary. I used to love, ten or fifteen years ago or so, watching the DVDs that bands would put out. We’ve always talked about how we should do one and we’ve always filmed a lot of stuff on the road throughout the years, with just little handheld cameras and what not. It never worked out for us doing one, and then it just sort of clicked. We were like, well coming up we have ten years as a band and we’re putting out our fifth album and it’s sort of a landmark moment, why don’t we take this old footage that we have and have never done anything with and put it together and obviously the name, ‘Three Cheers For Ten Years’, it set up so well that we had to use that…it just feels like the right time for something like this, you know?
Yeah, the name is particularly fitting. You said that you had a lot of footage from old times on the road and there’s been a bit of speculation online about how much of it is going to feature Jason [Lancaster, ex-vocalist]. Obviously, I don’t want to touch any nerves, but can you comment on that?
Yeah well, I’m not 100% sure, there might be some stuff in the documentary that has Jason in it but I doubt there’s much at all, because really he was only in the band for one year out of the ten years now that we’ve been a band. Some of the really, really old footage, we lost over the years. We lost a lot of video cameras, tapes and stuff, and what not. Some of the really, really early stuff we don’t have anymore, which is a shame honestly, but I think that there might be little bits and pieces here and there. I actually can’t even say for sure (laughs). I should be able to, but yeah, I’m not sure.
Fair enough. Was it a nostalgic process to do the retrospective documentary? Did it renew your motivation at all for the band to reflect on how successful it’s been for you guys?
Yeah, it really has, absolutely, throughout the whole process of all of us kind of going back and compiling all the old footage that we had and looking at some of that stuff that I haven’t looked at in years, you know, just seeing us and how young we were going out on some of these tours and how exciting everything was, it’s certainly a nostalgia driven experience and a lot of fun. Like you said, it really makes us appreciate where we are and what we’ve been able to do with this and now we just kind of hope we can keep on [doing it]. We’d love to be able to do it for ten more years if we can, you know.
Just on the topic of the entire scene, because you guys have been in it for a while now, do you feel like it’s changing or do you feel positive about it? There have been a lot of controversies, for example on Warped with the Youtubers and with specific band members. I was just wondering if you could weigh in on the future of the scene.
The world is changing and of course what we do is no exception to that, with the internet and global communication being how it’s never been, ever, in the history of the world, the world is completely changing, so it’s tough to say. It doesn’t make me sad, there are good and bad things with all of it, with any kind of change. I think that the music scene will be fine, there will always continue to be people who create music and people that wanna consume and listen to music, the state of music will be fine, but obviously that the way that it all happens, what’s popular and what’s not, all this, will continue to change and shift, so I try to just not worry about it too much. For me, I enjoy just creating music and I just try and worry about that, that’s about it I suppose.
Definitely. Just to finish off the interview, are you guys planning a return to Australia? I know that you were just here, but…
We definitely will be back, I don’t know for certain when it will be but I’m hoping maybe next year, 2016 sometime. If not that, at the very latest, 2017. I know that seems so far from now, but it will definitely be sometime in the next year or year and a half from now, without a doubt, we’ll make it back over there for sure.
‘Black Lines’ drops on October 9 via Fearless Records. You can read our review here and pre-order the album via 24Hundred. A free download of ‘Three Cheers For Ten Years’ will be available with the album.