Not only are A Day To Remember approaching the halfway mark as the main supports on Blink 182’s US album tour, they’re also fast approaching the release of their new record ‘Bad Vibrations’. We had a quick chat to guitarist Kevin Skaff to discuss the dismantling of ‘For Those Who Have Heart’ as their heaviest record, how goddamn good Lord Of The Fries is, and much more.
Hey Kevin, so you’re on the Blink-182 headline tour as we speak. How’s the reaction been so far? You’re obviously a much heavier band than the rest of the line-up. Does that change the way you assemble your set lists or perform?
Yeah, for sure. No, we don’t cater to them, we go all out. We definitely stick out on this tour but I think it’s a good thing because the fans have a big reaction to us when we come out, which is actually really cool to see. It’s actually been received really well on this tour.
That’s awesome. Would you say that the Blink fans react to ADTR, a heavy band, the same ways listeners of heavy music would react?
Well,these venues are a lot different to what we’re used to playing. These venues are amphitheatres, so it’s like a small pit, a ton of seats that go up like a movie theatre would and then a big lawn in the back. But yeah, usually the lawn and the pit go pretty hard, but then it’s like the seats can’t do anything. As we already know how to play to the pits, trying to play to the seats has kind of been our learning curve, trying to entertain them.
Yeah, I can imagine so. How do you go about that?
It’s just like, we have a few things that we’ve always done that entertain them, like the beach balls, the toilet paper, the t-shirt cannon etc. So there’s still a few ways to get them into it. I’m glad we had those tricks already so it works this time too.
Good to hear! Now, ‘Bad Vibrations’ is out September 2nd, can you please give us a general idea as to the theme of the record? From the singles released so far, it sure seems to have a very dark and very negative tone to it.
It’s just a super diverse record with genre splitting songs. I mean we’ve always done that, but this one I think is probably our heaviest. We didn’t plan to do a super heavy album; it kinda just came out that way. ADTR has always kind of dwelled on negative topics, but it’s just weird that we’d put them over poppier sounding songs (laughs). It’s nothing different, it’s just the vibe of the record is different, it’s a little bit darker and it’s a lot heavier.
So that wasn’t a conscious decision? This record being heavier was more so a product of the band writing in the same room as each other for the first time in years?
Yeah definitely. We just locked ourselves in a room for 10 hours a day, 30 days straight, just writing. So I guess, just having that much time around each other, there are so many emotions you go through writing a song as a band too, that I can see why it turned into a dark, heavy… thing (laughs).
That makes sense! So I’d say that most fans assumed you’d keep getting softer, was this also motivation to bring back the heavy, and to maybe prove them wrong?
Yeah, I think they did too but nah, we don’t care about that shit. If we’re going to do a pop record, were going to do it and it’s going to be good, but they just weren’t the songs that we were writing at the time. We just write whatever we’re feeling at the time, we pick the best songs out of that and that’s what we put out. So if we made a pop album and we made it because we were just making music, and it just happened to be the more pop punk side of our band, then the fans would get a pop punk record, that’s just how it happens. This one just happened to be a dark, heavy record.
Fair enough! Now I was wondering about your backing vocals. Although sort of obscure as it’s a b-side, one of my favourite ADTR songs is ‘Same Book but Never the Same Page’. I just love the interchange between Jeremy’s voice and yours in the chorus. Are there any plans for more of this on the new record, or in the future?
Well, I think the pre-chorus on the title track ‘Bad Vibrations’ is kinda buried but I’m in there. We’ve never made a conscious effort to make me a second lead singer or anything like that. I don’t know… maybe there’s going to be a song in the future or something that I’ll do that, but not as of right now.
So it’s more ‘if it happens, it happens’?
Yeah yeah, kinda like everything in our band (laughs).
So you’re coming back to Australia again in December for a headline run in support of the new record, with Of Mice & Men. As such, how many new songs are you guys playing at the moment?
At the moment, on the Blink tour, we only have 45 minutes so we kinda just try to jam pack as many ‘hits’ into 45 minutes. So we play 11 songs, and right now the only song that stays in is ‘Paranoia’. Every now and then we put in ‘Bad Vibrations’.
Very nice. So I was wondering, what’s your favourite song on the new record?
Shittttttttttt. Mine changes all the time but right now, I really like ‘Same About You’. I think it’s different for us and I think it’s the biggest chorus on the record, to me. I really like it and I get a guitar solo (chuckles triumphantly).
Right on. So what are some of your greatest tour memories in Australia?
Oh man, there’s too many. There’s been so many, like fucking sitting in first class on a flight from Soundwave with Vinnie Paul from Pantera which was pretty crazy. Eating lunch with GWAR and Descendants at the same time was pretty crazy. There’s just so many instances like that. Like, I ate Lord of The Fries with Davey Havoc, which was pretty awesome.
That’s so good; Americans really seem to love Lord of The Fries by the way.
Yeah, it’s fucking great. I want one here in America. But yeah, there’s just a ton of great memories over there in Australia.
So what’s your perspective of the Australian heavy music scene? I feel it’s always interesting to hear how international bands like yourselves feel about it.
I think it’s awesome. I mean your heavy scene does way better than America’s heavy scene. Like, Bring Me The Horizon had a number one record over there; The Amity Affliction have had a bunch of number one records over there; Amity is on the fucking cover of Rolling Stone over there, and Violent Soho is on the cover. I think it’s great that your country supports heavy music whereas in America, if you’re not a rapper, a pop artist or a DJ, they usually don’t care and it’s super hard to break through into the mainstream with anything other than those genres. So I think it’s really cool that Australia supports heavy music, rock music in general and anything with guitars really.
Yeah for sure, it’s great. With the rise of bands like Amity, Parkway Drive etc, the population is slowly starting to accept that heavy music is actually a ‘thing’, and sometimes they even end up enjoying it.
Yeah, exactly. It’s insane to see Amity and Parkway selling out arenas and whatever else they’re playing over there. I’ve seen the crowds for those bands over there and it is fucking HUGE. I’m trying to think of heavy bands in America that do that and I just can’t. I can’t really think of any one to be honest with you.
It seems that way. So what bands within our scene are huge in America at the moment? There are of course bands like yours, Of Mice & Men, Bring Me The Horizon. Who else?
Well, there’s bands that broke through a while ago like Paramore, they do huge things. Deftones usually plays pretty big shows, Green day when they decide to come back. You’ve got the huge bands that have been around for fucking forever like Green Day, Foo Fighters.
(laughs) Yep, they sure are big bands. So what’s next, not just for your band, but also for bands within our scene? We have bands like Metallica and Slipknot that have been around for years and are still headlining festivals, when’s the next batch of bands going to fill that void?
I don’t know….it’s just such a different time compared to those bands. Like I was saying, the Green Day’s, the Foo Fighter’s, the Metallica’s, the Slipknots, they all came from a different time, where rock music was played on the radio, the music videos were played on MTV, they were actually recognised at awards shows. They just have all their die-hards from back then and their fans just grew up with them, whereas our class of bands these days are still “underground”. There haven’t been huge breaks for any of us. The radio just doesn’t play rock music anymore, there has to be some catch to it. There’s no MTV anymore and I think rock just shrunk, and it got taken over by corporations with all the pop music and the DJs and the rappers and all that stuff. So I don’t know. For the longest time, rock music has been on the back burner, although I really think that there’s going to be just one band that’s going to put out a record, they’re going to put out their first single on radio and it’s just going to fucking explode again, at some point in time in the future. I really do believe that; it only takes one band. Then all these other bands will start coming out and rock will be big again, but who the fuck knows when that’s going to happen. Hopefully with us (laughs).
I hope so! So what’s next for the band? Do you have any particular goals in mind, whether that be particular countries to tour, chart numbers to reach, festivals to play and so on? Or again…are you just going to do your thing?
To be honest with you, no. Usually, we just like to put out the record and just try to put on the best show that we can, and it’s worked for us so far. I don’t want to have to think of other stuff to do. I don’t want to be like “oh I’m going to make a scandal on the internet or I’m going to beef with some other band to try to get publicity out of it”. It’s not us, that’s not what we do. We just put out a record that we love and we just try to put on the best show that we can for our fans, and that’s the way it’s always going to be.
Well said, and I think that’s the right way to go about it! Anyway, our time is up, thank you for taking the time to have a chat, Kevin.
(Laughs) thank you, dude!
A Day To Remember’s sixth studio album ‘Bad Vibrations’ is out September 2nd via ADTR records, pre-order it here.