Mayday Parade has been a powerhouse in pop punk music for over 10 years now, continually maintaining their relevancy and status as one of the biggest names in the scene. The band’s sixth studio album, Sunnyland, is set to release June 15th. I got the chance to speak with Mayday Parade’s guitarist, Alex Garcia, about the band’s upcoming Rise Records debut. We also chatted labels, songwriting, Warped Tour, and maintaining longevity in a scene that loves holding onto nostalgia.
Your upcoming album, Sunnyland, is your first release off of Rise Records. Excited?
We’re definitely super excited to see what Rise has in store for us, I think there’s a lot of energy around the label, and this staff has been great to us so far. Everyone is very excited and very eager to see what Rise is all about.
Can you tell us a little bit about your departure from Fearless?
I think we just wanted a change, and wanted to try a different team. Change is good, especially in a creative world, and the worst thing you can have is stagnation. We’ve been working with Fearless for so long, and we love them, and everyone in the band is still close with Bob (from Fearless), and the label as a whole, but sometimes you just need a change, especially in a creative sense. Trying to create and experiment and try new things is really, really important. We left on good terms and tried to be as respectful as we could and they totally understand, there’s no hard feelings or love lost. We told Bob when we had received our plaque for A Lesson In Romantics. That dude has supported the band always, he’s always had our back and always been there with nothing but love and support, and that’s really hard to find in the world and let alone the music industry.
I think it’s great you’re able to maintain that good relationship. A big part of what you were talking about is growth, trying new things, change and development—on that topic, with your last album, Black Lines, that came out in 2015, you guys tried a lot of new things. You worked with a new producer, Mike Sapone, you guys tracked live—that album featured a more raw and gritty Mayday Parade than what fans were used to. With Sunnyland, you’re back to working with the familiar team of Zack Odom and Kenneth Mount at ZK Productions. Talk about the decision to re-invigorate that relationship.
Not only were we back with Zack and Ken but were working with John Feldmann and we really wanted to experiment again but in a different direction. Instead of working with only one producer and having a raw sound, we wanted to try these producers with a lot of success and see what they could offer the band and really try and put out our absolute best. And we wanted to schedule time with Zack and Ken because we know what we’re going to get with them and we know we’ll get something that we love. And you know we just wanted to walk that line of being experimental with new people and working people that we know and love and just kind of see what can come out of it.
You had that comfort and stability with those producers Zack and Ken, but also wanted to try new things—were you being as experimental with songwriting as well? How did these songs come together?
For the most part, they all came together how we’d gone about songwriting in the past, despite the differences in recording. I think that we still go back to what works in terms of writing. It’s primarily one person that will write a song, either a small section, or a full fleshed-out thing with harmonies, melodies, and verses ready to go, and then the rest of the band just goes over it and works on it together from there. That’s how every song on the record is. Now we did experiment with doing co-writes with John Feldmann but none of those songs ended up on the record.
The first single, “Piece of Your Heart”, showed off the softer side of Mayday Parade and the most recent single, “Never Sure”, was a little more of a classic pop punk sound. What else can we expect to hear from this record?
A lot of people online, I think, are getting the impression that we totally went away from the Black Lines, kind of raw feeling, but there are songs like that. The new record has a really good balance of older Mayday and newer Black Lines era Mayday Parade throughout the album. In general, I think the songs on this record are a lot better as a whole. I don’t think we totally strayed away from the Black Lines sound, but the two singles we released first kind of give that impression—I can totally see that.
I think that’s great that you guys are able to tap back into sounds and styles you’ve played with, while at the same time, continuing to move forward.
I think if anything, we’re really coming to terms with having different sounding songs on the record because everyone is writing in their own style. So instead of Brooks trying to write the best Mayday song, he’s trying to write the best Brooks song that he can. We all have been working together and are really finding out what Mayday Parade is.
You guys have been at this for over 10 years now. This is your sixth full length record. You guys have talked about so much already in your music. Lyrically, where did some of the inspiration come for this record? What kind of messages are you conveying with Sunnyland?
To be honest, I can only speak to songs that I wrote with total confidence, but as a whole, I can tell you that I think the band really only writes from personal experience. That’s usually how it works and whatever are the issues that we’re currently struggling with ends up being the lyrical content on the albums. We draw a lot from real life. Its universal emotions, I mean the context of them has changed, it’s not necessarily your high school girlfriend in 2006, now we’re talking about our wives currently, but it’s still the same emotions that everyone can connect with. I think there’s plenty for us to write about.
Sunnyland is set to release June 2018 — you guys are set to do Warped Tour this summer, so that will be your first tour supporting the new record. Being a band that’s been on several Warped Tours, what are your thoughts on this summer being the final full US Vans Warped Tour?
It’s very bittersweet, I’m very honored and grateful to be on the last Warped Tour. This tour has been a huge, tremendous part of any success that this band has and any career that I have personally. It’s been a big component of why we’re still around and I think that’s the case for a lot of bands. It’s something that’s kept this scene alive. No matter how you feel about it, that’s undeniable. It’s a huge facet of this scene. The fact that it’s ending is sad, but I think that my biggest thing is I want to focus on being present and being there and try to savor every moment of the experience. It’s cheesy, but to me there’s a magic about it and I’m sad that it’s the last time I’ll ever experience that. So I definitely don’t want to take that for granted.
Is it true you guys used to follow Warped Tour and sell CDs in the parking lots?
Yeah in 2006 we followed the entire Warped Tour and sold CDs out to the line. You know, we were in no way a part of the tour, we would sneak in, and I got caught for sneaking in and yelled at. But yeah, that was how we first really broke out and that was our beginning of any success that we got. Our story is hugely tied to Warped Tour—it was a crucial part of our development.
On the last conversation of tours, your last US tour was your 10-year anniversary tour for A Lesson In Romantics. There’s been a big “nostalgia” kick in the pop punk scene lately, do you think this hinders growth for bands? With fans kind of wanting more of the old stuff?
Yeah, I think that it can. I’m very much the kind of person that loves the music from my youth and all that I came up on but I’m very conscious of moving forward. I mean, I love A Lesson In Romantics and I’m very grateful for everything it did for us, and it was a pleasure playing that for fans and seeing what it did for them, it was so incredible. But at the same time, we had just released Black Lines and I’m stoked on those songs, so it was a little frustrating to go back. But you know, you gotta be positive, and I look at it like was a celebration of something. That whole tour was incredible and I’m not mad about it, by any means. But at the same time, releasing new material feels really good. I love that.
You know we’ve seen bands in pop punk that have broken up, maybe partly as a result of their fans not continuing to listen to their new material. I think bands like Yellowcard and Motion City Soundtrack, who were consistently releasing really great albums, had a lot of fans that just wanted to hear the old stuff. I feel like that’s a frustrating thing for artists that are seeing this and I’m not sure if there’s a way to overcome it, you know?
I think that’s typical of music in general, and it’s frustrating to be on the other end of it, being part of the old guard being replaced. But the truth is music is linear and progresses and changes. Think about it like this: at one point, the Rolling Stones were playing rock and were a rebellion and were something new and exciting. And now, they’re popular, and certainly not the idea of rebellion anymore and I think that’s just kind of how music works. I think it happened pretty fast in this scene in particular, you’ll see like what was popular in 2005 isn’t popular now and you know there is that nostalgia but it’s not the same. I’m 31, and a lot of my friends see the nostalgia of Fall Out Boy’s From Under The Cork Tree, or My Chemical Romance’s Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge, or Taking Back Sunday’s Tell All Your Friends, and when I go to events like Emo Nite, that’s what I hear. And people my age that go to Emo Nite are not interested in these new bands in the scene. You know, maybe they’ll go to Warped Tour, because it’s the last one, but when they go, they probably won’t know any of the bands. I think there’s a difference between people who are nostalgic of 2005 emo music versus people who are like alive and actively listening to it. I try to be alive and have my finger on the pulse but you know I’m aging so it’s tough.
Do you feel like it’s hard to stay relevant in a scene like this? I feel like you guys have done pretty well in that regard but we’ve definitely seen bands from around the time that you guys started coming up that have fallen to the wayside.
Yeah, I do think it’s hard to stay relevant. I think it’s really about not thinking about it too hard. I mean everybody has their own taste. With Mayday Parade, some of are listening to Green Day, some of us are listening to Jimmy Eat World, or pop country radio, or just top 40 radio, or Led Zeppelin, or whatever else. We’re kind of a melting pot of different taste. So I mean it’s hard for us to look at like what these current pop punk bands are doing for success and be like “Oh, we have to do this.” You know, it all just kind of changes.
Do you guys imagine you’ll ever grow out of this scene?
I don’t think so. There’s not a conscious effort not to, I think that’s just what ends up happening. I don’t know if me or the other guys would be comfortable with a total dance song, or a super avante-garde jazzy song. I mean there’s room to experiment and explore. Like with Black Lines… I think a lot of people thought that was super experimental, but to me, that’s a standard Mayday Parade album. I think the edges were pushed a little further, but I don’t think it’s a very out-there album—it would have been out-there if there was no guitar on it. I think with that particular album everyone was okay with being more aggressive with the songs. It all really depends on where our headspace is at as a band.
Mayday Parade’s sixth studio album, Sunnyland, is set to release June 15th through Rise Records. Be sure to check it out and catch them at a Warped Tour date near you!
06/21 Pomona, CA – Pomona Fairplex
06/22 San Diego, CA – Qualcomm Stadium Lot
06/23 Mountain View, CA – Shoreline Amphitheatre
06/24 Ventura, CA – Ventura County Fairgrounds
06/28 Phoenix, AZ – Ak-Chin Pavillion
06/29 Las Vegas, NV – Downtown Las Vegas Events Center
06/30 Salt Lake City, UT – USANA Amphitheatre
07/01 Denver, CO – Pepsi Center
07/03 St. Louis, MO – Hollywood Casino Amphitheater
07/05 Bonner Springs, KS – Providence Medical Center Amphitheater
07/06 Dallas, TX – Starplex Pavilion
07/07 San Antonio, TX – AT&T Center
07/08 Houston, TX – NRG Park
07/10 Nashville, TN – Tennessee State Fairgrounds
07/12 Virginia Beach, VA – Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater
07/13 Camden, NJ – BB&T Pavilion
07/14 Holmdel, NJ – PNC Bank Arts Center
07/15 Hartford, CT – Xfinity Theatre
07/16 Pittsburgh, PA – Keybank Pavilion
07/17 Toronto, ON – The Flats at Budweiser Stage
07/18 Cuyahoga Falls, OH – Blossom Music Center
07/19 Cincinnati, OH – Riverbend Music Center
07/20 Detroit, MI – Meadow Brook Amphitheatre
07/21 Chicago, IL – Hollywood Casino Amphitheater
07/22 Minneapolis, MN – Canterbury Park
07/23 Milwaukee, WI – Marcus Amphitheatre
07/24 Noblesville, IN – Ruoff Home Mortgage Music Center
07/25 Darien Center, NY – Darien Lake PAC
07/26 Scranton, PA – The Pavilion at Montage Mountain
07/27 Mansfield, MA – Xfinity Center
07/28 Wantagh, NY – Nikon at Jones Beach Amphitheatre
07/29 Columbia, MD – Merriweather Post Pavilion
07/30 Charlotte, NC – PNC Music Pavilion
07/31 Atlanta, GA – Cellairis Amphitheatre
08/02 Jacksonville, FL – The Old Cypress Lot near Met Park
08/03 Orlando, FL – Tinker Field
08/04 Tampa, FL – MidFlorida Credit Union Ampitheater
08/05 West Palm Beach, FL – Coral Sky Ampitheatre