For many of us, Mayday Parade is a go-to band. Having got their start in 2005, they’re a band that has truly grown with their fans. They’ve made us smile, dance, sing, and cry (probably more often than we’d like to admit).
They’ve put out pretty consistent releases in their fifteen years as a band, and despite the utter chaos of 2020, they’re showing no signs of slowing down. In fact, they’ve just released a single called “Lighten Up, Kid” which is to be followed by a brand new EP, and there’s even talk of a full-length album next year.
I got a chance to speak with Derek Sanders about what he and the band have been up to during lockdown, the inspiration behind their new music, and their unplanned decision to release an EP.
So, you recorded in early March, kind of right before lockdowns started happening. But I have to ask, has the pandemic had much of an effect on your creative processes?
Yeah, it kind of has. It’s been so crazy for so many different reasons, but obviously the pandemic being kind of at the forefront of all of that. It’s like a little bit of both. There are things that actually, for us, have been kind of nice in some ways. I mean, in the past fifteen years of this band — since we started almost exactly fifteen years ago — this is the longest that I’ve been home in some time without going out and being on the road and being together with the guys. So it’s like, in some ways, kind of nice to not always be jumping back and forth between two different lives and there’s a lot of things that we’re able to focus on with that time. But it also, in a lot of ways, makes things difficult — especially for songwriting. Like, we’re kind of getting ready to hopefully go in and finish up a full-length album before too long. And I’ve been writing a lot, but it’s difficult to even have as much time to spend on it with so many things going on at home. But also it’s just like, I don’t know, it’s like my brain is kind of all over the place. And it’s like, things are just so not-normal that it’s hard because when I do have time to sit and mess around with a guitar for a couple hours, there are definitely times where I write something that I love and I’m able to make some progress. But there’s also times where I just kind of get, like, frustrated and I can’t even really focus. So, I mean, it’s definitely a lot. But we’re trying to just make the most of it and we’re trying to do as many things as we can while we’re so limited and while we can’t get out on the road. Like, recording acoustic versions of songs and covers and whatever. Just trying to stay busy and trying to keep creating in any way that we can, really.
So the EP’s title, “Out of Here,” seems like it could be referencing a state of mind. How did you arrive at that?
Yeah, for sure, that was kind of the idea. I mean obviously it’s a lyric in the song, “First Train.” You know, take the first train out of here. I just kind of felt like, the whole EP sort of has this vibe of moving forward and moving on to better things. And I think that is certainly appropriate right now, with everything that’s going on. So I think a lot of it is, right, like a mindset. It’s just kind of moving on, moving forward, and not getting weighed down by negative things in all of our lives right now. That’s sort of the overall idea, I guess.
Right. So if you’d like to talk to me a little bit more about the different themes explored in the EP — are there any specific feelings you were hoping to evoke from your listeners?
Yeah, I mean, what’s crazy is that we didn’t even plan to do this three-song EP, it just kind of was after we had recorded the songs that it came together this way. We actually had gone in both at the end of last year and then in March of this year at two different times and just recorded a handful of songs. We had six or seven songs and that was really kind of building up towards putting out a full-length. And then when the pandemic happened and all of our plans kind of got pushed aside, we thought, “We don’t want to wait until we finish this full-length to put something out.” We just kind of felt like, I don’t know, it would be a good thing to do what we could right now with all of this going on and we decided it made the most sense to take these three songs and put them on an EP and save— We have about three or four other songs that we’re kind of holding off and will go towards the next full-length.
But just in general, they’re three songs that I love very much, that I feel extremely proud of. They’re songs that I think— It’s a good representation of where our band is at right now and what we’re heading towards. I feel like it’s just kind of an overall Mayday Parade sound. You know, as I mentioned, there are two of them in particular — “First Train” and “Lighten Up Kid” — that are both kind of about moving on to better things. And “I Can Only Hope” is a song that Jake wrote. His dad had a stroke a couple years ago. His dad is okay and he’s doing a lot better, but it’s kind of about going through that process and dealing with that pain. And so, with all of our music, we just try and write stuff that is as real to us as possible. Stuff that is meaningful and comes from the heart and we hope that it can help people in any way. We’ve talked to lots and lots of people throughout the years and heard about the stories of ways that our music has helped them or done things for them. It’s always super incredible and humbling to hear and makes you want to keep doing this and to be even better at it. And hopefully it can help people, especially people who are struggling right now. And that’s kind of the overall idea.
I actually thought the same thing when I listened — that this feels like the classic Mayday Parade sound, in the best way. Speaking of your current direction, how do you think that compares to what you’ve released in the past?
You know, it’s always so difficult to say. It’s always really hard to compare our new material — stuff that’s fresh — to older songs. I feel really strong about all of it. I think that “First Train” is definitely up there as one of my favorite songs that we’ve ever recorded, so I’m really really excited for people to hear that song in particular, but also just the whole EP. I try not to worry too much about comparing it or thinking like, how it’s going to do, but just put it out and hopefully people are into it.
Do you think that there have been any artists recently that have had an influence on you?
Yeah, gosh, it’s tough to say specifically. I mean, it would probably be different depending on who you ask. I think maybe as somewhat of a more modern artist for me would be like Post Malone, even though I don’t know that much of it really comes through in our songs necessarily. But that’s one of the more modern artists that I think is really cool and has a great vibe and unique sound and is a really talented dude. A lot of what inspires me these days are bands that are older than us and are still doin’ it, like New Found Glory or, like, Taking Back Sunday. You know, bands that I’ve been listening to for close to twenty years at this point in some cases, that are still able to go out and just do a great job and are great bands. And then, you know, on the other side of that, young bands are inspiring, too. I don’t know, I mean honestly, I haven’t been listening to a whole lot of new stuff. I probably should, more than I do — try and keep in touch with all of that. I just never get around to it, really.
Were you guys separated when you recorded the [Lighten Up Kid] music video? And if so, did that come with any challenges?
We were actually together. We got together — at this point I guess it’s been about a month ago. We got together for the first time since March when we recorded these songs and we went back to the studio north of Atlanta where we usually go and record most everything. We spent about ten days there and we kind of just knocked out a ton of stuff that we normally get the chance to do— you know, normally we’re home for a month or so and we’re back together on the road, whatever is next. We recorded actually three music videos and a bunch of acoustic songs and worked on a little bit of new stuff and did a bunch of photoshoots and press and all kinds of stuff. We shot that music video and it was kind of simple, you know, a green screen that we each stood in front of and were silly, goofy, singing, whatever for the lyric video. It would have been cool to do something with more of us, but the green screen, it was more like a green sheet and it was pretty small. There was not really enough room for us all to be in there together, so we just did it one at a time and threw it together. That was Guadalupe Bustos, he’s a photographer and videographer. He’s an amazing artist and does a lot of great work, so, he was the one who shot that.
What’s getting you excited about the future right now?
The things that have me excited are, I guess— I don’t think that we ever will get exactly back to normal. I think that a lot of things have changed in the last year and won’t ever kind of go back. But at least getting to the point where hopefully we can go out and play music again is certainly something that I look forward to a lot. This is the longest time I’ve ever gone without playing a show. And playing shows is something that really, you know, makes me happy. They’re so much fun. It’s the most fun thing I can really imagine doing. So I look forward to the opportunity to get back out and play music again, to get back together with the guys and the band again. Those guys are my best friends and I really love the time I get to spend with them. And, uh, not to get super political or anything, but I’m really hoping that we get Donald Trump out of office. That would be something I would be extremely excited about seeing happen, so we’ll see how all that goes.
Going along with that, if you could pick the thing you miss most about touring and playing shows, and the thing you miss the least, what would you pick?
Well, it’s tough to pinpoint the one thing. There’s so much about it, about the lifestyle of being on tour with your friends and being in a new city every day and meeting people and hanging out with people. And, of course, being up on stage and the energy that you feel and the adrenaline rush, the excitement and people singing songs with you. There really is nothing else in the world like it. It’s something that you kind of like, take for granted now that we’ve been away from it for so long. So, I know that’s kind of like many things in one, but I guess just playing shows. I guess just the excitement of being up on stage and singing songs for people.
And then the thing that I miss the least is just, it’s tough for me, you know, as a father. I have kids and it’s hard to be gone for long periods of time, to leave for months at a time and to miss my family back at home. It’s really, really difficult to do. So, that’s the one thing that’s been nice about all of this, is that this is the longest time I’ve been home in fifteen years. And so it has been nice to just not have to always be moving, you know?
Yeah, definitely. I can imagine that. So, the last thing I have is really: What can you tell us about what comes next? What should fans be on the lookout for?
Well, I mean, there’s a lot of things that are in the works. There’s a lot of things that we’re trying to do and there’s a lot that I can’t say yet until we announce it, but just know that we are staying very busy with a lot of different projects and we hope to have a new full-length album recorded maybe by the end of this year— certainly next year at some point there will be a full-length album that comes out, as well as some other music in different forms. Some acoustic stuff, some covers perhaps, and we’ve talked about some virtual show kind of stuff that might happen at some point. We know loosely what our plans are for touring again, but that’s so hard to plan right now. It’s hard to know how realistic that is, that anything is going to happen. Next year, for the ten year of our self-titled album, there will definitely be something with that. Again, that will depend on whether it’s a virtual show or a couple actual shows or a tour, whatever it is that makes sense. So, yeah, definitely many things in the works. We have no plans to slow down or stop anytime soon. We’re trying to keep on moving forward and trucking along. There’s a lot of exciting things coming up.
Mayday Parade’s new EP, Out of Here, will be available on October 16th.