Slanted Press sat down with lead singer Derek Sanders to chat about Mayday Parade's musical history, the perks of touring, and his love for UK parties .
It’s been a long road for Mayday Parade to get where they are now. The band formed in 2006 and worked consistently until 2015, taking a three-year break to tour and record their sixth studio album, Sunnyland. We asked frontman Derek Sanders about the origins of the title. ‘Sunnyland was this old abandoned hospital in Tallahassee. We'd sneak in. It'd been shut down since the mid-80s, so it had all these vines growing all over it, and still had some of the old equipment lying around. It was one of the coolest things about Tallahassee in my opinion. They tore it down about ten years ago, so the song ‘Sunnyland’ is about these things from my childhood.’
It’s an odd inspiration for an album name, but Sanders tells us that the sense of nostalgia the hospital conjures runs through the whole record. ‘A lot of the album in general was, for us, looking back at everything we've done in this band, trying to make an album that feels like a little bit of everything we've done and also something new.’ And apparently, that break between 2015 and Sunnyland’s release was quite reflective for the band. ‘Part of what drove that home even more was the 10-year A Lesson In Romantics tour in 2017, and that was kind of...we'd already recorded a few songs but then took a break and did all of that touring.’
‘It was a whole album cycle of touring for that anniversary.’ He elaborates, explaining their debut’s lasting impact on their career; ‘We realised, even before that, that it's an important album for us and to our fans. Doing all that touring made it even more apparent. It was so long ago, but it helped us focus what we should be doing--not that we were trying to recreate that. Focusing on what it is that draws people to us.’
When asked what the best UK date so far has been, Sanders took the opportunity to fanboy about the previous night’s show, as well as his touring partners. ‘Y'know, I think last night in Leeds was my favourite show so far, but it's a short tour. They've all been really great, that one just had a great energy. The other bands have been awesome, they're all great on stage. The Wonder Years sort of blew me away, I'd never watched a whole set of theirs until this tour. We've kind of caught them at festivals, but they're so good live and they're good folks. We kept barely missing each other for so long, so it's been really cool. They've been doing it for thirteen years, just like we have, and are still out with the original members which is kind of a rare thing.’
He seems enthusiastic about Britain, and we were wondering if there were any noticeable differences between playing here and in Mayday’s home country. ‘Uhm, yeah, gosh. I'd say I always used to notice this, but it's been a while, on support tours people are more open to enjoying a band whether they know them or not. In the States on a support tour, they're not usually gonna get into it very much. I feel like, over here, people would still move around and have a good time. It's a little bit different now.’
‘I love the club nights, the aftershows,’ he explains, ‘everyone's like "let's keep partying". In the States it's very different because the drinking age is 21, over here it's 18, so a lot of folks can stick around. It's fun.’ It sounds to us like we know how to have more fun than the Americans.
With such a long career, it must be tricky organising setlists each night, and Sanders explains that it’s a collaborative process. ‘Usually I'll put together a setlist and submit it to the guys, and we'll kind of bounce back and forth with whatever they think. It's tough, especially with six albums and a couple EPs. It's an hour set on this tour, so it's like 13 songs or something. It's hard to whittle all that down.’ Despite the difficulty, he seems happy with what the band have come up with for these shows. ‘There's a combination of the obvious songs people wanna hear, like we'll probably play 'Jamie All Over' at every show, and a handful of those staple songs. But then you wanna also switch out. Some folks have seen us many times, so you don't wanna just play the same set over and over again. There's always new stuff to play. It's tough to make everyone happy. I think it's a pretty good mix!’
As a more open question, we ask if he has a favourite element of touring, and it leaves him a little stumped. ‘I dunno. I guess just playing shows every night, I genuinely have a lot of fun at every show we play. It's so cool to be able to do it as often as we do, in front of crowds that sing along. That whole energy is amazing. I love seeing the world, meeting people, experiencing different cultures. So many of the friends that we have are not people that live in our hometown. It's a cool thing to be able to experience all that.’
And finally, with LGBT month just coming to a close, we ask the vocalist about his thoughts on homophobia in the music industry, and whether progress is being made. ‘Well, certainly, yeah. There's no reason at all to say somebody can't love someone else. We did the video for 'Piece of Your Heart', and we did the same-sex couple in that. We wanted it to be a genuine "we support this idea" and not just to be edgy or whatever. We had a lot of conversations about that, to make sure we do it right. It's something I support, people being who they are and as long as you're not hurting anyone, then that's...for sure. We're moving in that direction. As the young generation takes over, steps are being made. I have faith that things are on the up, we're moving towards a more accepting future.’
After the interview, we had a chance to catch the band live and it was nostalgia in best kind of way. With a setlist to please any kind of fan, the show was tidy combination of the band's contemporary hit and the their throwback crowd pleasers. It looks like Mayday Parade are here to 'Stay'.