Our Countdown to Warped Tour continues, as the tour shines in on sunny South Florida in a mere two weeks and one day.
Jacksonville outfit Mayday Parade has been going strong since 2006. The pop punk rockers are coming back to their hometown state for a show that they're promising will be one they won't soon forget. New Times chatted with frontman, lead vocalist, and keyboard player Derek Sanders about Christmas parades, their humbling beginning, and their love of Publix and Wal-Mart Super Centers.
New Times: What's it going to be like coming back to your hometown state for Warped Tour?
Derek Sanders: It's going to be great. Unfortunately, Warped Tour doesn't go too close to Tallahassee, which is where we're from. The closest place is Orlando, which is about four and a half hours away. But still, we love Florida; it's always great to be there, and the shows are always great there. The three shows in Florida for Warped Tour is probably what we're looking forward to the most right now.
I don't know if you've noticed, but there are at least four bands on Warped Tour this year that are from Florida.
Yeah, We the Kings... I'm sure there are more -- I just can't think of them right now.
So what's it like for you guys, then, to come from such a small area, and a lot of bands don't really go up there?
Tallahassee is a town that a lot of bands don't come to on tour. So catching shows there was always tough growing up, 'cause they used to go to Jacksonville, Orlando, or some of the bigger cities. That's why it's really cool whenever you can catch a band that you really wanna see in Tallahassee. I think it's a great music scene there. It's kind of a smaller town, but it's been very supportive of us ever since the very beginning. Our first show ever was a show that we were playing in a place called the Beta Bar in Tallahassee, and it was sold out. So that was really cool to have a lot of people being supportive of us from the very beginning.
How'd it all culminate for you guys? How'd you go from like a small Florida band to like a band that now everybody knows of?
I don't know. Like whenever somebody asks us what we should do or how that happens or whatever... it's a combination of so many different things, and unfortunately a big factor I feel like in that combination is luck, know what I mean? As much as being on task to work hard and be good and try to get the formula right, there's a factor that involves kind of getting your music to the right people. But you know, from the beginning, we've always just really worked really hard and tried to write the best songs we can and the most emotional songs we can and just push ourselves really hard and get out there, and it's worked out. We were really assertive in the beginning right when we were selling CDs outside of Warped Tour, and we started talking to them, and we were signed before we had even been a band for a year, so we got very lucky in the beginning.
That's gotta be crazy for you.
It was crazy. It was awesome. Even at that point, it was still a lot of work. But definitely, it was a very good feeling.
What made you guys take so long to decide on the name Mayday Parade? I read somewhere that you started working on your first EP with an undecided band name?
Yeah, it's true. I think we just like... before this band, every other band we've been in we took seriously, but it was more kind of like bands with your friends and just kind of for fun. This band we knew we were going to take superseriously and we were going to try to tour and follow the Warped Tour itself and sell CDs, and that was what we really wanted to do. We wanted to make sure we had the best band name that we could. So even after we had come up with and recorded a few songs, we still hadn't decided on a name. So I guess at some point, we decided Mayday Parade sounded pretty cool.
How'd you come up with that name?
Umm... it's hard to even remember, exactly. I think Jake liked the name Mayday, and we were throwing around band names, and we kind of wanted to use that. I think we were at a Christmas parade and Alex mentioned maybe calling the band Mayday Parade, and we kind of just went with it.
A Christmas parade in Tallahassee?
Uh-huh, in Tallahassee. It's pretty cool. It's called the Festival of Lights. There's one every year. It comes down to Main Street in Tallahassee every year, and we usually miss it, but yeah, we caught it that year.
What was it like growing up in Tallahassee and sort of experiencing the music scene?
It was cool. I mean, it's kind of a small town, and growing up, there wasn't like a crazy, thriving music scene. There's a lot of like hardcore bands. I think there still are a lot of hardcore bands in Tallahassee. We were all part of them for a while. We did that kind of music for a little bit, but then when we got to high school, we kind of started doing the whole pop-rock kind of stuff and stuck with that.
What was the inspiration behind your latest album, Anywhere but Here? I noticed it's a softer side to you guys.
Yeah. I mean it's the same thing as it always has been for us, and the same thing that it always will be: We sat down and wrote the best songs that we could at the time and picked 11 ones that we felt the strongest about and put them on a CD. That's how we did it, and that's how we'll always do it, I feel like. There's not a whole lot more to it than that.
Even the song topics feel a little bit softer than what you traditionally do, like "Kids in Love."
I'm sure that's probably true. The songs are about whatever's kinda going on in our lives, and it's been a few years since we'd wrote "Helpless Romantics," and so we wrote this one and we just kind of have grown up more as musicians and as people and have played together as a band longer, so things are gonna change. But still, overall, things are kind of the same.
Why'd you guys take so long between albums this time around?
I dunno. I feel like it was a long time between those two, and I feel like I kind of don't wanna do that. I'm actually at this point getting really excited and really ready to do a third CD. I've been writing a lot of stuff, and we're just now starting to do new stuff. It looks like after Warped Tour, we'll start taking that more seriously and actually really writing the new record and hopefully in 2011 start doing on that one.
So you're gonna start working on that one in 2011? Or in 2011 you're going to release it and give more details?
It's hard to say right now. We're definitely working on -- at least on the ground level -- starting on the songs and getting them kicked up and demoed. We're starting that stuff now, and in 2011 -- hopefully maybe even earlier -- we'll go in and record it. I don't really know for sure; it's kind of still too soon to say right now.
Are you planning anything special for your Florida shows since you're from Florida?
Umm... We haven't talked about it. I'm sure we'll try to do something special or different or just stick something in there -- who knows? [laughs]
What are your indulgences while on tour? Like something you wouldn't be caught eating if you're not on tour.
Umm... Let's see. Definitely whenever we're in the South, there's this place called Sonny's Bar-B-Q. It's this BBQ place that's like the best BBQ ever. So good. And I'm sure you guys... Publix is the place that we all love. Every time, we all get the Publix subs.
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But you eat Publix all the time, don't you?
Umm, it's mostly just a South thing. We don't see them everywhere. They're only kind of in the Southern states, and we don't go to grocery stores very often anyway. But a lot of times at the Florida shows, there's a Publix close by, and we always look forward to that.
So then how do you guys grocery shop if you don't do Publix?
We do Wal-Mart all the time. A lot of times, it's late at night that we're traveling with the bus driver, and the only thing that'll be open are the Wal-Mart 24-hour Super Centers, so that's pretty much where we always do all our shopping.