By: Jessica Nakamoto –
They say two minds are better than one, and for Tallahassee, Florida-based pop-punk quintet, Mayday Parade, this was certainly the case. Originating as two separate groups (“Kid Named Chicago” and “Defining Moment”), both bands saw value in combining their talents to form one collective musical unit. With the exception of a single-member roster change, the iconic American pop-rock band have shown no signs of slowing down. In fact, the group has kept themselves busy, pumping out hit albums every two years since they first joined forces back in 2005.
Breaking this release pattern however, is the band’s upcoming sixth album, Sunnyland. With the new album drop set for June 15 (via Rise Records), dates are not the only thing the band has ready and primed for change. While taking care to return to the beloved sound that earned them gold status in the U.S. for their first 2007 album, A Lesson in Romantics, Mayday Parade made an effort to give their new release a slightly different feel.
As can be seen by the two new music videos the band has already made available for fans’ listening and viewing pleasure, Mayday Parade captures a perfect blend of new and old sounds which both hint at slight variation and reminisce on the classic notes we’ve all grown to love.
With new music on the way and excitement brewing, we spoke with bassist, Jeremy Lenzo about their new album Sunnyland, comics, Warped Tour memories, and more!
To begin, congratulations on your new album, Sunnyland!
Thank you. I’m very excited for it!
Could you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind the album?
Well, as far as the name, when we were younger, there used to be an abandoned hospital in Tallahassee called Sunland Psychiatric Hospital and we used to always sneak in as teenagers before they demolished it. We have a lot of memories, just being kids, sneaking around with flashlights in that building, so we thought it was a fitting name for the album. I’m not sure who suggested it, but we all enjoyed the name.
Were there any lyrical themes in particular that you wanted to get across to fans with Sunnyland?
I don’t think anything different than we normally do. We just try to tell stories that are relatable to other people. Life experiences. So, most of it is the same old Mayday Parade-type lyrics and songs. You know, relationships or friendships, things that people have been through and have had problems with. We try, with songs, to help other people or inspire them.
I see! Interestingly, I heard your band recently made the switch from Fearless to Rise Records.
Yeah, we did!
Do you think this change has made an impact on your musical style compared to previous albums?
I don’t think so. We learned our lesson from Back Lines[the band’s most recent 2015 album]. Well, I wouldn’t say lesson. We didn’t try and do anything super different. We wanted more of a rock album [with Black Lines] like what we grew up listening to, but, it [Black Lines] didn’t quite go over withthe fans. So, we decided to go back over to what we had done before, but still keep a little bit of a different edge.
I would say that this one [Sunnyland] isn’t heavy like Black Lines, but it definitely has some stuff that’s not typical Mayday Parade, A Lesson in Romantics [the band’s debut 2007 album] like material. We wanted to go back to what our fans enjoyed and play with that, while still keeping it fresh. But, I don’t think the switch from Fearless to Rise [record company] really impacted our writing process in any which way.
Speaking about change, a lot of your past music videos and album covers have an animated-type style, but both music videos for Sunnyland, “Piece of Your Heart” and “Never Sure”, are live-action. Was this more of a planned or a spontaneous choice?
It was definitely planned, but we’re not ruling out doing more animated stuff in the future. I think, for this purpose, we wanted to give a lot of content to our fans right away, because we still have a lot of other music videos and other things that we’ll be releasing before the album comes out. But, we wanted to make sure that we had content to give people. Doing animation takes a lot of time to put together. So, this way, it was easier to get content very quickly, shoot a couple of videos in three or four days, and just have it done.
You mentioned animation. I’ve head you’re a big comic book fan!
I am! I like comics, graphic novels, and everything in between!
If you could be any comic book character which would you be and why?
That’s a good question! I don’t know! They all have some kind of twisted backstory. In comics, no one has a perfect life. I’m not sure who I would be. Maybe Batman. He’s got…oh wait, no! His parents die. I’m trying to find somebody with a good life! (laughs) I’ll have to come back to that one!
(Laughs) How about we go back to “Piece of Your Heart”. In the video we saw the Umbrella Man make a brief appearance.
Yeah! We wanted to bring him back a little bit.
You guys told a little bit of his story with your 2015 album, Black Lines. Is this a trend that you continued with Sunnyland, or something you want to develop more in the future?
I think so. It might not be a big focus of the album, our videos, or anything like that, but I think it’s cool that he’s been our mascot since the band started. Really, it was with A Lesson in Romantics that he made his appearance, but he’s always been, in some way, tied in with the albums. I think it’s cool the way his story has evolved. We don’t know his story, but we make things up as we go. That’s really neat. I don’t think a lot of other bands have this kind of mascot that changes and evolves with the band.
Who was it that first came up with the Umbrella Man?
Kyle [Crawford] designed a cover for A Lesson in Romantics. Originally, I think it was a cat! (laughs) And we were like, ‘no, we don’t like the cat!’ So, they put the umbrella guy on, and we thought that was something we could go with. But, we didn’t think he would become a staple sort of character for the band. I think it’s really cool!
So, you guys are hitting the road for the final Vans Warped Tour shortly after the release of Sunnyland. Do you have any fond memories or funny stories that you could share from previous performances?
Hmmm…I’m trying to think if I have any funny stories (laughs)! The Warped Tour is a very unique sort of festival. There’s not a lot of other festivals that are kind of like that. Most are only one or two days while this one is a traveling festival for two months. It’s almost like a carnival for bands! (laughs) A lot of the fondest memories are after the tour is over, everyone’s gone, and it’s just the band and all the crew. After everyone’s broken down the stages, you get to go really walk around and hang out with other people and make new friends with bands you’ve never met before. There’s a lot of memories of walking around and being introduced to new people like The Maine [a pop-rock band from Arizona]. Those are some of our favorite people who we’ve toured with. And we normally do the Warped tour the same year so we try to make sure our busses are parked close together and we get into shenanigans with them! (laughs)
How fun! That reminds me, with Sunnyland, there’s one track title that really seems to jump out at you! “It’s Hard to Be Religious When Certain People are Never Incinerated By Bolts of Lightning”! Is there a story behind that particular song?
I’m not sure about the whole song, but Derek [Derek Sanders- lead vocals/piano] would know the answer. I don’t want to talk in his place, but I definitely know that the title is there because of the whole Trump election. We’re all left-wing, so we weren’t very happy with the outcome. That played a big part. Also, that title is a Calvin and Hobbes[daily comic strip] quote.
Yeah! I think from the past three albums we’ve had at least one song named after a Calvin and Hobbesquote! I think it plays on both those sides, but with the Calvin and Hobbesquote, it was keeping that tradition. Also, it was fitting for what Derek wanted to get across. But, I don’t want to speak for him.
Does Derek do most of the songwriting for the band?
It’s sort of split down the middle between everybody. We all write. So, when we were working on this album [Sunnyland], I think we sent the record label 80 songs! We had more than that which we individually put together, but 80 that we thought had potential. Those all came from us. Somebody might write twenty songs. Somebody may write five… Then, we pick the best songs, or the ones we think might have the most potential once we start recording. We’d select twelve or thirteen with the label and go from there. So, we all write, but it just kind of depends which ones make it onto the record.
It sounds like you keep your creative and competitive juices flowing then!
Yeah! It definitely is competitive! I never thought of it that way. Everyone wants their songs on the album, but obviously, it has to be the best song. No one wants a crappy song on the album! (laughs) So, it’s competitive within the band to try and write a better song to make it on the record.
Is there a song off of Sunnyland that you’re most proud of?
Actually, my favorite is that one! “It’s Hard to Be Religious When Certain People are Never Incinerated By Bolts of Lightning”. I think that song has a lot of power. And “Piece of Your Heart” as well.
Awesome! So, to wrap things up, do you have any last notes or sneak peaks that you can give fans about the upcoming album or tour?
I mentioned this before, but we have a couple other upcoming videos that we’ll probably be releasing shortly before the album comes out. So, fans can expect some more new music before the album arrives. As far as the tour, come see us and hangout!