Thirteen years ago, a group of friends from Tallahassee, FL formed a band and travelled the U.S to sell their CD to anyone that would listen. Through their DIY mantra, Mayday Parade went on to sell 50,000 copies that summer without any label support. In their evolution from hard-working local band to global force, Mayday Parade have sold out tours the world over, garnered a lifelong dedicated fan base, sold over 1.1 million albums, while their debut, 2007’s A Lesson in Romantics has earnt cult classic status, spawning fan favourite tracks like Jamie All Over and Miserable At Best. Fast forward to 2018 and the band is riding high with their new album Sunnyland. Guitarist Brooks Betts spoke to Hi Fi Way: The Pop Chronicles about the tour and playing at The Gov and their new album.
It’s great news that Mayday Parade are heading back to Adelaide to play at The Gov as there seems to be plenty of love here for the band.
Yeah, yeah. We’re excited to come over there. Nice to get out of our winter into your summer. We were a little bit worried when they stopped doing the Soundwave but it’s cool to do this, be a part of Good Things Festival.
It has been a big year for Mayday Parade with the release of Sunnyland. Do you feel incredibly proud the album and how it’s been received?
So far, it’s going really well. We have had an amazing response from it. Fans loved it. I’m always surprised when you talk to our fans, especially those people who come out to our meet and greets and when you get a minute to talk, fifty percent of those people say that’s their favourite record, which I don’t really understand how they get that. You know what I mean? Because for me it’s very tough, for a band late in their career, to call their newest record their favourite. We get that from people! So, whether that’s everybody’s favourite or it’s not everybody’s favourite, we’re just happy to be still doing it six years later and intriguing people with our music.
Was that a tough album to make? With the amount of touring Mayday Parade does is it hard to stop and find time to make the album?
Yeah, we took more time with it, for sure. If we did the normal thing where we get together and have long writing sessions, living in the same house for a while, if we did that like we usually do, for a month, the record would be very different. There were two writing sessions and that definitely changed the record a lot and gave it songs that would not have been there. In my opinion, the record wouldn’t have been as good had we not taken more time.
What’s the story behind that song It’s Hard To Be Religious When Certain People Are Never Incinerated By Bolts Of Lightning?
Well, you’d have to ask Derek about it. I think it has, from talking about it with him, anyway, I think it has some references to the political climate of the US, for one. I think it also has some personal references in it as well about people that we know who are hard headed in general.
Are there any songs off the album that you really love playing live?
Yeah, Satellite is one that I had written that we are playing right now in the set in the US. I’m not sure if we’ll have enough time to throw it in in Australia, but for now, that’s one that’s a lot of fun to play live. It has a cool energy, it’s a different song from what we’ve written before,
I know it is very early days and this album’s still pretty fresh for a lot of people, but do you start thinking about what the next album might be, what it might sound like or what you might do?
Yeah, that’s a really hard thing to ever know. Our music tastes change. Almost every song I write or anybody writes has a different feeling to it. So, it’s really hard to know where it’ll end up, even a month to two months’ time. Even when we go into the studio to start recording, sometimes we don’t even know how it’s going to feel. We do know that we’ve got a lot of songs that hit the table and there’s a lot of options. We can drive it in a certain direction if we want to, but usually we don’t worry too much about the style as much as we worry about good songs. What happens is that the better songs just work themselves out anyway to be cohesive once we work together on the songs and it’s no longer just one guy’s idea.
Do you find it hard to write on tour?
Oh, no. We write on the road. For sure! Everybody’s always messing with ideas. It’s just too hard to know exactly what the next one would feel like at this point. I would imagine we would stay in the vein that we’ve been in here, even though there’s always a change that’s happening. I think it’s a good thing. It keeps things fresh while also making sure that you’re not getting too crazy.
Is 2019 pretty much going to be touring for twelve months solid?
Not all of it. We start in the UK and Europe in February and we’ll have a decent amount of time off in the spring then we’ll tour in the summer. I’m sure we’ll do something in the fall as well. But then, we’re also going to have to start making plans for the next one, I’m sure. It’s hard to know this far out but we usually know about six months out.
With the end of 2018 looming as a band do you take time to stop and reflect on what you have achieved this year and look ahead to 2019?
I think you try and assess it based on the demand, just tickets. How are tickets doing? How’s the record doing? What territories can we get into and at what time of year so that we’re not hitting up America too much? You don’t want to over saturate your markets, or anywhere in the world. It’s just trying to fill in the gaps, put the puzzle together. So, you have to play it by ear, six months at a time, and just try to make the most sense out of it. If a record’s killing it, you could push it longer but that’s something that we hadn’t done since the very beginning. That may have been more trying to build the band up. I think you could tour more if you’re just supporting headliners as opposed to us headlining a lot of our tours. That changes the business a bit so if we found a support tour that would definitely lengthen it.
How are you planning to celebrate Christmas back home?
I don’t know. I’m kind of Scrooge but I prefer Thanksgiving, which we just had. To me, it’s like Thanksgiving and Christmas are the same thing, except without all the pressure of buying a bunch of crap for people, but that’s me being bah humbug. I would rather get together with family and have a good time and not worry about any other pressures.
Interview by Rob Lyon
Catch Mayday Parade at The Gov on Wednesday 12 December. Tickets from The Gov or https://sbmpresents.com/tour/maydayparade/