Jeremy McKinnon discusses the creation of the beloved group's new LP.
A Day To Remember solidified their place early on as one of the supreme rulers of the MySpace Emos. Their rage-fuelled, angsty lyrics and super heavy breakdowns paired with pop-punk influences and catchy choruses meant their sound was accessible to an array of listeners.
As time has passed and fans have grown up, the band’s signature sound has become more refined and sophisticated, exploring different sounds and genres along the way and continuing to do so with their latest full-length record You’re Welcome.
Preemptively giving listeners the answer to their inevitable thank-yous, A Day To Remember’s You’re Welcome is the outcome of a gruelling writing process that just screams 2020. The genre bending album was supposed to be an opportunity for the band to showcase their talents and musical influences they’d picked up over the years.
It sounded great on paper, until the reality of the situation started to sink in. By recruiting a bunch of niche industry professionals for the mixing and mastering of the various songs, the usually simple forms of communication were forced into an online space and time slipped out from under them.
A Day To Remember vocalist Jeremy McKinnon recounts the frustrating process the band set for themselves with their new album.
“We had so many mixers for this record, because we’d bounce around genre wise so much with this album,” he explains.
“It made sense to go and find those people who excel at that type of music, but once again COVID hits and once again you’re talking to all these different mixers instead of just one. COVID just made everything take five times as long as it usually would.
“Normally you’re sitting with someone and you’re brainstorming, and you can be like, ‘yes, no, what about this?’ and it evolves, and you can find a solution immediately, as opposed to when you’re doing that over email, each individual idea or suggestion is an individual email. As you can imagine, when you add five band members opinions, multiple managers and record labels, there’s just a lot of people to go around to finalise everything, so it just added so much time.”
“There were no limitations to what we could’ve done, it was all just what we thought would be cool that day.”
The extra time spent was worth it: You’re Welcome is unlike anything we’ve heard from A Day To Remember so far. As we’ve seen so far from album singles such as ‘Resentment’ and ‘Degenerates,’ they still have songs with their iconic breakdowns and catchy choruses – a tried and tested formula. But listeners will be pleasantly surprised upon hearing the rest of the album; peppered throughout the track list are a number of truly special songs that drive the beloved band into exciting, uncharted territories.
“It was like, let’s write something that we’re influenced by, and if that’s a pop punk song then it’s a pop-punk song, and if it’s an acoustic ballad then it’s an acoustic ballad, if it’s a ‘90s praise song for Mexico then that’s what it is today,” explains McKinnon.
“So, it was very much like what were naturally inspired by that day and these were our favourites out of the 30 or 40 that were put together for the album. It was less based on this is what we needed to be, and it was more so what naturally happened and what were our favourites and that was You’re Welcome.
“Lyrically, it was just a mixture of whatever was happening that day that I walked into the writing session. When it comes to bouncing around genres, the idea of this record was, let’s just write a good song today.”
McKinnon compares the creative process of You’re Welcome to that of the band’s fifth album Common Courtesy – critically acclaimed as one of the band’s best records to date.
“We put out Common Courtesy in 2013, and I feel like that record had a similar response to how a lot of the songs on this are being accepted. I think Common Courtesy bounced around genres a little bit more than other records did. It was less of a breakdown in your face every song, and there were some songs on there that were just songs and felt very much not like a normal pop punk song and could’ve tiptoed in more of a pop direction, and those happened naturally.”
“This record came about in the same way, like, let’s just get in a room and write whatever comes naturally to us because at the end of the day, that’s how the records that people know us for were created. There were no limitations to what we could’ve done, it was all just what we thought would be cool that day.”
Despite the band’s adventurous tendencies across You’re Welcome, McKinnon instates that A Day To Remember’s sound on the new record will still please old school fans, name-dropping a few influences that fed into the making of the new album.
“I never want to put together a record full of worse versions of songs we’ve already written, I want to write songs influenced by the same things that you haven’t heard us do yet. I think we still do that, like ‘Degenerates’ was a pretty normal pop-punk breakdown song but we used that EDM format where in the chorus the music kind of sucks out and builds to like a drop point, like a sub driving the melody of the music with the chorus and then it explodes into the riffy part. ‘Bloodsucker’ does something similar but it feels really heavy when it kicks in.”
As for the songs that stand out to McKinnon?
“I was always a big fan of ‘Resentment’,” he says. “‘Blood Sucker’ is also way up there for me, the way it fuses all the different elements of what we do is one of the best examples of it working very well—a rock band with the EDM format, but it’s a rock band.I think that was one of the songs where I think it flows and feels the best.
“My favourite song on the record would have to be ‘FYM’ or ‘Fuck You Money’. I’m a massive Tom Petty fan, and to me, that was my version of writing a Tom Petty type song but with modern production. I’m really proud of that one.”
When the trajectory of our conversation started moving toward the inevitable subject of the pandemic and the state of the music scene, Jeremy’s carefree manner dropped significantly. When asked if the band had any tours planned, his response was a simple, gut-wrenching negative. “No. Man. That is just so sad to say out loud.”
But where there may be heavy cloud of doubt, many of us have been able to find a silver lining and Jeremy McKinnon was no different. With a three-year-old daughter and a second child due in May, he found himself being able to spend time enjoying wholesome father and husband duties, rather than screaming his lungs out on stages across the world.
“It’s been a pretty big change. We had about half of last year lined up to be working so having that pulled out from under you is not advisable, but we had to adapt to what’s going on and, thankfully, this year already seems to be more hopeful, so hoping the world can get vaccinated and we can get back to some sense of normalcy,” he says with a hint of optimism.
“I’ve heard rumours of some kind of system to work on a scaled down version of shows that still keeps people safe, so we’ll see what that looks like.”
Who knows when the heck we’ll get international artists playing on our home turf, but for the time being A Day To Remember are fanging for our support on the new record.
“Check it out, share it with your friends, if you play music show us your covers of it. Share it however you want to share it, just participate. Get involved with a live stream that we do, anything helps.
“I think that the worst thing for any creative is just people not caring. So, any way you can show that you care, whatever that is to you.”
You’re Welcome is out now through Fueled By Ramen.