Photo: James Hartley

A Day To Remember Talk Life On The Road With Blink-182, Aussie Tour Plans & How Their New Album Saved The Band

2016 has already been a year to remember for A Day To Remember. Not only have the Florida hardcore collective gotten back to their roots and punched out their most collaborative album in almost a decade – the forthcoming Bad Vibrations – they’ve also been in the midst of a beyond-epic US tour supporting their childhood heroes, Blink-182.

And it’s smack-bang in the middle of this monster tour that Music Feeds is lucky enough to sit down with ADTR frontman Jeremy McKinnon, who’s very clearly had his mind blown (and covered in toilet paper) by the whole experience. He clues us in on what life on the road’s been like so far with pop-punk’s favourite troublemakers and even takes a crack at reviewing their new album California for us.

But there’s something else that ADTR are looking forward to when their run with Blink wraps up this year: coming back to Australia in December for a massive headlining tour with their US bros Of Mice & Men and our very own Tonight Alive.

Jeremy gives us plenty of hints about what to expect from the band’s next Down Under trek, while fondly reminiscing about past All Aussie Adventures with Parkway Drive and The Amity Affliction, and looking to the future and the possibility of expanding their own Self Help Fest to Australia.

But possibly the most powerful insight to come out of our chat is how A Day To Remember’s new album – and more specifically, the way they recorded it and the bonding that occurred as a result of that process – essentially saved the band.

“This is the only way A Day To Remember could be A Day To Remember in 2016,” Jeremy tells us.

Catch our full interview with the ADTR ledgehammer below and don’t forget to wrap your ears around the band’s sixth record Bad Vibrations when it drops this Friday, 2nd September.

Music Feeds: So for those who don’t know, you guys are in the middle of an epic tour with the one and only Blink-182, how’s that been shaping up so far?

Jeremy McKinnon: It’s been amazing. I know that probably everyone would say that [laughs] but I can’t stress enough: this is not bullshit. Blink has treated us better than any band we’ve ever toured with – or even heard that someone has been treated – so I cannot say enough good things about that band.

MF: And does it mean a lot to you guys to be touring with a band like Blink? Have they had much of an influence on you musically?

JM: Oh my god yes! I mean, if you were to ask all five of us at the same time “who are the top 3 bands that you’d ever wanna tour with?” Blink would be in that list, and probably at number 1. This is the tour we’ve always wanted, and then on top of it – like I already said – them treating us the way that they’ve been treating us just makes it that much cooler on top of it. Because it’s one thing to go on the shows and play to these big crowds, it’s another thing to feel respected, and just to feel like friends with them. So they’ve just been the coolest band ever to us.

MF: So would you say this tour is almost like a bucket list situation for ADTR?

JM: Oh my god, right? [laughs] I mean, at this point we’re just riding the wave, I don’t see how it’s gonna get better.

MF: And I’ve gotta ask, because Blink have always had that reputation of being super fun-loving and immature… Are they still like that on tour? Or have they kind of all grown up now?

JM: Uh, I mean they’ve all got families and for a lot of the tour their families have been out, but yeah they still mess with us just like you’d expect them to. I mean, I assume they’re a little more tame than they used to be before there were families and kids around. Mark still – like – rolls up at our dressing room and makes fun of us… and he came out a few nights, messing around and throwing toilet paper into the crowd… He [waited] ’til we played our acoustic song, which is like this super dramatic moment, and came out by himself and just starts throwing toilet paper in the middle of this serious song and everybody just cracked up. So yeah, they’re still those fun-loving guys you’d expect.

MF: We should probably talk to you guys again at the end of the tour, I reckon you’ll probably have a few more stories to tell!

JM: Yeah there’s no telling what they’re gonna do [laughs].

MF: And just quickly before we move on to talking about your new album – as a fan, what did you think of Blink’s new one [California]? Could you give us kind of like a mini review?

JM: A mini review, OK! Actually it’s funny you say that because the Blink record was what I was listening to the most right before this tour. I gave it a shot and – you know – I’m that jaded older guy in the music scene now, [thinking] like “there’s no way they’re gonna live up to this. How can they? I mean, it’s been so long!” And I’m telling ya, I was blown away. So I came into it with a bad attitude and it blew me away. I think Sober and The Only Thing That Matters are two of the best Blink songs they’ve written in the last ten years. Honestly! And Sober especially feels – like – fresh and modern, like it fits in today’s world but it still sounds like Blink and it’s one of the catchier songs I’ve heard from them in a long time.

And The Only Thing That Matters – one of the coolest things about that song to me – is it feels like, when I hear it, that chorus reminds me of listening to Dude Ranch. And then the second verse comes in with Skiba singing by himself and it almost sounds like an Alkaline Trio part. Like, you could take that part out of one of their songs or something – not that I’ve heard it in one of their songs or anything – but it just sounds very him, you know what I mean? And it’s like a melding of both those bands – Blink-182 Dude Ranch and then Alkaline Trio – and I think they’ve really nailed both of those things in that song. So that song is definitely up there with one of my favourites ever!

MF: Awesome, alright so let’s talk about your new album now, Bad Vibrations which is out this Friday. So you guys shook things up a little bit this time around and shut yourselves away inside a cabin in the mountains for the whole process. How did doing that help you get in the zone for writing?

JM: Well it was really important for us this record cycle just to get out of our comfort zone and to really focus on making a record with us in the band, like us five. And we got into this routine of recording at home with the same people, things had gotten comfortable, and – you know – it was just so easy for things to come up that would pull people away from the process. “Oh I have to go drop my car off today” or “I gotta go to a doctor’s appointment”. There was always a reason for all five of us not to be in the same room working together. So it was important to us to get away from all that distraction and just get in a room and all write a record together for the first time in fuckin’ – oh my god it’s been so long – we really haven’t written a record like that since For Those Who Have Heart [2007]. So it was refreshing and all five of us feel attached to this record like none since For Those Who Have Heart. And right now, as a band, that’s what we needed to be a band in 2016.

MF: And ordinarily when you hear stories about bands secluding themselves in the middle of nature like that, they usually tell stories about – like – being inspired by their surroundings and stuff. But I imagine when you’re making a heavy, aggressive record like this one, maybe that’s not the case so much?

JM: It sounds super cliché, I know! When people say it back [sarcastically] “Soooo you went to a cabin?”, you know what I mean? It sounds cliché but really, from our end of it, it wasn’t about that. It was more about just “let’s be five friends, let’s go write this record and only focus on that, not have all of these outside distractions”. And it came from that, you know? And I think it did wear on us because we’re not used to writing like that. It didn’t make all of us comfortable but it did make all of us be present and write it together as a group, not just like little cliques of people, which can make other people feel really uninspired. So it was just about us being in a room and being a band again, yeah. And it’s exactly what we wanted it to be.

And we’ve been a band now for like 13 years… at this point it’s like, if they don’t care and they don’t wanna do this anymore, what are we doin? You know what I mean? That’s why I keep saying, this is the only way A Day To Remember could be A Day To Remember in 2016.

MF: Well we’re all glad for it. Although I’ve gotta ask – given that you were in a cabin in the mountains the whole time – did you have any strange brushes with wildlife?

JM: Yeah, hell yeah, there were deer everywhere. You’d pretty much see deer every morning when we were in Horsetooth Reservoir [Colorado] which is where the cabin was. ‘Cause we went out there for like a month, it was like 30 minutes away from the studio so it’d be a big drive in and big drive out to the studio every day, and we’d go out walking on the trails in the morning and at night and it was cool, really. It was a bonding experience for sure.

MF: So on the subject of the record, do you think there’s anything about it that’s going to maybe surprise fans?

JM: Sure, I think it’s already done that in a lot of ways. We’ve already put out two songs that I think sound really unique in our catalogue, which is Paranoia & Bullfight, and I think that’s taken a lot of people by surprise. There’s gonna be a lot of songs on the record that don’t surprise you… It’s still A Day To Remember, it’s still got all of the elements you’ve ever heard us do, it’s a collective like all of our albums at this point. So yeah, you just have to check it out. There’s something on it for everybody.

MF: And we have to talk about the fact that you guys are coming back to visit us again this December, which is the same time as last year with Big Ass Tour… is that just a coincidence or are you guys just big fans of the Aussie summer?

JM: I mean we’re always keen on coming to Australia and yeah, it’s always in summertime, literally. My birthday is December 17th and I’ve probably had six or seven of my birthdays in the last ten years in Australia [laughs]. Yeah it’s just such a great time to be there, people are going to shows, it’s usually when those big festivals were, but I’m sure you’re gonna have some new big thing that takes over soon and we’ll see you there.

MF: Have you ever considered expanding Self Help Fest to Australia? Do you think something like that would ever be logistically possible?

JM: I mean, it’s all about logistics. We’d LOVE to have Self Help over there. It’s just about the right time and making sure it makes sense. You know, obviously it’d be pretty expensive – to be Americans and throw  a festival in Australia! [laughs] It’s kind of complicated because of taxes and stuff. So we’d love to do it, it’s just gotta get figured out and we’ll see what happens.

MF: And speaking of the Big Ass Tour last year, what were some of your favourite memories from that experience?

JM: Uh, Riverstage [Brisbane] was pretty fuckin’ awesome, that first night at Riverstage was really special. Amity does a really killer job getting people to come out to shows [here], which is just rad. You know, we’ve always been treated so well by everybody in Australia – the first time we ever went over there was with Parkway Drive and – you know – they were smashing shit every night. For real though, we owe a lot to those guys and Amity Affliction – we’ve never played a bad show in Australia, even from Day 1. So thank you to all of the fans and especially both of those bands for putting us on in that area.

MF: Well we look forward to having you guys back here in December – so you’re doing a huge headlining tour with Of Mice & men and Tonight Alive. You guys are pretty renowned for you live shows, do you feel the need to step things up a notch each time you come back here?

JM: Always, we’re that band. We wanna be the band that – you buy our tickets and you know you’re gonna get a show that you’re gonna go home and tell your friends about because we did something stupid that you didn’t expect. And also we wanna be the band that you expect a great package from – that every single act on the night is gonna be playing a record that you’ve been listening to in that last year. You know, it’s all part of who we are and what you expect from an A Day To Remember ticket. We’ve still got it, these are badass bands and I’m excited to play.

MF: Fuck yeah, thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us mate. Any last messages for your Aussie fans before we see you guys in December?

JM: Yeah just check out Bad Vibrations on September 2nd and come out to the shows and sing along and have a good time.

You heard the man. ‘Bad Vibrations’ is out this Friday September 2nd.

And you can catch A Day To Remember’s full list of Aussie headlining tour dates right here.

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