It’s been five long years since Floridian rock/metalcore monolith’s A Day To Remember dropped their fifth album, the ARIA #1 charting Bad Vibrations. During that time they’ve done a LOT of levelling up, firmly establishing themselves as an arena band and festival headliner and reaffirming their status as one of the world’s best live bands. They’ve also done a lot of growing up, with several children and outside interests joining the fray. Now after a frustrating period where all they could do was ‘hurry up and wait’ as COVID-19 added delay after delay, A Day to Remember is finally set to drop their widely anticipated seventh full-length, You’re Welcome today.
Their first album to come out via new label and fellow Floridian scene luminaries, Fueled By Ramen, You’re Welcome is a bold, experimental and perhaps above all else, surprising release from a band operating at the zenith of their creativity. Described by vocalist Jeremy McKinnon as “a hybrid of who we were, who we are, and who we want to be”, You’re Welcome has been pre-empted by a gloriously diverse collection of singles in the form of ‘Degenerates’, ‘Resentment’, ‘Mindreader’, ‘Brick Wall’ and most recently, mega-crossover hit, ‘Everything We Need’, a collection of songs that’s kept their sizable fanbase guessing as to what to expect next.
On the precipice of the release of You’re Welcome we jumped on ZOOM for a chat with guitarist Kevin Skaff about the creative process that led to You’re Welcome, what it has been like to be off of the road for so long, accidentally blowing up equipment, eating Lord of the Fries and the prospect of playing shows inside giant orb balls.
Music Feeds: G’day Kevin how are you today?
Kevin Skaff: I’m good man, how are you?
MF: Good, as you can see from my background, I’ve been in Moe’s Tavern for about a year and a half! How’s existence been treating you in Florida?
KS: I moved to Nashville a few years ago, so I’m actually in Tennessee and it’s been okay, I’ve just been in my studio for the last year and four months.
MF: I think it has been that way for everyone. It must feel especially weird for a band like yours who built your reputation by touring?
KS: Yeah. Yeah. There’s a piece of me missing that’s for sure!
MF: Well, you’re trying to fill some of that void by releasing a new record, in the form of You’re Welcome in March, which I’ve got to say is probably the most dynamic A Day to Remember record. I’ve heard thus far!
KS: Just when you thought we couldn’t be any wilder, right?
MF: Absolutely. Now your vocalist Jeremy described it as a hybrid of who you were, who you are, and who you want to be. Do you feel he’s summed that up well?
KS: Yes! sounds like he took a media class for that answer! Yeah. I could see how he would come to that answer. That’s pretty cool. I mean, yeah, it’s all over the place. There’s something from every genre that we like. So it’s all over the place and there’s a little something for everybody. I mean, we say that every album, but on this one there’s actually something for everybody. Minus elevator music.
MF: Did you try to get elevator music in?
KS: Yeah, I tried to get a little bit of Muzak in, but nobody wanted it. I don’t know why the song was a banger!
MF: That’s a shame man, think of all of the potential licensing money you just pissed away!
KS: I know dude, it’s a bummer!
MF: You just dropped the track ‘Brick Wall’, which I have to say has probably the heaviest outro/ breakdown of any ADTR song to date, which seems to have taken people by surprise, given what you’ve been releasing as singles off of this album prior?
KS: Yeah I mean when we released that song, there was, there were comments all over the place on that song, but, you know, that’s kinda what it was about. I remember that song, Jeremy brought that song over to when I still lived in Florida. He had a couple of parts and I added a couple of things and then we added that pickle breakdown at the end. I have a video of our producer, pretty much humping, like the guitar on the desk during that outro park. I was like, this shit is crazy.
But the song reminds me of that Beatle song and Sgt. Peppers, ‘A Day in the Life, where it’s just all over the place. So yeah, this is A Day To Remember’s metal version of ‘A Day in the Life’ by The Beatles. Not that I’m trying to put us on a pedestal or anything, it’s just the only comparison that I have.
MF: So what you’re trying to say is that it is ‘A Day to Remember in the Life?’
KS: Exactly. Yeah. A Day To Remember in The Life!
MF: You’ve had about five years between records to think about it, so who knows, maybe that’s the next step?
KS: Yeah, well you know, we’ve had about three, because then we made the record and then we delayed the record and then COVID delayed the record again, and now we’re here.
MF: Talk to me a little bit about that, man. How did this come together in the sense that you obviously started working on the record prior to the pandemic and you probably had a whole bunch of plans for how you were intending on finishing and releasing it. How much impact did it have?
KS: We had plans to release it before the pandemic. Then we had five artists try to do the album cover, and all of them were just not the vibe we were after and I know that really ran Jeremy down because, for him, everything has to be perfect. So that was the first delay and then COVID hit, pretty soon after and then we’re here now. It was a big bummer, but we’re finally getting around it.
MF: At least there’s some comfort in knowing that everyone else is experiencing the same delays, in the sense that it’s not like you’ve been falling behind or anything? Literally, everybody is experiencing the same thing!
KS: Nobody is doing shit right now and if you are you are a dumbass.
MF: Even over here, where we have had essentially zero cases for a while, the industry is only slowing creeping back to life. On the positive side, the few shows that have been able to happen safely have all sold out. On a personal level, I can tell you that the first show back that you play, is the most amazing experience ever. It seriously feels like you’re playing your first show all over again!
KS: I’m so excited man, I can’t wait! Over here the only people who have played shows are bands like Trapt and Smash Mouth and Buck Cherry, and they’ve all been playing in Florida, so who the fuck knows what’s going on!
MF: If only you had stayed in Florida, you too could have been the bottom-feeding bane of social media!
KS: I know.
MF: Speaking of Florida, you’re putting this record out on Fueled By Ramen – a very influential Floridian label. What was the reasoning behind joining up with FBR now?
KS: Our management group is very, very dear friends with that label. They do Paramore and Paramore has been on them since their inception, I’m pretty sure I could be wrong. But yeah we had a meeting with a couple of different labels and all of the people at Fueled by Ramen were just so awesome and so nice and still continue to be to this day. They just have it all down. So we just felt really comfortable signing on for a couple of records with them.
MF: It’s such a natural fit that I’m surprised it didn’t happen earlier to be honest.
KS: Well we were in litigation with our old label for about seven years, so that was probably what was hampering it.
MF: So you’re sitting in your house in Nashville thinking about the next year, what is it that you’re looking forward to most?
KS: Honestly, like I just want to talk to a person, in-person and I want to play a show. I want to get back on a bus. I want to smell the stupid gasoline that gets wafted in your face when you’re grabbing clothes out of your suitcase, and I want to see my crew. I miss my crew a lot and I want to eat all the good foods, everywhere else. I want to come to Australia. I want to eat Nando’s and what’s that vegetarian place called, Lord of the Fries? I want to eat Lord of the Fries!
MF: I’m sure that Lord of the Fries and the rest of Australia will welcome you back with open arms man! To enable that, you’ve got to handle the business of promoting a record. How do you personally feel You’re Welcome fits alongside the other ADTR records?
KS: It’s its own thing, man. it’s just so dynamic and out there and you know? It is us taking a chance. It’s us experimenting, broadening our horizons, seeing what works, seeing what doesn’t, you know? You have to take those chances to evolve and we’re just excited for it to get out there and people listen to it and tell us what they think.
MF: I think what they’ll think is that it is weird but awesome.
KS: I think they’re in for a mindfuck and it’ll take time to process.
MF: I would say that out of all the ADTR albums, this one sounds like you are having the most fun experimenting with what you can do with your instrument, would you say that’s true?
KS: Oh yeah, we went and got a little nutty on the guitars. We got nutty on guitars and, and we found out what synthesizers do and those things are fun. I mean, we were some of the first people to get a Moog One when they first came out. And we were like, just like, “ah, this thing is so sick” and then smoke just started coming out of it. So we blew the thing up within like two weeks, we blew up a lot of things actually, on this record, we blew up pickles. We blew up the Moog One, we blew up like three guitar heads, you know, we just blew up a whole bunch of things. It was pretty fun!
MF: That’s awesome! It’s so weird talking to musicians like you at the moment because obviously there’s been no tours and gradually a lot of you are starting to settle into new, domestic, routines, which means that our conversations have started to become rather different to reflect that reality. Are you worried about readjusting to tour life and not just being able to get up whenever and walk to another room of the house and be at work for the day?
KS: Not at all, because that’s what I do on the road as well. But yeah, I’m the one that sleeps in now. Like everybody else has kids. And so they’re up at like the crack of dawn. So they’re all doing group chats about business. Then I wake up at like noon or one o’clock and I’m like, all right, what did I miss? And there’s always like a thousand texts I got to catch up on. So I think I’m well prepared.
MF: That’s awesome man, I’ve got to let you go now, but before I do, I have to ask. Is there any chance that when you head back out on the road that you all get those inflatable orb balls that Jeremy runs on top of the crowd in and you play the gigs, inside of those, like the Flaming Lips?
KS: Oh my gosh, I hope so! That would be a lot of fun, actually. I would probably knock myself out with a guitar in the ball. I’d probably do a somersault and whack myself in the face with a guitar and a tuning peg and just die. But I’m willing to give it a try!
‘You’re Welcome’ is today. Download or stream here.