Web Exclusive: A conversation with A Day To Remember’s Jeremy McKinnon

February 11, 2009 by Brian Shultz

Web Exclusive: A conversation with A Day To Remember’s Jeremy McKinnon

With every passing album, A Day To Remember, essentially shatter pre-conceived notions of the holy matrimony potential that resides in the union of pop-punk and the most mosh-laden hardcore thinkable. With the Ocala, Florida, outfit’s newest effort, Homesick the band strove to make that divide as expansive as possible. Brian Shultz talked with frontman Jeremy McKinnon about what it was like to record their third album with one of the band's biggest inspirations, the contrasts of stylistically polar tours and why covering the Fray is way better than covering Kelly Clarkson.

INTERVIEW: Brian Shultz

Homesick was produced by New Found Glory's Chad Gilbert and recorded by Andrew Wade. What was the difference between how the two of them guided the band?
We've always worked with Andrew on all our albums, so it was kinda like a comfort thing with him. We could be at home [and] record with him, and he helped with pre-production on every record, so, really, he's actually almost a part of A Day To Remember when it comes to our sound--when it comes to writing the record and putting the finishing touches on it. He helped us keep that same A Day To Remember-type feel, and Chad really helped us when it came to making our songs flow in terms of structure and stuff. He even helped us write a few really catchy parts--he definitely just made the record, all around, way better. So Andrew kinda helped us keep it “us,” and Chad kinda helped us make it a better record writing-wise.

Considering that NFG are one of your biggest influences, how was it working with Chad?
Oh, it was awesome. New Found Glory are one of our biggest influences, so I mean, it was amazing to be able to work with him and go on tour with him, and play shows and stuff together. We got to know those guys, and they were some of the nicest people when it comes to being on tour. That's weird because it's like New Found Glory, and you expect them to be at least a little snobbish, but they weren't at all. The first day, they all came up to us and were, like, cool. So I mean, it was one of the best tours and one of the best experiences of our life. We couldn't have done it without him, so we're very thankful that he was stoked on working with us.
 

Was there a conscious effort to make the heavy parts heavier and the poppy parts poppier?
Yes, for sure. That was a really big part of this record. We wanted to make sure it was heavier and poppier at the same time, because I mean, we didn't want to do the same thing twice, so we just tried to take it to the next level.

Did you find it a challenge?
Not so much. It actually came kinda naturally. We do what we do every time. We wrote what we wanted to write at that time. So, I mean, it wasn't a real challenge, and Chad and Andrew just made it way easier, because we did it on the road and it turned out like I never imagined it would.

Since you were on the road with Chad, did you work on songs together while on tour?
We had a few songs written [before the tour], but half the record we'd written on that tour with Chad, finishing up ideas. We had a lot of parts, but nothing that was finished--so we had to structure the songs and stuff like that. We wrote a lot on Warped Tour and we just kinda finished the record on the Easycore Tour because Chad was there to help produce it. Then Andrew came to demo it all out and work on stuff like that--like pre-production stuff.

Did gaining a considerably larger fanbase between this album and the last change your lyrical perspective at all?
Not really. I tried to approach this album the same way I've done all of them, which is to keep it as personal and open at the same time. I don't like to write stuff that just relates to me. I like to write really open-style lyrics, so you can kind of relate to 'em yourself. I just write about my everyday life stuff that people go through everyday. It was the same thing, but we were in a different place on this record. So we wrote about what we were going through at that time, which is being away from home, being away from the people you love and dealing with situations like that.
 

I was told by one of the bands on the Easycore tour that, despite essentially being one, big pop-punk tour package, it was basically a bunch of dudes hanging out, talking about hardcore every day.

Yeah. It was cool. Everybody kinda came from the same background as us. It was pretty cool being able to hang out with a bunch of people that were kinda doing the same thing as us. We all kinda came from different areas of the country, too, so it was kinda cool getting different takes on what we're all trying to do.

How would you compare that atmosphere to when you tour with someone like the Devil Wears Prada or Alesana.
It's different. It's a totally different crowd of people, you know? But it's still the same thing. We're all good friends. I mean, to be honest with you, I think fans of pop-punk are a little bit harder to please than fans of heavier music, so you really gotta step up your game to play to those kind of people. [Fans] are there to see a really awesome band, like New Found Glory, so you gotta have your shit together. [Laughs.] It was kind of a learning experience.

Do you still manage to find similar ground with those bands?
Oh, for sure. Like, we were kinda worried when we went on the Easycore Tour, but everything went down better than we'd ever expected. Kids were stoked on us. It turned out very well. We were stoked on the outcome of it.

What about the other tours? Like with the Devil Wears Prada or the upcoming one with Sky Eats Airplane?
We've been really good friends with the Devil Wears Prada for a long time. We actually played a lot of shows with them in the past, so we just knew them from then. We just really enjoy hanging out with those guys, so we try to tour with them whenever we can. As a small band, it helps to have friends that can help you out, so we do a lot together. We have fun together. So that's why we keep touring together.
 

Did the band object much to Victory's reissue of [2005's] And Their Name Was Treason?
Well, the reason we did that was because it was really, really hard for people to get a hold of our first album, and we want people to be able to get it. It wasn't like something we were against. It was just a way of getting our album back in stores, because Indianola hadn't had our record in stores for over a year, because they're going through some hard times. It's just a way of people being able to get hold of our CD if they wanted to in stores.

What'd you try to do with the cover of the Fray song on the next Punk Goes Pop volume?
Have you heard the cover?

Nah, I haven't. Is it online somewhere?
It's not online or anything, yet. I didn't know if somebody had sent it to you. To be honest with you, Fearless asked us to do this CD and we looked at the list of songs that we could choose from, and the Fray song kinda jumped off the list for me. To be honest with you, when I went into it, because of how successful our other cover was [Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone"], I was kinda going into it like, "Okay, let's just do as good a job as we can, because it's not gonna be better than our [Kelly Clarkson] cover," because, you know, things don't go over that well two times in a row. [Laughs.] We just tried to do our best with it and I'm way happier with it than I was with the other one. I’m really a fan of this song. Like, I mean, I like ["Since U Been Gone"] too, but it's just a fun pop song. I'm excited to able to show other people what we did with it. alt

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