Florida, a state that has a reputation as the land of transplants and alligators, has given us plenty of noteworthy bands—take Mayday Parade for example. 11 years ago, the band came to life in the Sunshine State and hasn’t stopped awing their fans since. Now, Jeremy Lenzo (bass), Brooks Betts (rhythm guitars), Jake Bundrick (drums, vocals), Alex Garcia (lead guitar), and Derek Sanders (lead vocals, piano) are meeting one of their biggest milestones: the 10-year anniversary of their debut album, A Lesson In Romantics.
In their 11 years together, Mayday Parade have successfully released five studio albums: A Lesson In Romantics, Anywhere But Here, Mayday Parade, Monsters In The Closet, and Black Lines, and, according to Jeremy Lenzo, the guys are getting set to work on another record. Before the tour got too crazy, I was able to talk to Jeremy about being on the road, the band’s last 10 years, and found out a little more about their upcoming album.
How’s the tour been going?
Well, it’s the second day and the show went really well and the crowd reaction was really good. I thought everything was awesome.
That’s great! This is a big tour for you guys—celebrating the 10th anniversary of A Lesson In Romantics. How’d you get set for it?
We got together about four or five days ahead of time and talked about what we wanted to do as far as the songs we wanted to play, what time, how we wanted to split it up… And then we got the pre-production set with the lights and stuff like that, so we kind of set up ahead of time to make sure everything worked. Normally what we do is, around three or four days ahead, we’ll start practicing and make sure our ideas make sense if we play them out. That’s kind of how we normally do things. A few days of practice beforehand—I mean, we were talking about how we were gonna do the set beforehand, so we make sure we have all of the lights before the pre-production. Before we even got onto the rehearsal stage.
You guys are on tour for a good chunk of time this spring—how do you plan to keep things fresh on stage?
There are a couple of different things in the set that we will do different every night. You know, I don’t wanna say what they are—I don’t wanna spoil the show and the experience. But we have a couple of different things in the show for people who’re coming to a few of the shows. But as far as how we keep ourselves sane for three months of each other, we’ve been doing this for 11 years now and I went to high school with a lot of these guys, so I feel like we get along really well, otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to do it this long. Sure, by the end of it, we’ll be running dry, but I think we can make three months.
So, what does this 10-year anniversary of your debut album mean to you? How do you feel about it?
It makes me feel old. You know, 10 years is a long time and it goes by quick, especially when you’re on the road having fun. Next thing you know, it’s a few years later and then one of your albums is, like, 10 years old and you’re like, “What?”
But it makes me feel grateful and humble that so many people still care at this point in time and a lot of the shows have already sold out. It’s like the crowd’s favorite album as well, but it’s very humbling to know that people will still come out and still care 11 years later after starting the band.
It’s got to be. And when you first step out on stage and see those crowds, what goes through your mind?
Normally I—well, last night was the first show, so I had the pre-show jitters. We wanna make sure the gear works and that everything runs smoothly, so you kind of worry about it a little bit when you get out there. But for me, I always have a little bit of anxiety but as soon as I step on stage, all of my nerves disappear. It’s like, “You’re doing this because you enjoy doing it,” and that thought goes through your head. And, “People are here because they enjoy seeing what you do, so have fun with it.”
So, I loosen up as soon as I step on stage. It’s a good feeling seeing everyone out there and seeing them excited to see you perform, so it helps you loosen up a lot. I mean, if you just walked out and everyone was just staring and didn’t sing a word, then it would be a little bit awkward.
Well, just a tad.
Yeah. A tad bit.
What do you do to shake those pre-show jitters?”
A lot of it just comes with time and as the tour goes on, you get more comfortable with what you’re playing and you know nothing’s gonna mess up. But you really just kind of step out there each night and hope everything works and that the crowd will enjoy it and then you get out there and you don’t think about that stuff anymore. You don’t think about the stuff that was bothering you before. It disappears and you’re in a different world at that point.
Your last album was released in 2015; do you guys have anything in the works now?
We have. We’ve gotten together once to go over material as a band. We all write at home when we get off tour. But we got together last month to show our ideas and play through stuff that we thought would be good enough to make an album. And then after this tour, we’re gonna get together again with newer ideas and do the same thing before we go into the studio, which we’ll probably aim for around July. But before we go in, we’re gonna put together the best songs for the studio. So we have been working on it.
About how many ideas do you come up with on your own?
Oh, that’s—I’ve been doing this thing at home where I’ll write a song a day. It doesn’t have to be good, but it’s just that I try to write every single day. Because if you write every single day, you become a better writer because you can go through your past material and see what you’ve done works or doesn’t work. I have a couple months’ worth of songs just from being home and writing every single day. With the material I have out there, what’s good, I have no idea. But we all have a lot of material.
Oh yeah—it’s like practice makes perfect. This is a bit of a throwback question, but how’d you guys get the band name?
Oh. You know, we’ve been asked that a few times and there’s never really a good answer. We always just say that we threw together some words and that’s really what it was. We couldn’t think of a good name. I think the first show we did, we went under the name Keepsake Summer and then we ended up changing that later. We just tried to find some words that went together well and that didn’t sound like any other band names that were out there. You know, you don’t want to get confused with somebody else. So, after we started that, other bands came up like Holiday Parade and Wolf Parade and other Parade bands. It wasn’t as diverse a name as we thought. I wish there was a great story behind it, but there’s not.
Well, the name works! Way back before Mayday Parade came together, you guys were in separate bands. How’d you come together?
Well, me and Derek and Brooks were in one band called Defining Moment. You could still find all of our old projects out there somewhere. But we started as Defining Moment. And we practiced at this old warehouse behind the homeless shelter in Tallahassee. And a lot of bands practiced there. One of the bands was called Kid Named Chicago. That was where Alex, Jake, and our sixth member at the time, Jason, was. They were in that band. At some point in time, we just realized that the bands we were in made more sense to combine and we could have all of those great parts in one. So we just merged together, thinking it made the most sense. And I think it did, I mean, we’re still here 11 years later.
Don’t miss Mayday Parade as they head to Upstate Concert Hall in Clifton Park, NY on May 7, Webster Hall in NYC on May 9, The Paramount in Huntington, NY on May 11, Starland Ballroom in Sayreville, NJ on May 12, and The Fillmore in Philadelphia on May 13. For more on these rockers, visit their site at maydayparade.com.