An Interview with Jeremy McKinnon from A Day To Remember: Fast Forward

Florida’s A Day To Remember are an outfit with a signature sound, as a listener cannot easily confuse them with other artists out there trying to do the same thing. They are a heavier group incorporating pop-inspired hooks and melodies over their weighted guitars. The Ocala-based band are amidst a nationwide tour that will be stopping locally at New Jersey’s Skate And Surf Festival.

A Day To Remember are adorning their soon-to-be-released record, Common Courtesy, with the finishing touches now, planning for its debut later this year. This colorful group have an avid following and have gained more of a mainstream following than the norm outside of the usual metal fans. High expectations are a standard when they announce an album is on the way. While all of this continues on, frontman Jeremy McKinnon called The Aquarian to talk future, past and present for his band. Here is what he had to say:

You guys are at about the halfway point of the Right Back At It Again tour and have announced the release of a follow-up to What Separates Me From You sometime this year. In what direction are ADTR headed musically with Common Courtesy?

Every direction possible. That’s where we’re going. Everywhere we’ve been, everywhere we are, and everywhere we want to go. It’s going to be an all-in-one record. I’m excited about it. There’s a lot of songs—we don’t really know how many we’re going to actually put on the record—but there’s a lot of material. There’s a lot of different kinds of material, a lot of different versions and all of the different styles that we did. There’s going to be something for every person who likes a certain part of us.

Skate And Surf is just around the corner. Aside from your own set, what are you looking forward to about this festival?

I mean, it’s just the festival in general. You get to go and see bands that you don’t normally get to see, like I’m excited to see Macklemore, just because that’s so different. We’re probably not going to be able to see stuff like that too often. It’s just stuff like that is interesting, I’m just a fan of music, I’m always down to go and see new things. It’s cool playing a festival. We do our thing while everybody else is doing their thing—it’s not so you have to do all of this stuff. I like that about festivals. It allows us to be the music fans that we started out as in the first place.

Beyond festivals, what are the band’s plans for the rest of 2013? To finish up Common Courtesy?

We’re done tracking—we’re in the process of trying to get it mixed and mastered now. We’re going to put it out pretty much after that. We’ll see where it goes, we’re waiting for it to be finished. Yeah, after that we’re going to tour until we die.

How does the writing process for a record work within ADTR?

It’s different every time—this one specifically was. I got in this really crazy creative writing zone this last two years. I, personally, came into the record with about 40-something song ideas. Some of that is like half-songs, some of that was full songs, some of it was just like parts here and there that were really good.

There was a lot of stuff. It was overwhelming to be honest with you, that’s why it took us six months. There was so much material that we really, really liked, it was hard. It was hard to pick which ones were even going to be given a chance to be recorded. I’m not kidding you, we could make two whole albums, separate from what we just did, and they would have great, great songs—could last forever in our data log. There are songs that didn’t make it on this record that haven’t even been recorded or demoed yet that I know would have been big A Day To Remember songs. It’s really hard to make decisions like that, especially from a ground level—it was a weird time. It was weird but at the same time, it was really cool. I felt something making this album that I personally never felt. It felt honestly like I was living in a moment.

I read an interview with a band that started out a long time ago—like when I was in high school or something—this band Less Than Jake. They were talking about what it was like recording their record Pezcore, which was a big album for them. They were from Gainesville, so that was a big deal to us. They said they talked about that very thing. There were guys asking them, “What was it like when you were writing these songs?” The guy was just like, “It wrote itself and I was just living in a moment.” That’s exactly what this album felt like, things just kept happening every day. I’d go in my room at night, write something on guitar, and write something that I’d think was one of the best things I’d ever written in my life. It would happen consistently—it would happen days in a row. I’d write four songs in a week and they’d all be things that I thought were incredible. It was a really cool time, I was really happy. It took a long time to sort out all the guts of it. To be honest, we have a lot more that we have to sort out in the future. At least we got a jump start on the next one too, right?

What is a goal that you have yet to achieve as a band?

Me, personally, I’m taken wrong all the time—people just think I’m like the cockiest dude in the world. It’s just that I think that if you build something a certain way, you don’t have a ceiling. I really don’t believe that A Day To Remember has a ceiling. I think this record is either going to prove me wrong or it’s going to prove me right. What I mean by that is I think it’s really easy for a band that has success when you’re coasting off the record that put you on the map, which for us was Homesick. Everybody in the world knew who we were after that record who listened to this kind of music. That record was a staple for that time period. Are we going to be a band that lasts or was that going to be our moment and everything else just fizzles out?

Our last record [What Separates Me From You, 2010] did really well for us. We grew in a lot of different areas. It’s easy to do that when you put out a record after the record that put you on the map. To me, it’s a lot harder to grow from where you were when you get a record away from it. Now, we’re not coasting off of the success of our past. We’re coming into, “This is our next album. Do you like us now or do you not? Are you over it or is A Day To Remember a band that’s going to be something that you care about forever?”

I think this album is going to show us that, if A Day To Remember starts to shrink on this album, then I think the world is like, “Thanks for the memories, but we’re moving on.” If we don’t, I think we need to start taking it serious as a career band, and I think that’s what we’re going to become. We have a lot of stuff on this album. There’s a lot of good, solid songs that have nothing to do with breakdowns or heavy music, and then we have… Half of the album is some of the heaviest material we’ve ever written. I think we’ve got some heavy stuff in a better place than we’ve ever written. To be honest with you, some of the best material that we’ve personally ever written when it comes to the flow of the song, when it comes to the energy that it’s going to have live. We put a lot of time, a lot of effort into it. We’re just excited to show people. We’ll see what happens, it’s an exciting time for me.

What advice would you pass on to a band coming up in the industry?

Um, I guess it all depends on the people. If you’re doing it because you genuinely love music, then I think you’re doing it for the right reasons—don’t let anything stop you. If you’re just in it because you like music, because you think it’s cool for the time being, then I really don’t know what to tell you. Just do your thing, have a good time.

I genuinely like music, and we just happened to grow with it, so I think if you do this because you care, because you love what you do and you work hard at it, I think it’s a no-brainer. People will latch onto stuff they feel like is real, and until we cease to be real, we’re always going to have a place in this world. That’s what I would say. Just keep it real, keep it honest, do your thing.

A Day To Remember will play the Skate And Surf Festival at Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, NJ, on May 19. For more information, go to