Three years following the release of their last album, A Day To Remember are right back at it again with their sixth record, Bad Vibrations, due out next month. The Ocala quintet—lead vocalist Jeremy McKinnon, lead guitarist Kevin Skaff, rhythm guitarist Neil Westfall, bassist Joshua Woodard, and drummer Alex Shelnutt—known for their hardcore and pop-punk genre mixing push it further with their upcoming release, toying with even more styles and musical influences. As they embark on a highly anticipated tour with Blink-182 and All Time Low, Jeremy took some time to discuss a whole new recording process, pre-album anxiety and being played on the radio.
Prior to this, picking a destination and going away to create an album wasn’t something the band has done before.
Correct. We’ve been doing it wherever we were living at the moment the last three records.
What made you guys decide on Colorado?
Well, we needed to get out of our comfort zone. People were getting a little too used to the way we were doing things, there was always an excuse for people to leave just because we were at home, you know? Always things that come up at home that you can go do like, “Oh, I’ve got to take my car in today! Sorry, I’ve got to leave early!” It was just excuse after excuse. We just needed to get out and focus completely on the record and just get it done, and that’s what we did.
In previous interviews you’ve said it was a little more difficult for you going into this record as opposed to previous ones. Why was that?
It was really different for me because this process was really different from how I usually do things. So it was scary because I didn’t really have a lot of stuff prepared, and I like to be prepared and have stuff that I’m confident in when we go in. I didn’t have as much of that. I had stuff saved up for a while but it wasn’t worked out enough to where I felt confident in bringing it to the table.
So the whole process was pretty scary for me. We just needed to do it that way. I needed everybody in the band to feel attached to these songs and to really be involved with the whole process. And it’s really helped! We’ve been practicing, we know all the songs—that’s really different. It usually takes us forever to learn the whole album because we’re not writing it in a room together. The whole thing was just totally different from what we’re used to.
Do you feel like the guys liked doing it in this inclusive, all sitting in a room together, way? Is it something you’d consider doing again?
Well, the way we’ve done it before was more my comfort zone and this way was more the rest of the band’s comfort zone, which was great. We accomplished exactly what we were trying to accomplish, which was to have something with the A Day To Remember formula just different at the same time. It’s not the record that you’d expect.
I mean, people are gonna say it is but it’s not: sonically it’s totally different, we kind of branch out into a few different directions style-wise. It all makes sense in our wheelhouse but there is some branching out happening on this record and it just wouldn’t have happened if we had done it the way we always do things. So it was just that time in our career for us to get grounded, get in a room and write a record as a real band and not just in a room at a computer.
Like you said, Bad Vibrations definitely has the classic A Day To Remember feel but with some different musical elements like punk, and even Viking metal. Were these intentional changes or something that just happened organically?
It just happened along the way like that. That’s how every A Day To Remember record is though. It just kind of evolves as we go. We’re usually just putting things together on the fly, changing things as we go. So literally, even if you were coming in every other week to hear the updates of what we’d been doing, you’d never have any idea of what the record was going to sound like until we were actually done and it’s mastered because we’re always changing things.
If there’s a part or we don’t think something is memorable enough then we let it go. And that’s how we’ve treated every song we’ve ever put out. If we don’t think this is great then it’s not making the record, and that’s what this was. Out of the 40-something ideas we had, these were the best. So it wasn’t something like, “Let’s do it this way,” these are just the best songs that we wrote out of this batch.
As a whole the record seems to have something that’ll appeal to every fan: from heavier songs, to some acoustic touches, and these newer elements. But do you still have any anxiety about the release?
Sure. I mean I am, but I always am. It’s nothing new. I’ve been terrified before every album. It’s always the same worry; are we too close to this? You just never know. You’re just gonna give it away and what’s gonna happen is what’s gonna happen. There’s nothing you can do about that. We did the best we could and that’s all that we can do.
Absolutely. Now your upcoming tour is with Blink-182 and All Time Low, which should be a good time!
Oh, it’s going to be amazing! We get to just go out there, Blink is letting us do production so we get to be the crazy, fun A Day To Remember that we like to be at a show. We’re just gonna go out there, play all the songs people want to hear for 45-50 minutes and then we dip and get to watch Blink-182 every night! It’s going to be the best summer ever.
It’s pretty much an all-star line-up and each band brings some different fans to the table, which gives the opportunity to draw in some people who’ve never seen you before.
Totally. And I think that’s our strongest point and always has been. You put us on bills and we fit in with everybody. We can go on a super heavy tour and stand out because we’re the band that even though we have heavy-ass parts but we’re also doing something catchy, like a pop song.
We’re a mixture of both so it literally covers everyone in the room at some point in the set list and it’s like, “Wow, this band really stands out because of that.” We’re not playing a different version of the same song 12 songs in a row, you know what I mean? I don’t know, just the way we’ve set up our whole song catalogue has worked out and I think it’s going to work well for us on this tour.
And the tour will give a lot of fans their first chance to hear the new singles live, which is exciting.
Yeah, we were actually told a week or so ago that “Paranoia” is #8 at Active Rock right now. That’s the highest-charting radio song we’ve ever had in our career. It’s awesome, I mean it was never planned to be played on the radio. We never expected it would be in the cards for us. Things have progressed so much that they can’t help but play us now on the radio, which is insane. For a band that mixes punk and breakdowns? So it just goes to show you that there’s a real fan-base for that out there and they’re ready to support something different.
Do you have anything you want to say to fans coming out to your NJ/NY shows?
We haven’t played New York in a long time and New Jersey is one our favorite places to play ever, so we’re really excited! We’re playing Barclays there so it’s going to be insane. And we’re just so excited, this whole tour is going to be rad!
You can catch A Day To Remember performing at BB&T Pavilion in Camden on Aug. 12, Nikon at Jones Beach Theater in Wantagh, NY on Aug. 13, PNC Arts Center in Holmdel on Aug. 14, Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Aug. 17, and Atlantic City Beach in AC on Sept. 5. A Day To Remember’s sixth album, Bad Vibrations, is available for pre-order and is due to be released Sept. 2. For more information, visit their website adtr.com.