It’s an objective reality that for any band who have made it several albums into their career, a blueprint appears. It’s unavoidable, really. They’ve planted a seed, if you will, growing a tree whose shade they can sit under when it comes to creating. And this is a good thing; after all, if our favourite bands were to completely reinvent the wheel with each release, they probably wouldn’t be our favourite bands for long.
And while A Day To Remember operate with a lightly sketched blueprint with each album, frontman Jeremy McKinnon would tell Blunt Magazine that upon returning to the shade of their tree for You’re Welcome, it wasn’t the low hanging fruit that interested them. “I know plenty of people that are like, ‘We got to fill this slot and this slot and this slot.’ And that’s cool!”
“I know that things can happen from that. But for me, making an album has always been this constant evolution of what I’m feeling, what has been going on in my life the last three years. It usually takes me three years to really put together enough material that I like enough to compile a record that I think deserves the A Day to Remember brand.”
For A Day To Remember, even now eight albums into the game, the ‘blueprint’ is only ever for logistics; a vague reference point with the aforementioned A Day To Remember brand being a destination, the journey to which is different with each outing.
For You’re Welcome, the band stuck to their key tenets, for example: “We tend to mix genres, because that’s what we liked. That’s kind of what people have liked about us over the course of time. We just do that naturally.”
But for the rest of the writing and recording sessions, the reins were off, and the wild horses free to roam. “The only thing that we walked into a room with for this record was, ‘Let’s just write a song today that we’re inspired to write. Let’s not worry about who A Day to Remember has been’”.
“I want to worry about if it’s an A Day to Remember song later, and there were plenty of songs that absolutely were not A Day to Remember songs.
“What’s more important to me than anything is being genuine. That genuine inspiration is king. How many times can I write a song that’s just a straight-up punk song over the exact same chord progression and wow you?
“That’s my question to someone who cares about writing music, who’s a listener. If you don’t care, then you don’t care. And you’re like, ‘I just like music, man. And I like your shit.’ So if you’re that person, I totally get it, and it’s not that deep. But from a writer’s standpoint though, man, I’m just looking for that next thing that makes me feel like, ‘Damn, this speaks to me.'”
“Whether you’re willing to allow A Day to Remember to be what we are on this record is up to you.”
The final result was a tsunami of inspiration and creation. At the end of the studio sessions, A Day To Remember held in their hands some 40 songs, whittled down to an expansive tracklist of 22. “It was taking so goddamn long, because that’s a double album,” McKinnon recalls. “And we’d never attempted to do something like that before.”
“We kept taking those creative steps and trying to represent who we’ve been, who we are today and who we would like to be in the future, all in the same record. And I think we did a pretty good job of that.”
McKinnon points to the track ‘Permanent’ off You’re Welcome as an example of this M.O: “The chorus to me, reminds me of something like Bad Religion or something. And then the verses remind me of Balance and Composure-ish type stuff.
“A Day to Remember very much has not done that combination before so that song spoke to me creatively. It’s very much not a rewrite of an old song that you used to like. It’s a new A Day to Remember song.”
Another litmus test for the band on if a song is up to the standard of their creative pursuit is just how much of a fight the song puts up. “I’m always searching for those songs that write themselves in a few hours,” McKinnon explains.
“In my experience, those have been the ones that really stood the test of time, were the ones that just wrote themselves. I’m searching for those lightning in a bottle moments that just completely fire everybody in the room up.” With that in mind, the proof is in the pudding.
“‘Downfall’, that happened. ‘Wax Larry’, that happened. You know what I mean? ‘Right Back At It Again’, that happened. Our biggest songs of all time, man. There’s a thread between the biggest ones, and that is, they just wrote themselves quickly.”
Operating in such a way does make gauging ‘success’ challenging. Considering each release isn’t merely a follow-up, but an entirely new story arc, comparing sales or chart spots is a moot point. The only real metric is if fans are willing to take the trust fall into the new record, understanding full well it won’t be like the last one.
“Whether you’re willing to allow A Day to Remember to be what we are on this record is up to you. But it’s very much something I’m in love with.”