A Day To Remember
Over the course of the past several years, each of A Day To Remember’s releases have hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Rock, Indie and/or Alternative Charts. They’ve also sold more than a million units, racked up over 400 million Spotify streams and 500 million YouTube views, garnered two goldselling albums and singles (and one silver album in the UK) and sold out entire continental tours (including their own curated Self Help Festival), amassing a global fanbase whose members number in the millions. All of which explains why Rolling Stone called them “An Artist You Need To Know.” In other words, their creative process has worked and worked well. But for new album Bad Vibrations, the Ocala, Florida-based quintet of vocalist Jeremy McKinnon, guitarists Kevin Skaff and Neil Westfall, bassist Joshua Woodard and drummer Alex Shelnutt switched gears and headed for uncharted territory. Their path included a loose and much more collaborative songwriting process, one that also saw them recording for the first time with producers Bill Stevenson (Descendents, Black Flag) and Jason Livermore (Rise Against, NOFX). And though the album’s being released on the band’s own ADTR Records (like 2013ʹs Common Courtesy), this record marks their first distribution deal with Epitaph and is the first time they’ve worked with Grammy winner Andy Wallace (Foo Fighters, Slayer), who was brought in to mix. “We completely changed the way we wrote, recorded and mixed this album,” says vocalist Jeremy McKinnon. “It was one of the most unique recording experiences we’ve ever had. We rented a cabin in the Colorado mountains and just wrote with the five of us together in a room, which was the polar opposite of the last three albums we’ve made. We just let things happen organically and in the moment. I think it forever changed the way we make music. And working with Bill was an awesome experience. He was a bit hard to read at first, so I think we subconsciously pushed ourselves harder to try to impress him. As a result, we gave this album everything we had.” Recorded at Stevenson’s Fort Collins-based Blasting Room Studios, Bad Vibrations masterfully channels the kinetic energy that recently found A Day To Remember named “The Best Live Band Of 2015″ by Alternative Press. The band decided to forgo digitally driven production and focus on live recording. “These days it seems like a lot of heavy sounding music is heading more and more in a digital direction,” notes McKinnon. “That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but we wanted to go the opposite way and make something that’s aggressive but has more of a natural flow and feel to it.” By powering Bad Vibrations with so much raw passion, A Day To Remember ultimately deliver some of their most emotionally intense material to date. “I’m like a child screaming in a room when I write,” laughs McKinnon. “I’m singing about the things that are frustrating me, but at some point there’s an arc within the song. It’s almost like I’m giving advice to another person about whatever I’m struggling with, but I think I’m really just trying to give that advice to myself.” The catharsis-inducing album sees the band tackling duplicity and deception (on the gloriously frenzied ‘Same About You’), the destructive nature of judgmental behavior (on ‘Justified,’ a track shot through with soaring harmonies and sprawling guitar work), addiction (on the darkly charged ‘Reassemble’), and friendship poisoned by unchecked ego (on ‘Bullfight,’ a track with a classic-punk chorus that brilliantly gives way to a Viking-metal-inspired bridge). ‘Paranoia,’ one of the most urgent tracks on Bad Vibrations, fuses fitful tempos and thrashing riffs in its powerful portrait of mental unraveling—an idea born from the band’s commitment to close collaboration in making the album. “Originally it was a joke song about someone being paranoid, but then Neil and Kevin and I started brainstorming lyrics together, which we’d never done before,” recalls McKinnon. “It ended up being shaped so that the verse is a person talking to a psychiatrist, the pre-chorus is the psychiatrist talking back to that person, and then the chorus is paranoia personified. The whole thing just exploded and came together in this really cool way.” On ‘Naivety,’ the band slips into a melancholy mood that’s perfectly matched by the song’s bittersweet, pop-perfect melody. Says McKinnon, “It’s about that journey when you’re getting older and starting to view the world as a little less magical than you used to, and you’re missing that youthful enthusiasm from when you were a kid.” Ultimately, McKinnon says that this particular album-making process breathed new life into the band. “Breaking out of our comfort zone and working in a less controlled way, we ended up making something that feels good to everyone, and we can’t wait to go out and tour on it,” he says. “I think a big part of why our music connects with people is that they’re able to get such an emotional release from our songs. And while most of the songs are me venting about whatever’s affecting me at the time, people who are going through something similar can see that it’s coming from a real, honest place. That’s really the core of what A Day To Remember has always been.” A Day To Remember’s new album, Bad Vibrations, is available now on ADTR Records.
Hometown: Oldham County, KY
Beatdown Hardcore band
From the moment the title track kicks of ‘Welcome To The Neighbourhood’, Boston Manor’s second full-length, it’s clear that the Blackpool-based five-piece are not quite the same band they were before. That’s because – just like anyone and anything – they’ve changed with time. They’re still very much Boston Manor, but their musical and lyrical focus is shifting. That doesn’t mean they’re leaving their past behind, though. Rather, they’re building on the sound of 2016’s debut full-length, ‘Be Nothing’, as well as ‘Saudade’, their EP from the previous year, to understand and transition into who they are in 2018.
“I think the time between the last record and this one, we kind of thought we knew who we were,” explains vocalist Henry Cox, “but we’ve realised that even now we’re still figuring that out. Before, we were scared to try stuff, whereas on this record there were no limits. We wanted to push ourselves, instead of being terrified to dip just one little toe in the wrong direction.”
The band – completed by guitarists Mike Cunniff and Ash Wilson, bassist Dan Cunniff and drummer Jordan Pugh – needn’t have worried. Because even as the swathe of sinister synths that propel the portentous title track outline that this is something new, it also immediately draws you into the carefully crafted world that serves as the setting for these songs. That world – what Cox terms “a fictionalised version of Blackpool” – is an unapologetically bleak one, a world rife with poverty and drug addiction, boarded up shops and a population unable to escape a predicament they didn’t even know they were in. “My generation financially and culturally barren,” he says. “We can’t afford to buy a house, we’re very much paying the price for our parents’ generation’s mistakes, but at the same time too fucking lazy and distracted and comfortable to do anything about it.”
While Cox is also keen to point out that this album is neither politically-motivated nor one taking arms against his parents’ generation – “If anything,” he chuckles, “it’s more of a stab at my generation” – the 12 songs on the album have nevertheless been shaped by the tumultuous state of the world and Cox’s own worries for both its future and the future of his generation. By using the band’s hometown of Blackpool – which is also where, as usual, they wrote all these songs – the band grounds those fears into a physical, tangible location, which also serves as a metaphor for the larger themes and issues that inspired and which dominate these songs. “In the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s,” explains Cox, “Blackpool was this booming town. It was a holiday destination, a place where you can go to forget all your troubles and now things here are just so fucked up – there are huge drug problems and a 40 per cent unemployment rate in the winter. It was once this beautiful thing and it’s become a little bit broken.”
That disenfranchisement is soundtracked by a barrage of appropriately dark and ominous synths inspired by the likes of Deftones, Nine Inch Nails, Tool and Failure. Whether that’s the hip-hop-inspired swathes of sound of the title track, the wash of doomy electronics that underpins first single ‘Halo’, the sumptuous layers and feedback in the constant fireburst that is ‘Digital Ghost’ or the waves of ethereal noise that swallow album closer ‘The Day That I Ruined Your Life’. It starts out with a forlorn, slow tempo guitar and then explodes in an overpowering onslaught of scorching, searching, scathing and nihilistic feedback, before fading once more into the abyss of sad contemplation. And then there’s the raging surge of ‘If I Can’t Have It No One Can’, a song partially inspired by a misunderstanding with some police officers in the building they were staying in while making the album at Barber Shop Studios inHopatcong, New Jersey in the dead of winter.
Despite the new sounds that infiltrate this record – which was recorded by Mike Sapone (Taking Back Sunday, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Envy On The Coast) – Boston Manor are just as ferocious and immediate as ever. They may be embracing new elements in their sound but listen to the savage hooks of ‘Flower In Your Dustbin’ or the vicious vitriol of ‘Hate You’ and there’s no doubt who has made this record, and the band’s new album is just as emotionally charged and meaningful as ever. With that comes a hope that this album, by addressing the issues it does, can have a positive impact on the future.
“I’m just trying to draw attention to a few issues,” he says. “The things that are important to my generation are just so trivial in my eyes, but who am I to say? I can’t really offer any immediate solutions, but I can try to throw a bucket of cold water on some of my peers, to just get them to feel more and think more and not be so apathetic.”