A Day To Remember's Jeremy McKinnon talks Warped Tour, going mainstream and ambitious stage shows
This year's Warped Tour is a special one for one of the biggest bands to come out of Florida in the past decade: Ocala metal/punk/hardcore band A Day To Remember, who are playing the mainstage for the first time on this, their third Warped Tour. Sunday's Warped slot is something of a homecoming gig for the group, who last played St. Petersburg with a sold-out gig at Jannus Live in April.
Tbt* recently spoke to A Day To Remember's brash, outspoken frontman, Jeremy McKinnon, about the band's mainstream breakout, their increasingly elaborate stage show and sharing the Warped stage with their heroes, Gainesville's Less Than Jake. Click here for the interview.
But McKinnon (bottom center in the photo above) was more than happy to hold forth on any number of topics we threw at him. So for all you A Day To Remember fans out there -- and we know you are legion -- here are some outtakes from our interview with Jeremy McKinnon.
On the band’s ever-evolving stage show: “We’ve been trying to get into it slowly, because you can’t just dive in headfirst with something like that. It costs a lot of money to do stuff like that. And we’ve kind of been building to be that band from day one. That’s what we’ve always wanted to do. I grew up going to Less Than Jake shows and stuff like that, and we’ve played all these huge festivals with these massive bands who’ve got all this production. That’s just what A Day To Remember is gonna be for this generation of kids, because people don’t do it anymore. You don’t get to see shows like you did back in the day, and I want to bring that back as much as we can for this group of kids.”
On the his onstage inspirations: “When it comes to spectacle, when I was growing up, Less Than Jake. Every time I saw them, they did something that was cool, funny and creative, and I always thought that was really cool. They were fun to watch live, they had a good time onstage, they weren’t super-serious. But they weren’t so goofy that it was stupid. It was just a really cool vibe, and I always loved that. I’ve said to them a million times on this tour, 'We wouldn’t be the band we are without stuff like that.’ And then you see bands like the Flaming Lips, and I saw Rammstein in Germany, and that was the craziest show I’ve ever seen in my life. I’m just trying to combine and improve on all the really awesome things that I’ve loved over the years, you know? I just don’t think that kids get to see that with what we’re trying to do anymore. These kids coming up have never seen shows like that. We’re just trying to bring it back.”
On ADTR’s ambitious stage plans: “The inflatable heads and amps from Warped Tour? This is has been talked about for over two years. The (human hamster) ball has been talked about for over a year. Actually, the biggest production thing we were gonna do on the Game Changers Tour, we couldn’t do, because it was too crazy. And we’re going to do it. And it is going to be the biggest deal that’s ever happened with our band when we do it. I can’t wait.”
On A Day To Remember maintaining a sense of humor: “A lot of it came from Neil (Westfall), our guitar player. It all started when we went to make the first music video for Victory Records, and we were all trying to figure out what the song was going to be, what the video was going to be about. We were throwing out all these ideas, and I remember it like it was yesterday: Neil was just like, 'Man, everybody does serious stuff. The ones that always stuck out to me were the ones that were funny. I think we should go that route instead of a way serious thing. That way kids actually enjoy it.’ And you know, that really clicked with me. We did it. We had Ron Jeremy trying to teach kids to hardcore dance. That sparked everything.”
On life at Victory Records: “Lemme just go on record and say this: All the rumors in the world about Victory Records changing bands is the biggest bunch of bulls--- in the f---ing world. This is what really happens: A band signs to Victory Records and they’re like, 'Wow, I’m on a bigger label now, let’s try to do something that’ll go over better in the mainstream.’ That’s what people really do. Victory Records is probably the most understanding group of individuals that I’ve ever worked with when it comes to putting out music. Literally, we could s--- on a record and turn it in, and I think they would put it out. ... They don’t get involved with the way you look. Yeah, they might try to give you ideas, but in the long run, that’s your decision. Actually, I’m pretty sure it was (Victory founder) Tony Brummel’s idea to get Ron Jeremy. I think he said either Hulk Hogan or Ron Jeremy, and we were like, 'Ron Jeremy would be fucking hilarious.’ And then he made it happen. That’s a true story, man. I hate it when I hear kids say, “That band signed to Victory, they’re gonna completely change their sound, because they’re gonna force ’em to.” Nah, that band’s gonna do that because they don’t know who they are, and they are gonna try to appeal to some people that don’t even care about their band.”
On whether A Day To Remember is officially “mainstream”: “We’re still playing the exact same type of stuff that we’ve always done; it’s just more people care. More people are listening now. It’s easy for people to jump on the bandwagon and be like, 'Oh yeah, they’re trying to be a mainstream band.’ But in reality, we’re not. We wrtie the music we want to write."
On ADTR’s diverse fan base: “We’re not just like one band. We literally play five different styles of music at the same time. I think the reason we do so well is we draw from all these different crowds. What other band can you name that plays shows, draws a s--- ton of girls who listen to Justin Timberlake and Justin Bieber, people who listen to metal, people who listen to hardcore, people to listen to rap, older people, people who listen to the radio? It just doesn’t happen. ... And it’s also created this really awesome thing that I think is also really unique to our band, where we can literally do whatever the f--- we want with our music. Literally, what other band can go on tour with bands like New Found Glory and Crime In Stereo, and then go directly on tour with The Acacia Strain and Parkway Drive? Bands can’t do that and be successful. We grew from both of those tours. We’re lucky that our fans are understanding, and people like what we do.”
On the band’s aggressively confrontational attitude: “That’s just the way I do things, I guess. The way I write songs is, I write them to make me feel better. I’m always writing about situations that happened to me, things that hurt me, and writing these songs is how I feel better about them. I’m going to stand up to anybody who gets in our way, because we’re good people, and we try to be good people, and we’re going to overcome, no matter what. I believe if you’re a good person, good things are gonna happen to you. If you work hard enough, the things you care about are gonna happen for you. ... We’re five random dudes from bumf--- nowhere Ocala, Fla.,, doing this crazy stuff. I know bands stay it all the time, but I really believe it and mean it from the bottom of my heart: If we can do this s---, everybody can. You just gotta care.”
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*