Punk Rockers Mayday Parade Return with Their Most Nuanced Album to Date

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click to enlarge Punk Rockers Mayday Parade Return with Most Nuanced Album to Date
Courtesy of Fearless Records
Formed nearly ten years ago in Tallahassee, punk rockers Mayday Parade got off to a rip-roaring start. The band sold some 50,000 copies of its debut EP, Tales Told by Dead Friends, before inking a deal with Fearless Records (and then landing on Atlantic Records for a minute).

Initially, band members played in two separate groups before they realized they’d be better off as a single unit. Singer Derek Sanders and guitar player Brooks Betts were in one band while the band’s other guitarist Alex Garcia and drummer Jake Bundrick were in another band. 

“We all rehearsed at the same warehouse downtown,” says bassist Jeremy Lenzo via phone from his Michigan home. “We decided our bands made more sense if we put them together instead of playing separately. We started the group and it did well from the beginning.
It was about a week before we came up with the name. Eventually, we decided to have something and it didn’t matter what it was. It was a ‘whatever’ name.”

Along the way, the band had to replace original member Jason Lancaster as it started to record its full-length debut, 2007’s A Lesson in Romantics.

“We were a six-piece and we stayed a five-piece band,” says Lenzo. “We had two singers. Derek has been the face of the band. Jason was our secondary singer who also played guitar. We had three guitarists and two singers. When he left, we just had two guitarists and a singer, which is the normal line up for a band anyway. There were some songs that were all Jason and it was difficult when he left. We had three guitar players and two singers with Jason and had to figure out what guitar part was the most important. We had to find ways to make that happen.”

The band successfully soldiered on and has just released Black Lines, its most nuanced album to date. The group plays House of Blues on Oct. 23.

“We recorded with Mike Sapone who’s done Brand New and Taking Back Sunday and a lot of bands in our scene,” says Lenzo. “We recorded in Woodstock. It was a cool hippie city. It was a lot of fun. We were worried about going to a new producer. We went in there wanting it to be very raw. We didn’t want any Auto-Tune and if we messed up playing, we didn’t want to delete it. We wanted it to sound real. I think it turned out great.

The opening track, “One Of Them Will Destroy The Other,” features some killer guitar riffs and restrained-but-parched vocals. The song even includes a rather complex bridge that leads to a spacey section featuring squealing guitars and call-and-response vocals. Ultimately, it verges on prog rock and suggests the band has turned a corner to embrace more complex chord progressions and melodies.

“Our singer is on the verge of screaming everything,” says Lenzo when asked about the approach on “One of Them Will Destroy the Other.” “We wanted it to be an aggressive song. We wanted it to be the first song on the album, so [listeners] know it’s not the normal Mayday Parade. We wanted to shock people right way. A lot of that has to do with Mike [Sapone]. We told him we wanted to experiment. We wanted to have different pedals and experiment with everything. He spends most of his time working on sounds rather than actual recordings. We could spend three hours getting the most unique sound and then 20 minutes recording the part. We want it sound real, and we don’t care if it’s perfect.”

The first single, “Keep In Mind, Transmogrification Is A New Technology,” takes its title from a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip. The song clocks in five and a half minutes, making it too long for most radio stations to play it as a single.

“There’s a lot of songs on this album that are pretty long,” says Lenzo. “There’s a good 30-second guitar part at the end that just keeps going. We didn’t think it had to be three minutes. None of our stuff has been on the radio and it probably won’t be on the radio. We don’t look at writing songs by the radio standards. If it’s long, it’s long. If it’s short, it’s short.”

For the current tour, Lenzo promises an overview of the band’s decade-long career.

“We’ll probably play three songs from every album and a couple from the EPs,” he says. “It should be a good mix for everybody. It’s not like we’ll play all the old stuff or all the new stuff. If you ever listened to a Mayday Parade album, there should be some songs you’ll know.”

Mayday Parade/Real Friends/This Wild Life/As It Is: 5:30 p.m., Friday, Oct. 23, House of Blues, 308 Euclid Ave., 216-523-2583. Tickets: $25, houseofblues.com.
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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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