’68 with Grenadiers, Pagan + Crusch Northcote Social Club, Melbourne 21 July, 2017 It just …
As anyone who’s been in a long-term relationship will tell you, it’s all too easy to get comfortable and complacent. Worldwide phenomenon A Day To Remember have been at the top of the heavy music heap for not quite a decade, with their patented blend of metalcore aggression and pop-punk hooks conquering the airwaves, stadium crowds and record charts with aplomb.
But sometimes, you need to go backwards to move forwards.
“The last record that ADTR wrote as a full band, in a room together actually playing our instruments, was For Those Who Have Heart,” admits the group’s vocalist and resident ringleader Jeremy McKinnon, speaking of ADTR’s second full-length album. “It was in my parents’ garage, it was in Neil’s parents garage and we were still a local band.” When we speak to rhythm guitarist and founding member Neil Westfall, he echoes McKinnon’s sentiment. “When you get in a room, and write together, I find that you can get a lot more done in a lot less time,” he says. “You can really get a good vibe of it, and how you’re going to play it live.”
To mix things up and inject life back into their writing process for Bad Vibrations, the band relocated from their hometown of Ocala, Florida to the retreat of Fort Collins, Colorado, at the base of the Rocky Mountains. The band then spent a month in a rented mountain cabin, living in close quarters and toiling away on a brand new album. “Usually, with our other records, we would write while we were in the studio, like, literally at the board recording the songs,” says lead guitarist Kevin Skaff, emphasising the difference in approach for album #6. “We would go down to the studio, where they have like a small room or a little studio B-room. All five of us would kind of cram in there and it would get insanely hot and we’d be sweating all day, but we’d do around eight to ten hours a day, for 30 days in that small room, cranking out close to two songs a day.”
For Westfall, this change presented new and unique avenues for ADTR’s songwriting. “It was great. I mean it was the first chance where we got to go in, and audition like every idea that you could possibly have for a part, right away.” But for other members, this type of opportunity wasn’t just about the music, but reigniting the fire for ADTR as a collective unit. “I think people had lost interest in putting out songs that they didn’t feel attached to, where they didn’t have much input because we weren’t in a room writing as a band,” says a forthright McKinnon. “We did two records on the road [Homesick and What Separates Me From You], and our last record Common Courtesy we did half on the road and half at home. And as a result of that, some of the guys in the group can’t write like that. I mean I enjoy it, and Tom [Denney, who left the band in 2009] was really good at it, but it ended up being this process that wasn’t great for everyone else in the band.”
I think people had lost interest in putting out songs that they didn’t feel attached to, where they didn’t have much input because we weren’t in a room writing as a band.
[ Jeremy McKinnon ]