Posted October 7, 2015 by Jeff in Tunes

Mayday Parade: When perfection is not the goal

Mayday Parade
Mayday Parade

Formed nearly ten years ago in Tallahassee, punk rockers Mayday Parade have always had a DIY work ethic. 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). Now, the band is set to release Black Lines, its most aggressive album to date. Bassist Jeremy Lenzo recently phoned us from his Michigan home to talk about the album and the upcoming tour.

I think the band formed ten years ago. How exactly did the group come together?
We came together because me and our singer Derek [Sanders] and guitar player Brooks [Betts] were in one band and our other guitarist Alex [Garcia] and Jack [Bundrick] were in another band. We all rehearsed at the same warehouse downtown. 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.

How difficult was it to decide on a name for the band?
It was about a week. Eventually, we decided to have something and it didn’t matter what it was.  It was a “whatever” name.

Is there a good music scene in Tallahassee?
At the time there was. Now, it’s fallen off a lot. When we go to play there now, there aren’t any venues. They did have some decent venues but they’ve all shut down. It’s hard to find a show. There’s not anyone taking that step into the promoter role and finding a venue that will allow them to put on shows. It’s a big college town and most of the clubs focus on club music and dance music so people can drink and meet girls. We talked about maybe one day opening our own venue in Tallahassee to revive that music scene.

Your first EP sold something like 50,000 copies. How were you able to move that many units?
We got our name out there through social media. That was right in the beginning of the Myspace days. We used Myspace. We used Myspace and followed Warped Tour. That’s how we sold most of our own. We sold 11,000 and then Fearless picked us up and redistributed the EP. Word had gotten out and more people had heard of the band. When Fearless redistributed it, it became easier to buy.  A few months prior to that we had a day off and Taste of Chaos was 30 minutes away. We figured we’d try to sell some CDs. We sold 100. It was way better than going to the mall and way better than doing a tour. At that time, if we played a show, we would play in front of eight or nine kids and sell one or two CDS and get $20 and that was it. It made more sense to follow Warped Tour and sell CDs that way. We figured it would be more profitable. I think there was one other band that was following Warped Tour as well. We didn’t come up with the idea. We were one of the only ones following the whole thing but you’d always see bands from the regions.

Was it difficult replacing original member Jason Lancaster?
I guess we technically did. We were a six-piece and we stayed a five-piece band. 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.

You ended up signing a deal with Atlantic Records. What was that experience like?
It was the album right after our first full-length, the crowd favorite, A Lesson in Romantics. Right after that, Atlantic came to us and Fearless was a subsidiary of Atlantic and they wanted us to move up to Atlantic as well. That record was Anywhere but Here. They didn’t want us to write our own music. The producer [David Bendeth] was someone we butted heads with. We didn’t enjoy it too much. It was not a good fit.

Talk about the new album. Where did you record and what was the experience like?
We recorded with Mike Sapone who’s done Brand New and Taking Back Sunday and a lot of bands in our scene. We recorded in Woodstock. Woodstock the city isn’t where the festival was held. It was a cool hippie city. It was a lot of fun. We were worried about going to a new producer. With the Atlantic record, we did something new and then went back to Zack Odom and Kenneth Mount out of Atlanta. [But Sapone] is a really good guy. We decided to try something different. He’s a cool dude. 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.

How’d you decide on the album title?
It’s pretty much the same story. We couldn’t think of anything better. I wish we had a real reason why we name things the way we do. There really isn’t one. We tried to come up with stories.

The opening track, “One Of Them Will Destroy The Other” features some killer guitar riffs. Talk about what you wanted that song to sound like.
Our singer is on the verge of screaming everything. We wanted it to be an aggressive song. We wanted it to be the first song on the album so they know it’s not the normal Mayday Parade. We want to shock people right way. A lot of that has to do with Mike. 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 is “Keep In Mind, Transmogrification Is A New Technology.” What made you think “transmogrification” was a good word to put in the title of a song?
That title is from our singer who is a big Calvin and Hobbes fan. That’s something that Calvin says to Hobbes in a comic strip.  Our singer thought it was a cool name.

I like the video, which shows how your album cover was created.
Most of the time when you see artwork, you think it’s all done on the computer. The guy we went to did it all by hand and took a picture of it. The picture was what we used as the album cover. It’s cool to show that process. It’s not the normal CD cover. It looks simple but he had to do everything by hand.

It’s pretty long for a single.
There’s a lot of songs on this album that are pretty long. 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.

What can we expect from the current tour?
We’ll probably play three songs from every album and a couple from the EPs. 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.

Upcoming 2015 Shows

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Nov. 1

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Boston, MA (House of Blues)

Philadelphia, PA (Electric Factory)

Sayreville, NJ (Starland Ballroom)

Silver Spring, MD (The Fillmore)

New York, NY (Best Buy Theater)

Buffalo, NY (Town Ballroom)

Toronto, Ontario (Danforth Music Hall)

Cleveland, OH (House of Blues)

Pittsburgh, PA (Stage AE)

Pontiac, MI (The Crofoot)

Minneapolis, MN (Mill City Nights)

Des Moines, IA (Wooly’s)

Lawrence, KS (Granada Theater)

Tulsa, OK (Cain’s Ballroom)

Denver, CO (Summit Music Hall)

Salt Lake City, UT (The Complex)

Boise, ID (Knitting Factory)

Seattle, WA (Showbox at the Market)

Portland, OR (Wonder Ballroom)

Sacramento, CA (Ace of Spades)

Anaheim, CA (House of Blues)

San Diego, CA (SOMA)

Tempe, AZ (Marquee Theatre)

Las Vegas, NV (Hard Rock Hotel & Casino)

San Antonio, TX (The Aztec Theatre)

Houston, TX (House of Blues)

Dallas, TX (House of Blues)

Austin, TX (Emo’s)

New Orleans, LA (House of Blues)

Atlanta, GA (The Masquerade)

Orlando, FL (House of Blues)


Jeff started writing about rock ’n’ roll some 20 years ago when he stood in the pouring rain to hitch hike his way to see R.E.M. on their Life’s Rich Pageant tour. Since that time, he's written for various daily newspapers, alt-weeklies, magazines and websites. Feel free to comment on his posts or suggest music, film and art to him at [email protected].