At this stage in their career, Mayday Parade have become part of the furniture; a staple to any wholesome musical diet. Hell, you could even forgive them for resting on their laurels and cruising along. But as they begin to reveal their forthcoming album Sunnyland bit by bit, it’s clear the Floridian’s have once again flipped their script; ramming up the octane, sharpening its fangs, and loading it with fury.
Despite its blissful name, Sunnyland is by far the most savage Mayday release to date. Anyone who sunk their teeth into 2015’s Black Lines could have anticipated this. The band had a taste for the heavies and they wanted more, all the while keeping one foot firmly planted in the world of classic Mayday.
Ahead of the records Friday, June 15th release date, we caught up with guitarist Alex Garcia to learn more about the story behind Sunnyland.
The Neversphere: You waited until the final moments of the album to address Sunnyland. As one of the guys who wrote the album, what is Sunnyland to you? A physical place? Or more so a vibe or a state of mind?
Alex Garcia: All of the above. The song on the album is about an actual place that existed in Tallahassee, Florida where the band is from. There was this abandoned mental hospital, for children I believe…a lot of this is just urban myth, but the fact remains it was a creepy, creepy, straight-out-of-nightmares mental hospital. As teenagers, it was the thing to do to go there and dick around, do whatever teenagers can do in an abandoned hospital. It was super creepy. I only went like once, and it felt like you were in Resident Evil or Silent Hill. Derek wrote the song Sunnyland, and he went to the hospital frequently from what I remember. Coincidently, he loves the games Resident Evil and Silent Hill.
Initially, that song is about nostalgia and wanting to go back to a simpler time. At least that’s what I get out of it. There’s such a great dissonance between the name Sunnyland, and what it actually was. God only knows what they did in that building, what kind of horrible things transpired there but there was such a great juxtaposition between this creepy building, with such a creepy story, to the name which has this benign sound to it. That lent itself to a lot of creative things.
We went with that and ran with it. It’s a good way to think about the music, too. All the music comes from experiences; some negative, but I think the music has positive impacts on people’s lives.
The Neversphere: Straight out of the gates, there’s a lot of ferocity and aggression on Sunnyland – there’s shreddage, there’s chaos. I dare say it’s the heaviest I’ve heard you guys. Was this something you discussed in the war room talks or is that just how the music came out of you?
Alex: I think it’s super organic. Black Lines was definitely a step in that direction in creating a heavier, more aggressive raw sound. On Sunnyland, we balanced out experimenting with that and our more classic Mayday sound that people would expect from A Lesson In Romantics or our self-titled. We did talk about it, and I’m sure it was on everyone’s mind but at the end of the day we just picked the songs that we liked the most.
The Neversphere: Given that you’ve somewhat entered new sonic territory, is there a particular moment on the record – a full song, or a specific riff, or even a few bars, that you’re the most excited – or even nervous – for fans to hear?
Alex: Always Leaving. I wrote that song and I’m just curious…It’s a departure from what fans would expect from Mayday Parade. I’m curious to hear. I was looking at comments today from Never Sure and I was reminded ‘Oh, maybe I shouldn’t read these comments. Maybe my skin is a little too thin still after a decade of doing this’ But, I don’t know, I’m very curious to see how Always Leaving goes down.
The Neversphere: I recently started a new relationship, and I sent her Piece Of Your Heart as a song to show how I felt. Now that song has kind of become our song together. Mayday Parade is very much one of those bands. You aren’t just releasing a 3-and-a-half-minute song, you release songs that will go on to soundtrack big moments for your fans. Is that something that messes with you when you’re writing them?
Alex: I can’t speak for the rest of the band, but in my personal experience – No. Or at least I like to think no. I’m more focused with it being my soundtrack, so to speak. It’s incredible, and the way that you put that was so cool, but it’s interesting; I can only really focus on the way I think about the song. If that makes any sense…Basically, I think it’s important to not censor yourself and to keep that filter as open as possible. The reason I try to avoid thinking ‘What will people think of this’ is because that starts to put a filter on things, that may or may not exist, or may or may not be accurate.
In my experience, from what I’ve seen, people to feel something in your music. People can tell when it’s faked or phoned in. When you start putting that filter up, and having that view on things, it starts to colour everything, and dull everything. Everything becomes a lot less genuine. I’d be curious to pick Derek and Jake and everyone else’s brain about it because everyone has their own way of thinking about things.
I think there’s something to be said about raw, unfiltered emotion.
Let me put it to you like this. Not long ago, when we were doing the 10-year Anniversary tour for A Lesson In Romantics, we were with Zack and Kenneth who recorded that album and recorded a lot of Sunnyland too. Kenneth said to me, and I’ll never forget it. Easily one of our most popular songs to date is Miserable At Best. Kenneth was saying had we of known that Miserable was going to be the ‘hit’ or our biggest song, we would have done so much more to that song. We would have added all these strings, probably scrutinised every aspect of it and that would have probably killed it. All that filtering would suck it of any authenticity. The worst thing you can do when you’re creating is over think things.
The Neversphere: When are you guys in town to perform Sunnyland for your Australian fans? It’s been a minute since the 10th-anniversary tour.
Alex: Oh, not soon enough. Hopefully, we’ll be there very soon. We’re hammering all that out now as we speak. Everyone in the band, we all love Australia and touring there so much. I’m excited to come back as soon as I can…
…It’ll happen, I’m not sure when, but soon.