Tallahassee natives, Mayday Parade has been in the game since 2006. To some of their fans, A Lesson in Romantics has been with them during some of their most defining moments. To newer fans, Sunnyland was the soundtrack to last year’s summer. Sitting down with Derek Sanders, the band’s lead vocalist, 98Rock would like to formally introduce its audience to Mayday Parade.
Comprised of five members, each member of the band takes inspiration from varying classic rock figures. Lead guitarist, Alex Garica’s favorite band is Led Zeppelin. Brooks Betts claims Guns & Roses, and Sanders is loyal to Queen for their most talented frontman, Freddie Mercury.
Delving into a new band might be no easy feat, but a great place to start is Mayday Parade’s newest album released in the summer of 2018.
“Our newest album, it’s called Sunnyland. It is our sixth album,” Sanders said. “To me, it’s kind of like a little bit of everything we’ve done before. One thing we try to do is have a lot of diversity - we have some slow ballad stuff and some high-energy rock stuff and sort of a little bit of everything in between. It’s a lot of 90s rock influence, like early emo bands.”
From Sunnyland, Sanders settled on “Piece of Your Heart” and “It’s Hard to Be Religious When Certain People are Never Incinerated by Bolts of Lightning” as those to give off the best first impression. However, Sanders’ number one pick is a track off the band’s self-titled album released back in 2011.
“I’ve always said that I think ‘Oh Well, Oh Well’ is one of the best, all-around - you know, if someone is just going to listen to one song from the band, I think that would be a good place to start,” Sanders said. “It gives a pretty well-rounded vibe of what we do.”
True to his statement, Sanders alongside Mayday Parade opened their set on the Orlando date of the inaugural Sad Summer Festival with “Oh Well, Oh Well.”
“We’ve been a band for almost 14 years, and we so many songs,” Sanders said. “It makes it hard to put together a 45 minute setlist out here at the Sad Summer Fest. That’s just ten songs; it gets more and more difficult to pick what we play.”
The day before his 33rd birthday, Sanders reminisced meeting Betts at the age of 12.
“The day that I met Brooks, he has his guitar with him and he came over to my house. We had our first band practice. We’ve been in bands since then.”
Playing local shows, saving up to buy equipment, and managing to get shirts printed, the Tallahassee music scene helped cultivate Mayday Parade into the household names of pop punk they are today.
“The music scene has always been so strong,” Sanders said. “There are so many good bands that have come out of Tallahassee - not a lot of bands that have made it. When we started Mayday Parade there were dozens of bands on the local scene. Some of my favorite songs, still, are from local Tallahassee bands.”
Right after high school, Betts and Sanders toured in a group called Defining Moment. About a year into touring, the band broke off with some members of another called Kid Name Chicago to form Mayday Parade - when Sanders was only 19.
“That’s been a huge portion of my life: playing music with Brooks,” Sanders said. “We took it really seriously. We played in a lot of bands together, but that was always our main focus - more so than school or anything else.”
After 13 years of Mayday Parade, Sanders has watched his fanbase not only grow up, but cycle back with new, younger fans.
“We’re very lucky because it’s a little bit of both,” Sanders said. “There’s people that have been coming out to shows for like ten years, and it’s amazing to see the fanbase get older and see people come back. There’s also this new wave, new generation, of people just getting into the band for the first time and coming to see shows for the first time. Without that, that’s when things start to die off.”
With no intention of letting go, Sanders on behalf of the band would like to embrace 98Rock’s listeners as they will do for Mayday Parade.
“Thanks for giving us a chance,” Sanders said. “We’ve been doing this a really long time, but we still love it. It’s why we started the band, we just wanted to go out and play music. Hopefully, we’ll see you guys at a show sometime.”
Leading up to Mayday Parade, the Orlando date saw openers Stand Atlantic, Just Friends, Mom Jeans, and Set it Off. The Wonder Years was the first of the main acts, followed by The Maine, State Champs, and finally, Mayday Parade. No one was too sad at the Sad Summer Festival seeing all their favorite pop punk staples.