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A Day to Remember (Part 1) - 10/07/13

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A Day to Remember (Part 1) - 10/07/13
This interview took place on October 7th, 2013 with Jeremy McKinnon, the lead singer of A Day to Remember. The bandís new album, Common Courtesy, is now available online.


I know that all the fans are very excited about getting any information about the new album album, the writing/recording process, and this legal situation -- so Iím really glad we can do this interview. And, Iím sure for you, youíre now excited to be able to talk about this album - knowing that itís definitely coming out, right?

Yeah, man, I canít even begin to describe how excited I am.

I donít mean to be extremely reductive about art and music - but this is an interview and we only have so long - so I am going to be: What would you say Common Courtesy is about?

Well, to be honest with you, when I am writing itís never as clear cut as ďthis is what itís about.Ē Itís usually a string of different things over that time period and all that that encompasses. So, basically itís really about everything that has happened to us over these past three years. And a lot of stuff has happened. Weíve had to deal with everything from slander on the internet, from really sketchy people, and thereís stuff about that. And thereís stuff about our legal problems and also our everyday, ďbeing a human being,Ē problems. Itís real accounts of things that happened to me in my life.

When youíre writing about things, like this legal stuff, do you ever worry about how the listeners and fans of the band are going to relate to that? I mean, like writing about a legal battle, I have to assume that the relatability to a general audience is low.

You know thatís not really something I think about when Iím putting it together. I do try to go about writing it in a way that an everyday person can understand, and Iím not going to go out of my way to say something that no one can relate to. But, weíre obviously going through some things that hopefully people never have to experience in their lives - I mean, we sued a multi-million dollar corporation.

And you see, I guess thatís what Iím trying to do: say it as plain and relatable as possible. I really just want to tell a story in a way that anyone that hears it can understand it. Thatís all Iím trying to do. I think Iíve gotten better at it on this album too. Itís always a work in progress, you know?

I feel like as a writer Iíve gotten better at making things simpler, and understandable.

Well, speaking of being blunt and tossing it out there - looking at the albumís tracklisting, number twelve is titled ďThe Document Speaks For ItselfĒ - Iím going to assume that means exactly what everyone thinks it means.

It is. Itís basically me talking directly to our label owner. And really, man, Iím disappointed. Ok, we kinda knew getting in, when we signed the contract, that there was the possibility that this was going to happen one day, if we ever did sell a large amount of records. Because, well, thatís just what has happened to people who signed to Victory. But, at the same time (when they signed that deal), nobody cared. We were going through a hard time, we lost a drummer, we lost one of our main songwriters, Tom Denney, after he quit. And we were going to break up and go back to school and probably head down a different path in life.

And then Victory Records comes in and they were the only label thatís interested, and were actually going to fund us in a way that we thought was good enough. And we realized that if we were going to put a huge portion of our lives into something, we at least wanted the opportunity to sound how we wanted it to sound. And they were the only label that was going to do that, and when you look at it like that Iíll always be grateful to them for giving us that opportunity. But, at the same time Ö what you donít see Ö from being in the band vs on the outside Ö is that there is just no possible way of working with him.

Heís just Ö

I donít even know how to put it ..

Itís a terrible thing. We have been trying to settle with this guy, literally, the entire time. We didnít want this to happen. We donít want to be in a huge legal case. We donít want to have to pay lawyers this outrageous amount of money to do this. But there are times where I just straight up lose it because he can be so weird, and just lying, and itís obvious that heís making jokes about it Ö and itís like, ďcome on man, letís just go into another room.Ē

And we did once. Just me, Josh, and him. And we start talking to him and weíre like, ďyou know what? If you would just do what you said you would do. Then this wouldnít happen. If you just treat us the way you said you were going to in the first place, we would have stayed with you for our entire careers.Ē And I told him that to his face. And look, if you look at what weíve done over our career as a band, we are fiercely loyal band when it comes to the people that have helped us, you know? Our photographer, we work only with him when we have a choice. Andrew Wade has worked on all of our albums now. Chad Gilbert is part of our team. So is Tom, heís gonna be part of every album we do - thatís just who we are and how we go about doing what I want us to do - which is make a better more updated version of us. And, we would have loved to just be with them (Victory Records) the whole time, but you just Ö you canít work with the guy. Heís a person that cannot be understood even if you try. And for years, heís surprised us every single day.

Was there ever a time where you thought that maybe Common Courtesy would come out on Victory Records? Or was that off the table from the start?

Never. It was never off the table. Itís on the table right now if he would just be reasonable. Just a few months ago Josh and I were flying around Chicago almost every weekend because we were trying to settle this and he would write us an email saying, ďok, letís talk settlementĒ -- so me and Josh would fly up there. Once on Joshís birthday, we flew on his BIRTHDAY to sit in court, and then at the end of it, Tony just said, ďnah, weíre not gonna talk, Iím going home.Ē And then Josh missed his flight. I know, I know, itís just a day, whatever, but you know what I mean? Thereís something sort of special about your birthday.

So, itís like, I donít know man. We would have loved for this to have been settled before this, because really itís just a misunderstanding. Itís a misunderstanding because of how terrible, just terrible, he set this whole contract up. You know?

Yeah, in my reading of it - a lot of it comes down to that original contract, right? And what it is that defines ďan album,Ē correct?

Yeah, itís just all over the place. I mean Iím sure other labels have done that too. But itís not just that, he uses this contract as leverage. And thatís his whole game, the whole thing is that he makes people sign these ďdeal memosĒ and the reason there arenít any long form contracts is because itís his way of pretty much being able to say, ďI can do whatever I want and itís encompassed in this legal documentĒ Ö and youíre scared. And we were scared. For years.

The time when we signed to the label, Atreyu was big, Hawthorne Heights was big, you heard about the Thursday thing, you heard about the Taking Back Sunday thing, but you didnít really know what happened, right? You know, that was before Hawthorne got upset with them.

So, when we signed, and this is whatís crazy - because live albums and any reproductions like that - were always supposed to count. And we honestly believed that, for example, when we signed to the label, literally when we were signing, Atreyu put out a greatest hits album -- and it counted toward their contract. And me being the young kid, I took it as that -- those definitely count. Thereís a band, thatís huge right now, theyíre on this label, this counts toward our contract. And thatís legitimately what we thought. And, well, thatís his whole game. You put yourselves in this position and itís really written that he can kind of just say whatever he wants and we had to wait this long until we finally had the means to stand up for ourselves.

So now you get to this spot Ö and, hypothetically, say you lose this case when it goes to a jury - is there anyway this band could go back and work with Victory Records again?

I mean if weíre forced to by the court Ö but, I know what you mean and Iíll answer it: and the answer is no. But, really, weíre not even worried about that right now. The only thing he was trying to do with this is try and ruin our careers. He would always say that over the years when he would call us up, and we didnít want to do something Ö for instance Ö he made us put out ďOld Record.Ē And, what he would do is say, ďIím going to give you guys this much money to do this,Ē and then weíd come back with, ďwell, we donít really want to do that because we would have like two days at home to re-record this entire albumĒ -- and he told us, ďyou have to do this or I will end your career.Ē And us, being young kids, touring in a van with no money, we absolutely were terrified. And what would you do? I mean we canít do anything about this right now. And we were forced to go into the studio, in two days, and record our entire first album again. And we butchered it. Because it was two days. And itís something I absolutely am ashamed that we put out.

And see, thatís where it gets crazy -- he tries to control people. And, well, I wonít name the band name, but there was a band that we have been on tour with multiple times, that was an older Victory band, and they were putting out their last album Ö and, well, we were told that he kind of shelved it. As a way of forcing them to re-sign with Victory. And they said, ďweíre not gonna do that,Ē so he did what he did and it definitely affected them.

So, the answer is if the court forces us to - yeah, we will - but eventually he will kill the career of our band. I mean thatís just the position weíre in. It was either let the guy do it, and heís probably going to do it anyway, or do we try and stand up for ourselves? And hopefully the rest of the world will see whatís happening and not let this guy do this to people anymore.

Was that part of the reason for self-releasing the new album? To try and avoid the problem of a lawsuit dragging this out for a long time and then you guys get scared, because you havenít put and new material out in 3 years, and then maybe the fan following dies down, and you get forced into something you donít want to do?

Right. Well, yes, and no.

See, we told our fans we were going to put out the record October 8th. And to us, they have already been so disappointed with this whole situation, and really itís the most negativity we have probably gotten, and to us it was very obvious that if this lasted too much longer that this could really, really be a turning point where people would just be like, ďwe donít even care anymore and weíre just going to move on to the next thing.Ē And Iím not ready for that, Iím not ok with him just dragging this out until we run out of money or are afraid that weíre going to put the album out and no one is gonna buy it.

I donít care about that.

In the long run, I think if this album is good enough, and connects with our fans, there is nothing that is going to stop it. I believe that. And that if itís an album that people that relate to and like there is nothing that is going to matter in the future. And if people listen to it, and like it, and think itís a great record that stands up for itself - I donít have to talk anymore. Everyone is going to forget about this whole process and just think ďthis album is greatĒ - and if the album does that, then, well, ďhell yeah.Ē Thatís what itís all about.

And if it doesntí? Well maybe we were just a time period thing. And you know what, to be honest? Iím ok with that too. Iím, really, just excited. Iím really excited. I think itís cool that a band that plays breakdowns and pop-punk is even in this position, to even be considered one of the bigger rock bands in the world. I think thatís fucking amazing. Because, really, there arenít many people that are playing straight up break downs that are being played on the radio, and I think itís a testament that it doesnít really matter what youíre playing. In a time where dance music and rap music are the dominant genres -- that we can be this successful, or in this position? I think it goes to show that itís not really all what youíre playing, but the meaning behind it. And that itís about being able to relate to your music. And I think that people should start to see what this means to our fans, and that this is more than just a passing trend.

Ok, with that - then whatís the promotion for this album going forward? Without a label, do you have a team to take a single to radio? Or what are you doing to try and keep the momentum of the band going?

Well, this is how weíre looking at: Weíre looking at what weíre doing tomorrow, or this afternoon, or whenever the pre-orders start going out as a controlled leak. ďHomesickĒ leaked like two months early and it caused this bubble of people freaking out and saying ďthis album is awesomeĒ and ďholy crapĒ and ďIím gonna check this out when it comes outĒ -- and they supported it -- because they liked it. And thatís kinda what weíre hoping happens with this one.

If the people like the album, and the support the band, we believe that in the long run the record will sell as many as we need it to and thatís the goal. Weíre just going to put it out for our fans because we said we were going to on the 8th. And weíre going to try and get anyone that pre-ordered it a decent percentage off when the big physical version comes out, which is probably going to have three extra songs, and weíll probably put the videos we do on there, and try and make it a big cool physical product. And weíll definitely be working with distributors and actually getting it out there world wide, and on iTunes, everything.

So, I think weíre going to have - or weíre supposed to have - a release date soon. Because we want to start promoting the physical release date immediately. Because we figure this will be the most people are seeing it.

Industry people worry about things like sales numbers and stuff like that, itís the nature of the beast - and there has been talk that you guys could have maybe had the number one album in the country with this release, the band is that big, does it bum you out that maybe this legal stuff will have stopped that from happening?

I mean, it does suck, because this probably would have been our best selling first week ever. But at the same time, if youíre following whatís happening to us at all - I think itís pretty clear that weíre not going to have a normal first week. I mean I donít even know if weíre going to report those sales, or thatís what I heard somebody say. I donít know if anyone will know, honestly, other than us - what we sold. And I mean, weíre actually really happy with how things are going right now. Weíve been getting word that things are really taking off today - so, itís pretty exciting.

But, man, what it all boils down to is that we just want our music out there. We want to keep touring, and we think fans will support us through this hard time.

So, there are 13 songs on this thing - and itís 54 minutes long - and in this day and age, thatís not the norm. Most other bands are putting out 10 track releases at a little over 40 minutes -- what was it about these songs that made you feel as though you wanted to release all of them?

Iím telling you man, when we started, when we began this record - and I keep saying this but people donít believe me - but this is the 100% truth: we had 40 song ideas going into the recording of this album. I have never, ever undertaken something so insane as trying to sort through 40 songs that I genuinely really liked. Even with Chad, and that was kinda the approach, Chad would show up for a month to work on stuff and I was like, ďjust work on the ones you like, and Iíll have the ones I like, and weíll work on them after you leaveĒ -- but there was so much stuff that it legitimately took us eight months of non-stop recording six days a week to go through it all. And it didnít have to do with the lawsuit or anything like that, it was just hard to pick songs.

And thatís why thereís so many. I mean I donít wanna put out a 16 song album, thatís a commitment, I mean, even if we we're your favorite band Ö good lord Ö but 16 whole songs? Thatís commitment to listen to that damn thing. So thatís why weíre going to find creative ways to use the other songs. And thatís the other thing when youíre putting out an album, sometimes great songs get lost, or people never really listen to them -- and we didnít want that to happen.

Now, assuming everything gets settled next year, and youíre officially off Victory, do you see yourselves signing to another label? Or would you continue the self-release route?

You know, I think itíll all depend how this all goes - how well the record does - and what happens with the distribution of this album. Weíre in this weird position where we do basically the same numbers everywhere on the planet, and so, why would we need to go to a major label? Weíre not going to give a label a portion of our income on sales, or merch, or anything like that - that doesnít make sense. We can do just as big of numbers as some of the biggest radio artists in this genre, so weíre in this weird position where we kinda donít need big labels anymore.

I think something we were more interested in is coming up with a really creative indie-label idea. And, actually, we almost signed a contract already Ö well, before things went real south.

But, yeah, weíre more interested in having a cool indie thing happen where we can help the label and they can help us too Ö you know? Thatís way more interesting to me.

Yeah, I kind of feel like if you were to turn around and sign to a major label, that even though Common Courtesy just came out, theyíd just say, ďok that already happened - letís move on to the next thingĒ - and that this album wouldnít ever get the time it deserves.

Exactly. And itís gonna take a creative partnership, because weíve already gotten some feedback, and other labels saying, ďplease, donít put out this album, because itís going to vastly affect what itís worth,Ē and really - we just donít care - weíre not going to push back an album that people are already upset about taking long to release. And weíre getting so much positive shit surrounding our band right now, playing these big shows with great bands, and ďwinningĒ publically - no matter if a lawyer wants to spin it one way or not - but all that we were really ever worried about was putting out this album. Because you know what? Our fans donít really give a shit about Victory Records and our lawsuit, they care about our album - and if we donít get it to them - theyíre not going to care anymore. So, we want to give people what they want, and then handle the other business in the background, the way it should be.

The only thing he held above us was the right to put out this album and we won the right to put it out ourselves. There is nothing this man can do that can hurt our career from this moment on, and Iíve never been more excited in our life. We actually took the momentum from him, he literally has nothing to hold above our heads anymore. Now it can go to a jury and good luck having a jury of random people agree that two live albums that are sold separately not count as an album, good luck with that.

Part two can be found here →
 
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10:46 AM on 10/08/13
#2
Anton Djamoos
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A+
10:57 AM on 10/08/13
#3
Alex DiVincenzo
www.alexislegend.com
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This was an excellent and informative read.
10:58 AM on 10/08/13
#4
HeyItsAllyssa
Clear Eyes Full Hearts Can't Lose
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Great interview. Really enjoying the album so far.

Jason go ice your fingers from all that typing
11:09 AM on 10/08/13
#5
loveisamixtape
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great interview man
11:17 AM on 10/08/13
#6
Jaytothesyg
The Greatest Generation
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Basically what everyone said above. A+, Excellent and Informative interview.

He gave full insight to everything and that was really great. Common Courtesy is awesome
11:34 AM on 10/08/13
#7
crookedneighbor
now with more fiber
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Really a hell of an interview. Makes me sympathetic to a band I never really liked. Now that I think about it, maybe it was just some of their fans.
11:35 AM on 10/08/13
#8
BigDogRob
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This was stellar. Great interview!
11:42 AM on 10/08/13
#9
himynameisdk
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Jeremy is seriously a stand up guy. For being one of the biggest bands in the scene they're humble as fuck.
11:42 AM on 10/08/13
ZacGinger
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Amazing interview. Really answers all the questions I had.
Side comment, I'm somebody that's complained about the 10 song barely 40 minute album thing. I never realized how much of a commitment it is to listen to something longer. I still have not gotten past track 9 on the album yet just because it is so long. Interesting to think about and realize for me.
11:49 AM on 10/08/13
reid
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refreshingly honest, and at times detailed, interview. i hope these guys do really well with this record.
11:51 AM on 10/08/13
Jason Tate
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The interview actually made me feel bad that the band won't have a top 3 or 4 (or maybe 1) album to be honest. Like .. they probably would have definitely been close ... and regardless of my thoughts on anything else ... I feel legit bad they can't experience that because of how this went down. I hope somehow they get some gold records outta this to make up for it. Haha.
11:53 AM on 10/08/13
herestoyoufla
Still starin' down the sun
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The interview actually made me feel bad that the band won't have a top 3 or 4 (or maybe 1) album to be honest. Like .. they probably would have definitely been close ... and regardless of my thoughts on anything else ... I feel legit bad they can't experience that because of how this went down. I hope somehow they get some gold records outta this to make up for it. Haha.
Totally agree.
11:56 AM on 10/08/13
circletheworld
Old Fears New Frontiers
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That was a great interview. Well done!
11:58 AM on 10/08/13
Zack Zarrillo
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Does anyone know what band he's talking about that they toured with several times?

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