By Maggie Leone
WTBU DJ Maggie Leone talked with Alex Garcia, guitarist of Mayday Parade, ahead of their upcoming Boston show. Mayday Parade will be coming to the Paradise Rock Club on November 13 on their Anywhere But Here ten-year anniversary tour. The show is sold out, but re-sale tickets may become available — check here for updates.
Maggie Leone: What was your experience with the Sad Summer Fest tour and did you help come up with that idea in any way?
Alex Garcia: Yeah, so, us and The Maine kind of got together and decided that we wanted to do a festival kind of tour ‘cause we knew Warped Tour was ending. So we wanted to figure out something that could kind of, hopefully take the place of Warped Tour… to keep the scene alive and keep the summer kind of locked down for emo music and give an opportunity for bands to the play together and to have a special place to go, like that Warped Tour was. mean, Warped Tour was really special for bands of emo music. So both bands [Mayday Parade and The Maine] came together on that — not to mention, we wanted to tour together — and then we just kind of filled it out. The amount of work and effort that The Maine put in and both managers, and our booking agents, (we share the same booking agent). The amount of work that everybody put in was just kind of astounding, really. My experience on it was just fantastic. I think it was something very special It was just a cool thing to be a part of. Probably one of the biggest things that we’ve really done and one of our most adventurous endeavors. We’ve either really only done Warped Tour or a headline tour. But to do something like putting on our own festival was, very different. And also, you know, a little scary ‘cause you have no idea how it’s gonna turn out. Like if people are gonna hate it or not.
ML: From the social media posts from all of the bands, it looked like it was a great tour package. Was it as fun as to do as it looked?
AG: Yeah, it was so much fun. It was. I don’t know. I’m kinda speechless and kind of at a loss for words for it. It was like Warped Tour, but smaller and more intimate and the vibes were really good. That was another big, very important thing: kind of making sure that there were no egos. That nobody was getting stepped on, that everybody was very respected, and that the opening bands had good opportunity and weren’t just kind of getting shafted. And it seemed to be a good experience for everyone and that’s all that we could ever want for it.
ML: So you’ve been in the band since 2005. What has it been like to watch it grow over the last decade and a half?
AG: What’s it been like? It’s been, I mean, incredible, really. I got very lucky. I don’t know, it’s…At first, you know, when I was younger and we first started this, it felt like we worked very hard. And I mean, we definitely did, the work ethic was very strong. And now I just kind of sit back and think about how lucky I got really. Especially compared to other bands that I see that are struggling. Our peers that we toured with, you know, eight years ago that broke up. It makes you feel really grateful and. But it’s always scary. I think at every point it’s scary ‘cause you never know how it’s going to end or what’s going to happen. I mean, I kind of wish somebody had told me maybe you know, a decade ago like, “Hey, everything’s going to be fine.” Then, you know, I certainly would have relaxed a lot more over that decade. But that’s just part of life, I guess. I think also that fear is kind of what keeps your edge and keeps your drive, the fire in your stomach alive, you know?
ML: For sure.
AG: But it’s been great and I’m thankful that we’re all still friends and we’re surrounded by a good crew and everyone that works for us and with us is very…we’re friends with and we respect. I just keep going back to being grateful and feeling very lucky.
ML: Furthermore, this tour celebrates ten years since the release of Anywhere But Here…Not to sound cliché, but what does that feel like?
AG: It’s very conflicting because it’s no secret that album is an album that we as a band don’t really like…from the experience that we had recording it and releasing it, to the actual music itself. So there’s a lot of baggage and a lot of weight with that record. So coming into it was very difficult. I’ll start with all the negative stuff first… you know, [piecing] through all the songs, re-learning them, you know, it definitely brings me back. And there’s certainly lyrics and stuff that I listen to and I’m like, “God, that was just so bad.” And I feel like we really got pushed to do something that we didn’t want to do and all that…But now, I mean, I just left practice. So we were just playing this song and it’s honestly been kind of fun though. And I’m actually like really looking forward to playing these songs. And it’s just weird. I mean, there’s some parts, I’m like, “God, this is a really cool song, or this is a really cool part, or whatever”. Or I remember like some really fun times we had in the studio recording…whatever part. I remember the people. I specifically recorded guitar with this guy named Cato and he made that experience so much fun because we would just sit in his little studio and watch like AC/DC music videos and just talk about guitar and then, and then we’d record and work on stuff a little bit. But he was such an enjoyable person to be around and funny. And we just had such a good chemistry. As a young guitarist, as a young musician, you know, working under anyone, like a producer or engineer that’s older than you, that’s more experienced, is a better musician than you, more talented, whatever…he was like a mentor for me, at that moment. So listening to the songs, I remember that. I remember coming up with these parts and working on them with him and recording them and working effects. I really hope that it’s an opportunity for us to kind of have the last word on that record. ‘Cause I think it all kind of hung over our head for the past decade. And now I’m hoping that we can make the songs what Mayday Parade is now.
ML: That’s an excellent explanation. Honestly, the song “Save Your Heart” was the first Mayday Parade song that I’d ever heard. So I love that song.
AG: Oh good, I’m glad you do.
ML: Yeah, that song will always have a special place in my heart, because I just always remember it as the first Mayday song that I’d ever heard. So now that you’re, like you said, “re-learning the album,” do you have a favorite song from it to play live?
AG: Well, I’ll start with the song that we — it’s not that much fun to play live — but it’s a such a cool song. It’s a B-side called “So Far Away.” I think it was in the running to be on the record. And for some reason we chose to make it a B-side. But that song is…I love that song. And it’s funny ’cause I don’t even think I recorded on it. Because it was a co-write that I think the version that’s released is the demo. I don’t know. Derek [Sanders, lead sings] would probably know better than I. Anyway, when I was going back and listening to it, I was like, “Damn, this is a good song.” But anyway…favorite song to play live that we’ve been going through. Okay. I think maybe “The Silence” or “Bruised and Scarred.” Those are fun and it’s just ‘cause they’re just different. Like Mayday Parade doesn’t…we don’t have songs like that anymore. I think maybe for better, but they’re just like fun and different. And there’s another song called “If You Can’t Live Without Me, Then Why Aren’t You Dead Yet?” And that song’s a lot of fun because it’s super guitar-driven and there’s two crazy solos in it. You know, that’s a challenge. “Save Your Heart” is pretty cool though too, because that’s… It’s funny, you know, I was kinda laughing when you said that, ’cause that song’s hard. That song’s such a hard song for me to play. It’s super challenging. It changes and it’s kind of complicated…it’s just a lot. It’s just a lot to memorize kinda thing, but yeah.
ML: Cool. In the similar vein, the album art for A Lesson in Romantics, Anywhere But Here, and the self-titled album are all pretty similar. Is there a deeper connection between the art for those three or is it just a coincidence that you kind of used the same stylistic choices?
AG: So, the first album A Lesson in Romantics, they gave us that cover art as a choice. As an option for us to choose from. And we chose it and I think it became such a part of the band, the album cover and the faceless guy with the umbrella. I think that just became kind of such a symbol for the band that it was impossible for us to ignore it. And to not do it. So yes, I think by the time it came around for Anywhere But Here, we were like, “Yeah, let’s still use this symbol and its imagery, change it up a little bit, but, you know, still kind of stick to it.” And then for the self-titled, I mean that one we went a little further and we were like, “We still want to keep the album artwork,” and you know, to be honest with you, we kinda kept it on Monsters in the Closet too, our fourth album. The third album, the self-titled, we kept it. And then, for the music videos, we wanted to create more of a story around this guy, around the imagery, so the music videos for “Oh Well” and for “Stay,” both revolve around the faceless guy. To fully answer your question: we kind of after the fact, created a story for this thing.
ML: A reverse concept album situation.
AG: There you go, yeah.
ML: So these are a couple quirkier questions. What bands are you listening to currently?
AG: Well, over the weekend, I went to this music festival and there was a lot of EDM and stuff. So I’ve been listening to what I found there. It’s like, this artist named Shywolf, and then there’s another artist called CloZee. Both of them I’ve been listening to, but that’s like EDM and something that’s very different from what Mayday Parade is. But, I don’t know. I’ve, I realized that I’m kind of like…I have ADD when it comes to music and listening. Like if you look at my playlists that I make monthly, it’ll be like: a Rossini overture from an opera, then you know, like an old blues song, Charlie Parker or something. Or then it’ll be like, I don’t know, like Knuckle Puck or, then it’ll be like, Taylor Swift… Then there’s like Anderson .Paak or, you know, Kanye West. I don’t know. I get bored really quickly and easily and yeah.
ML: Going off of that, what is your go-to karaoke song?
AG: Well, I’m very self-conscious about my singing voice, but, I would say, “Don’t Look Back in Anger” is the song that’s probably one of my favorite songs of all time. So I know it by heart. But, it’s very high…or it’s pretty high for me to sing in its original key. But there’s a song called “Kodachrome” by Paul Simon that I love. That’s such a fun song to sing. That’s a good karaoke song to me. I would love to be able to — I don’t have the range, it’s way out of my range, but Katy Perry’s “Roar” is like such a fun song for me, and I love that song. Yeah, those are three for ya. Or maybe even like “Somebody to Love” by Queen.
ML: That’s an awesome mix. Okay, last question. What is your dream tour line-up? If you could pick any bands to tour with, who would it be?
AG: Well, I don’t know…Oasis is my favorite band or one of them…so if they got back together and were like, “Hey Mayday Parade, we want you to be direct support for us or open for us,” that’d be incredible. I don’t know. We toured with Paramore once before and they were so inspiring, just with how professional they were and how tight they were, the band. It’d be great to tour with them again, but I don’t know, there’s so many. Honestly, anybody. It’s a pleasure to, to be support for any band, ‘cause you can learn something and then kind of like at the end of the day, you get this opportunity to go to a show and to see — for free, really — something incredible. So I don’t know, you know, my musical taste, like with what I’m listening to, my musical tastes, they’re kind of all over the place. So I usually can find something that I enjoy in any type of music. So I mean it when I say anybody. Honestly though, I was thinking about it now, maybe Foo Fighters, I think that’d be really cool…to watch them every night.
ML: That would be really cool. Perfect. Well, that’s all I have for you. Thank you so much for your time.
AG: Thank you for yours. I appreciate it.
ML: Have fun on this tour! I will catch you at the Boston show.
AG: Right on, yeah, I’m excited.
(This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.)