“I guess the mentality that we all have is to be grateful, while trying to get bigger and always pushing yourself forward.” – Alex Garcia.
That’s the mindset of a group who have never slowed down. Over ten years since their formation and now with six albums under their belt, Mayday Parade have headlined across the world and played alongside other prolific pop punkers including All Time Low and You Me at Six. We spoke with lead guitarist Alex Garcia, who guided us through the band origins, his personal highlights and the inspiration behind those killer hooks.
Born from two bands
“At the time that they broke up, before we formed Mayday Parade, I think that they were talking to a very small Floridian label. But then the band I was in with Jake [Bundrick, bass] and Jason [Lancaster, ex-vocalist]… We admired that and that’s the band we wanted to be. We wanted to really work hard.” – Garcia on being inspired by Derek Sanders [vocals and piano], Brooks Betts [rhythm guitar] and Jeremy Lenzo [bass] early on.
When I mused about the group itself originating from a combination of strong work ethics, the guitarist said that I was “absolutely right.”
“In Mayday Parade, we’ve always had a booking agent, but their previous band booked their own shows. So there was that DIY sensibility already in place. Their band was constantly touring, self-releasing their music…”. Those early days clearly caused gears to turn in the guitarist’s mind.
“So when we formed Mayday Parade, that was the big thing, I dropped out of school and everyone quit their jobs. We started touring straight away.”
‘When You See My Friends’: The Maine
“They’re some of our closest friends and it’s a pleasure to see them grow. I know they’ve seen us grow as a band.”
While the heart wrenching track, ‘When You See My Friends’ from Mayday Parade (2011) isn’t actually about their fellow rockers, the bands are certainly close, with the two recently wrapping up The Maine’s ‘American Lines Tour’. Garcia not only confirmed that it was a blast but reflected on their bond.
“It’s great! We’ve toured with them a lot, I can’t even count the amount of times honestly. The first time we toured with them was in 2008… Being able to hang out and all that is just really fun. We toured in the UK with them right before this U.S. run and shared a bus, literally living with them. We’d actually done that before with The Maine in the UK a long time ago. With that kind of experience, you really get to know people and see how another band operates.”
Immersing yourself in the album process
“I think it was important for us to do something different, to reach out and explore more with sounds and take more risks.” – Garcia on latest album Black Lines (2015).
Garcia furthered his take on the band’s progression, stating that while “it’s not like it’s a totally different genre or style, it’s just us trying out new things that we’d never really done before.” His recognition of the need to switch things up radiated here. “But in the future I think it’ll be a really cool thing to look back on, and help us with seeing what works and what doesn’t.”
The record is Mayday Parade’s most varied one to date, showcasing their many facets while remaining unapologetically pop punk. ‘One Of Them Will Destroy The Other’, featuring a reverbing riff in its bridge, and the highly melodic ‘Narrow’ with its combination of acoustic and heavy tones remain my personal favourites.
The five-piece have thrived on secluding themselves, and Garcia’s memories of recording Black Lines reinforced the importance of completely immersing yourself.
“The way we did it wasn’t totally different to how we did previous albums,” clarified the axeman. “We’ve always isolated ourselves in Florida somewhere, whether it be on the beach… this last time we were at a forest house… We’ve always tried to be able to live in the studio that we’re recording at. So I think that’s the idea, that you really immerse yourself in the writing.”
“It’s the only way that we’ve done it for the past six years, but compared to past albums where we were staying somewhere else and were kind of in it intermittently… It provides a solid vibe for the album.”
Finding inspiration for the perfect hook: Noel Gallagher & others
“For me personally, he’s the one.”
Oasis‘ iconic lead guitarist has always been Garcia’s key inspiration, and while he “never thought too deeply about emulating his style of lead guitar playing”, Gallagher’s guitar work continues to resonate.
“I follow his solo stuff now, and he’d released his newest album while we were recording ours. I kind of force everybody to, but we all listen to that one, and he’s definitely experimenting… So maybe that bleeds in there somewhere,” He paused briefly here to consider Black Lines.
After professing my love for ‘Last Night For A Table Of Two’’s intro hook on fourth album Monsters in the Closet (2013), Garcia further considered what sparks his creativity, citing “a lot of nineties rock”.
“I’ll listen to a lot of different types of music and always try to find influence from everything. I listen to a lot of guitar music, whether it be country, jazz, blues, metal or whatever. Recently, I’ve been really into Thin Lizzy and how they use the guitar to perform melodic hook lines.”
Slow but steady wins the Parade
“I think we all obviously wanted to be able to make a living and have this be a career, but I don’t think any of us knew what shape or form it would take.”
When inviting Garcia to reflect on his career, I split it into two parts, and he thoughtfully followed suit as he mentioned highlights including “getting on the cover of Alternative Press [AP], playing main stages of Warped Tour and being able to travel to Australia not just once but a handful of times.”
“Then to Japan, England, Europe… even to headline it in the U.S. and play decently sized rooms. Back in the day, if we could’ve just sold out rooms for 200 people we’d be happy. So we definitely surpassed that. That being said, I feel like at the beginning, we all had this feeling of ‘Let’s shoot for the moon and try to be the biggest band ever’. We’ve had slow but steady success, and there’s still things… I mean we were on the cover of AP, but hell maybe it’d be awesome to be on Rolling Stone’s.”
“Playing the main stage at Warped is great and we’re grateful, but the next step would be headlining Reading or Leeds, or a big U.S. festival like Coachella.”
With the rest of Mayday Parade matching Garcia’s desire to keep improving, they’ll be onto bigger and better things, so be sure to catch them on their Aussie tour this October. Otherwise, score Black Lines for yourself here.
Watch our full filmed set with Mayday Parade here.
Artists in this post
For the past seven years, the members of Tallahassee, Florida's Mayday Parade have honed their patented style of catchy, kinetic pop-punk with an outpour of real rock energy. The Florida quintet knows its identity, but it's got more excitement for the future with new album Monsters In The Closet. Their fourth studio album, Monsters In