Impressions of Dallas with Mayday Parade's Derek Sanders

This here post is the latest edition in our recurring feature that takes a look at what outside musicians think about the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Each week or so, we'll present a conversation with a touring act, and conclude it with a quick word-association game focusing on certain aspects of Big D and the surrounding region. Check it out. We think it's pretty fun.

Mayday Parade's brand of emo pop/punk has brought the band to the precipice of major stardom.

Hailing out of Tallahassee, Florida (same hometown as Creed), Mayday Parade's 2007 debut, A Lesson in Romantics, featured the interesting vocal interplay between keyboardist Derek Sanders and lead axeman Jason Lancaster. Sadly, Lancaster left the band just after the album was released, leading to way too much Internet fodder discussing whether the band is better with or without him.

To his credit, remaining vocalist Sanders does not shy away from discussing Lancaster's departure and the effect it had on his band's most recent effort, Anywhere But Here. Speaking from Orlando, Sanders was kind enough to answer a few of our questions--and even play a little Dallas word-association.

Mayday Parade has played on the Vans Warped Tour the last couple of years. Is the heat a beating?
It depends entirely on how you do it. We've done it on a van and on a bus and it's like a night and day difference. It's really hard to escape the heat. But if you have a bus that you can go to, it's really not that bad. It's a lot of fun because of so many bands and you get to play in front of a lot of kids.

The band has switched labels from an indie (Fearless) to a major (Atlantic). What are the pros and cons of such a move?
All along, the idea is to get signed by an indie label and then make your way to a big label. We started talking to Atlantic a while back and it just seemed like a good thing. The guy from the label seemed very stoked and enthusiastic about the band. The budget for the new record is 10 times what it was for the other one. We had a bigger producer and more time in the studio. Atlantic had more resources and could push the band on radio. The only con is that when you are part of a bigger picture, you do have to compromise a little bit, just on certain things. There are more people who are involved with decisions about your band.

Mayday Parade is often described as an emo band. Do you hate the term emo?
I feel like emo has become a negative term for some reason. Almost every band cringes at that word. I don't understand that. I don't think there is anything wrong with being called emo. Honestly, what is emo? It's a weird thing. The easiest thing for me to say is that we are a pop-rock band.

It's been several years since singer/guitarist Jason Lancaster left the band. Is there still animosity on anyone's behalf?
Nowadays, there is not really animosity. Whenever I am in Tallahassee, I will see Jason and we talk and we hang out and it's cool. The whole thing was kind of weird and complicated. We're past all that and we are friends. We all wish the best for each other.

Besides not having Jason's vocals on the new album, what are the major differences between Anywhere But Here and your debut, A Lesson in Romantics?
Of course, there couldn't be as much back and forth singing, although we did do a little bit of that with [drummer] Jake [Bundrick] and I. Jason was a big part of the writing process and that made a difference. But Jason quit the band years ago and we've been a band longer without him than we were with him. We've had plenty of time to adapt and move past it. This is who we are now, the five of us.

Mayday Parade has played Dallas several times over the last couple of years. How about let's play a quick game of word association concerning some things commonly associated with our area?
OK, sure. But what sucks is that when you are in these cities, you are kind of limited to the area in and around the venue. I've been to Dallas a handful of times, but I haven't had a chance to experience too much. Dallas does have a cool history.

Fair enough. Let's see how you do...
Rednecks: Florida
Troy Aikman: I am really bad with football.
JFK Assassination: Been there. Visited the grassy knoll, anyhow.
Strip Clubs: Cool!
Boob Jobs: Huh?
Cocaine: Bad.
Conservative Religion: Interesting.
Cowboy Hats: Sweet!
Cover Bands: Love them!
The George W. Bush Memorial Library: Oh man, I'm not a real political person...

Mayday Parade performed tonight at The Door with A Rocket to the Moon, There For Tomorrow and We The Kings.

KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Darryl Smyers
Contact: Darryl Smyers