When I first came across A Day To Remember in the spring of 2007, the band was playing for roughly 100 kids at Crush Lounge, yet another in a string of hardcore hybrid bands that seemed to be the flavor of the month. Even then, however, there was something that stood out about the Florida five-piece.
In retrospect, I'm still not sure I can pinpoint exactly what it was that made the group different. Maybe it was a slightly more intense performance or the fact that the band still seemed to genuinely enjoy what it was doing. For the members, music hadn't become merely a job yet. More than anything else, it was probably the fact that the band seemed to have a more intimate connection with its audience than most others.
Now, four years later, the band has grown tremendously. Constant touring and regular stops in Tulsa have seen ADTR move up from small clubs to opener status at Cain's Ballroom, to selling out Cain's to a headlining gig at Brady Theater this Monday, April 11.
"We never, ever, ever thought we'd be close to what we are today," said guitarist Kevin Skaff. "The way we fuse pop-punk and metalcore, or whatever people call it, we never thought it could be as popular as it is."
Probably the largest part of the band's appeal is its lyrics. Common themes revolve around alienation, overcoming adversity and unity amongst friends. Although these topics hit especially close to home for teens, they aren't exclusive to a young listeners.
Even as a parent, these topics and the way the band addresses them ring true, even if it might be a little unnerving for some to hear their kids sing "The Plot to Bomb the Panhandle," with the lyrics "I'll never be a liar, but you'll always be two-faced / I thought you were better than this, but you're just like everyone else."
Track from the latest disc, 2010's What Separates Me From You, are just as vivid, whether addressing loyalty in "Better Off This Way," alienation and standing up for yourself in "All Signs Point to Lauderdale" or relationships in "You Be Tails, I'll Be Sonic." Overall, it's easy to see why so many kids identify with the band. In most cases, it's not hard to identify as a parent, either.
Skaff said the band just writes about what's currently happening in their lives.
"We're not ashamed or embarrassed or worried about what people will think," he said. "We have a story to tell and that's what we do."
That kind of honesty is something Skaff and his bandmates miss in modern rock 'n' roll.
"I hear songs and people are singing about vampires and stuff and I just think, 'What the hell? That's not even real,'" Skaff said. "So long as we're together and playing music, I think our songs will always come pretty naturally."
That honesty and connection to the audience is what has helped ADTR continue to grow in popularity. Although the band's growth is evident in the progression to larger venues in Tulsa, the band's appeal isn't limited to the heartland and the musicians draw even larger crowds on the coasts.
Constant touring and regular
stops in Tulsa have seen A Day to Remember
move up from small clubs to a headlining gig
at Brady Theater this Monday. Probably the
largest part of the band’s appeal is its lyrics.
Common themes revolve around alienation,
overcoming adversity and unity amongst
At the end of the month, ADTR will be a featured headliner for The Bamboozle Music Festival at New Meadowlands Sports Complex and stadium in New Jersey. Probably more indicative of the band's popularity and draw, however, is the recent announcement of the band as a headline act for this summer's annual Vans Warped Tour.
"We never thought in a million years that we'd be on the Vans Warped Tour," Skaff said. "It's kind of crazy. I don't understand why it's happening to us, but it's a great feeling and we're grateful to our fans. This is definitely one of our crowning achievements so far in our career."
The band's current tour also features English metalcore act Bring Me the Horizon, San Diego rockers Pierce the Veil and Detroit metal outfit We Came As Romans.
"We pretty much hand-pick who we want to tour with because we want to make sure our fans like all of the bands on the bill," Skaff said. "Sometimes there are bands that we'd like to play with that we grew up on, but our fans wouldn't have a clue. So we try to pick bands that we like and that our fans will appreciate and enjoy. We try and do it for them."
That dedication to the fans was a common thread throughout the entire conversation: from the bands growth in popularity to songwriting, focus on the future and even the band's stage show, which has grown over the years as well.
As ADTR has grown into larger venues, so has its live production. Larger venues and bigger audiences bring new obstacles like security, barriers in front of the stage and new performance challenges.
"We don't want to be a band that's playing 25 feet from the fans where we fell separated and not entertaining people," Skaff said. As a result, the band has added elements like confetti and smoke cannons, video screens and more elaborate staging to make the show more engaging in a larger venue.
"Even though we're playing in bigger places, we're still weeping the fans in mind," Skaff said. "We've made it a little more theatrical and interactive because we still want to make sure the fans feel like they're a part of it all."
The group's ongoing concern for keeping the fans in mind has obviously been essential to keeping the band grounded and level headed amidst its growing success. As long as the band continues to keep that focus, the opportunities should continue to open up for A Day To Remember.
This Monday night, April 11, the band plays to its largest Tulsa crowd to date at Brady Theater, yet another step on the band's climb to even bigger and better things. Tickets are still available for $25 plus service charges at all Protix outlets.
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