Reflecting On: A Day to Remember – Homesick

The largest crowd I ever saw for a performance at Warped Tour was for A Day to Remember at Indianapolis in 2009. That afternoon, I watched from the top of a small hillside, looking down into a grassy valley where the Hurley Stage sat as a massive crowd moshed like a single organism. It was out of a fear of missing out that I downloaded Homesick a day later to see what all the fuss was about. I burned the album to a CD, which remained in my car stereo for the rest of the summer.

You can buy or stream Homesick on Apple Music.

I was obviously aware of A Day to Remember prior to that sweltering afternoon in 2009. A few different friends had played me various tracks from the band’s debut, For Those Who Have Heart, but none of them stuck. In those early days, I viewed A Day to Remember as a diet knock-off of the bands I loved, like Underoath, Chiodos, or Story of the Year. I’m still not totally sure I was wrong, but there was something about the way things came together for the band on their sophomore breakthrough that just made sense.

You don’t need a 10-year retrospective to tell you that Homesick found the perfect balance of metalcore and pop punk, full of silly breakdowns and one-liners topped off by sugary choruses. It’s an album that quite literally set the tone for the next 10 years of the scene, and it did so simply by having fun.

Truth be told, A Day to Remember would further perfect the very sound they helped turn into trend with later albums like What Separates Me from You and Common Courtesy, but even so, there’s still not a single album of theirs that puts a smile on my face quite like Homesick. From front to back, I know the words to every song and can perfectly synchronize my head banging to every cheesy breakdown. If you haven’t shouted along to Jeremy McKinnon’s cry of, “Disrespect Your Surroundings!” with a friend in the car on a summer drive, have you really lived?

Some of my personal favorite tracks include sing-along choruses, like those found on “My Life for Hire”, “NJ Legion Iced Tea”, or “Holdin’ it Down for the Underground”. Whether the band is flexing their drop D tuned guitars on “You Already Know What You Are” or taking a poppier approach on “Homesick” or “Have Faith in Me”, the album truly serves as an intersection for fans of almost any corner of the scene. Even those that sneered at the band or posted grouchy retorts on online message boards were probably secretly into this record, right?

Unlike many of our retrospective features, I’m not here to tell you what a deep emotional impact Homesick made on me or how it changed the way I listened to music. Instead, Homesick served its purpose in helping me put my guard down and drop my tendencies toward music snobbery. Sometimes music is at its best when it’s helping us have a good time, enjoy good company, and sing aloud with abandon.

That’s what I remember most about that Warped Tour performance. As Mike Hranica from The Devil Wears Prada joined the band onstage for the bridge of “I’m Made of Wax, Larry, What Are You Made Of?” and the crowd went absolutely bonkers, I remember being struck by how something so seemingly mundane could be so communal and joyful. A Day to Remember had a knack for breaking down walls between music fans of various genres and bringing them together. I’m glad I decided to join in on the fun.

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog. You can follow him on Twitter.

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Podcast: The Best of A Day to Remember

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As A Day to Remember’s breakthrough album For Those Who Have Heart turns 10 years old, Kiel Hauck and Kyle Schultz discuss the band’s career and break down their discography. From their favorite songs to the band’s evolution and determination to stay true to themselves, this is a conversation A Day to Remember fans won’t want to miss. Listen in!

Subscribe to our podcast here.

What are your favorite A Day to Remember albums and songs? Share your thoughts in the replies!

Posted by Kiel Hauck

Review: A Day to Remember – Bad Vibrations

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A Day to Remember have been a band that I’ve spent a couple of years trying to figure out. Their brand of hardcore punk is majestic, on level nearly unsurpassed by their peers in regards to pure musicianship. But on the other side of the spectrum, although Jeremy McKinnon’s screaming is more or less second to Davy Havok’s, it’s his clean vocals that truly enthral me (I’m a sucker for pop).

I love A Day to Remember, but what has kept me from being a die-hard fan is how tilted their albums seem to sound. While the clean vocals and hardcore sound amazing, it has always felt at odds to me. Where What Separates Me From You felt too poppy, Homesick and parts of Common Courtesy felt too heavy to compliment the vocals. Although all of their albums have been fantastic, Bad Vibrations is the most cohesive album A Day to Remember have put out for half of a decade.

You can buy Bad Vibrations on iTunes.

You can buy Bad Vibrations on iTunes.

Sonically, this is A Day to Remember at their best. The guitars play off of their best elements – straddling the line of pop punk and metal. There are an incredible amount of breakdowns and hard riffs that seems to mesh well with the poppier songs like “Naivety”. Although Bad Vibrations seems to have fewer singles ready to launch from their holster, they have never sounded better.

This is a hard album. If you’ve ever thought that A Day to Remember had grown soft, Bad Vibrations will readjust you in the best way. Guitarists Kevin Skaff and Neil Westfall really take liberty to explore, from hard breakdowns (“Reassemble”) to classic pop punk (“Naivety”) to a loving mixture between the two (“Justified”). Bassist Joshua Woodard absolutely shred across the board (“Exposed”), as does drummer Alex Shelnutt (see the entire album. He’s amazing.)

Lyrically, Bad Vibrations keeps the tone of past ADTR albums – a solid mix of uplifting anthems and depressing soliloquies. McKinnon’s vocals adjust for literally every song presented on the album. The last few albums have made McKinnon another hardcore vocalist who has fallen victim to clean and uplifting vocals (“We Got This”), but Bad Vibrations has redeemed him in the eyes of ‘purists’ by reintroducing enough hardcore songs to make the pop songs sound out of place.

Bad Vibrations attempts to straddle the line between self-hating and uplifting messages. Some songs on the album relish how dark life can get before hinting at a light at the end of the tunnel. “Exposed” relishes the guttural guitar riffs of the early 2000’s nu-metal fad as McKinnon screams in a poignant modern political catharsis, “I won’t accept your fear / Another stagnant year / I’m pro-Amerian but anti-politician / They’ll trade you a voice for an illusion of choice / Truth hits like a goddamn premonition.”.

Lead single “Paranoia” is the best middle-ground between genres, as it transitions between harsh guitar riffs to a melodic chorus haunted with vocals croaking on the edge of screaming, but holding the temperance of restraint, clouded with backing vocals. The song sounds like a harder version of a Rise Against song. “I’m like a time bomb, ticking in your head / Paranoia, clouding your judgement / And no matter what you do about it, about it, about it, I’m still in your head”.

However, the stand out track is “Bullfight”. A solid mix of everything A Day to Remember have stood to accomplish throughout their career, the song is a sing-a-long as much as it is a melancholy screaming anthem of finding pride in being an outcast. “Everybody sees your head hung low, they don’t ask, they don’t wanna know us / I’ll be the one, I’ll be your spark / I’ll be your light led through the darkness / I get, I get, I get so misunderstood”.

Bad Vibrations isn’t an album of uplifting songs that A Day to Remember have been teasing for the last couple of albums. A couple of those songs have leaked through, but this is a rough album meant for fans of the band who have stood the test of time for half of a decade, not knowing which way the band would drift – towards pop or hardcore. The answer, simply, is that the band embraces all facets of themselves and are able to dive fully into any genre they feel works for them.

Bad Vibrations may not be perfect, but it’s the most cohesive album A Day to Remember have released in a long time and provides multiple anthems for whichever genre you lean toward. The one thing that is certain: A Day to Remember do not toe any single line. Whatever your preference in ADTR’s style, Bad Vibrations strikes a balance musically that find the best of most any genre.

4/5

by Kyle Schultz

kyle_catKyle Schultz is the Senior Editor at It’s All Dead and has worked as a gaming journalist at Structure Gaming. He lives in Chicago and missed most of A Day to Remember’s set opening for Blink 182 because of goddamned rush hour traffic. Boooooo.

A Day to Remember release “End of Me” music video

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A Day to Remember has released a new music video for their song “End of Me”. The song is the second single from Common Courtesy and the video was directed by Shane Drake. The video is solid and fits the mood of the track perfectly. Check it out below:

If you still haven’t picked up Common Courtesy, you’re missing out. You can download the album on iTunes.

What are your thoughts on the video? Share in the replies!

A Day to Remember release “Right Back at it Again” music video

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A Day to Remember has released a new music video for their single “Right Back at it Again” from their new album Common Courtesy. The video is….interesting. Check it out below.

The band recently self-released Common Courtesy and the album can be purchased at iTunes.

Stream new A Day to Remember song “Same Book but Never the Same Page”

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Next week, A Day to Remember will be releasing physical copies of their new album Common Courtesy that will include three new bonus tracks. Stream one of the new tracks, titled “Same Book but Never the Same Page” below:

Common Courtesy was officially released on October 8 through the band’s website. You can read our review of the album here.

You can also preorder the extended release of Common Courtesy on iTunes.

Review: A Day to Remember – Common Courtesy

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A Day to Remember is pissed off. This probably doesn’t come as too much of a surprise, since the band has made a massive career off of the angry chugga-chugga breakdowns and ambiguously aggressive lyrics that have come to define what is currently considered the metalcore genre. In a lot of ways, A Day to Remember helped shape and mold that very formula that has been carbon copied relentlessly.

But this time, it’s different. This time, A Day to Remember is pissed off for all of the right reasons. This time it feels genuine.

That’s not to say that they weren’t somehow genuine or honest in the past, but there’s only so many “Nobody takes us seriously!” and “Everyone is against us!” songs that one can handle from a band that an outrageous number of people seem to love. If a messy lawsuit with their label, Victory Records, and the real possibility of the band’s career dissolving before their eyes is what it took to light a fire under the Ocala, Fla. band, then so be it.

What resulted from the fallout is the best album of the band’s career.

Common Courtesy is surely an A Day to Remember album and it doesn’t reinvent the wheel. What it does do is add a touch of authenticity, a dash of aggressive motive and a lot of maturity to an act that could have easily gone stale. Instead, the band produced an extremely focused and diverse album that will not only please their current fan base, but win over a few of the rest of us in the process.

Produced with the help of Andrew Wade and Chad Gilbert and released completely by themselves, Common Courtesy starts off with a full dose of the A Day to Remember sound you’re familiar with, turned to 11 and polished to near perfection. “City of Ocala” and “Right Back at it Again” are obvious choices to open the record, providing a punch of aggression and melody and even featuring the tongue-in-cheek humor the band seems to pull off so effortlessly.

The real treat begins during the quiet bridge in “Sometimes You’re the Hammer, Sometimes You’re the Nail”, when a suddenly somber and mature Jeremy McKinnon bears his struggles and fears. When McKinnon sings, “I reserve my right to be uncomfortable / I reserve my right to be afraid / I make mistakes and I am humbled / Every step of the way” it’s a welcome breath of fresh, honest air.

It doesn’t stop there. Tracks like “Best of Me” and “Life @ 11” allow McKinnon to reflect even further upon his doubts and uncertainties. The band even pulls off the elusive believable ballad with “I Surrender”, a track that throws the metalcore handbook out the window in favor of a truly appealing and listenable alt-rock song. In fact, the softer moments prove to be some of the best on Common Courtesy.

Not to worry, there’s still plenty of head-bangable tracks like “Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way” and “The Document Speaks for Itself” that allow the band to chug out the their feelings towards Victory Records and will surely be mosh pit favorites. The fact that these moments are confined and appropriate is proof enough that this band is expanding its palate and branching into new and welcome territory while not completely losing what made them appealing to so many in the first place.

It’s hard to be mad at A Day to Remember at this point. They fought the man and won (for the meantime), released their best album yet (by themselves, with little promotion and no physical copies) and managed to expand their sound in welcome and unexpected ways. Admit it. You enjoy Common Courtesy. As well you should. Let’s hope that there’s more where this came from.

3.5/5 

by Kiel Hauck

kiel_hauckKiel Hauck is the editor in chief at It’s All Dead. Over the past decade, he has been a contributor for multiple online and print publications and was most recently an editor at PopMatters. Kiel currently resides in Indianapolis, IN with his wife and their imaginary pet, Hand Dog.  You can follow him on Twitter.