As a 39 year-old guy, I have a bit of a confession to make: I’m a huge mark for the band A Day to Remember. Whether it’s fair or not, I believe there’s a tendency to lump these guys in as a band for the younger set, namely the Warped Tour and Hot Topic crowd. However, I’m not going to spend a lot of time here talking about the kind of comments and judgments that get lobbed so often at this band. Rather, I’m going to tell you, and them, why I love this band.
For starters, I’ve always been a sucker for catchy melodies and (personally) meaningful lyrics and ADTR delivers in spades. You guys have always written about where you’re from and where you’re at and in doing so it seems like you’ve caught me in the times in my life where your words have connected with me when I most needed it. For instance, when I was at my most nostalgic for my roots you went and released “City of Ocala” and the earnestness with which the hook line, “this is where I came from” was delivered hit me right in the soft spots that caused all of the feels to bubble to the surface. As I now find myself nostalgic for a place that was home for almost a decade and living in a new city, far away from there, that song hits me some kind of way all over again.
Then there are your videos. You don’t take yourselves too seriously and it reminds me to just be yourself even when the chips are down like on “Naivety” from last year’s Bad Vibrations, “This is me, honestly/I’ve got no apologies”, might as well be your mission statement for a long and winding career. The troubles you’ve dealt with professionally and personally are reflected in these songs and you don’t shy away from it, no matter what critics would say. You are unabashedly ADTR and there’s something admirable about that, that I think many of us could learn from.
In a time in my life when anxiety, depression, and paranoia seemed to be eating me alive, “Paranoia” appeared out of nowhere and summed up what my own panic attacks felt like, just in sonic form. When I needed the people I love to believe in me at some of my weakest moments there was “Have Faith in Me”, “so cling to what you know and never let go” snaked its way through my headphones and into my heart in a way that made me feel less alone. When I hated where I lived and felt like I needed to escape, it was “All Signs Point to Lauderdale” and the line “I hate this town” and subsequently, “when will I find where I fit in?” which is kind of the eternal question for someone who’s trying to figure out where to go and who to be. It was a theme that showed up in “All I Want” when all I wanted was “ a place to call my own” so when you followed that with “To mend the hearts of everyone/Who feels alone”, well, you did that for me.
2014’s Common Courtesy brought “Right Back at it Again” when you guys made your triumphant comeback after all the struggles with some real crap that you had to deal with and it happened to be at a time when I was crawling my way out of my own personal hole to, well, get right back at it again. And off that same album, it was “I Remember” that was the track on repeat for a summer that I drove all over the upper Midwest trying to find my center again. Every memory you shared there brought one of my own up in a way that made me appreciate where I’d come from and to see some possibility for the future when I was seriously questioning it.
But in all that, I have to return to the two songs that feel like they simultaneously hooked me on your ridiculous combination of meaty, crunchy riffs, tight drumming, and those god damn chant along choruses that have been built for arenas and festivals since you guys started: “Downfall of Us All” and “The Plot to Bomb the Panhandle”. Let’s be real, the intro to “Downfall” is goofy but damned if it’s not catchy and crowd-pleasing. Beyond that, it’s just a great song to feel a little more alive and it really helped at a time when I had chosen to leave everything I knew up to that point. Sure, Homesick was the first album of y’all’s (because Ocala, y’all) that I owned but “Plot” also hooked me. That opening riff; it’s catchy and memorable as hell and the song itself is clearly a (really) young band who have some serious chops. To be honest, it made me think of all the promise that Saves the Day had when they began their career. But after all these years, if I were to sum up what you guys have done for me, it’s that I still “make my stand right here with my friends” and “I’ve learned to let go” through all of life’s ups and downs. So, thanks ADTR, you don’t know it but you’ve always been there for this graying bastard and I’ll stick around for the ride as long as y’all do.