Ambition extinguishes limits. With forward motion as the only constant, A Day To Remember creatively bypass any and all boundaries, leaping over the lines between rock, alternative, punk, hardcore, metal, and pop with uncompromising outlier spirit. As such, they unassumingly maintain their reputation as the biggest underground band in the world, boasting four gold singles, a pair of gold albums, a platinum single, nearly 1 billion streams, half-a-billion YouTube views, and cumulative sales of three million-plus units. Leaving sold-out arenas in their wake, the group logged a #2 debut on the Billboard Top 200 with 2016’s Bad Vibrations while more recently they ignited a high-profile collaboration with electronic hit-maker Marshmello. However, they vault ahead once again on their 2021 Fueled by Ramen debut, You’re Welcome. Now, the quintet—Jeremy McKinnon [vocals], Alex Shelnutt [drums], Kevin Skaff [guitar, vocals], Neil Westfall [guitar, vocals], and Joshua Woodard [bass]—realize their full potential as rock’s most disruptively dynamic force.
“To me, it’s important to make every single song matter,” exclaims Jeremy. “Each track should be un-skippable, which is exactly how we treat every record. I don’t want us to be a song on your playlist; I want us to be your playlist. We’ve always mixed everything. You’re Welcome does even more of that. On the record, we represent who we’ve been, what people recognize us as, and we push the envelope of what you can expect from A Day To Remember moving forward. We’re not held back by any limitations.”
The guys really swung for the fences too. This time around, the band wrote a staggering 40 songs—the most they’ve ever written for a project. As another first, they welcomed Colin “DOC” Brittain [5 Seconds of Summer, All Time Low] as co-producer alongside Jeremy for the bulk of the record. After collating ideas throughout 2018, the musicians tracked in Florida and Los Angeles during 2019 as well as on the road in the middle of the sold-out Degenerates Tour. Additionally, they recruited mixers as diverse as Neal Avron [Weezer, Sara Bareilles, Linkin Park] and Will Putney [Knocked Loose, Vein] to nail the sonic extremes.
As the world shut down due to the Global Pandemic, the band tinkered every detail to perfection from the mixes to the artwork, preparing for the right moment to properly release it.
“Since A Day To Remember is so many things at once, we divided out the songs to mixers who specialized in various genres,” Jeremy goes on. “In and of itself, that was a big undertaking. When COVID-19 happened, we couldn’t just get on a plane and finish it up, so it took an extreme amount of time to get it right. We took what we envision modern pop music to be and did a hybrid of it. It covers a lot of bases.”
“It was a constant work in progress,” Neil observes. “It was such a grand idea overall. It took forever, but it was worth it. This is the first time we were able to explore different genres with people who specialize in those genres. We pushed ourselves in the writing, the production, and everything.”
As the album took shape, the group teased out this chapter with “Degenerates,” “Resentment,” and “Mindreader,” accumulating 100 million-plus streams on the new music in the process. A Day To Remember set the stage for You’re Welcome with the single and opener “Brick Wall.” Clean vocals crash into distortion as the intensity subsides on a soaring refrain. Meanwhile, the final crescendo distorts through a rather surprising vessel…
“We ran the mix through an actual pickle,” laughs Neil. “It distorts to a point where it sounds blown-out and just insane. We engineered some cables to work with this vegetable, because there’s no pickle plug-in you can use! So, you get this natural electrical current happening with the juice.”
“Lyrically, it’s a tongue-in-cheek take on someone who’s very pessimistic and looking for the negative in any situation,” adds Jeremy. “It’s a lighthearted observation on how extreme pessimism affects your everyday life.”
A hummable gang vocal give way to finger-snaps and creaky acoustic guitar on “Bloodsucker.” Jeremy sinks his teeth into a ravenous refrain.
“It’s about people who drain you of the precious energy you need to stay positive,” the frontman goes on. “It has some of my favorite lyrics, because we’re using all sorts of supernatural imagery with vampires.”
“F.Y.M.” culminates on a sunny chorus punctuated by a cash register sample as he warns, “Wait till I get some fuck you money.” Meanwhile, Jeremy co-wrote the thoughtful closer “Everything We Need” with none other than multiplatinum superstar Jon Bellion. It leaves off on a high note as he details the moment “you realize you have everything you want or need in your life and are just vibing on the road.” Then, there’s “Viva La Mexico.” Over a palm-muted guitar, he recalls multiple memories from Neil’s bachelor party in Mexico capped off by one of the band’s biggest and boldest hooks—strong enough to shake a stadium.
“It’s a real vacation we had,” grins Neil. “We were in Cabo for my bachelor party and had this wild adventure. Everything in the song happened. As soon as Jeremy showed it to us, we were like, ‘What the fuck?!’”
“I just took all of our collective stories from the trip and told them from the perspective of one person,” Jeremy elaborates. “It was the craziest experience and one of the most fun songs to write.”
Serendipitously, another experience in Mexico actually inspired the title. Before hitting the stage at a festival, Jeremy picked up a white hoodie with “You’re Welcome” emblazoned in bright red on the pocket. After posting a photo from the gig on Instagram, a fan comment predicted the phrase would serve as the title.
“That was not the plan,” Jeremy smiles. “After reading the comment, I got to experience hearing our album title for the first time without coming up with it myself. The whole thought made me chuckle. We were trying to put together a record touching all forms of rock music, and the name was hilarious. I sent it to all of the guys individually, and everybody agreed on it.”
In the end, You’re Welcome serves as an acknowledgement of the past and statement of purpose for the future.
“When you hear this, I hope it inspires you to think outside of the boundaries outlined in front of you,” Neil leaves off. “Push ideas that don’t exist, forget fear, and try new things. We wanted to make something we weren’t hearing out there.”
“I hope it becomes quintessential A Day To Remember,” Jeremy concludes. “With each release, this thing has grown ever so slightly. For the five of us to be here in a position where the sky’s still the only limit is indescribable. From sleeping in fucking Walmart parking lots together and bathing in sinks to playing in front of thousands of people, we’ve been through so much together. We just feel fortunate to drop another body of work.”