When A Day To Remember got their start in 2003 in a garage, they had no intention of selling out venues filled with thousands of people across the United States and Europe. A true van-to-tour-bus story, they’ve never aimed to write songs for anyone other than themselves, staying true to their unique blend of metal, hardcore, and pop. Following the 2009 release of Homesick, it seems that every aspect of the Ocala, Florida band has only gotten bigger and better. With the release of their best work to date, What Separates Me From You, in 2010, A Day To Remember has proven that they’re always going to work to outdo themselves without conforming to anyone else’s ideals.

With the combined goals of changing things up and restoring the true meaning of a show in mind, A Day To Remember recently embarked on their first headlining tour of the year: The Gamechangers Tour 2011. With support from Bring Me The Horizon, We Came As Romans, and Pierce The Veil, they have sold out more than half of the shows on the tour in addition to adding extra shows in some cities.

Joshua Woodard, bassist of A Day To Remember, took time out to talk to LA Music Blog about the band’s creative process, performing on Jimmy Kimmel Live and Hoppus On Music, and their big summer plans.

Since the release of Homesick in 2009, it seems like things have been getting bigger and better for A Day To Remember. How was it moving from that record into What Separates Me From You? What kind of mindset did you guys have when you were putting the new album together?

It’s awesome because we did For Those Who Have Heart before that and then Homesick was kind of what people have been saying was our breakout record—the one that really put us out there—so we really didn’t know what to expect with What Separates Me From You. We knew we had written a good record, in our opinion. We knew we had done our job as far as writing a record we were proud of and that kids would like. Since it came out in November, the response has just been insane. It’s kind of surreal because we literally came from nothing.

Can you tell me a bit about the creative process behind the album?

We just wanted to build on every record we’ve ever done and try to continue to become better songwriters. We’re always going to write catchy, heavy music, and that’s never going to change. If you listen to our older stuff, it’s a little random with really heavy parts mixed with really catchy parts. Our goal is always to write an album better than the last one, with better transitions and just better songs in general. I think What Separates Me From You is the best record we’ve ever written.

Can you tell us a little about your songwriting process on What Separates Me From You?

Jeremy is the main writer in our band, but I would say that Kevin is also one of the major writers. It always comes back to Kevin and Jeremy having an idea for what they feel is a really good song. From there, they’ll come to me, Alex, and Neil, and we’ll all sit down in a room and just hash everything out. We all just put our individual touches on it.

With this last record, we went in the studio with Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory, who produced the record, and we just kept going over it for about a month. Every day we just took ideas and beat them up until we had a song.

Does it ever get tedious when you’re hashing it out?

Oh yeah. Sometimes you just hit a wall, and you have to put your guitar down, walk away, drive somewhere, and get some food or whatever you need to do. But sometimes we’ll just get in a groove where we’re flowing and it’s like, “Dang, we are writing the best stuff right now. Let’s keep going.”

How has the writing process changed since the band started in 2003?

Well, obviously we have a new member in the band, Kevin. When he joined the band a little over two years ago, it added a different flair. He’s a really good singer, so it added a dynamic to the band that we never had because until then we never really had a real backup singer. Tom, our old guitarist, was really good, but Kevin just writes differently than he did. It’s the same destination, just different ways of getting there.

Do you think Kevin changed the mood of the band at all?

Not too much because Kevin came in knowing exactly what we wanted to do. He knew we wanted to write heavy stuff that was still catchy. His old band, Four Letter Lie, was kind of doing something similar. It wasn’t like we told him, “This is how it’s going to be and this is how you’ll write,” because he already knew what we wanted to do.

I know that in the past you wrote your records on the road. Was that still the case with this album?

Some of it was written on the road. We were in Europe for five weeks performing at various festivals, so we demo-ed a lot of songs then. Andrew Wade, who is also from Ocala and a really good friend, tracked the record and does production work on all of our records. He flew over and worked on all of the songs with us. We came back and just really polished them in the States.

Do you have a personal preference in terms of writing on the road versus in the studio? What comes more naturally to you?

It’s most natural when we’re just sitting in a room like we used to do. We’d just say, “Hey, we’re going to write a song right now. What do you want to do?” I kind of prefer that; it’s more fun because everyone is more involved. Not that I’m against the other ways of writing because most of our songs are primarily written by Jeremy or Kevin, but it is cool when we all sit down and work on it together.

One great misconception people like to make about bands is that they are somehow “selling out” when they reach the point of higher recognition in the music industry, but you guys seem to stick to what made you a band, just writing about your personal lives and experiences. What do you feel really influences you as a band when it comes to writing songs and what do you feel it is about the band that allows you to keep true to your roots?

We’ve always said we’re never going to write a record for anybody. It’s not going to be like, “We’re the biggest we’ve ever been after writing this record, and we have to write a record to keep that.” It’s never going to happen. On this record, people said we sold out, but in the first song, Jeremy sings about how he’s fueled by failure and his heart is filled with hate, so people who think we sold out are idiots. We’re just always going to continue to write because that’s the way it’s always been and it’s not going to change—we’re always going to write heavy, catchy stuff.

It’s not necessarily that you guys have changed at all. It’s just that the band and your music is getting more recognition now.

Exactly, and we can’t help that. We write music because we want people to enjoy it, so it’s cool that more and more people are. If you are someone who has a problem with that, then maybe we’re not a band you should be listening to anymore.

On a lighter note, how did you guys feel playing Jimmy Kimmel Livethis year?

It was insane. Going into playing it, I was like, “Are we really about to play on television?” When I see a band on television, I always think, “Damn, that band is killing it,” so it was just crazy that we were actually invited to go and play.

We just played Mark Hoppus’ show Hoppus On Music on Fuse in New York City too. All of this stuff is just really unbelievable to us because it’s not like we were some band that was put together and knew we would reach this level and be on all of these shows. We started in a garage with nothing at all, so this is just all mind-blowing.

Looking back, besides the line-up changes, how do you think A Day to Remember has changed the most?

I don’t know. That’s actually a really good question. The crowds are bigger, which is an obvious thing. We’re playing to more people each night, and whenever that happens, it’s just the nature of the beast that we make a little more money and we get to live a little more comfortably. That allows us to have more production so it’s not just that you’re going to see A Day To Remember perform; you’re going to see an A Day To Remember show. We want people to say, “Do you remember when they did this?” and not, “They played that song really well.” We’re trying to bring back the word “show.”

The Gamechangers Tour 2011 just started and the venues are selling out quickly with multiple dates in some cities. What do you think of this tour so far? What are you looking forward to most?

It’s great because every band that we’re on tour with does really well and can hold their own. They put on great shows and get the crowd really excited to watch us, which is what you want in your opening bands. We had never really met We Came As Romans, but Pierce The Veil and Bring Me The Horizon are friends of ours from previous tours, so it’s always really fun to be on tour with people you know.

The shows have been crazy, and we’ve been playing bigger venues than we’ve ever played before. I’m just trying to take it all in. For some cities, we’re playing two dates, and it’s just really exciting that kids are that eager to see us.

Is it weird to play the same city twice? Would you prefer to go from one city to the next?

One of our crew members, who is also one of my best friends, said that he loves it because they don’t have to set up every day. He’s not lazy or anything—it just makes it easier because everything is already set up from the night before. Personally, I like it, but it puts a hiccup in my touring flow—like tonight, instead of going to sleep on the bus, we’ll have hotels in the city. I like it because we’re playing to a ton of kids but it’s just more comfortable when we go and play a show, go and play a show, etc.

Do you guys have anything big planned for the year or anything that you’re really looking forward to? I know you’re headlining The Bamboozle Fest and you’re also playing Rock on the Range this year.

We are touring this summer, and Bamboozle is going to be nuts because the lineup is insane. It’s our first time headlining Bamboozle, and it’s always ridiculous when we play, but I’ve heard that it’s really outrageous when you play main stage. I’m excited for that. Then we’re playing “the big summer tour,” but that’s all I can say. I wonder what that could be? Other than that, there is some international stuff coming up that’s really big for us.

What is your favorite song from What Separates Me From You and why? What’s your favorite song to perform live?

I’d have to say that I like to perform heavier songs live because when the band started, half of us wanted to play pop and the other half wanted to play harder stuff. I was one of the members who wanted to play harder stuff because I think it’s fun and aggressive.

As far as playing, I would say that “Sticks and Bricks” is my favorite, and we’re currently opening the set with it. In terms of content, I’d have to say “You’ll Be Tails, I’ll Be Sonic” is my favorite because even though the lyrics Jeremy wrote were personal to him, it kind of hits home for me with some of the stuff I was going through.

A lot of members of other bands joined you in the video for “All I Want.” How did you come up with that idea? Was it hard to put that together?

It was actually a really wild process. We were trying to come up with ideas, and our manager said, “This song’s about being in a band and being on tour, so wouldn’t it be cool to have your peers or people you look up to who do the same thing be a part of it?” Then Drew Russ, our video guy, went out and shot every single person that was in the video, with the exception of some of the people that were overseas—we had to have their video people send their footage over. It was a really big process, but we did it, and I’m so proud of that video.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61ESVVk4bNk

In every interview I’ve read, you guys always seem to have crazy tour stories. Do you have any you can share with us?

There were these cliffs in Johnson City, Tennessee that some local kids used to always take us to when we came through, but I think they built houses so you can’t get back there anymore. Anyway, we’d just jump off the cliffs into the lake, swim around, and do it all again.

Once about twenty other people were there with us because a bunch of bands were on the tour. I was going to jump in, and Neil yelled for me to turn around, so I did. He was only planning to throw mud at my back, but since I turned around, it hit me right in the eye. It got lodged in my eye, and I couldn’t get it out, so I jumped twenty feet into the water and tried to wash my face off. None of them believed me, so Jeremy started peeing on my back. I was like, “This isn’t funny guys. I really can’t see!”

I actually had to go to the hospital in my boxers with no shirt and mud all over my face. I probably had dried piss on my back and caked in my hair. They started to flush my eye out, and they said that there was so much mud built up in my eye that if I had waited another hour, it would have scratched my cornea and I would have gone blind.

It was just funny because when it first happened, I was just in the water trying to get it out and I was so upset but everyone else just kept jumping off of the cliffs and having a good time. If I would have gone blind I guess I just would have been that guy playing bass with an eye patch.

A lot of musicians are putting out books now, so if you were to write a book, what would you choose to write about?

When we were growing up in a van trying to save as much money as possible, we were going to make “A Day To Remember’s Guide To Touring” book with little ways you can scam people to get hotel rooms for free and other ways to just save money, like saving your Burger King cups. We always used to joke about that, but now we don’t have to do those things quite as often. I still think someone should write it though.

If you weren’t in A Day to Remember, what do you think you’d be doing?

I was playing baseball before, so I probably would have been pitching at my community college. I probably wouldn’t have been able to go any further than that though. I love music and I love business, which is what I’ve always added to this band, so I guess I would have just went to school and done something in the music industry.

Where would you like to see the band end up in the future?

This is a weird question to answer because we were never the band that thought we could sell out two shows in one city, playing for 2,400 kids. It’s weird to say, “I want to be selling out stadiums in five years.” We just want to continue to write music we’re proud of and that we think other people like, but if they stop liking it, we’re still going to keep playing. We do it for ourselves, and whoever wants to tag along can hop on board and we’ll have a good time. We’re always going to try to one up ourselves and do things that seem like the next step to us, and hopefully people like it. If they do, then this thing is just going to keep on growing.

You guys are playing the Hollywood Palladium on April 6. Have you played there before? What do you think LA crowds bring that other cities don’t?

No, it’s the next-step venue for us, and I’m looking forward to it because LA is always fun. I can’t explain what it is about the kids in LA. You just have to see. Kids dance and mosh, but even when we first started playing smaller venues in the LA area, the kids would just dance so damn hard. I’d have to say seeing those kids go ape shit while we play is probably my favorite thing about playing there.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T4pQh8nfyLs

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