Derek Sanders and the emo-veterans of Mayday Parade have been at it for over a decade.
Sanders, who remains the band's frontman and prominent songwriter, has continued to churn out emotionally blunt power ballads since the band's breakout in 2007. "Give me your misery / all of it give it to me / I can hold onto it for you / I just want your energy," he cries out on 2018's "Piece of Your Heart." When reflecting back on some of band's most emotional moments, it makes perfect sense that for Valentine's Day this year, Sanders finally realigned his focus to sing directly to the woman that inspired most, if not all, of Mayday's fervent material. "She's always been an incredibly important person in my life even in the years we weren't dating," Sanders told me. Longtime high school sweethearts, they bonded over their mutual love for "But Lauren," by Goodbye Love, Sanders' favorite local band in Tallahassee. Sanders was additionally inspired by the emo-godfathers of the early aughts: Jimmy Eat World, Saves The Day, Something Corporate.
So for Sanders' new solo EP, My Rock and Roll Heart, which released today, the 33-year-old singer selected five of his old favorites and repackaged them with his own little twist. We spoke more with Sanders about the project, the future of Emo, and his budding solo career.
Is this project an indicator of a bigger solo career for you? Will you release original material as a solo act?
"I don't really know how I'm gonna go about it, but this whole product has been something I've been working on for a couple years and just taking my time to get it all ready. Mayday Parade is still first and foremost for me and remains my main focus, but I do plan to get back in [the studio] and put together some original songs, maybe release an EP."
What made you decide now was the time to go solo?
"It's something that I feel like I've wanted to do for a long time. I kind of always thought I'd do something like this, but once I realized I'd been in Mayday Parade for 14 years I kind of thought, 'Gosh, how did that much time go by!' And it kind of started as a fluke, just for fun. The first song on this EP I recorded just for my wife as a Valentine's Day gift, and it kind of turned into this whole other thing from there. It's also just fun to work on other type of music so it just all kinda came together."
How has your wife influenced this project? Why did you decide now was the time to craft this EP for her?
"I've known my wife since I was 15 years old, and we've been friends ever since then. We dated on and off when we were in highschool, but it wasn't until years later that we reconnected, and she has just always been a very important person in my life. 'But Lauren' especially is meaningful cause I used to sing it to her when we were kids. I kinda just decided to do this last minute."
Take me through these covers and why you decided on these particular songs.
"It's just overall songs that I listened to in high school. For me, high school was a big turning point in my life musically, and it inspired me to go on and create the type of music I did with Mayday Parade. So this collection are all bands and songs that mean a lot to me. 'But Lauren,' in particular, was made by a guy named Mike Hanson out of Tallahassee who played music a long time ago, and I really looked up to him, and he never really broke out of Tallahassee, so I'm excited for people now to hear his stuff."
It feels pretty full circle, since Mayday Parade was that band to a lot of kids my age when we were in high school. Why do you think the music during your teenage years is so meaningful and important?
"It's tough to say what it is, but there is just something about it. Most everybody feels that the music in your life that means the most to you kinda ends up being in those years. As you get older, for some reason it's harder to discover a band that really changes your life forever; it doesn't happen as often. But I think a lot of it is just the emotional changes you're going through. Everything feels like such a big deal, and it's hard to see the future. Music becomes incredibly powerful then."
It's funny because Emo is in a bit of a resurgence right now. My Chemical Romance is heading back on tour; you got musicians like the late Juice WRLD and Lil Peep making extremely emotional music. What do you think of modern day Emo?
"I've listened to a bit of it. I host an Emo night every now and then, and the striking thing is the [age range] of people that show up. It's really cool seeing that it's not just a phase for a lot of people."
Where do you go from here, musically?
"This whole year is super busy. Mayday Parade will be releasing new music, and as far as the solo stuff I'm just gonna work in between [Mayday] stuff, but I'm already thinking about what's next. A lot of it isn't set in stone, but that's what's nice about it. I can hop around now and it's not to hard to coordinate."
My Rock and Roll Heart