The week of Valentine’s Day can be a pretty lonely time for some people. Not all of us are fortunate enough to have amazing significant others to celebrate the most romantic day of the year.
Thankfully though, there’s music to help fill the void. And this year, with Valentine’s Day falling on a Friday, we’ll be treated to numerous new releases like the five-track covers EP My Rock And Roll Heart from Mayday Parade member Derek Sanders.
Taking his first step out on his own to release music just as himself, Friday marks a special day for the pop-rock vocalist.
“I am so excited to put out [My Rock And Roll Heart] and obviously a little more nervous than usual because it’s all kind of my thing and I’m not used to doing that,” says Sanders. “It’s something that ultimately I think I probably should have done years ago and it’s something I’ve thought about doing for so long that it was just kind of like, ‘Alright, we just gotta do something like this.’”
Comprised of covers from influential bands like Jimmy Eat World, Saves The Day, Something Corporate and more, My Rock And Roll Heart is a way for Sanders to showcase some of the music that meant the most to him growing up.
“Recording these songs is a really cool experience and they’re songs that mean a lot to me,” he said. “So yeah, I’m definitely really, really pumped about it.”
To read more from Sanders about his first-ever solo effort and how it helped him write new Mayday Parade material, be sure to read our interview with the friendly frontman below. Afterward, make sure to pre-order My Rock And Roll Heart here.
We’re getting close to the release of My Rock and Roll Heart. Are there any different kind of nerves you’re feeling as this is your first solo release?
DEREK SANDERS: Yeah, for sure. It’s kind of a nervous excitement, you know? Ultimately, I am so excited to put it out and obviously a little more nervous than usual because it’s all kind of my thing and I’m not used to doing that. But yeah, it’s cool. It’s something that ultimately I think I probably should have done years ago and it’s something I’ve thought about doing for so long that it was just kind of like, “Alright, we just gotta do something like this.” So it’s a lot of fun, really, more than anything else. Recording these songs is a really cool experience and they’re songs that mean a lot to me and going out and playing some of them live will be really cool. So yeah, I’m definitely really, really pumped about it.
What do you think made you push off releasing solo music for as long as you have?
I think it’s just one of those things, you know, some of the things where you’re like, “Oh, I’ll do this whenever it kind of makes sense” and then before you know fourteen years have gone by since we started Mayday Parade and it’s like, “My gosh, how does that time fly by so fast?” We’re always putting a lot of effort and energy into Mayday Parade so it’s always been kind of tough to find the time to really work on anything else – especially, you know, we all have personal lives and I have kids. But you know, it was almost three years ago that I recorded the first song out of these. So when I say I took my time, I really took my time to put all this together.
Now we feel like we know the answer to this question, but just for any nervous Mayday Parade fans out there, by no means is this you stepping away from the band in any capacity right? This is just a temporary fun side project for you to explore?
Yeah, absolutely. I’ve kind of tried to express that – and I’ve told this to the guys in the band as well – in no way should they feel nervous about this. Mayday Parade is where my heart is 100%. I think that doing something like this just is really cool. It’s nice to have a project that I can kind of have complete control over. I don’t know, maybe that sounds selfish. But you know, there’s been times with Mayday Parade – and I love the way that we operate, everything’s a democracy so we vote on everything basically. And there’s been a lot of times where you’ll really want something to happen or to go one way and you get outvoted so you’re like, “No, what are you guys thinking” [laughs] So you know, it’s definitely nice to kind of have something that you can just do whatever you want to do and be in control of. But yeah, again, it’s more fun than anything else.
The release of this EP is interesting timing considering Mayday Parade just finished up The Forever Emo Tour last year. Was this EP planned before you guys went out and played emo covers all across the country?
Yeah, it was. I guess I wasn’t sure what the timeline would be with it. But yeah, it’s something that I kind of had been planning for a while and it is kind of a lot of covers between doing The Forever Emo Tour and this and then we just did the “New Years Project"” cover for Songs That Saved My Life. But I feel like I’ve also started thinking about covers in general differently. There was a period of time where we would do them every now and then but I always kind of felt a little weird about them – especially playing them live, I always felt like we shouldn’t do covers live. But then after seeing a handful of shows, I watched Papa Roach [recently] and they killed it. They were great then they did a cover of Blur’s “Song Two” and the crowd just went nuts. So I was like, “Yeah, why not throw in [a cover]?” If everyone there is going to have a great time, I’ve kind of opened up to the idea more. Maybe we’ve gone a little nuts with it but it’s cool. It’s fun.
Do you think playing and learning other people’s songs has made you look at your own songwriting differently at all?
Yeah, I think it has for sure. It’s hard to really even put it into words. I think about the fact that especially because the songs I’m covering are so old – these are songs from 15-20 years ago – and you think about what it is about these bands at that time that made these songs so good and why is it that for so many bands it’s hard to recreate that. It’s like, we’ve been a band for over 10 years, it’s kind of hard to capture that same magic or whatever it was. So I’ve kind of put a lot of thought into that with the music I’m writing for Mayday Parade. Trying to just, I don’t know how to really describe it, but make sure that it’s special and meaningful so it’s a hard thing to kind of find I guess.
With you being such a huge music fan with countless bands influencing you over the years, was it difficult to keep My Rock And Roll Heart’s tracklist to just five songs?
Yeah I mean, it definitely was. There are a lot more songs that I put on a list and tried to do them acoustic like this. These five were the ones that kind of seemed to work. They’re songs that both I love and also songs that kind of worked really well in this setting. There’s plenty more songs that I tried to do that just didn’t really feel right. Then there are plenty more that I’d like to do in the future and I’ll probably, before too long, get started recording some more covers here. I have kind of a small studio room at my house and that’s where I tracked all the ones on My Rock And Roll Heart so I’ll probably get started doing some more. So yeah, I think that’s part of what’s cool about it as well. It made me not worry so much about which five songs [I picked] because I know that I’ll have the opportunity to do more and there’s plenty more that I’d love to get to.
What are a couple other songs you have your eye on that you think would be fun to cover?
Well, I’m trying to decide how I want to do it. Part of me wants to do five more songs from these same five bands – like do another Jimmy Eat World song, a Juliana Theory song, a Saves The Day song. I think doing that would be easy because all of those bands have a handful more songs that I’d love to do and I think would work well like this. But I don’t know, I’m trying to decide if that’s limiting myself too much, if that’s like weird or if I should branch out more or do a little bit of both. So I don’t know. I gotta sit down and put some thought into how I want to do it. But that was the first thing I thought of especially because I mentioned how I tried out so many different Jimmy Eat World songs or Something Corporate songs and all that. So I think that’s kind of my first thought with it would be going there.
One question that’s fun to ask artists when they put out a solo project is if they had any challenges coming up with a name for the project. Obviously, you went with your own name but were there any other possible choices for this project?
Yeah, I definitely kind of went back and forth on that for a long time even up until right before we signed to Rise [Records] for this project and right before we announced the project and EP… One idea I had, I always wanted to be in a band called The Electric Shoes. That’s from the TV show The Wonder Years. There’s an episode where Arnold is in a band called The Electric Shoes. I just always liked that name… I have a [studio] room in my house that I didn’t have a name for so I ended up calling it Electric Shoes Recordings to kind of satisfy that. And then yeah, there were a handful of other names that I bounced around. I don’t really remember exactly any of them that I liked a lot. But I guess ultimately, I felt like it made sense to just keep it simple and go with Derek Sanders.