Pierce The Veil, All Time Low

Pierce The Veil

A lot has happened in the three years since Pierce The Veil released their debut A Flair For The Dramatic in 2007. The band have toured the world including Warped Tour in 2008 and Taste Of Chaos in 2009; converted countless fans to their unique brand of progressive post-hardcore; and, most notably, grown as both people and musicians from these cumulative experiences. All of this figures into the group's long-awaited sophomore release Selfish Machines, an album that sees the band-frontman Vic Fuentes, drummer Mike Fuentes, guitarist Tony Perry and bassist Jaime Preciado-coming together to craft an inventive album that is certain to challenge people's perception of the band.

Recorded with Mike Green (Paramore, Set Your Goals) in Los Angeles, the album ended up being more involved than initially planned-but that ended up being a blessing in disguise. "It was actually a pretty intense process," Vic explains, adding that the band didn't finish the album in the time allotted which forced him to stay in LA for an extra two months working on vocals and bouncing between recording studios working on new ideas. "It was definitely necessary to take the extra time with this recording," he continues. "We're not settling on anything with this record."

From the soaring pop sensibility of songs like "Bulletproof Love" to the upbeat aggression of "Caraphernelia", the album shows how versatile Pierce The Veil have become, whether they're screaming their hearts out or gently bearing their souls. There are also plenty of sonic surprises on Selfish Machines, most notably the emotive, piano-driven ballad "Stay Away From My Friends" which displays the band's growth as songwriters. "That song was my first crack at writing on piano," Vic explains. "I've got a piano in my house now so I'd been messing around on it and ended up writing some riffs, which I think definitely gave the album a different feel," he continues, adding that he hopes to eventually implement keyboards into the band's live performances.

Although Pierce The Veil have toured incessantly for the past three years, they made some time late last year to write these tracks and instantly threw themselves into the songwriting process. "It's pretty hard for us to write on the road because we're touring in an RV most of the time with tight quarters, which doesn't bode well for creativity," Vic acknowledges with a laugh. "We have a studio at home that I like to hang out in, so I basically just shut myself out from the world for three or four months and spent all day and night writing," he continues. "Every song is super personal; they're all very real about our lives and I think once people read them they can probably see a little bit about what's going on with us."

"We are all in one way or another selfish machines," Vic explains when asked about the album's title. "In no way is this a negative thing, it's human nature. We all have natural tendencies to want, love, and take. When it comes down to it, humans have animal like qualities that we keep inside and even try to deny-but no matter how morally good someone may think they are or try to be, we are still humans," he continues. "One example of this is how we are all constantly searching for someone to love, or even more desperately, someone to love you. It is human nature broken down to its bare bones, no bullshit, just rock bottom honest feelings and desire. No trying to be nice, shy, or respectable, it's about the 'evil' thing inside of us that is really not evil at all, it's just there and always will be inside of us all."

Having played with bands in nearly every subgenre, Pierce The Veil have always prided themselves on not confining their band to one particular scene or genre-and the harmony-rich songs like "I Don't Care If You're Contagious" are guaranteed to expose them to entirely new crowds of followers with Selfish Machines. "Every band that I've ever loved and admired has constantly grown and each record is a little different in their own way and I think that's how it should be because it keeps you setting new goals and trying to change for the better," Vic explains. "This record is definitely going to take us new places and after this we'll keep writing and try to make the next one even better," he summarizes. "We're always looking ahead."

All Time Low

All Time Low has emerged as one of the most popular new bands in recent memory, beloved by an increasingly fervent fan following for their fast-paced and fizzy brand of pop-punk. The Baltimore area hometown heroes have exceeded all expectations with effervescent songs, marked by unstoppable hookiness. In 2005, the band released its debut album, "THE PARTY SCENE," the success of which led to their signing with Hopeless Records. The "PUT UP OR SHUT UP" EP arrived in the summer of 2006, mere weeks after the band members' high school graduation. "SO WRONG, IT'S RIGHT" followed in 2007. Fit to burst with overwhelming singles like "Dear Maria, Count Me In" and "Poppin' Champagne," the Matt Squire-produced collection scored major MTV rotation, instantly placing ATL at the forefront of modern pop-punk. The band further sealed its status by touring nearly non-stop, with highlights including multiple Vans Warped Tours, co-headlining the AP Tour 2008, and a series of their own sold-out headline tours, both here and abroad. In December 2008, All Time Low were named "Band of the Year" by Alternative Press, a remarkable achievement that even now feels like something out of a dream.

"It's still all catching up with us," Gaskarth says. "It was a sort of seamless transition from being nobody to being a band that people wanted to go see. It happens so quickly that you almost don't realize that it's happening, it just becomes a blur. Then when you get home and suddenly you're being recognized in the mall, it takes you aback, because it's just not something you've come to expect."

Mayday Parade

Mayday Parade takes their music seriously. In 2010, Songkick, the web's live music bible, recognized them as the hardest working band of 2010, with 194 bookings and 74,000 miles on the road. "We've always toured as much as we can," says Derek Sanders, Mayday's singer and piano player. "I didn't realize how many miles we logged, so it was nice to be acknowledged."

The band hails from Tallahassee, Florida and includes vocalist/pianist Derek Sanders, bassist Jeremy Lenzo, lead guitarist Alex Garcia, Brooks Betts on rhythm guitar and drummer Jake Bundrick. Since getting together in 2005, the boys have been inseparable, playing as hard as they work, forging strong bonds of friendship as they travel the world, delivering a high octane stage show driven by their strong songwriting and charismatic stage presence.

It was this spirit of camaraderie that brought them to a beach house in Panacea, Florida, to write the songs for Mayday Parade. "Alligator Point is an hour away from where we live," Sanders explained. "We decided the best way to write an album was to get away from everything and jam. There were no distractions, just the five of us and the ocean, although I don't think we went swimming more than a couple of times. We set up the equipment in the living room and played when we wanted to. We structured the songs together to come up with the best possible result. We all contributed lyrics, lead lines, bass parts, bits of melody and ideas for arrangements. We didn't bring in any outsiders to do co-writing, like we did on Anywhere But Here. Every song was a full collaboration. We decided to call it Mayday Parade, because, as much of a cliché as it is, we feel like a new band after all the stuff we've been through in the last six years."

After a month of intense composing, the band chose 12 of the best songs and went into the studio with Zack Odom and Kenneth Mount, the duo that helmed their first album, A Lesson In Romantics. "Ken and Zack are funny, talented and easy to work with," Sanders says. "They have a lot of passion and make the studio a fun environment. We met them for two weeks of pre-production, getting the songs into shape and talked about adding strings, trumpet and other things to the sound. We had complete artistic control, which was cool."

With the exceptions of Mount's trumpet, Odom's cello and a small choir and string section, the band played every note on the album in real time. They recorded group vocals by gathering around a single mike. The songs on Mayday Parade include rousing anthems, solid mid-temp rockers and a handful of heartfelt ballads, all in keeping with their desire for musical diversity.

The set opens with "Oh Well, Oh Well," which will be the first single and the first video from the record. Acoustic piano, subtle cello and Sanders' wrenching vocal lead into the band's blistering sonic attack. "We all love this song," Sanders says. "It starts slow, kicks in fast and energetic, and keeps building. We put a lot of feeling and emotion into it." Mayday has been working out the arrangement for "When You See My Friends" at sound checks for the last year. It's a fatalistic mid-tempo rocker about a nasty break up marked by fervent group vocals, solid rhythm work by Betts and Garcia's wailing lead guitar.

Other choice cuts include "Priceless," a rocker with a driving rhythm, strong harmony vocals from the band, soaring guitars and unexpected changes in tempo; "Stay," a mid tempo heartbreaker that features a small string section and builds to an aching, emotional climax and the power ballad "Without The Bitter The Sweet Isn't As Sweet." Garcia's quiet acoustic guitar introduces the tune to set up one of Sanders' most emotive vocals. He also plays a subtle counter melody on grand piano. When the band kicks in, they knock the tune out of the park. The men of Mayday Parade got together in the winter of 2005, part of the natural evolution of the thriving Tallahassee scene. "All the bands in town supported each other," Sanders recalls. "We met at a warehouse a lot of bands used for rehearsing and hanging out. There was a community of musicians and local clubs that supported original music. I was in a band called Defining Moment with Brooks (Betts, rhythm guitar) and Jeremy (Lenzo, bass). Alex (Garcia, lead guitar) and Jake (Bundrick, drums) were in Kid Named Chicago with Jason Lancaster (the band's former vocalist and guitarist). We started hanging out and realized we took the music more seriously than the other guys in our bands. Some of them were married and had kids; they didn't want to tour. The six of us started jamming and writing songs and it felt great. We quit our old bands and started Mayday, although we didn't have a band name at first."

The unnamed band went into the studio to record Tales Told by Dead Friends, a six song EP produced by Lee Dyess. "We played our first show and decided on a band name while we were making the EP. We put up a few songs on MySpace, then hit the road with Van's Warped Tour." The band didn't have a slot on the tour, but they sold their CD to people hanging out in the parking lots and standing on line to get into the venue. They moved more than 10,000 copies in a few months. "We had CD players and headphones and CDs in our backpacks. It was good training for promoting the band."

Mayday Parade's MySpace page got thousands of hits as the EP built up an underground buzz. Labels started to take notice. "We were only a band for seven or eight months and hadn't gone on tour yet, when we were contacted by Fearless Records," Sanders says. "They called our manager, we met them in a studio for an audition and got signed."

In 2006, Mayday Parade toured with Wheatus, Brandston and Melee, then went on the road with Plain White T's. Between dates they cut their debut, A Lesson In Romantics. MTV's GirlsGonePunk called it "the best album to come out this year. " The video for "When I Get Home, You're So Dead" got over 75,000 hits in two days when it premiered on the front page of MySpace Music. It went on to sell more than 170,000 copies and reached the Top Ten on the Billboard Heatseekers chart. Jason Lancaster left the band before A Lesson In Romantics was released.

The band made Anywhere But Here, their second album, with the help of producer David Bendeth (Paramore, Underoath). The band distilled the essence of the 50 songs they'd written on the road into another powerful statement. Mayday Parade followed it up by headlining the Ernie Ball Stage on the Van's Warped Tour in 2010, as well as touring the UK with The Maine. In February of 2010, they released Valdosta, a six song, mostly acoustic, EP. "We had a couple of new songs we wanted people to hear and decided to revisit a few older songs with acoustic instruments," Sanders says.

While they're waiting for their new self-titled album to hit the streets in October, Mayday will stay on the road doing what they do best - wowing their fans with their heartfelt songs and energetic performances. "We're very excited about this album," Sanders concludes. "We want to thank everyone who believes in this band. It's amazing that we've been able to make a living playing music. Our goal is to continue touring, nationally and internationally, and put on the best shows we can."

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