A song title like “It’s Hard To Be Religious When Certain People Are Never Incinerated By Bolts Of Lightning” — the opening track from Mayday’s latest album, Sunnyland — certainly gets your attention. And it certainly gives a video director a lot to work with.
The clip for the track, debuting exclusively below, stirs together a variety of images, mostly surrounding cult-like cultures and ritualism, as well as rebellion against them. “The song is, I would say, a little bit more angry than most anything we’d done before,” frontman Derek Sanders tell Billboard. “I wrote that song shortly after the 2016 presidential election, when Trump won. I was just kind of horrified something like that was even possible — not that it’s all directed towards him, necessarily, but that’s kind of the mindset I was in.” However, Sanders adds, “It’s not all dark. There is, at least to me, a hopeful outlook towards the future and trying to appreciate what we do have. It’s not all angry.”
Sanders and his bandmates hope that optimism is conveyed in the video, directed by Miguel Barbosa, and its theme of resistance to authoritarian ideas. “Miguel sent over this treatment about this cult idea, these people sort of clinging to these old, outdated ideas, and these young people that were sort of trying to bring it down, and we really clicked with that — the idea of bringing down that old idea and making way for something new to come forward,” Sanders explains. The clip also features a lesbian couple in the midst of the mayhem, sharing a sweet kiss toward the end of the video.
“That was an afterthought,” Sanders notes. “At first it was going to be just a guy and a girl, and I think Alex (Garcia, guitarist) mentioned that a girl and a girl might be something that makes it more powerful. We all agreed with that, to make that stance.”
Out June 15, the Sunnyland album — Mayday Parade’s sixth studio release and the follow-up to 2015’s Black Lines — represents a change in course for the band as well. The 13-song set marks the first time the Florida quintet has worked with multiple producers, adding hitmakers John Feldmann and Howard Benson to a team that also includes previous collaborators Zack Odom and Kenneth Mount. The former pair was suggested by the group’s new label, Rise Records, a prospect the band members found both exciting and challenging.
“Yeah, we thought it was cool but we were a little scared as well,” Sanders says. “It’s weird that we’ve never done an album like this before. At first we were worried it wouldn’t flow naturally, it would seem disjointed having these different producers be part of it. But I really think that it does feel like a cohesive album, and it was cool to try these different things. John and Howard work differently from anyone we’ve worked with before. Both of those experiences were very much outside our comfort zone, but they were also very rewarding.”
Mayday Parade will promote Sunnyland by returning to the Vans Warped Tour, which kicks off June 21 in Pomona, Calif. The group started out attending Warped Tour and then following it, playing and handing out CDs in the parking lot, before ever being booked on the trek. Being one of the headliners of the last-ever outing will be a bittersweet experience for the group, according to Sanders.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun, but I think it’s gonna be really sad, too,” he says. “It’s been such a big thing for us. We kinda got our start on the Warped Tour, so it’ll be sad to see it come to an end. But we’ll be happy to be there for it, and we have so many friends who are doing it so we know it’ll be a blast, like it always is.”