Sticking the Landing from Neon to Normal

I watched portions of a Metro Station set two nights ago at Warped Tour’s Kick Off Party following a meeting earlier in the day with Hopeless Records. I don’t have a desire to give you an hour-by-hour breakdown of my day[1], but the juxtaposition of hearing that All Time Low are poised for a number one debut with Future Heartsprior to seeing Ronnie Radke’s lookalike attempt to make “Shake It” work half a decade later was fitting.

Do you remember anything more than a few song titles by Metro Station, Forever The Sickest Kids, Mercy Mercedes, or any of the others? I don’t, but I do remember the names of songs from All Time Low, Mayday Parade, and The Maine. All three of those bands have something in common as well, compared to the landfills presumably filled with destroyed Underdog Alma Mater CDs that ooze neon green, pink, and purple. They lasted. Lasted through questionable haircuts, the “swandive” of the music industry, and most impressively — major label flops.

I talk about those three bands every once in a while on podcasts or with friends, and it’s because I admire their hard work. The Myspace/neon-era was a goldrush for many bands, managers, and labels, but it left as quickly as it came. To see all three bands fighting today is more impressive than I think the majority of music fans give them credit for.

I think we all felt like All Time Low’s “Weightless” on Nothing Personalwas destined for the radio. I still remember the moment where I clicked play on AbsolutePunk’s premiere and was ready to see the band become the biggest in the world. However, it turned out that it wasn’t meant to be. It was an interesting sign that the scene had truly left the radio, and, aside from Fall Out Boy and Paramore, it probably wasn’t coming back. We didn’t know that in the present day though, and the major labels certainly didn’t. Dirty Work, for all intents and purposes, flopped and felt like the end of an era. But the band came back from their fall in the right way, and it’s one of the smartest things All Time Low has ever done. Signing back to Hopeless was followed by a return to Warped Tour, a stage that, if things had gone right for the band’s major debut, may have been too small, but the band took a challenge and succeeded on it instead. Don’t Panic, while a little “safe” to my tastes, was the right album that needed to be made to ensure the band’s future. Over two years later, the band is looking at a number one debut with Future Heartsand are officially here to stay with tours that continue to grow in size and recognition.

Mayday Parade’s trajectory has been a lot harder to grasp than All Time Low’s, who started larger, stumbled, and picked themselves back up. A Lesson In Romanticsis still so good, and pushed them up to The Major Label Standard™ for Anywhere But Here. There was nothing inherently wrong with the album, except of course that the band had parted ways with Jason Lancaster, much to the chagrin of fans. Minimal momentum was kept, but the band didn’t jump to the next level. Mayday’s self-titled record was a strange release without a true label home following their departure from Atlantic, and again, did not set the world on fire. Something very strange happened with Monsters In The Closet though. The album charted at 10 on Billboard with 30,000 sales in its first week following an already wildly successful year for the scene with releases from Sleeping With Sirens, Bring Me The Horizon, and Issues. Was it the return to Fearless Records? Had the return trips to Warped Tour every other year paid off? I still don’t know how it happened, but Mayday Parade turned into a big fucking band, and we saw proof of that on a sold-out GK Tour.

I haven’t written a disclaimer in the past 20 minutes, so here’s one: I represent two bands that are currently on The Maine’s American CandyTour, but that tour is part of why The Maine are doing so well in the present day. They were the poppiest band out of the three named in this article, and while they could’ve kept that style for their major label debut ,Black and White,they didn’t. It threw fans off, rocked the major’s boat, and landed them homeless. But instead of returning to their original label, they built their own shelter. That home is called 8123, a family built label that represents what the band does best: Flexibility with the band’s own artistic intent safe from compromises. PioneerForever Halloween, and now American Candy have shown continually evolving creativity, especially beyond the originality of Can’t Stop, Won’t StopAmerican Candy sold 15,000 copies in its first week, which is a huge success for the band, and is the trifecta for bands making it out of the neon era following success stories from All Time Low and Mayday Parade. The smartest thing I think that The Maine are currently doing is bringing young fans in by having Real Friends and Knuckle Puck on the same bill. The genres don’t fully mesh together, but The Maine are aware they need new and younger fans, and this was a very, very smart move for all parties on the bill.

All three bands are moving in different directions and it feels like each one has more of a place waiting for them than they did when trying to take over the world a half decade ago. They all stuck the landing.

  1. Though I did rent a car for the first time, and I’m under 25. Did you know for a $10 fee you’re good? I didn’t. I also drove in LA and it was less awful than described. Also, In N Out is bad.