Words by Anders Carey
A Day to Remember has always been my favorite band, for a multitude of reasons. They’re one of the first bands I discovered and loved; they inspired me to dive deeper into post-hardcore, now my favorite genre. Musically, they are a jack of all trades, and likely the only rock band to be described as both metalcore and pop punk. In a genre plagued by musically uniform bands, A Day to Remember stands out. Lyrically, frontman Jeremy Mckinnon is relatable, down-to-earth, and forthright. ADTR’s message always circles back to strength and one’s ability to push through anything.
So it’s no surprise that my all-time favorite album is A Day to Remember’s newest, ‘Common Courtesy’. To me, ‘CC’ is the quintessential ADTR album, the culmination of the band’s career.
In ‘Common Courtesy’, the band stays true to their roots and their musical diversity. Mckinnon told Alternative Press in 2013, “I could not have written a better record for A Day to Remember right now. We stuck to who we are and our core sound. There are a lot of songs, and there are some times where we branch out a bit.” In ‘CC’s’ 16 tracks, it packs everything from the headbangers “Life Lessons Learned the Hard Way” and “The Document Speaks For Itself” to punk songs like “Right Back At It Again” (with an accompanying ridiculous music video), and a good number of softer ballads such as “End of Me” and “I’m Already Gone”.
ADTR’s greatest motif can be summed up with the line, “With everything that sets me back, I push back harder to clear the way,” in “I’m Already Gone”. No matter what life throws at us, we have the power to persevere and overcome. This idea guides me through my life, and A Day to Remember is always there to remind me of it. ‘Common Courtesy’s’ lyrics contain vengeful anger, nostalgia, and sensitive ballads to lost loves, but throughout, never loses sight of this message. This album was written during what has been perhaps the band’s greatest struggle. ADTR has been battling their record label, Victory Records, in court and was forced to release the album themselves, without Victory. As Jeremy Mckinnon explained to AP, “We self-funded this album. We built a studio in my house because we weren’t given our allowance for this album. We’re in a lawsuit.” But the band was determined to put out the album for their fans. Mckinnon continues, “People are saying, ‘Oh, this is going to ruin their career, there’s no preorder up, they’re stupid, they’ll never be the big band they could have been,’ etc. How about this: I’m not going to allow someone to sit on my career and ruin what may be our best album for people. Fans want our music.” With the successful release of ‘Common Courtesy’, the band proved that they could, and did, overcome.
‘Common Courtesy’ is also a nostalgic album, only intensified by the fact that it may have been A Day to Remember’s last. “I Remember”, featuring a five minute recording of ADTR reminiscing about their memories together, and City of Ocala, written about their hometown, reflect upon the band’s career. Other songs, notably “I Surrender” and “End of Me”, let nostalgia flow for passed relationships.
‘Common Courtesy’ is the pinnacle of A Day to Remember’s career, looking back at the band’s past while pushing forward in the midst of struggle. And that’s what ADTR is all about.