Bad Vibrations is the sixth studio album by American rock band A Day to Remember.
In December 2011, it was announced that A Day to Remember had plans of pressing charges against their label, Victory, due to breach of contract. Claiming withheld royalties of over $75,000, the group had reportedly started legal action against Victory on May 31 of that year. Victory has said, on their behalf, that the lawsuit is actually about the band's refusal to fulfill their 5 album contractual commitment to Victory and their new-found desire to move to a major label. While this lawsuit was ongoing, the band self-released Common Courtesy through their own label, ADTR Records in 2013. Following this, the group took a break. Vocalist Jeremy McKinnon explained the band was "doing our own thing, taking it easy and trying to recharge the batteries".
At the start of 2015, the group rented a cabin at Horsetooth Reservoir, located in Dakota Hogback ridge, west of Fort Collins, Colorado. The cabin was surrounded by woods. According to McKinnon, the group "just wrote together in a room, which was the polar opposite of the last three albums we've made". Typically, McKinnon would have some material saved to show the group, however, this time round he didn't have any. McKinnon went on to describe the album as containing "an element of returning to our roots", in that the album was their first since For Those Who Have Heart (2007) to feature full contributions from all members of the band. For Bad Vibrations, it was the first time since For Those Who Have Heart that the group had written together in a room. While some of the group's previous albums were written while on tour, McKinnon considered it "important to me and the rest of the band to get everybody involved in a room, properly involved and just write a record together".
The group wrote music "casually for fun" without any expectations, according to McKinnon. For the most part, McKinnon would have either a chorus or melody idea that the rest of the group would flesh out into a song. On some occasions, the group would jam and have a finished song in an hour. For their past two albums, What Separates Me from You (2010) and Common Courtesy (2013), the group had trouble naturally writing heavy songs. McKinnon reassured that there was "a lot of heavy songs on there". Cody Quistad of Wage War often accompanied the band for these writing sessions. The group wrote for 30 days, completing at least one song per day. Writing sessions lasted eight-to-ten hours. By the end of this period, the group had around 40 songs in total.
A Day To Remember would probably prefer to go a few years without some sort of roadblock threatening their art (or, in the case of their ongoing litigation against Victory Records, their career), but they’ve shown time and again to be one of the most resilient acts in the heavy music universe. In the case of Bad Vibrations, their sixth studio album, there’s a different kind of tension present: The album marks the first time the Florida quintet have written and recorded in a totally collaborative environment since 2007’s For Those Who Have Heart—and, as the band attested in their cover story in AP 338, the writing and recording process was an intense one, full of self-doubt, insane amounts of pressure and the occasional sonic squabble.
But the spirit of having all five members in a room clashing creatively—along with the steady hands of punk-rock super-producers Bill Stevenson and Jason Livermore (Descendents, Rise Against) and mixing legend Andy Wallace (Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine)—has resulted in some of A Day To Remember’s most forward-thinking, engaging and all-around exemplary songs to date. “Bullfight” mixes Spanish rhythms and syncopated guitars with a driving chorus, while the first single “Paranoia” is a mental breakdown set to speedy hardcore punk. Elsewhere, “Reassemble” and “Justify” seamlessly mix the band’s heavy and light sounds with a new, ambient flair, and the punishing “Exposed” is an uppercut of political venom from vocalist Jeremy McKinnon (“I’m pro-American but anti-politician”) that also finds the singer quoting the Disney film Newsies before his bandmates carve out their most intense breakdown to date, the musical equivalent of being thrown through a plate-glass window.
As adept as the band are at alternating between metalcore and pop-punk, McKinnon’s words are similarly nuanced and multifaceted here. That duality encompasses weightier themes such as addiction and cultural strife along with more lighthearted subject matter, like the nostalgic charm of the Descendents-meets-Millencolin “Naivety” or the dream-it-do-it optimism on “We Got This,” which harkens back to the band’s Homesick. A Day To Remember have never been afraid to dance with the darker side of life, but they’ve always countered it with a fair amount of level-headedness and—even though their music might not always show it—levity. (Accents like the gloriously over-the-top sound effects that have become an ADTR trademark prove these guys ultimately have a sense of humor about their art.) In the end, the band’s ability to juggle all of these ideas in a brand new, uncomfortable creative environment—and still find new ways to move their sound forward musically—has resulted in arguably their best album since Homesick.
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