It’s easy to forget when we’re singing along with our stereos, but there’s a lot more to our favorite musicians than what they show us on stage. PropertyOfZack Senior Writer Jesse Richman spoke with Mayday Parade’s Derek Sanders and his long-time girlfriend Lauren Wilhelm, who performs as Dazy (The Girl), for an in-depth look at the real lives behind rock stardom. In Part II below, we talk about Lauren’s writing and recording plans, goals for Dazy (That Girl), Mayday Parade turning into the “elder statesmen,” and a lot more. Enjoy the piece below!
Interview: Derek Sanders and Lauren Wilhelm (Part I)
by Jesse Richman
POZ: So Lauren, you did some recording with Zack and Kenneth at the end of last year. One of those songs [“I Told You So”], you just put out. Derek sings on it as well. How did you connect with them? Was it because Derek’s worked with them in the past?
LW: I can’t remember. I feel like I went up there… I was friends with some of the people in Every Avenue, so I went up there when they were recording to, like, cut their hair or something. I don’t remember what I was doing with music then; I feel like that was right before Maradona. Even before Maradona I was writing music, so you know, I was really excited. I feel like maybe Derek had been up there to record? So I met Zack & Kenneth then, we exchanged a few ideas — I feel like this was probably 2008, 2007. I sent them some ideas. I could never afford them, you know? It was never realistic. And so I definitely wanted to work with Zack & Kenneth. I did two songs with them. I’ve never had any of my songs professionally done that were just songs I had a vision for; it was always other people involved, and I don’t like that. I eventually want to produce. I have a very specific view and vision for my song, and they totally get it.
POZ: That’s actually what I was going to ask about, because obviously Zack & Kenneth are both incredibly talented guys, but your music isn’t really in the wheelhouse of what they’re usually putting out.
LW: I feel like that’s another reason I wanted to go to them, is it’s not exactly what they do all the time. I heard some other stuff that they’ve done, a little similar — that “Shake That Bubble” song Young & Divine did — but I’ve just always been a fan of their work, and they’re really nice and very fun to work with. And they just keep going; there’s no bullshit in the studio, as far as getting the work done, and that’s how I’m like. I just want to keep going. When I’m in the studio, I’m in the zone. I think that’s what I like most about them, they stay very focused, and really into anything they’re working on. You could write a song they don’t even like and they’ll still get into it, make it as good as they can, even if they don’t have complete control over the song.
POZ: So you did two songs with them.
LW: I did. The other one, the plan was for it to come out in April… I think that’s still the plan. I would say the last week of April.
POZ: In the meantime, you just did a video for “I Told You So,” right?
LW: Yes, it was awesome, it was so much fun!
POZ: Tell me a little about that video. I know you had Derek and the Stages guys and some other friends in on it.
LW: Well, basically, I’ve never shot a music video before so it’s a little bit weird at first. I had all these ideas for it, but being in front of the camera is not something I’d ever really done before. It was a whole day of shooting, so as the day progressed I know I definitely got better. It will be interesting. I’m kind of silly anyway, as you can probably tell, so I’m sure it showed through even when I wasn’t as confident. Towards the end of the night, I had all my friends and family dress up as their altar-ego. It’s really cool. We did some shots of… I don’t want to give away too much. But my parents came! My parents used to dress up to pick me up from school, it was really embarrassing, but really funny. So they also came to my video shoot. Like, my dad came and picked me up one time as a gorilla. Why, I have no idea. So my dad dressed as the Easter Bunny, and my mom, very drunk, showed up as the carrot to the Easter Bunny. Everybody pretty much looked like that. It was really fun, I had a great day.
POZ: Did you do the whole treatment for it yourself?
LW: Yeah. You know, I sat down and I tried to put some stuff down, I did the gist of everything — I wanted it to be silly, with lots of dancing. A lot of stuff we didn’t end up using. We just kind of had to go with the flow of things, I think that worked a lot better. It was a collaboration between me and Mike Wilson, who shot the video.
POZ: So you’ve got those two songs recorded that you did with Zack and Kenneth, and you’ve been putting out some covers on Soundcloud. What’s your plan going forward? Are you going to keep pounding out covers? Do you want to get back in the studio and write some more?
LW: I think I’m just seeing what kind of momentum I can get off of these two songs. As far as recording more, if it works out and the songs sell then I can do some more songs in the studio. Like I said, we have a studio at home, so I may end up just having Zack & Kenneth mix a few songs that I end up recording myself. As far as an EP goes, that’s definitely the plan. I’m going to try and at least put out an EP, that way it’s something for people to have. I like the covers; they keep people interested. I’m going to have more things on YouTube. I’m putting up my first cover on YouTube, it’s a piano version of “Chocolate” [by The 1975].
POZ: I actually just gave it a listen; you played it on The Gunz Show, right?
LW: Yeah. It’s a little bit different since it’s with the piano, it’s a little bit of a different feel, a little bluesier, I really like it.
POZ: How did you decide to do that song?
LW: So we went up to do the Gunz show when I was in New York a couple weeks ago. I had my friend, he goes by The Heavy Empty, he played with me, and I was like “we’ve got to do another song.” So I sent him two songs to do. But when I got to his apartment the day before, he was like “yo, you know what you would sound so good singing?” And he starts playing it. I’m like “dude, nobody knows the words to that song! I can’t learn all the words! It might as well be in Spanish! Nobody knows the words to that song, you think I’m way better at this!” But we pulled it off. I liked how it turned out. I learned it, so I might as well use it.
POZ: Are you a big 1975 fan?
LW: Yeah, more after I did the cover. I know my friends have been jamming it for the last few months, so I get to listen to it because of them, but I finally downloaded the CD. I’m very late when it comes to music. I do listen to lots of music — not nearly as much as I did when I was in high school or anything — but sometimes I end up getting out of the loop, and people are really surprised. They’re like, “ aren’t you in music?” Well yeah, but when I’m in music, that’s my only time to do music, so that’s when I’m creating music.
Bother Me Tomorrow: An Indie Tribute to Creedence Clearwater Revival is coming out on May 13th via Tan and Blue Recording Co. The tribute features songs from Park, We Shot The Moon, The Directive, and many more. PropertyOfZack is excited to be debuting Park’s cover of “Fortunate Son.” Pre-order the tribute here and stream the song below after the jump.
PropertyOfZack is happy to be premiering a new music video for We Were Astronauts’ “Doree.” The track comes off of the band’s debut album, Outside Boston. The band is currently working on a new album called Artificial Light that is scheduled for a September release. Watch the video for “Doree” below after the jump.
by Adrienne Fisher, edited by Erik van Rheenen
There’s a lot to explore on this new Menzingers record. Hell, there’s a lot to explore on every Menzingers record – ever since the release of their debut full length all the way back in 2007, the guys have written literary references, symbolism, imagery, and good old fashioned heart & soul like breadcrumbs into their songs with airtight proficiency. Anyone into contemporary quote-unquote punk in 2014 wouldn’t dare deny the songwriting chops that the PA quartet have driven home over and over again, especially with 2012’s instaclassic On the Impossible Past that brought all kinds of new meaning to how kids felt about diner waitresses and the dead-ends inherent in the things we deem Good or Nice. But the unfortunate thing about developing the attachments that we do to particular bands and records is that we do it in a very specific manner that’s nearly never reproducible – and with reasons unbound from rationality, we construe this lack of reproducibility into feeling let down by our band if they don’t deliver exactly what we think we should expect from them.
Rented World is not another On the Impossible Past, but there’s absolutely no reason why it should be. For that reason, I cannot stress enough that unpacking this record on its own accord instead of stacking it up against your personal anticipations will beget the best and most surprising connections - instead of telling you the dismal stories about the muscle cars and the bottoms of bottles, the Menzingers have created a record that requires your active involvement. It’s calling to be explored, to be listened to thoughtfully, and to be granted merit based on what it is, rather than what it’s up against. The shift in approach bears a little resemblance to how Saves the Day turned on a dime with In Reverie; they’re still stoking the influential fires of discontent, but it addresses the pains and strains of burgeoning real-life in a more universal way, rather than a focused mission statement through more “literary” means.
Even though I’ve already suggested that this record isn’t necessarily as immediate as I now perceive OTIP to be, you can see plenty of the cards that the Menzingers are holding off the bat. Some of those cards are facing upward and say straightforward, bleakly incorruptible things like “I don’t wanna be an asshole anymore” or overtly call back titles of the last record (“Bad Things.”) The keystone lyric from the first-released “In Remission” utters over a bridge “if everyone needs a crutch, then I need a wheelchair,” providing continuity of the self-paralyzing themes for which the Menzingers are heralded; it’ll take no one by surprise when that line is inscribed into punk rock canon a couple of chapters after “I’ve been having a horrible time pulling myself together” first appeared.
It’s easy to forget when we’re singing along with our stereos, but there’s a lot more to our favorite musicians than what they show us on stage. PropertyOfZack Senior Writer Jesse Richman spoke with Mayday Parade’s Derek Sanders and his long-time girlfriend Lauren Wilhelm, who performs as Dazy (The Girl), for an in-depth look at the real lives behind rock stardom. In Part I below, we talk about growing up in Tallahassee, the beginning of their relationship, life at home with daughter Grey, and the practical realities of launching a career. Stay tuned for Part II tomorrow!
by Jesse Richman
POZ: Let’s start with the story of you two. I want to spend some time just talking about what life is like for the two of you behind the scenes. How did you meet?
DS: Well, we met over ten years ago. We met when I was sixteen and Lauren was fifteen, actually, at a show that an old band of mine in high school was doing that Lauren was… It’s kind of a long story.
POZ: I’ve got time! Go for the long version.
DS: Yeah, well, it was a friend of a friend’s birthday party kind of thing that we were playing, Lauren was there and we became friends. We dated back then, over ten years ago, and have always kind of just been real close throughout the years. Even when we weren’t dating, we were still really good friends. We’ve just always found our way back to each other.
LW: Aww, yeah.
POZ: Did you guys go to the same school? Did you hang out in the same crowds?
DS: We went to a different school but had the same group of friends, once they all met.
POZ: Did you click instantly when you met? Did it take some time?
LW: One of his other bandmates was pursuing me all night! I had just moved to Tallahassee and I didn’t really know that many people. He gave me his screen name, and we started talking. So I started hanging out with him, but I thought Derek was hot, I was into Derek. I was not into the other guy.
DS: Yeah, we just had, you know, mutual friends, and we all became closer throughout the years. We all went to shows together, played in different bands together. We were all connected through the music scene a lot, for sure.
POZ: Derek, you’re from Tallahassee right? Did you grow up there?
DS: Born and raised.
POZ: Ok, that’s what I thought. Lauren, you said you moved there when you were fifteen, is that right?
LW: I moved there when I was thirteen.
POZ: Where were you before that, and what brought your family to Tallahassee?
LW: Clearwater. My parents are from that area, born and raised down in Clearwater. My dad grew up with fishing and going all over on dirt roads there, so once it got really populated he was over it. We started looking at charts and stuff — my dad has always been into boats, he’s a sailor, so he was looking up in the Tallahassee area, so we drove around and eventually found our way up to Tallahassee. And I really like it, I love Tallahassee.
POZ: Did you like it right away? Was it an easy transition for you or was it tough?
LW: I didn’t not like it. I was kind of ready. I wanted to move to Tallahassee, I kind of encouraged my parents, I really wanted to. And then when I got here I didn’t know anybody, but that’s never been a problem for me, I can always keep myself entertained. Actually, the summer when we moved here, I taught myself how to play the piano, that’s when I started messing around with getting good at playing classical and pop, 90’s pop music on the piano.
POZ: What were you guys into back then? Were you scene kids? Were you art kids? What was your thing?
LW: Emo. Dashboard Confessional. [Laughs].
DS: Yeah, I’d say we were scene kids, basically. We went to a ton of shows. I, at the time, was playing in local bands and stuff, playing all the shows. That was a big part of who we were for sure, at school and everything. Yeah, we were scene kids, emo kids, whatever you want to…
LW: I was a chorus emo kid!
POZ: You were singing even back then eh?
LW: Oh yeah, in high school.
POZ: I assume with chorus you weren’t singing rock and pop, you were probably doing more showtunes-kind of stuff?
LW: I did, actually! We had the first pop a cappella group in our city, or our area, at all. You know how they do Glee, stuff like that? It was pretty much like that. It was called the Main Event, and so yeah, we’d sing a ton of current pop music, and I had several different solos in that. That’s where I really… I loved chorus, but I really loved doing Main Event, pop a cappella is awesome. I still love it. It gives me chills every time, watching people.
POZ: Do you still play around with any of that stuff?
LW: Oh, I definitely, when I write music, write tons of vocal stuff, and I think it’s probably because of that. I would actually mess around with my own arrangements of stuff. I was really nerdy in high school when it came to music. Instead of doing my whatever homework, I was studying sheet music for my chorus class so I could play it if I needed, on piano or whatever. I was really nerdy.
POZ: So you have some of that classical training then.
LW: A little bit, yeah.
POZ: Were you just singing at the time? Were you playing as well?
LW: I was playing piano. In high school I would write songs about my friends and, like, joke songs. One of them got huge in my high school at the time. It’s very perverted and provocative. I ended up playing it for, like, a school showcase. It was really funny, everybody knew it.
POZ: Were you playing piano from an early age?
LW: Yeah! I started playing piano at… I did a couple lessons, and I didn’t really… I don’t want to say I didn’t like my teacher, I feel mean saying that, but he just wasn’t very encouraging. I don’t think I wanted to learn it at the time. But when we moved here and I didn’t know anybody, I had learned the basics. My mom played piano. I had a really good ear for piano. So it didn’t take very much for me to pick it up and go from there. That’s all I was really doing.
POZ: Is it still your instrument of choice?
LW: Yeah. Definitely.
POZ: So lets talk a little bit about when you guys got together. Is there a story behind your first date, or your first kiss?
DS: Actually, our first date was in Tallahassee on Valentine’s Day of 2003. We went to a show in Tallahassee, it was the All-American Rejects, and I forget…
LW: Was it Rufio?
DS: No, I don’t think it was Rufio. Home Grown maybe? I don’t remember exactly. I just remember it was the All-American Rejects headlining and it was Valentine’s Day. And that was our first date kind of deal.
POZ: That’s so perfect for what you’re doing now. So how long were you guys together that first time around?
LW: Almost a year.
DS: Yeah, we dated for almost a year, and then broke up. We still were able to be close even though we weren’t dating and were still really good friends for a long time. And then, just kind of eventually, things just fell back into swing, and here they are.
POZ: When did you guys officially get back together?
LW: Well, we dated another time before this, in between.
POZ: Oh, so it’s really been on and off!
LW: Yeah. We dated again, actually, right as Mayday formed I feel like.
DS: We dated for about two years that time I think. So it’s been kind of a back-and-forth kind of thing. And then now it’s been over three years that we’ve been back together again. It’s been, what, almost three and a half years. So a grand total of over five years of dating in the over ten years I’ve known you. Sorry, I know it’s kind of confusing!
LW: It’s very confusing!
Kurt Travis will be releasing everything is beautiful in May via Blue Swan Records. PropertyOfZack is happy to be debuting a song from the album today called “Brain Lord. Travis will be supporting the release in May on a headliner with Zach Garren on guitar. Stream and watch a lyric video for “Brain Lord” below after the jump!
From Matt Mascarenas of Mansions:
I heard Mansions at the absolute right time. It was during a hung-over morning drive home from an [uneventful] party when the lines “I could go out every night or I could work that nine to five / Neither makes me more or less alive / I am more or less alive. At the time, all my efforts were spent in bands on tour and away from Salt Lake City as often as possible. When at home, I’d force myself through a miserable cycle to ensure that home wouldn’t become a comfortable place to be. School, work, relationships were to never take priority over traveling, basement shows, and credit card debt. That line - regardless of the context it was originally meant in - caused me to question my one-sided thought process. I needed to be able to consistently feel that whether I’m on tour or at home.