A Day to Remember Talk ‘Self Help’ Festival, ‘Common Courtesy’ + More
A Day to Remember entered the crowded and competitive world a music festivals earlier this year, staging the inaugural 'Self Help' festival in San Bernardino, Calif. With a stellar lineup and an overwhelming turnout, the band was beaming at the success of the day and were anxious to plan their second 'Self Help.' We interviewed A Day to Remember's Josh Woodard and Neil Westfall earlier this year, and the band has since booked an East Coast 'Self Help' event to take place in Philadelphia on Oct. 4. Check out our chat with A Day to Remember's Josh Woodard and Neil Westfall below:
Very cool that you guys came up with this idea for the 'Self Help' festival. If you want to talk a little bit about putting together this festival?
Neil Westfall: Yeah, you know, we just kind of wanted to bring a bunch of bands that we like and support and bring them together, and you know do it for the right reasons. Like, keeping it positive.
Josh Woodard: Just have a good day. It's a good excuse to get out with your friends and come and have a good positive day. Just hang out and go see the music.
You mention hanging out with your friends. There's a lot of these bands that you crossed paths with before, but is there a method to the madness in how you choose the acts for 'Self Help'?
NW: Yeah, we had been kind of looking at what was going on ... We just kind of went through, sat down and went through our iPods and bands that we're fans of, or bands that we toured with and bands that are about the same thing. Just going out, playing music for the right reasons, and stuff, so that's the majority of the people that we got.
And 'Common Courtesy,' congrats on the record. Can you talk a little bit about the satisfaction of letting people finally get a chance to hear what you got done on this record?
JW: For sure. Yeah, it was kind of a hectic time, obviously. We were going through some stuff, figuring out if we could release it or not. The second that we found out we could, we put it up as saying it's coming out, boom. So, as soon as it came out it was just like, finally the first...
NW: A weight off of our shoulders.
JW: The weight, a fresh breath. We were like, the music's out.
NW: Like, enjoy it. Actually just sit back and alright ... it's out. That was the whole thing for us, we just wanted people to hear it. We didn't care how they heard it, we didn't care if they got it off our website or bought it in a store. That wasn't important to us at the time. We just wanted to make sure that they had the music and were able to just come to the shows and enjoy with us. That's what's important to us.
And getting a chance now to get out here and play it live as well. For both of you, maybe a favorite song off the record that you're happy to get out there and share with an audience?
JW: I'm going to have to say 'Sometimes You're the Hammer, Sometimes You're the Nail.' It's a great song.
NW: For the sake of not being the same, because that's my favorite song also, I like 'Violence.' I also like 'Dead and Buried.' I like the heavier stuff, you know, like playing live and jumping around and stuff.
Alright, tell me about 'Violence' and why you like it. What stands out to you about that track?
NW: Well, that track in specific, I just like how, it's like kind of a push in the more technical direction for us, like music-wise. It's like, before our set's been simple, and then there's songs that like, they're pretty hard to play, but this is a push in that direction of getting better at what we do, you know? We've been doing it for 10 years now, figuring out how to play our instruments finally. So it just challenges me as a musician, so that's why I like it.
And 'Hammer' as well, being such a huge favorite. Why that track?
JW: I'm going to have to say, probably a similar reason as Neil. That song is one of the hardest songs that I play, I've ever had to play, or learn how to play correctly. So the fact that we do it, we do it well, and then the song meaning and stuff, what Jeremy [McKinnon] is saying, kids really relate to it, so I just think, overall, it's a great song.
One of the things I love about your show is the energy you put into the sets. Myself, I've never been up there to perform, so I don't know what that feeling is like but...
NW: Do you want to do it today?
JW: We can, easily. (laughter)
I'll just stage dive. [laughs] Can you tell me a little bit about what the feeling is like for you up there making that connection with the audience?
JW: Yeah, we kind of just get pumped before the sets, you know we listen to music. Or you know, we just hang out, whatever. Get stretched up, and so when we go on stage, and we see that many kids just that excited and as ready as we are, it just goes off.
NW: I think in our state, they are like just as important to our show as we are ... or even our instruments. You know, it's like that's like what brings it all together. You have the kids energy, and then that gives you energy like you were saying, it's just that is what makes it worth it for me. That's why being in the studio is worth it, writing the songs, and working on that stuff for as long as we do, that is what makes it worth it. Getting to see how it affects these people in real life, you know? It's like, it doesn't get better than that.
I'm sure fans have had a chance to talk to you about the music. Any instances of seeing how it affects people's lives and them talking to you?
NW: I mean, when you say that the first thing that comes to my mind is this. It was a guy, he was in the military and he kind of came and brought his CD to one of the signings that we did before the last tour, and he was just telling us about how when he was on active duty, him and his troop, or group of guys he was with, they would blare it before they would go out and do their stuff. He said that they didn't know if they would come back or not, but he said that's what got him through and just thinking about that, he could like separate himself from everything that was going on. I just thought that that was like one of the coolest things to hear, that our music could like positively affect people that are doing something awesome for all of us, you know?
JW: And I would have to say, not as serious, I know that kid that you're talking about and that kid's awesome. But I would have to say probably Myumi, because, she's a girl from Japan, and she's our number one fan, guaranteed, 100%. I don't know the amount of times she's seen us, do you remember the number?
NW: It's like, it has to be over 40.
JW: And she's from Japan. And so she tells us, every time she'll see us in Germany, she'll see us in France.
NW: I think she's seen us on like every continent we played on.
JW: Yeah, she has. And she'll tell us, that she gets home, she goes to work, she saves up all her money, and then she hopes to see her favorite bands. So she spends all of her money to come and see her favorite bands around the world. If that's not cool, and that's not special, then I don't know what it, you know?
Bringing it back around to the Self Help Festival, obviously it's cool that you guys are doing this, but thoughts on maybe continuing it down the road? What's the plan long term?
NW: So, this year has blown us away. We didn't know that this many people were going to come out and support it. It has been incredible. So we're definitely going to have another one.
NW: We know that for a fact.
JW: I was just talking to Jeremy, guaranteed number two. Number two is happening … We were trying to announce a day and maybe some headliners, like, the day of Self Help 1, so get Self Help 2 already moving. But we're taking a little bit of time, but there will be some announcements here pretty soon, because that stuff is moving. We already want to get it going, and people excited about it.
And any of the funds from the show going to specific charities or events...
NW: Haven't really talked about that but I'm sure that we will...
JW: It's something we care about, something we all talk about, and this is the first time we've ever done anything on this large of a scale to where we could actually think about..
NW: Yeah, it's like literally the first time. And to be honest, I would like to do, if we're going to give money, I would like to do research to make sure that it's going to something that's very beneficial to the people that the charity is working towards, so...
JW: And I personally care about seeing it be something that you can directly see making change in my lifetime. I can see it being used for good during my lifetime, because, people put it away, people save and they say they're going to allocate it different ways. I want it to be something that's good for right now.
A Day to Remember, what's on the horizon for the band? Anything you want to plug coming down the road?
NW: We're going to be on tour for the rest of our lives.
JW: Yeah. Pretty much. I can guarantee that.
Our thanks to A Day to Remember's Josh Woodard and Neil Westfall for the interview. You can catch the band at their second 'Self Help' festival of the year in Philadelphia at Festival Pier on Penn's Landing on Oct. 4. For tickets and additional details, visit the festival website here. And be sure to pick up 'Common Courtesy' at Amazon and iTunes.