The lead singer of Mayday Parade dances around the stage. Mayday Parade kicked off their Forever Emo Tour 2019 at the 40 Watt Club in downtown Athens, Georgia, on Nov 1, 2019. (Photo/Kathryn Skeean)

Mayday Parade has come a long way since referencing Georgia in the 2007 track “Jamie All Over” and naming its 2009 EP after Valdosta. Excitingly, they will return to Athens on Tuesday, Sept. 28 at the Georgia Theatre.

The tour will run until Sept. 29, and then pause before continuing performances at festivals in October.

The Red and Black spoke with the lead singer Derek Sanders regarding the band’s touring plans and new releases.

The Red and Black: I want to talk about your new single, “Bad At Love.” It’s out now and “Kids of Summer” was released in June. These are your first singles since “Sunnyland,” correct?

Derek Sanders: Yeah! We put out a three song EP last year.

R&B: How does it feel to be making music and performing again?

DS: It's amazing. Obviously, the last year and a half has been pretty intense, stressful and unexpected. And it's been kind of a lot, especially for the music business and the entertainment industry. We just played our first two shows at Slam Dunk Festival in the U.K., and that was just hard to even put into words how amazing it was to be up there again and to fall back into it so quickly. As soon as you walked out on stage, you just kind of felt comfortable and natural and “Yes!”

To be putting out music is so exciting. We've been in the studio a lot during the time of the pandemic and there was so much that we were limited by, so much that we couldn't do. So we tried to just write as many new songs as we could, be as creative as we could and get in the studio a lot. There's a lot of new music coming out soon as well, and it's all just exciting stuff to be happening.

R&B: What can fans expect from your new singles?

DS: Well, I feel like what we've always tried to do is kind of a blend, I guess on the one hand, experimenting and reaching out into some new territories and trying to push the boundaries. And like “Bad At Love,” for example, is a song that feels different from anything we've ever done before to me.

But I think it's important to continue to challenge yourself to try out new things, while at the same time not abandoning what it is that you built as a band musically. With these new songs we’ve recorded, it's a little bit of both. There's some of that new stuff and there's some songs that sound just like classic Mayday Parade that could fit [into] many of our albums. So, yes, it's a little bit of both I'd say.

R&B: How have you guys gotten prepared to get back into touring?

DS: We've been in this band for almost 16 years, so it was really just kind of the preparation — you know, putting together the set, building the set. I put together an outline of the set with all of the transitions, the talking points and all that and sent that over for everyone to kind of get really familiar with. And [then we] rehearse for four days, which is a little bit longer than we typically would rehearse for a tour. It's been almost two years until we last played; it was November 2019. So it was just making sure that we're ready to go. And then it's crazy how quickly you just pick right back up into it and feel like it always has.

R&B: Sounds like a good rehearsal. And you guys are set to tour with other popular performers, like Avril Lavigne, Sleeping with Sirens, Taking Back Sunday. How do you feel performing with these performers, have you been used to seeing them from festivals, or are there any performers you're excited to see?

DS: That's one of the coolest things about doing big festivals is that you see some of these bands that sometimes are just truly unbelievable live. You mentioned Avril Lavigne. I've never seen her perform. So that'll be really cool, actually. In particular, I'm really excited about Furnace Fest in Birmingham, Alabama just because of the lineup to that show. It's a lot of bands from the early 2000s that I was really into in high school, like The Juliana Theory, Copeland and then some heavier bands like Eighteen Visions, and it's such a throwback to my teenage years when I was really getting into this kind of music. So I'm really, really excited about that one.

R&B: So after touring in the U.S. until November, you guys are going to tour outside of the country in June 2022 to Switzerland, Czech Republic and Germany. How does that feel going over there? And what will you do in the meantime to prepare for that?

DS: I’m really excited about it, but it's a little bit nerve racking just because it's been a while since we've toured at that intensity and that level. And now it's a little bit more difficult because a handful of us have kids now, and that adds another layer of stress on the road.

But I'm really excited about it; it'll be nice. It's good to be busy just in general. And you mentioned there's some places that we've never been that we'll be going to and that's always exciting and doesn't really happen as often these days because we kind of started to fall into the pattern of doing the same plan and going to the same places that built up somewhat of an audience. But yes, just all around will be super exciting. Next year is going to be tons of fun.

R&B: So Athens is a very music oriented city, and students are excited to see Mayday Parade. What do you remember from your last Athens show?

DS: Yeah, for sure, we played there in 2019. We did a tour called the Forever Emo Tour which was basically a live emo night event where we played a handful of Mayday Parade songs, but mostly covers of other emo bands like The Starting Line, New Found Glory, Taking Back Sunday, My Chemical Romance — all the songs that you hear at an emo night. We covered those songs live, and it was really cool.

I had just broken my foot the day before that tour started, so that was really tough and added a lot of stress, for sure. But no, it was really good. We have a lot of friends in Atlanta and just in Georgia, in general so we got to see a lot of people. I remember the show was sold out and the energy was insane and it was a really good time.

This Q&A has been edited for length and clarity.