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Torn between two genres

How A Day to Remember turned into one of alt-rock's great white hopes



A Day to Remember has been getting no shortage of hype over the past several months as contenders for alt-rock's next big thing.

One of the biggest-drawing acts last summer during its leg on the Vans Warped tour, the band has also gained considerable notoriety for its rocking cover of the Kelly Clarkson hit "Since U Been Gone" as well as a recently released third album, Homesick, which was touted by Alternative Press magazine as one of 2009's most anticipated albums. The buzz around the album has translated into 250,000 copies being sold so far.

Singer Jeremy McKinnon figures the band's collision of pop and hardcore is one reason A Day to Remember is getting noticed.

"We were playing to like 5,000 people, sometimes like 10,000 people a day," he says of the Warped dates. "We were one of those bands that was kind of different on that tour. When you saw A Day to Remember play, it was different from watching all of these pop bands or the straight-up rock bands and even the heavier bands. It was a little of each, and a lot of people had never seen that before. I think that's a big part of our appeal."

McKinnon's theory makes sense, given that many consider hardcore and pop largely incompatible — a conventional wisdom that's not exactly news to any members of the Florida-based act.

"Everybody said that when we started doing the band," McKinnon says. "They said we were stupid for trying to do it. It's really funny because nowadays people say stuff like 'Oh yeah, what they're doing is so clichéd. I've heard so many bands do it.' And they say we're just jumping on a bandwagon."

The idea of fusing different styles wasn't so much calculated as much as it was the product of necessity, according to McKinnon.

"Our influences were like Blink-182, Millencolin, stuff like that. Then we grew up going to [hardcore] shows like Bury Your Dead and Seventh Star and Underoath. So we came from two different worlds and we legitimately could not decide on what to do. So we did both."

Finding the right blend of pop and hardcore, though, was neither quick nor easy for the group, which formed in 2003 and also includes guitarists Kevin Skaff and Neil Westfall, bassist Joshua Woodard and drummer Alex Shelnutt. McKinnon says anyone who hears the group's first demos would know what a struggle it was for the band to find its identity.

"But I definitely think we have kind of crafted our sound now. I'm really happy with the way we've done all the blending on Homesick."

Fans who catch A Day to Remember on its current tour will encounter a band that, even with a sound that can be plenty aggressive at times, is all about making sure its fans are entertained at shows.

"We just try to have a good time on stage," says McKinnon, "and I think that comes across."

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