[Interview] ¡MayDay! Makes Good Part 1
Call it the vintage American tale. Hardworking band slugs it through independent music’s terrible tera belle. Flips a few members along the way. Weathers a few pump fakes before finally emerging from local celebrity to national prominence in a fashion so endearing that the mere notion of rooting against them seems somehow unpatriotic. Miami’s ¡MayDay! isn’t new on the scene by any measure. Millions of Youtube views and nearly a decades worth of performances are proof positive that these six fellas are the exact opposite of fly-by-nighters. But since inking with the mighty Strange Music, Plex Luthor, Bernz, Wrekonize, Giani Ca$h, L.T. Hopkins, and Nonymous are now sitting at the precipice of major everything without the aid of a “major” label. Their latest LP, Take Me To Your Leader, is not only critically acclaimed, but debuted at number 86 on Billboard’s Top 200—a rarity for any release, independent or otherwise. Now rocking on Strange’s record breaking “Hostile Takeover Tour” (along with Tech N9ne, Krizz Kaliko and the rest of its sonically elite roster), ¡MayDay! is making good on the musician’s dream.
In part one of this interview with The Well Versed, founding member, Bernz, explains why everyone will need an official remix from ¡MayDay!, the band’s evolution, why Black Thought is absent from Take Me To Your Leader, and how Strange Music helped them “get the fuck out of Miami.”
The Well Versed: Where are you guys now? I know you’re in the middle of your record breaking, 90-stops [in 99 days] tour.
Bernz: Yeah, man. We’re in Tucson, [Arizona] right now.
TWV: For the past two you years, you guys have really, really been on the road.
Bernz: Yeah, man. As soon as we linked up with [Tech N9ne] that’s when we were really, really able to get the fuck out of Miami, which is not easy to do.
TWV: One thing that I like about Miami is that it has so many little musical nooks that all seem to mesh together. They’ve got Uncle Luke, old school Hip Hop. They’ve got the bass scene. They’ve got Latin influences. When I listen to ¡MayDay!; when I listen to Take Me To Your Leader all of that comes together so wonderfully.
Bernz: Definitely. I think the one constant in Miami is that you’ve got to make people dance. Whether you’re doing fucking Luke-style music or your doing Spanish music, the one thing about Miami music is that it’s a club culture. Over there, that’s what dominates the market place. Us having to cut our teeth over there really helped mold us, especially the live show [and] the kind of energy we put into the live show. We had to compete with DJs and just rock the club or whatever because there’s not that many live places in Miami anymore. The function of our environment definitely fucking shaped who we are. Not to mention the fact that it’s geographically so hard to get out of there. It takes twelve hours to just get out of Florida. It’s an expensive endeavor every time you just want to fucking get out of the state.
TWV: I’ve never thought about it like that. That’s a great point.
Bernz: Yeah, which is why a lot of times you don’t hear about a lot of Miami bands coming out of there because it’s tough, man. On top of the fact that the East Coast is not necessarily known for live music. The West Coast supports live music a lot more than the East Coast. The market’s a lot more open on the West Coast. It took us having to link up with someone like Tech or Strange Music to really be able to fucking get out of Florida and spread ourselves and become a national act.
TWV: You guys seem to fit in well with the Strange Music camp. They are a live performance focused team. You guys are like a Navy or something going on this tour. It’s gotta be crazy on the road right now.
Bernz: It’s fucking crazy, man. It’s a big, big machine happening right now. It’s cool man. We’re on tour with Machine Gun Kelly and one of the people that’s on tour with him is actually Dame Dash’s brother who was on the “Hard Knock Life Tour” and all of these tours. He gives this tour tons of props. He’s like, “This is the real deal.”
TWV: Take Me To Your Leader put me on to Stuck On An Island. One of the ways the two albums differ is that Take Me To Your Leader is a lot darker. It seems like it’s more conceptual than your previous work. What was the idea going into this project? What did you guys sit down and say, “You know what, this is what we want to do here?”
Bernz: One of the things Take Me To Your Leader has going for it is that, since it was done having already signed our deal with Strange Music, it was done in a much more concise time period than Stuck On An Island was. Stuck On An Island came right after we had left our first recording contract and we were kind of in limbo and we had just started putting stuff out there ourselves—which is what we did with Stuck On An Island. It was a compilation of the last three years of music. Take Me To Your Leader was definitely like done in a quick time period and done with definitely a certain directive in mind. We definitely wanted to go darker. We definitely wanted to slow it down a bit, rhyme a little more, stuff like that. Another thing about Stuck On An Island, too, is that if you listen to our previous work before that, Stuck On An Island is really us spreading our wings musically. It’s the first that we’re really going for the gusto. We’re trying to make big songs on that record. It’s kind of a lot of that without too much balance. With Take Me To Your Leader, we finally took that from Stuck On An Island then kind of came back into our original heavier rap shit and balanced it out a lot more.