You might know Derek Sanders from his work with beloved emo band Mayday Parade. Sanders has spent the majority of the last fifteen years on the road with his band, but his first-ever solo EP My Rock And Roll Heart examines the tracks that inspired him to start playing music in the first place.
The EP is made up of covers of five stripped-back tracks by bands that would go on to become Sanders’ peers, like Jimmy Eat World, Saves The Day, The Juliana Theory, and more. With just an acoustic guitar, My Rock And Roll Heart gives Sanders’ signature vocals space to shine, making for some special renditions of tracks that we all know and love.
In anticipation of the EP, Sanders sat down to talk Joe Rogan, New Found Glory, and New Jersey in the latest Indie Mixtape 20 Q&A.
What are four words you would use to describe your music?
My version of songs (that mean a lot to me from my teenage years, basically).
It’s 2050 and the world hasn’t ended and people are still listening to your music. How would you like it to be remembered?
I hope people like the EP, and I hope that maybe it exposes some people to these songs and bands if they haven’t heard of them before, and it helps them discover their music.
What’s your favorite city in the world to perform?
It’s gotta be Sayreville, New Jersey at a venue called Starland Ballroom.
Who’s the person who has most inspired your work, and why?
Certainly one of them would be Chris Carrabba of Dashboard Confessional and Further Seems Forever. Those are two bands that mean a whole lot to me, and maybe particularly regarding this project here, where it’s just me playing songs on acoustic guitars. It’s heavily inspired by Chris, for sure.
Where did you eat the best meal of your life?
That’s really tough to say. It was probably something super generic in New York City. I’m always blown away by how good the food is wherever we eat in NYC.
What album do you know every word to?
There’s a bunch, but certainly The Moon Is Down by Further Seems Forever. That’s one I know all the words to, definitely.
What was the best concert you’ve ever attended?
That’s tough to say. There’s a handful that come to mind, but I saw New Found Glory do the 10-year tour of their self-titled album, which is probably the best pop punk album of all time in my opinion.
What is the best outfit for performing and why?
For me, it would be just a t-shirt, shorts, and no shoes. Anything that I can jump around and run around in and be comfortable.
Who’s your favorite person to follow on Twitter and/or Instagram?
Maybe Joe Rogan, he’s real funny.
What’s your most frequently played song in the van on tour?
A while back, it probably would have been “Northern Lights” by The Dangerous Summer. There’s also a band called Inkwell, and they have a song called “I Am The Tightrope” that would be up there for sure.
What’s the last thing you Googled?
Probably something really nerdy. I’ve been trying to keep up with a Final Fantasy VII remake that’s supposed to have a demo out soon on the PlayStation store. I feel like I check every day or two to see if that’s out.
What album makes for the perfect gift?
Jimmy Eat World’s Clarity.
Where’s the weirdest place you’ve ever crashed while on tour?
Probably just on the side of the road, sleeping on top of the van, or in the trailer too. When we followed Warped Tour in 2006, we were sleeping in the van, and if you were driving, you would just stop a van full of people sleeping and roll out your sleeping bag in the grass or wherever. One time I was sleeping next to the railroad tracks, and I remember a train coming by that was so loud and scary.
What’s the story behind your first or favorite tattoo?
I only have two tattoos, so it’s hard to say which one is my favorite. But my second and most recent one that I got is on my forearm. It’s kind of hard to explain, but it’s the album artwork of a band from Tallahassee from 20 years ago called I Have Dreams. It’s definitely super meaningful to me.
What artists keep you from flipping the channel on the radio?
Let’s go with Twenty One Pilots.
What’s the nicest thing anyone has ever done for you?
The first thing that comes to mind is when my son was born. It was the day after I got home from Warped Tour 2016, and we were kind of nervous that he was going to be born before the tour was over and that I was going to have to go home. I had sort of recruited people to cover for me just in case that happened, and I reached out to a bunch of different singers of bands and said “Hey, if I end up going home, would you mind maybe learning one song to sing so that the band can still play and everyone doesn’t else have to go home because I have to?”
I was really nervous about it because it was kind of a lot to ask, to reach out and put someone in that position. So as I was going about the rounds of asking people, there was one person who reached out to me, and that was Ryan Key from Yellowcard. He said, “Hey man, I heard you may have to go home and you’re trying to get people to cover these songs, and I’d love to help.” I thought that was really cool because it made me feel a lot more comfortable to know that people had my back. I thought that was really nice.
What’s one piece of advice you’d go back in time to give to your 18-year-old self?
It’s really tough to say, but I would say to not worry so much and just have fun with it. Do it the way you want to do it and stay true to your vision. Don’t worry, have fun.
What’s the last show you went to?
It was This Wild Life. They played in Tallahassee about two months ago or so.
What movie can you not resist watching when it’s on TV?
Die Hard. There’s a lot but, Die Hard is definitely one of them.
What would you cook if Kanye were coming to your house for dinner?
I don’t know much about Kanye to be honest, but one of my favorite meals that I make is chili with no meat in it. If you don’t put any cheese or sour cream in it, then it’s also vegan. I put tons of vegetables and beans in it, and I love it. I don’t know if Kanye would be into it, but that’s probably what I’d go with.
My Rock And Roll Heart is out February 14 via Rise Records/BMG. Pick it up here.