‘Super Fucking Top Notch’ – Bernz Talks ¡MAYDAY!’s ‘Believers’
Following a classic album with another classic album is no easy task, but if any act can pull it off, it’s ¡MAYDAY!
With Believers coming out soon and by following the footsteps of a stellar debut with Take Me To Your Leader. expectations are high for the Miami group that consistently defies explanation.
We talked to Bernz, one the founding members and emcees in ¡MAYDAY!, to get his perspective on Believers, what to expect from the album and how they’re still climbing despite enormously high standards.
How is the production and the process of that different on Believers than it was on Take Me To Your Leader?
It’s not a lot different except that we worked with a lot more session musicians and just homies. We brought in a homie Infamous who produces music for Wayne and Gym Class Heroes and a bunch of different people to come in and a few tracks. He made “HighRide”, “Tear Shit Down” and he co-produced “My Life” with Plex.
What was that like working with different people? Was it still pretty organic?
Yeah dude it’s totally organic. The way we vibe, since we play instruments anyway, we just all kind of hang out and create riffs and stuff and talk about music and it just kind of happens.
Do you have any favorite songs or personal highlights on this album?
My most favorite song on the album is in between “HighRide”, I like the closer “Shortcuts and Dead Ends”. Those are probably my favorite two songs on the album.
How is this album different thematically than ¡MAYDAY!’s other material?
We kind of wanted to make it a bit of a progression from Take Me To Your Leader. We still touch on some of the same things or whatever, but it all came from a “Believers” standpoint. We wanted to tell people that like “Hey, the world is yours” kind of thing.
When you and Wrek write a song and come up with a concept, does it need to speak for the band as a whole? Do you guys aim to do that and do those concepts go through the band before they make it on a track? How does that work?
Wrek and I have a lot of autonomy with whatever they write and we’re family and brothers so whatever we go through, if he wants to talk about whatever on a record we’ll go for that you know, and vice versa. The good thing though is that most of the songs we’re making them together, so a lot of these just stem from conversations between each other and stuff like that.
You guys obviously vibe out all the time so it’s probably very natural for you guys to speak for the band.
Totally man. We’re together everyday brother so we have a certain shorthand with each other that at this point is pretty productive.
Did you guys feel any pressure to follow up what many have already called a classic album with Take Me To Your Leader?
A little bit of pressure in just the sense that we wanted to be as good, you know? From Take Me To Your Leader ’til now we’re just kind of on a run, so I feel like we already have our momentum going, so it really wasn’t that much pressure. We just kind of had to make sure that we did more of what we’ve been doing.
They say half the trick to having a successful band is just staying together and to keep moving. Do you feel like “The machine is going, we’ve just to keep it moving”?
Basically man that’s kind of how we feel. We’ve been lucky enough to fucking get some amazing fans and they’re constantly keeping us on our toes waiting for new things. They’re very hungry for new things from us and I think that since ¡MAYDAY! works so much and we’re always putting out so much shit everybody’s just kind of used to getting a lot of music from us anyways, so we’re just kind of on that vibe.
How does the theme of being a believer speak for you guys as a band right now?
I feel like the people in ¡MAYDAY! and the people that I surround myself with on a daily basis are all people that can manipulate the universe. We’ve been lucky enough to figure out how to get what we want out of life. It all just kind of stems from that. I think metaphorically in the album we really wanted to tell people that, like the universe gives you what you ask for. That’s kind of the feel of Believers, besides the fact that “Yeah, everyone that listens to us becomes a Believer.” That’s like on the surface but on some deeper level we just really wanted to tell people that “Hey man, you have to see it. You’ve got to be able to believe.”
How long ago did you start to really marinate on the vision you’ve had for this band?
I don’t know. It’s something that we’ve kind of always carried with us because of all the great things that have happened to ¡MAYDAY! since we’ve been together. I just feel that we’re blessed in that sense, we’re people that can manipulate the universe. Everyone from Tech N9ne down, people at Strange Music, all those motherfuckers are people that have manifested their dreams into reality. Like I said, on a basic level, ¡MAYDAY! is like this genre-less, genre-bending band that on paper doesn’t really make sense but as soon as people are exposed to it, it makes perfect sense and it’s something that turns them on. I feel that the album also addresses that.
What do fans have to look forward to with this album?
I think Wrek explained it best when he said we took the best moments from Take Me To Your Leader and Thrift Store Halos and kind of tried to put it all in one album. We took some of the best high-energy, fun moments of Take Me To Your Leader and some of the best moody, introspective moments from Thrift Store Halos and we just kind of decided to do an album like that.
In what ways do you think you guys got better and progressed with this album?
I think the production on this album is the best production we’ve done to date. We started experimenting a lot more with low-end and stuff like that on this album, like deep basses and 808s and all that kind of crap, just like on a technical level – but I just think in terms of our playing, our being able to communicate with other new musicians what our ideas are, I think all of that is just at a really high level with us right now and the production is just super, super fucking top notch.
Your music seems to have this effect that just grows on you with each listen. How do you explain that?
I think that our music just has a lot of layers to it. We don’t work off shock value, so that first initial shock value, a lot of times people will miss it because our music has a deeper kind of thought process behind it. I just feel like that’s what it is. Also it’s just so different. It’s not your classic “get your ass on the floor” shit. Even our songs that are a bit more vapid in nature, they still have a lot of substance to them.
Like if you see, say a Michael Bay film for the first time, you might be all wowed at first but you get tired of it real quick, where as you can watch a movie like The Godfather over and over.
One-hundred-percent man. That’s what we try and do and we put our hearts into it. Again we’re not really there to make superficial music – which is cool, you know? I’m not hating on superficial music. There’s a time and a place for it and all of that. Everything we do, even if it’s light-hearted, we try to come from a real place.
What are your expectations for this album and what do you want it to achieve for ¡MAYDAY!?
I just want to keep getting fans dude. I don’t have any specific number in my head. I would obviously like it to do better than Take Me To Your Leader sales-wise, but beyond that man these are just works of art that we put out into the universe and whoever is lucky enough to hear it and get attached to it, all the better man. We’re on the grind like Tech N9ne. We’re just here to put out albums and turn people on, and we know that it’s not an overnight thing. It’s one of these kind of things where we keep having to be consistent and keep putting out quality. That’s our main goal right now.
Do you have any specific goals that you’d like to achieve with ¡MAYDAY!?
To me I just want to be a big artist. I want to be on the radio. I want to be on MTV. I want to have a big platform to be able to talk to our fans. That’s what every artist should want. Although I love the position we’re in, I think that ¡MAYDAY! is something bigger than that, something a little more worldwide than what it is right now. I think in a perfect world ¡MAYDAY!’s something you’re going to hear on the radio and something that you’re going to see on MTV.
We’re for everybody. We’re across the board in that sense and we totally feel like we have some of the best chances on this label to be a big mainstream artist. We have great chances on this label with our music and everything. That’s not to take away from any of the other artists. All the other artists on Strange are great and across the board, I just feel like our music is extremely palatable to the masses at hand.
When you look back on the long progression of ¡MAYDAY!, how do you feel about where you’re at right now?
I feel like we’re chugging right along. I wish we could see our fans more on the road. Unfortunately, our geography in Miami makes it hard for us to leave as much as we would like but overall I think we’re doing exactly what we need to be doing. I think that this song we’re about to put out with Tech and Kendrick is going to be another great example of how ¡MAYDAY! does amazing, huge music. We’re riding the wave brother.
Anything you want to say before we wrap this up?
Just want to say thanks to all the fans and that I hope you enjoy Believers.
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- What are your expecations for Believers?
- Do you think ¡MAYDAY! will make an album better than Take Me To Your Leader?
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