Valentine’s Day holds a special place in Derek Sanders’ heart.
When he wanted to give his wife, who he’s been with since high school, a special V-Day gift the Mayday Parade frontman recorded a stripped down version of “But Lauren,” originally recorded by Goodbye Love, a Tallahassee, FL band the couple both knew well since their teens. He only intended for his wife, whose name is also Lauren, to hear the track but something else was snowballing from there—an album.
Sanders continued down the road of remembrance, pulling together his debut solo EP, My Rock and Roll Heart (Rise Records), a collection of five, stripped down covers of songs that infused his high school years, a coming of age, and ultimately inspired him to become a musician.
“All of the songs on the EP are ones I was listening to in high school, so the recording process was very nostalgic for me,” Sanders tells American Songwriter. “I looked for songs from that time in my life to round out the EP.”
Instrumentally, the EP goes back to Sanders’s roots. He started playing acoustic guitar when he was 10 and writing some of his first songs at this time, so it was only fitting to to go back to where it all began when reimagining and stripping back the tracks he listened to at 15 and 16.
On My Rock and Roll Heart, Tallahassee musicians that Mayday Parade came up with on the Florida scene were also pulled in, including Stages and Stereo’s Daniel Lancaster, who duets with Sanders on a enchanting rendition of Jimmy Eat World’s 2002 Bleed American single “A Praise Chorus.”
My Rock and Roll Heart is a wonderland of late ‘90s, early aughts Emo balladry, giving nod to “Punk Rock Princess” from Something Corporate’s Leaving Through the Window (2002) and shifting back to 1999 singles, Saves the Day’s “Rocks Tonic Juice Magic” and The Juliana Theory’s “August In Bethany.”
Kicking things off with “But Lauren,” Goodbye Love, in particular was a band Sanders connected with early on. As Mayday Parade were taking off, Sanders still kept in touch with the band’s singer Mike Hanson, who encouraged him to use the song on the EP. “Mike Hanson’s songs were always a major source of inspiration to me,” says Sanders. “He was actually the one who said to put out the ‘But Lauren’ cover, and that conversation made me start thinking about what other songs to cover.”
For Sanders, it goes deeper than just covering some of his favorite songs. It was also a chance to cover a song [“But Lauren”] by one of his heroes—and perhaps expose people to one of his favorite bands for the first time.
“I hope that My Rock and Roll Heart exposes people to Goodbye Love, my favorite local band, for the first time,” says Sanders. “This was before the internet and they never really broke out of Tallahassee, so it’s cool that people can discover their music through me—and this EP.”