Photo: Tom Falcone

At this point, Mayday Parade are Warped Tour veterans. They're not, say, NOFX or Less Than Jake, but they've been around the block a few times. Starting as fans and show-goers before following the tour in 2006 and playing the following year, the band effectively grew up on Warped. Since 2008, Mayday have played every other Warped and this year—during the fest's 20 year anniversary—they're playing the main stage for the first time ever. It's exhausting just to think about!

But who better to tell Warped like it is? We caught up with Mayday frontman Derek Sanders to get the inside scoop on the importance of Warped, how to navigate the festival as a novice, what bands to catch and more! Here's what he had to say:

How To Survive Warped As A First-Timer

Pace yourself! It’s a long day. I feel like there are lot of people who don’t realize how exhausting it is and by two or three o’clock, they're beat. You’re out there in the sun all day and it’s loud and it’s crowded. Water is expensive. Everything is expensive! Bring water if you can or bring money for water, at least. Stay hydrated! Try and make sure—it’s different every single day—of when people are playing. Make your list right away of the bands you want to see. It’s really easy to miss the bands you paid to see!

Who To See This Year

I’m very excited about Saves the Day. They’re one of my favorite bands of all time and I love the thought of being able to see them on Warped Tour every day. Four Year Strong will be great, they’ve kind of been broken up for a while. They’re getting back together for this! The Maine are always incredible, it’s going to be cool to hang with them. There’s really so many, like We Are The In Crowd. There are some bands that I haven’t seen before that I’ve recently met or recently come to know like Neck Deep and Beartooth. I’m excited to watch those bands. I need a list in front of me!

CINCINNATI, OH - JULY 31: Derek Sanders of Mayday Parade performs onstage during the 2012 Vans Warped Tour at the Riverbend M
Joey Foley/Getty Images

How Warped Helped Grow Mayday Parade

The first time I went to Warped Tour was over 10 years ago. It was 2003, maybe 2002? Going to it for a few years then following it and selling CDs, playing the smaller stages and working our way up… we weren’t sure there would ever be a point where we could play the main stage. It’s pretty wild. Eight years later as a band, here we are!

How Warped Tour Has Changed Over The Years

There are some things that have changed over time. The biggest thing is your attitude towards it. When you’re first doing Warped, when you’re following it, it's overwhelming. We were the baby band on this massive tour. At the time we’d never done anything like it before. It’s a crazy experience. Like anything, you just get used to it. 

It feels like the kind of thing we’ve done enough now so we know exactly what to expect. We know how to handle it. Some people will complain about Warped Tour being tough but after doing it in a van and really roughing it, doing it in a bus is really not so bad. It’s going to be a lot of fun!

What Do You Wish You Would've Known When You First Started Warped?

To begin with, I didn’t realize it’s scorching hot everywhere in the country in the summer! There are some places up North where it’s 20 to 30 degrees cooler in the winter than it is down South. We’re from Florida. You think the same would be true in the summer, that it would be 20 or 30 degrees cooler in the summer. It’s pretty much brutally hot everywhere in the country. That’s one thing you learn super fast. 

You also have to learn to drink lots of water and wear a bunch of sunscreen if you need it. Lots of rest… at first you're too stressed about making the right impression [as a new band.] You worry if you’re going to mess things up. The truth is, you really just gotta relax and have fun with it. Have a good time! 

I’m more excited about it now than I have been before for Warped Tour, or maybe any tour ever! Everything feels good.