Photo: Matt Burke

Derek Sanders – Howell Canyon

If any of you have heard of Mayday Parade, then you would know that they don’t have a single bad song, like, at all. The same goes for frontman Derek Sanders’ solo projects. From covering tracks that defined much of his youth on 2020s My Rock and Roll Heart to penning five original, equally sentimental tracks on his forthcoming EP, The Heavy Box, the long-adored frontman is, once again, flying solo and treating fans to more music with his distinctive, well-loved voice. Named after a valley in Idaho, United States, “Howell Canyon” finds Sanders reflecting on the past whilst remaining optimistic for the future, offering more endless nights of comfort the same way he has through many Mayday Parade tracks before.

Detailing important chapters in life coming to an end, the alt-rockers latest offering is imbued with deep, tender-hearted meaning. The acoustic guitar underlines Sanders’ emotive intonation as the beat gives way to the open, honest lyrics as he proclaims: “If it’s over then leaves will fall into the dark / And settle where we closed and locked the arc / That’s the way it’ll always be / Make sure you’re at ease / ‘Cause we began before the start / And we exist to only fall apart.”

The soft, stripped-back track, which reflects on specific memories and deals with coming to terms with them, is “about dealing with the sadness that comes from an important chapter in my life ending,” shares Sanders in a press release. “The song takes a look back but also forward towards a more hopeful future,” he says before moving on to discuss the project as a whole. “Slowly over the last few years I have poured as much love and energy as I could into these songs,” he continues. “Thank you to everyone who helped make The Heavy Box something real and available for those who find it worth their time. These songs mean so much to me, I hope you enjoy them.”

While “Howell Canyon” offers a nostalgia trip due to Sanders being a staple voice in the pop-punk scene, it doesn’t stop there. The Heavy Box, landing on 14th April via Rise Records, also includes a feature from former Mayday Parade co-frontman Jason Lancaster, something no one has seen since his departure from the band back in 2007 and has another track featuring Mike Hanson of Goodbye Love. The 14th of April can’t come quickly enough.