Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Interview with Atreyu!

Victoria Purcell (VP) headed to Search and Destroy Records HQ, in London to catch up with Porter McKnight (Bass) and Brandon Saller (Drums/Vocals) of Atreyu. After 6 years, it’s safe to say we had a lot of questions. Read the lowdown!

atreyu interview
Brandon Saller & Porter McKnight

VP: It’s been 6 years since the last release, what have you all been up to in that time?
Brandon: A lot, everyone has been doing their own thing. I started a band called Hell On High Water about 4 years ago. So, we have been making music and touring and that.
Porter: I do art and photography, so I have been doing a lot of graphic design projects and photography things, and traveling a lot, doing art shows – that sort of thing. Not really much with music shockingly enough. Although, I wrote a few songs along the way with some friends.

VP: Still in the creative domain though.
P: Yeah, I guess you could say I’m more of an artist then I am a musician.

VP: What have the other guys been up to?
Brandon: Alex opened a crossfit gym in Orange County which he has owned and operated for the last few years – which is really great, it’s all going good for him.Dan owns a merchandise company, Rock Roll Merch – they do a lot of merch for big companies and bands and brands and that. Travis has a band that he does at home called Fake Figures, and for a little while he was touring with the band Trapped. Everyone has just been busy doing their own thing – spreading our wings, writing music.

VP: When you started to write new music, did you feel like you were starting from scratch? Or did you have a direction in mind?

Atreyu long livePorter: We had no real direction, we just wanted to sit down and see what came out. We didn’t have any intention like ‘this record is going to be this style; we just thought let’s see what happens.

Brandon: We wrote 3 songs, ‘So Others May’, ‘When The Day Is Done‘ and’ a song called ‘Reckless‘ which is our album closer, and in my opinion one of the best songs on the record. When we wrote these songs, we felt like we have never done anything so easy. Our entire record just poured out of us, everything was just easy and fun. That’s the best part it was fun.

Porter: If we did have any sort of intention or agenda or any focused idea. I think the one focused idea we all had was Kill. I just want to kill.

Brandon: Heavy and Fast!

Porter: I want the audio version of punching someone in the face.

Porter: When talking about our paths and the different records that we had made, we realised that music comes from when we shot from the hip and just go. It was very much in the moment, instinct music, we wrote and it came out, everyone looked at each other, and there were no questions marks and we just went.
Brandon: It’s funny how it works, we wrote a few bits from December, a few tracks here and there, not really trying too hard. We recorded those drums over the Christmas break, and recorded them songs in January. Then in the next round and to win the label, when we had studio time, we had to write 6 tracks in a week and a half.

VP: That’s a lot!

Brandon: Yeah! But we wrote them in less than a week, within 3 days.

VP: So they just came out, it flowed nicely during the recording process?

Porter: Yeah! We went to the studio 3 times, and wrote 2 of those songs each time. One of those times, Dan had a riff or something and we wrote the second song on the record and that turned out to just be a 45 minute process on deciding how we wanted that song to sound.
Then I went for a dump or something, recorded my nieces music box, and I said “Hey Guys check this out, this might be a cool way to build a song around this melody”. I go to the loo, come back 5 minutes later and they and they had a song.
I was like “Are you fucking kidding me!?”

Brandon: It was just coming out that way.

Porter: It was so easy!

Brandon: I don’t think that has ever happened before.

Porter: It has never been that easy. ‘Death Grip’ felt really easy (to write).

VP: I heard the album briefly last night; it does sound really powerful and fast!

Brandon: Awesome!
Porter: We accomplished our goal then!

Read more about the new album ‘Long Live’ in Issue 3 of RAMzine.

VP: How did you guys know now was the time to come back? Who made them initial steps?
Brandon: I think the initial kind of birdy in our ear was Dan.

Porter: Dan has been trying every year or so.

Porter: Well, I think the first conversation was me telling them that I’m moving to Scotland, I sold my car and moved out of my house, found ways to get visas, and friends there that I was going to live with.

Brandon: We actually had hung out and had lunch one day, and we talked not so much about the band but more about the fact that he was moving. And then he said to us: “Do you think this is something I should do?” and we were like “Yeah man if that’s what you want to do”.

atreyu RAMzinePorter: Yeah although I was kind of like; I’m going to Scotland, if you guys decide to get your sh*t together (not in a harsh way). I was just like if it happens I’m still around, but I’m going. Then in December Dan had sent around an email like guys I think it’s time. But even then people were like nah, it’s not right. I don’t remember exactly how it happened, but mid to late January there was another push.

Brandon: Yeah me and Alex hung out, we hadn’t hung out in a long time, and talked about the idea of playing shows, maybe writing some songs. We didn’t want to do it unless it absolutely felt perfect. So we got together, tried to write some music, and the first thing we wrote was ‘Soldiers May Live’.
That’s sort of the reason why we put that song out first, it was also our favourite out of the bunch of song. It’s the freshest picture of what Atreyu is now. That felt really good, and then we played a few shows, we played a small venue at home called Chain Reaction, and that just felt really really good. So it was kind of just step by step reassurance that it was the right thing to do. I feel like if you are in a band you have to need it, you can’t just be in a band casually; the band members don’t deserve to be in a band, and fans don’t deserve to pay money to go see a band that’s just there because it’s what they have to do.

Brandon: It’s not like we do this for money, or glory or anything, we wanted to do it because it was right and because we wanted to.

VP: That’s really good to hear. One of the last interviews I did on RAMzine, the band said that their new album meant that they kept keeping their job.

Porter: That’s f*cking retarded. People say it like “Oh you have the best job in the world, and I’m like correction I don’t have a job”. Yes I guess in the technical sense it’s a job, as it makes money. But it’s the cliché thing of ‘if you like what you are doing, you never work a day in your life’. That makes sense, we didn’t get to a point where we didn’t love it, but we did get to a point where we had a conversation (towards the end) where were like “does anyone else feel like this is a 10 song set, but by song 7 you are ready to go?”.
Now we play a show and we play an 18 song set, it ends and we are like “Goddammit why did it have to end, I wanted to keep going”. It’s good and everything has been beneficial, and it’s been very effortless and fun.

VP: I suppose it’s quite important for bands to take a break sometimes.

Brandon: It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. All of us found things in our life that we needed to find and needed to have. I feel like Porter has explored his art career even more then he would have been able to. My other bands have (besides Atreyu) become some of the best friends I have ever had. It opened up things musically for me that I never thought I could accomplish.
Everyone did things. Alex was able to have a child, and do all these things that we never would have been able to do if we didn’t take a break. It was a very necessary break.

VP: Now you are back, very excited, more energy than ever before. Ready to take on the world!

Brandon: Yeah! Jus ripping throat.

VP: I was looking through some old interviews from when you released Congregation of the Dammed, and there was one where you said that the album made more sense than any of the others and that you had found your sound.

Atreyu victoria purcell ramzinePorter: I think in the moment we felt that way. I’m proud of everything that we have done, I think that the honest truth of that record is I feel like we had this great idea of what we wanted to do, and there ended up still being influence from ‘the man’ if you will.

Brandon: Yeah, I don’t wanna sh*t talk anyone. We wrote a lot of really good song for that. We got together, we had fun, and we wrote some really good f*cking songs, but they were watered-down by outside influence. I’m not saying we bent to their will. But, you have the label, and the people that are giving their 2 sense on little things, and it changed the whole feel of the album. I think that happened a little too much on that record.

Porter: I feel like (for lack of a better word), the burn out vibe of our band had subtlety started already. We had a good energy about us, like this is great and we are writing all these songs.

Brandon: That studio process created that.

Porter: Yeah, it was a very strange process.

Brandon: There are songs on that record which are some of my favourite songs like ‘Gallows’ which is one of my favourite songs that we have. ‘Wait for You’ is one of my favourite songs and it’s a f*cking power ballad.

Porter: ‘So wrong’ is also brilliant.

Brandon: There are some jams! Once I wanted to make Atreyu music again, that was another reason, as I wanted something new for people to hear, and I didn’t want that to be the last thing that we have done.

VP: I feel like the new album sound more like ‘The Curse’.

Porter: I feel like it has the youthful hostility of The Curse, but it’s 10 times more powerful.

Brandon: I really don’t think you can compare it to anything else that we have done, there are hints and elements and ideas, and its similar because we are who we are but it’s not like this is Death Grip 2.0.

Porter: There is the new Atreyu.

Brandon: F*ck all those other things, none of that matters anymore, this is what matters now.

VP: People try and make comparisons, as it’s hard to guess what new stuff a band it going to come out with.

Porter: Luckily our fans know that we are not that band. It is very evident that every single record that we have made is hard left, hard right, we are fucking all over the place on purpose. We went from writing The Curse which is a very heavy record, to writing Death Grip that had hints of rock, and more vibe and rhythmic elements, to writing a straight up Hard Rock record.
We have taken so many turns. Our fans know by now that we are always going to do something different.

VP: That makes it more exciting for fans too, as they will be wondering, “What is it going to sound like!?”.

Brandon: I agree. Bands like ACDC you know what you are going to get. They are f*cking great and they do it well but, but I’m not going to do that.
My favourite response to people who want to hear the same sh*t is: I don’t want to eat that same piece of pizza for the rest of my life. There are lots of other slices of pizza out there, and there is Chinese food. We want to explore, we want to see where we can take this band.

Porter: Jay z quoted it us best “They say they want my own sh*t, buy my old albums”. Ya know what I’m saying.

VP: You signed with Spinefarm Records, and Search and Destroy – Did you shop around for a label?

Brandon: Kind of, we had an idea that we didn’t want to have any label that was a gigantic suite.

VP: Do you mean someone that would come in a tell you what to do?

Porter: Yeah, we had played that game, and we had great success and did some great things on Hollywood Records, but that’s not our home. Not where we feel most comfortable.
We met with a couple of labels and then Spinefarm. This whole situation with them and Search and Destroy just feels right, there are no suites here, it’s all regular guys that love music.
The fact that they signed our band not based on what our new album sounded like, or how they could sell it, they signed out band because they loved our band. They didn’t hear a note of new music until the record was almost finished.
There were a few labels we spoke to that were really good labels. But they were all like “Can we hear some new stuff, we don’t sign legacy acts”, and we were like “f*ck you man!” So it was clear we were not going with them, if they don’t trust us.

VP: Yeah, you need them to believe in you.

Brandon: that’s it, they need to care.

Porter: Spinefarm showed their faith from day one. To the point where it was cool when we said “Don’t hassle us for certain types of songs, we are not going to cater to this and that, we are just going to write music, and if it works on the avenues that you want it to work the great, and if not they it’s just going to be a great Atreyu record and that’s that”. Spinefarm and Search and Destroy told us “that’s exactly what we want, we want you to be you, give us your best, that’s all we care about”.

Brandon: Honestly, having that feeling when going in to record this record felt phenomenal, there was no pressure. It’s just us and we will thrive when it’s just us.

RAMzine Atreyu
Read Issue 3 here.

Porter: absolutely.

VP: I’m glad that you have found a good home. When are you going to tour in the UK?

Porter: We are doing Reading and Leeds at the end of the summer, we are hoping that we can maybe do a few more UK dates then, I don’t know we need to figure it out.
Brandon:it think that by the end of the year, we will be hear.

Porter: We have kind of come to the conclusion that we always spent a lot of time in the states, obviously because we are from there, and we would come to the UK, Australia, Europe. We want to pay more attention to comming here, as its always so good.
Brandon: Yeah, you treat us like kings.

Porter: We will be back at least once, probably this year. But at the same time though, I will say if we are coming to the UK, but we are not coming to your town, but we are coming somewhere close to your town, you should probably go to that show. As we might not be back again for a while. We are doing the right things and the fun things this time around, it’s all going to be a big party!

Editor of RAMzine - Creator of content. Chaser of Dreams. Lover of cats, metal, and anthemic sounds. \m/

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