Interviewed by Josh
Southern California rock band Atreyu is a powerhouse. In the two years since their debut full length Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses was released on Victory Records they have toured almost non-stop. These guerilla touring tactics have now earned them a headlining spot supported by God Forbid and label-mates Darkest Hour. Their haunting mix of old school hardcore and emotionally charged punk rock, is lead by the dual vocals of Alex Varkatzas and drummer Brandon Saller. Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel play Iron Maiden-esque guitar riffs more intricately and inspired than anyone else in the genre today. The pummeling bass of Chris Thomson rounds out the quintet. I had the opportunity to sit down with Brandon Saller, the melodic half of the vocal duo, and discuss the bands past, future, and the coolest blue monster in orange hand cuffs ever.
MPB: So, did you guys all grow up in Orange County?
Brandon: Yeah, most of us did, I was born in LA and then I lived in Northern California, but for the most part yeah.
MPB: How did you guys first get together?
Brandon: Me and Alex and Dan were in a punk band when they were first in high school and I was like in middle school, we did that for a while, and it just kind of progressed and sort of changed members, we did pretty well in that band.
MPB: What was that band called?
B: It was called Retribution, we just kinda weren't feeling it anymore, had a little hiatus, got some new members and started Atreyu up.
MPB: A lot of bands evolve a lot musically in the first three or four years they're together, are you playing the same music now that you set out to in the beginning?
B: When we first started it was a little different, like street punk, kind of hardcore street punk. It wasn't that different. We just kind of got better at what we were doing individually, musician-wise.
MPB: It's been about a year since your last tour, as an opening act, and this year as headliners?
B: Yeah, it's been quite a change. Our first tour was, you know, I was surprised anyone knew who we were, like a couple people would know who we were here and there, but now we do all right, canŐt complain definitely canŐt complain.
MPB: How long after you released you first EP on Tribunal [records], did you guys talk to Victory Records?
B: It was actually; I think it was almost the same week. We had been talking to Victory, then our EP on Tribunal came out, and within that next week we got signed to Victory.
MPB: Who approached whom?
B: It was kind of both, we had talked with them in the past, and Alex had been talking with someone there. It kind of just happened for a while, then it came to, and we signed it.
MPB: Any news on a new album?
B: Yeah, we have a couple new songs, and after this tour we're going to be off for the rest of the year to write, and then the new album should be out next spring.
MPB: How will it compare to Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses?
B: It'll be along the same lines, we don't really know yet. Probably pretty much the same stuff.
MPB: How do you guys feel about the term emo, especially when it's used to describe your band?
B: I don't know, I guess some elements of our music you could say is emo, I guess. I don't know its just another label. I'd rather not be labeled as an emo band, but whatever.
MPB: Was it the band or the label's decision to make the video for Ain't Love Grand?
B: As a band we had talked about it but you know, who doesn't want to make a video. It was kind of both.
MPB: With MTV bringing back Headbangers Ball, and new stations like Fuse playing more rock videos, do you think hardcore bands are going to start getting better exposure?
B: Oh for sure, I see all kinds of harder bands, like on Fuse all the time especially, it's just totally opened the doors for bands like us.
MPB: Do you guys have any interest in reaching the MTV audience?
B: Hey, we're into reaching as many people who want to hear our music as we can, whether it be on MTV or wherever.
MPB: With other Victory bands like Taking Back Sunday and Thursday getting mainstream press, do you ever worry about being labeled sellouts?
B: If people...a lot of people have this thing in their head where if a band gets big, they've sold out. As long as we're doing the same shit we've always been doing, then we can't... if you know a lot of people want to like us we.re not gonna be like fuck that, we don't want to get big. Because who doesn't want to get big, I mean to do this as a job is a dream come true. I don't think anyone in their right mind would do anything to stop that.
MPB: A lot of us at MPb are all about the action figures, what kind of cool swag do you keep on the bus when you're touring?
B: Well, we're in a van right now. We don't have any weird shit in the van; we just try to keep it kind of cool. I know Alex collects action figures and shit like that, like all sorts, other than that, we're just pretty normal dudes. Alex got bored one night and just superglued everything that was on the dashboard onto the roof.
MPB: What kind of cool toys did you have when you were a kid?
B: I was stoked on my My Pet Monster, you ever have those; I was pretty stoked on my trike bike the big three wheelers; those were fucking awesome.
MPB: So what bands are you guys into now that fans of Atreyu should check out?
B: The new Mars Volta record is ridiculous. The new Brand New record, new Poison the Well record is excellent. A sweet band called HIDEKI, check 'em out, that's my other band. The new Thrice is absolutely amazing.
You can pick up Atreyu's album at Amazon.com
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