California based metal band, ATREYU formed in 1998 and consist of Alex Varkatzas (Lead Vocals), Dan Jacobs (Lead & Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals), Brandon Saller (Drums & Co-Lead Vocals), Travis Miguel (Rhythm & Lead Guitar), and Marc “Porter” McKnight (Bass Guitar & Backing Vocals).
Their debut album “Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses” (2002) and sophomore release “The Curse” (2004) stand as monuments of Metalcore.
Their latest offering “In Our Wake” reaffirms their remarkable legacy.
They will be performing in South Africa at the Pirate Fest on the 7th of September 2019.
The band have been around for about 21 years – did you ever think it would last this long?
“Not necessarily. I have been playing with these guys since Middle School, since the mid 90s. We’ve been doing this for so long, so to fast forward – we are in a whole other adult world; we’re married, with kids…. When we started we were teenagers. It is crazy to be here. It is mind blowing.”
When you start a band, the music is different, the writing is different.. how has your approach to the writing changed over the years?
“I think with anything it is based on experience. We have done so many albums now and with every single one of them, it has been done with a different producer. Except with our most recent one, In Our Wake, which we did with John Feldman again. Working with all these different producers, you learn something different from each one of them. They each teach you something. Collectively with each album we learn more and more. We have all been song writers naturally in our own rights individually and collectively so approaching our work with different producers and learning their tricks, approaches, and applying it to our style, helps us progress more and more because we can’t help but grow and push ourselves more with each album, and be the best.”
The Metal scene is growing – how do you differentiate between the good and great bands?
“What makes any band great, is if they stand out from everyone else; if they have their own path that they are carving and that they don’t sound like everyone else. You hear them and you know exactly who they are. I think you just know when something has that impact of being something great. You can feel it when you hear it or see it.”
Metal has a bit of a bad rep – how do you sell metal to a non metal person?
“Our band has become the gate way band for people who have been interested or who haven’t realized that they are interested in metal. Especially in the older days when we were a little harder in certain scenarios, but also very soft in other respects; so you had that soft, nice hug that you could bring people in with and then rough them up after with the metal parts, where they realize that it isn’t so bad. When you put a groove behind it and then make it feel good, and then add the melody, it rounds off enough and checks off the boxes for people to be a little more open to the music. In general, we are such an eclectic sounding band, from very heavy to very light and everything in between, because we are versatile in our taste in music and with the things we like to play. So yeah, we are the gate way band – if you are interested in metal and want to ease your way in, try some Atreyu.”
For someone who has never heard Atreyu before, which song best represent the band now and why?
“That’s a tough one. I’d probably go with Becoming the Bull – it encompasses a lot of the things we do; you can hear the two different vocalists, it has a little bit of the screams, it has the guitar solos, it has break downs in there, it has a cool riff, it has a lot of the elements that Atreyu likes to put in all of our songs. I feel that encompasses all of that in one song.”
Is there a moment that stands out for you?
“A moment was when we released our album The Cursed in 2004. We had already put out an album before that and had started to make a name for ourselves, things were going well but it wasn’t until we put out that album, that we saw a noticeable jump into a different world of success. There was a Virgin Mega store at the time, which for us as a metal band was not a place that we’d see our album at, or associate with – it was too corporate/ mainstream for our underground sound. Our album The Curse came out and Virgin wanted us to do a singing at the local store, it was this outside Mall, called The Block. We went thinking that no one would be there. We showed up and there was literally a line wrapped half way around the mall. It was the biggest signing to date that we have ever done. We were singing for 5 hours, we had to take two intermissions. It was insane. We couldn’t believe how many people were there; we didn’t realise so many people knew who we were. That was one of the most epic experiences that I have had. It was incredible.”
This is your first time in South Africa, do you know any of the SA bands?
“I don’t know anything about the SA music world. It is off our radar. This whole experience is so exciting because we are going to be exposed to bands we are not familiar with and a whole other music market that is fresh for us. We don’t always get to have fresh experiences so we are looking forward to discovering a new scene and new bands.”
If you were trapped on an island?
“I would probably go with Queen’s Greatest Hits. As far as a versatile band goes, this is the band, they have it all. Brian May’s guitar playing is so melodic – I love him.”
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