On Friday 28th August, Atreyu headlined at The Rescue Rooms in Nottingham and Toni Reed met up with Dan Jacobs, guitarist for the band – here’s how the interview went:
Hi Dan, first question for you, can you tell us about the meaning of the band’s name?
It didn’t necessarily have a meaning when we got it, it was more influenced by a lot of bands that we were into at the time. They were getting their names from sci-fi, fantasy, war movies and things like that, comic books and what not. So we started searching and looking for a new band name when we were at high school, trying to upgrade our band and our sound and everything. We started to look at movies that was related to us as children back in the 80’s and came across “The Neverending Story” and decided on Atreyu.”
What bought about the decision to bring in a second vocalist (Brandon Saller) who’s also the bands drummer?
This was a decision made pretty early on, as far back as when I was in another band with him at high school called “Dreaming of Blue” and he at the time was originally just the drummer and he stepped up as a singer because he was recording a song vocally that we had recorded for the band that he’d written. He was like “I want to record a version myself singing so that I can give it to this girl I’ve been dating” as that’s who he wrote the song about. And we were like actually you’re pretty good, maybe you should do more singing? From there, he started fronting that band and then around the same time Atreyu were still trying to find themselves and figure out what was the best situation, we had put out our first EP demo called “Visions” and Alex at the time was doing all the vocal. Because we had discovered Brandon could sing and Alex was not as strong in the clean vocal as he was in the more aggressive vocals, we were like Brandon you have a good voice, do you want to do the singing parts and Alex do the screaming parts that way it makes it easier and that just turned into our sound.
You’ve been lucky enough to feature on some blockbuster movie over the years, like ‘Mr & Mrs Smith’ and ‘Underworld: Evolution’, how did that come about?
A lot of those movies are maybe shopping for songs or the licensing and publishers are trying to shop songs out to movies to see if anyone’s interested and those are just ones that bit in particular – especially with us having a kind of vampire background from some of our music in the early days. Also, just coincidentally doing the Underworld movie was very appropriate.”
You’ve also featured on some computer games, ‘Burnout 3’ and ‘Madden NFL ’07’. Out of the tracks featured, which are you most proud of?
I think” Right Side of the Bed” that was actually a song that originally, not exactly the same but the original version of the song was written for the band “Dreaming of Blue” with Brandon and once Atreyu started coming around and doing our separate recording we kind of went back to that. So just to be able to take something we did in high school and turn it into something that ended up being one of our biggest singles is kinda cool and to feature on a video game is just the icing on the cake.
You appear to like performing and recording cover songs, I’m assuming from bands admire, do you have any future plans to record a new one?
Yes, nothings locked in yet as far as anything in particular but I do have a song in mind that I would like to do by a bluegrass band actually. If we do it, we do it very heavy and no one would have any idea where the song came from, even the people who know the band we’d be covering. We like to try and do something a little bit different, covers are fun, covers are outside the box especially for live purposes. We do Bon Jovi and we play that pretty much every set cos I feel especially in a festival setting, you are playing to people that might have not heard of your band and have never seen you before and don’t really know your songs that well and just watching a cover song that is very familiar makes them feel part of the set and participate.
This isn’t your first time in the UK, do you enjoy coming over here and performing to your fans here, how do they differ to shows and fans in other parts of the world?
I feel in the European/UK territory there’s a little more excitement and intensity and passion for music. I mean bands for instance “Steel Panther” are huge over here and in the states they are not that big. The US just doesn’t get it like the rest of the world does, Country music is huge in the states which is fine but metal just doesn’t have a big of a place in the states as it had before.”
After a short break, you ended your hiatus with the release “So Others May Live” which you made available on your official website free of charge. Did this help to spread the word about your return? What are your thoughts on streaming sites such as Spotify and Deezer?
If you can’t beat them, join them! You have got to get your music out there and the internet is almost the only way aside from the radio but half the people don’t even listen to the radio anymore. You have to go with the times and work with it. Not everyone can be Taylor Swift and not need those things.
I was part of the last generation that walked into a record store and I would go in there not even knowing what I wanted. Wanting something different, you couldn’t just google stuff you went and asked the guy at the counter and you’d buy it and hope it’s good. Reading the lyric books and the artwork was part of the experience, whereas now people are just click, listen to a little bit and click next song. People don’t get to properly ingest music like they used to and that’s the only downside to that stuff, it makes it so accessible that I think people’s attention span falls victim”
Tonight’s show has sold out, that must feel good right? How’s the rest of the European leg gone so far, you guys had fun? You have the American leg coming up, with the act Wovenwar, are you guys close? Glad to have them back with you?
It’s been a good time, a band like us especially with the unique sound we have to take this much time off right in the middle of us being on top of the world, it’s hard to know what it’s going to be like when you come back – if there is any coming back. So far it’s been awesome and wherever we’ve gone its mostly new people that haven’t seen us before and some old fans that come out. We ask how many of you have seen us before, several times or first time and the most amount of hands go up for this is the first time seeing us and it’s so interesting to see the different generations.
Wovenwar are good friends of ours, they are also Southern Californian natives down in San Diego which is about two hours south of us. They came out about the same time as us and we all toured the world together and have known each other for a very long time and there’s very few people, bands in particular, that relate to you on a same level and experience the same things. Same good, same bad and all the above and below, it’s cool getting out with a band like that, that has been through a lot of hard times with their singer and stuff like that. To be able to keep it going and going on tour with them again and that not have to be a chapter that is over as they are insanely amazing musicians and really really genuinely good people.”
Your latest album has just been released, titled “Long Live” how has it been received by the press and the fans?
It’s been amazing so far, we’ve had hot and cold reviews throughout our career, everyone else thinks they know how they should do it better for us but we’re always trying to evolve and change. Eventually getting to “Long Live”, I feel we have truly found ourselves and know what it is we are all best at and just like I was saying earlier, like Alex you’re going to sing or scream and Brandon you’re going to sing, it was like that all over again. What does everyone want to do, what does everyone feel most comfortable with and what does everyone feel they are best at and lets just do that, who cares what anyone thinks let’s just do what we love. If we love this, everyone else will too. These are the most positive reviews we have ever gotten on anything we have ever put out, when you go and look on a video on youtube or Spotify and the comments or the thumbs up are there, it is an insane difference like a thousand percent better with the thumbs up and only a handful of thumbs down. It’s amazing, you couldn’t ask for anything more.
Who did you work with to produce this album? What was your inspiration for this album? Who writes most or all the lyrics/music parts?
Fred Archambault, he did some of the first Avenged records and that’s probably his most noble things that he’s done. He’s amazing cos we work with a different producer for every record, we keep thinking the grass is going to be greener on the other side. I mean also some of the experiences we’ve had haven’t been that great, as well as some have been amazing. We have learnt a lot along the way and found that for us, somebody who is too much of a hands on producer is not really what we need. We are a band, one of the few bands that are very self-efficient. We write all our own music and lyrics and we do a lot of our own merch designs, direct our own videos. We do everything ourselves.
This time working with Fred, he knows we know what we are doing and we just want to do our thing. So he really kinda let us take the reins and he was more there to mould us and make sure we didn’t get too far in a weird direction and help us get the sound. That was where his role was most important, helping us create that sound and getting our ideas onto the recording.
Lyrically, Alex writes most of the lyrics, Brandon and myself might toss something in here and there, like a chorus here and there or a bridge or a line here and there. If something doesn’t flow right, we’ll maybe say it more like this, change this word to that.
Musically, Brandon and I pretty much write all the music, it’s 50/50 in that sense. Half the records written by me and half by him, each song though is collectively written. And then Marc and Travis kinda sprinkle things here and there and keep it going. Marc, Brandon and myself have been playing together since we were 13/14 years old and at middle school, so even before Atreyu we have been writing together for a long time, so we have really good chemistry together which makes it real easy.
What is your favourite tracks off this album to play live and to listen to?
I Like “Long Live”, the energy of it just comes in guns blazing, its fast, heavy and has a little bit of everything that Atreyu does in it, as well as some new elements.
Congratulations on signing with Search and Destroy Records as part of Raw Power Management Partnership with Spinefarm Records/Universal. How do you feel about that, anything new to come?
“It’s a collaboration, it’s Search and Destroy as well as Spinefarm. It’s a collaboration that they are doing underneath Universal. They have some awesome bands on their rosta, one of the owners of our management company Raw Power is also with Search and Destroy, so for us its awesome as he has a double invested interest to make this work and make it be something big. We have a lot of people around us right now who are really excited, get who we are and get what we do and know what to do with us. We are a very unique style of band, especially our genre. It spreads really wide and spreads kinda thin so to be a band like us, we need to make sure people know who we are and not just another cover band.
Huge thanks going out to Dan for taking time out to talk to us and every success wished for the many gigs yet to come.
Interview by Toni Reed and Photography by Neil Reed.