“Do you know who you are? Part of the solution, or the one that falls?”, sings Atreyu drummer and clean vocalist Brandon Saller on a key track from the band’s return record and perhaps finest hour to date Long Live. The full, melodic and made for singalong voice of Brandon is, to be truthful, the most crucial ingredient for a tune to fully sound like Atreyu to my ears. But the whole band are firing on all cylinders as a team more than ever.
After a semi-lengthy break the band have returned with a refreshed attitude with no room for cynics. Talking to Brandon he seems as gassed up and invested in his band as the early days and insists this was not just a cash grab. He laughs when I ask who he still wants to share a stage with and honestly can’t think of many bands they haven’t played with yet. Nonetheless, the eagerness to get back to the fans and bring them a release they can all rally around is very apparent on even the first play of Long Live.
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My buddy Vin Alfieri got me into you guys years back. He was in that band The
Brandon: Yeah, yeah. We did Taste Of Chaos with those guys. That dude was
How’s everything going? Dude, I think this might be your best album.
(laughing) I won’t disagree with you.
Well, y’know bands say that when they are excited or pushing things. Long Live is a great name for a return record. You’ve fired up your fans. You haven’t done one since 2009. It seems like this one has everything.
It was a good thing for us to go away for awhile. Let us recharge the brain
and kind of stay a little bit more focused. This record as a result was
bubbling over in all of us, I think. That led to a very great record. It’s one
for the books and our fans. If anyone’s ever likes our band I think this is
the one that’ll stick out to them, y’know?
You guys…it must be hard when you’ve been doing the band for so long to not
have baggage. But it’s good you took a break to remember good stuff.
Absolutely. It’s funny, when we stopped touring we didn’t know how long it was
gonna be. I feel like it did us a lot of good internally as a group. Putting a
stop to a creative outlet for four years can only kind of result in an
outpouring of the most pure point of that outlet if you come back.
I’ve always felt a lot of people were really attached to certain eras of your
band, especially the early stuff. I think it gives a limited perception to your
whole scope. Suicide Notes… and The Curse were obviously hugely popular in
their time. Then for me, I knew about those records and that you did small
shows, big shows, whatever. You worked hard. The first song that I connected
to as a personal favorite though was “Becoming The Bull”, when you broke
things open to a hard rock audience more as well. I still sing the hook when I jog.Inspiring lyrics and a
Say like Avenged Sevenfold, it was less of a drastic style shift and more of
an expansion of Atreyu. But the new album is like everything to a science.
With Lead Sails… we wanted to bust out of a ceiling and we did that. It did
exactly what it was supposed to do and introduced us to a huge new fan base.
We were able to play with huge hard rock bands and active rock bands.
Didn’t you play with Linkin Park?
Yeah, we did tours like Linkin Park, Radio fests with Korn and Shinedown. It
really worked. Granted we’re the most metal band on these festivals but that’s
where we shine these days. Those festivals and fans are hungry and excited.
There’s no hierarchy or snobbiness. They just want to go to a show and have a
good time. Opening the door to those people really helped and introduced us to
a whole new world of people that like our band. I think with the new album it
was kind of taking notice of out past and history, the young angst influence
but taking the things we’ve learned along the way. What came out of it was a
calculated record without trying to be! It sounds precisely how it is supposed
My favorite song is “Do You Know Who You Are?” and in every sense of the word
that is an Atreyu song, but it sounds like “We Will Rock You” for Goth kids!
(laughing) That’s a perfect example of old meets new. It’s got a very rock
feel and a big anthemic feel but at the same time Alex’s vocal is s angry as
it’s ever been.
You never shied away from the big stadium influences either. I’d never take
something away from you guys or even a much different band like Halestorm who
have broken big, because you really stayed on your grind.
Well, yeah. The music industry is not an easy business. You’ve gotta work.
That goes to another lyric “can’t pull the wool over my eyes…” from the
song “Start To Break” (laughing).
Exactly. It was really great working again in the studio. Our whole existence
at this point was determined by if things felt good and fun and inspiring. If
it wasn’t we wouldn’t be here. We got together and one of the first things we
did wa write some music. Everyone really got more secure in our roles in the
band over the last four years. We had a clear picture and no blurred line of
what we were going to do. Everyone came and did it and we gained an even
bigger respect for each other in the studio. When there are five dudes who
respect each other as writers and do their thing in the studio, the result is
that much better, y’know?
Yeah and I guess when you start out you have a clear vision or one song is
important to you and you really want it to turn out a certain way. But you
also have to look around and say ,”who are the other ingredients involved?”
Are we a dictator band?
Exactly. We aren’t a dictator band. We have a formula but everyone has to put
their stamp on things. When everyone is passionate and excited about what’s
going on in the studio and there’s no rough edges, the creativity level can be
on a hundred at all times.
“Moments Before Dawn” has this cool, slinky guitar line and some muted pop
sensibility but like a stadium Metallica- riff! And the vocals are really
dynamic and different.
I feel like we did a lot of that on this record. I think A Death-Grip On
Yesterday had adventurous songs like that. “Moments Before Dawn” just started
as the heaviest riff we’ve ever written and it turned into a dark, very
weighted journey of a song. That’s one of my favorites. It’s legitimately
depressing to listen to. It’s so heavy and dark. Subject matter and lyrics
aside, if there were no lyrics it would still feel heavy.
Yeah, again with the Metallica comparison, think of “To Live Is To Die” off
of “…And Justice For All.”
Exactly. I love a song that can make you feel something.
There’s the maturity of appreciating what you have, I guess.
I think that’s a thing. We started about coming back and the thing that was
cray to us was the amount of people that stuck around and the amount of new
people asking us to come back. You have to realize how lucky you are to be a
musician for a living. This has been our livelihood for the last 15 years. You
can’t ignore history and something you’ve created for so long. We always gave
100% but we stopped playing that maybe that was gonna go away. Now we
appreciate every single person and your peers so much more even as an insane
In your defense also you have family and want to spend time or need a break.
It’s awesome though you are back because not only do you have creative stories
to tell but you have a unique perspective as having seen highs, lows , the
underground and some of the biggest stages in the world.
There’s a lot to tell! We’re not touring like we used to but our main goal is to have a good time and the “I have to do this energy” about the band. That will project into the shows and the music that we make. There’s never gonna be a dreaded moment of this band, I think, ever again. We have to do every step of this. We are playing shows because we need to play shows to be happy and need to make music to do that. This has shown itself already.
It’s nice to hear someone in a bigger band say that as a lot of bands lose that hunger. Maybe there is mroe edge back with people not buying as many records, as they say, but the way you are saying it I think you realize at a certain point that music is a way to communicate. It’s a synergy with other human beings and why not do that? It’s like a mass meditation!
It is! It’s funny a lot of bigger bands get jaded. We’re all guilty of it but you step back and realize how important what we do is to us and to those who listen. It gives perspective.