In the issue #85 of Blunt we caught up with Atreyu drummer Brandon Saller to chat about their new album, Congregation of the Damned. Following on from the super successful Lead Sails Paper Anchor, Congregation of the Damned sees the Orange County titans draw inspiration from the best parts of their decade-long career, while trying to win back the fans who have fallen out of favour with Atreyu’s recent output. Here’s all the best bits that we couldn’t fit into the mag.
What’s happening in the Atreyu camp at the moment?
We’re actually finished with our record; we finished that a month ago. We’ve been doing a lot of rehearsals and practising getting ready to go out on tour. We leave for tour on Tuesday. We’re doing a co-headlining tour in the states with Hollywood Undead and Escape the Fate. Should be a good party.
What fueled the creation of your new record, Congregation of the Damned?
I think we toured a lot for the last record, and this year was the 10th anniversary for the band. Ten years and we are still going strong! We’ve had an awesome career so far and done so many great things that it was really the time to take all the great things that we’ve accomplished and the music we’ve written – we’ve taken inspiration from all of that. We look at this almost in the sense of a best of record, it’s us taking all the best things of our band that we’ve learned and accomplished over the years, and it’s better than it’s ever been before. That was something that was kind of in the back of our minds when we were making this thing.
So are you hoping to reclaim some of your lost fans by going back and revisiting your old sound?
Absolutely! It’s the kinda thing where it’s like we brought back a lot of elements we haven’t used in a while just because we missed it ourselves, too. I think this record is the best. If you like any aspect of our band – any one record that you like – you’ll like this record because there are pieces of every record on it, as well as some new things that we’ve never done before.
Why you didn’t re-employ John Fieldman for production duties on Congregation of the Damned?
With John, he made a great record for us as well, and if you look at our track record with all the records, we’ve never worked with the same person twice. It’s the kind of thing where we always want to do something different and always wanna change, so that kinda makes it better for us and our fans, too. As it goes on we are never gonna have a record that sounds exactly the same as the last one because we are always working with someone different, it’s always going to be someone different turning the knobs. So with that we were working with the same kind of pattern from the past.
Lead Sails Paper Anchor charted really impressively, did you feel a lot of pressure when it came to following that album up?
I mean yes and no. You always want your records to do better than the last, but Lead Sails was a great record and we gained a lot of new fans with Lead Sails. It opened our songs up to a whole new bunch of people that maybe had never heard of our band. I think on this record what we accomplished is having good balances, and it doesn’t make me worry as much because there’s something for our old fans and there’s something for our new fans. I think all these people that we gained will like the record, too. There’s always that pressure especially with the music business today, but all we have to really think about is the fact that we made a great record, and we’re excited to share it. It’s definitely a huge accomplishment these days to have any kind of success in the music business. I think the people who put in the work earn it, you know what I mean. We’ve definitely put in the work and we’ve definitely put in the time, blood, sweat and tears into this band and I think you get what you put in.
Did the negativity and bad reviews from Lead Sails affect you in any way?
We don’t want to put out records where people are like, “Oh yeah, it’s Atreyu, it’s exactly what I thought it would be.” We want to surprise people and keep people excited; we want to keep ourselves excited. You don’t listen to that thing, it’s kinda funny, anything that people can say about our record that is negative is ridiculous because when you step back and look at it we have our highest charting record, it sold great, it opened up doors for us on radio, it did great worldwide, so it’s like there isn’t any shit. If anyone does talk shit it’s because they are close-minded and stuck in ways they’ve had since they were 15. I’ve always said not everyone is going to like your music, there’s always going to be people who don’t like your music, you can’t be mad at them. I don’t like a lot of bands, I’m sure they aren’t pissed off at me for it.
You guys have been together for ten years. Looking back at your earlier material, what do you think of it now?
I love it. You looks back at those things, and you look back at our first couple of records – and we recorded our first record when I was 17 years old – we wrote the songs when I was 16-17 years old and we were all around the same age. You look at that, and you listen to it and think, “Wow, we were fucking little kids!” And we wrote a cool record that did really well, and we toured around the world. People liked it, people who weren’t just 16 or 17 liked it, so you look back on it and it’s all an accomplishment, and you realise what you were going through for each kind of time period for each record. You look back on it, you’re still proud. You always write a better record than you did when you started, you’re always going to get more talented at your instruments, you’re gonna become a better songwriter. You’re just gonna come into your skin more as a musician, but you look back on all those things and they are definitely huge marks, huge accomplishments in our life. It’s definitely, in my opinion, impressive.
For the full story, pick up a copy of BLUNT Magazine #85, onsale in all good newsagents throughout Australia and New Zealand until December 9, 2009.