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Atreyu: They Live

Unlike the bulk of their contemporaries, Atreyu survived the Myspace age with their hair dye, guyliner and integrity in-tact… well, most of it, anyway. The metalcore militia are back in force with a barnstormer of a new album, so BLUNT spoke with guitarist/headband enthusiast Dan Jacobs about getting the band back together and watching the scene kids grow up.

Following an appearance at the ill-fated No Sleep Til festival and a couple of UK shows at the end of 2010, Atreyu seemed to be done. The never-ending story (pun intended) of the Orange County evergreens had seemingly come to a close. There was no mascara left to bleed. No great fanfare, no definitely-final tour – just a nod and a stage-left exit. In June of last year, however, the fanbase began to rumble with rumours that a return was imminent – teaser videos, a countdown clock, the works. Sure enough, the band made their live return that September, with a brand new song in tow.

“For me, I think I always knew it was just a matter of time,” says Dan Jacobs, one of the band’s two guitarists and one of its three founding members. “I didn’t know when or how, but I just knew that it was something that had to happen again – and I know that the other guys were feeling the same way. About a year and a half ago, everyone decided to meet up and we almost instantly started writing. I was knocking every now and then on the door for a few years, and finally the last time got an answer.”

The band are now gearing up to put out Long Live, Atreyu’s sixth LP overall. It’s set for release in September, marking a full year since Atreyu have been back in full force. In that time, the quintet have more than made up for lost time, touring internationally and reconnecting with their global fanbase – a lot of whom, they’ve found, have grown up with the band itself.

“Most of the shows we’ve played back so far have been at festivals,” says Jacobs. “Those things are so big that you generally don’t notice who’s out there among the crowd. There’s definitely a lot of people in their 20s that are hitting us up about shows. They’re the kind of people that were into us back when they were really young, in their teens. What’s crazy, though, is that we’re also getting messages from people who only discovered us in maybe the last five years who never got to see us and never thought they’d get the chance to. That’s unbelievable to us – it’s so cool.”

Atreyu, for those younger readers flipping through, first rose to prominence in the early 2000s with the release of their debut LP, Suicide Notes And Butterfly Kisses. They found themselves among several bands to garner attention and an online following through MySpace, as well as being one of the first metalcore bands to gain a degree of commercial success. They may have been out of the game for nearly half a decade, but Jacobs maintains that the band never lost interest in the evolution of their genre.

“It’s weird, because I feel like the style of music that we play… it never really went away,” he says. “So many bands are still doing it now. It’s become like its own beast entirely. I feel like there’s a lot of people that are listening to those bands that might not even know what Atreyu is or what we’re all about. It’s such an interesting time to return.”

In the time Atreyu was effectively inactive, members took up roles in various bands – guitarist Travis Miguel ended up playing with nu metal mainstays Trapt, while frontman Alex Varkatzas teamed with Bleeding Through’s Brandan Schieppati for I Am War.
“It’s kind of like dating other people,” says Jacobs of the side projects. “It can be fun and you can get something out of it, for sure; but deep down you kind of know who you’re meant to be with. It was like that for me with Atreyu. I had the right ones all along!” With the release of Long Live, the band are clearly indicating that their return is for more than nostalgia – a move that, in itself, assists in setting them apart. “Some bands will get back together and just play through their old songs for old time’s sake,” Jacobs says. “We respect that and know that those bands have heaps of fun with it, but we felt like we’d already done that. Those songs already exist. We’re learning nothing by just playing them.”

With that said, Jacobs has no issues with the band’s past – after all, the band are still playing staples from their early days such as “Lip Gloss And Black”, “Right Side Of The Bed” and “The Crimson”. The fact that Jacobs and his bandmates are still afforded the chance to play across the globe and have their words screamed back in their face is not something that’s lost on any of them. What began in the late-’90s as an early-teen garage jam for Jacobs, Varkatzas and drummer/clean vocalist Brandon Saller has consumed the better part of their collective lives.

“It’s weird to come from that era and still be doing this,” he says with an incredulous laugh. “Not that we’re super old guys or anything, but we’re in our 30s now. It’s kinda funny to look back on that whole era now – what was going on, what it spawned, who got out, who stayed. I mean, when you’re in the thick of something like that, you have absolutely no idea how people are going
to look at what you’re doing in 10, 15 years. Take this band, for example – we started in middle school, y’know? We didn’t know what was going to happen, but from a very young age we seemed to have this chemistry. I think every musician is looking for someone they connect with like that – their soulmate or their significant other or whatever. It’s incredibly hard to find one of those people, let alone find it in two like I did with Alex and Brandon. It’s pretty amazing what we have.”

 Long Live is out now through Spinefarm/Caroline.

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