Californian Metalcore legends Atreyu have just completed their first UK tour in nearly 5 years – following a lengthy hiatus, the band were playing a couple of intimate warm up shows at smaller venues prior to appearances at the Reading & Leeds festivals. Our guest music blogger Robert Moody caught up with the band at their sold out Nottingham show:
(From the left: Brandon Saller – drummer and vocalist, Dan Jacobs – guitarist, Robert Moody – our guest blogger, Alex Varkatzas – vocalist and Travis Miguel – guitarist.)
You’re playing much smaller venues for these warm up shows than you would normally play – how has that been on the tour so far?
Alex Varkatzas: No venue too big, no venue too small!
Brandon Saller: They’ve been a blast, it’s what we came from so it’s awesome to have an opportunity to do something like that. Sweating on kids, getting kicked in the face, it’s a good time!
And after this you’ll be playing the bigger shows at Reading and Leeds Festivals, how much are you looking forward to those?
Brandon Saller: I’m stoked, I really love the UK and their approach to festivals, they’re such big events and you get to see so many friends, it’s going to be a really good time.
Any other bands in particular you’re going to try and catch while you’re there?
Brandon Saller: I’m not sure if they’re on the same day as us but I’d like to see Beartooth, they’re doing a tour with us later this year in the States. Stoked to see Bring Me The Horizon, stoked to see Pvris, stoked to see Ghost…
Travis Miguel: Be good to see our friends in Metallica…
Alex Varkatzas: Yeah we haven’t played with Metallica for a couple of years so it’ll be good to reunite!
Thinking about your new album, the songs we’ve heard so far have had a varied sound, almost encapsulating the styles of the band over the years. With that in mind, how would you describe the band’s sound now, and what does the rest of the album have in store?
Brandon Saller: I feel like this album has a lot of the spirit of our youth, combined with a lot of the things we’ve learned along the way…
Alex Varkatzas: It’s the spirit of our youth combined with the maturity of our years.
Brandon Saller: Exactly – it’s an Atreyu fan’s record, to be honest.
Several members of the band have always had a lot of prominent tattoos and artwork, even dating back to your early days, would you mind sharing some of the inspiration behind what you’ve had done and telling us a little bit about what motivates the tattoos you get?
Brandon Saller: Personally, I’m not that big on the deep meaning behind my tattoos, I’m a lot more about the art. Several of my tattoos do have meaning of course, this key (below) was a gift for my wife for our 2nd anniversary, I’ve got tattoos for my Mom and Dad…but for the most part, a lot of my tattoos are because I’m appreciative of the art.
Alex Varkatzas: Yeah when I was younger, I was very appreciative of the art, but now I take the art and twist it in my own mind to make it personal. I just got a really large thigh-piece of an English Bulldog fighting a Cobra (below), and that’s because I have an English Bulldog and I love her…and I fucking hate snakes! So for me that’s about conquering fear.
You’ve travelled around the world with the band, are there any particular places that have inspired you or stuck with you after you’ve visited them?
Brandon Saller: I’m a huge fan of the UK, Japan, Australia…
Alex Varkatzas: Which has some of the best tattoos, I think. I think everyone in Australia has really good tattoos. I really like Italy, I’d love to get tattooed there.
Brandon Saller: Alex has just recently started tattooing, so he’s probably a bit deeper into it now than the four of us are. But it’s always helpful to have someone who knows where the good tattoo places are, wherever you go!
And have you found that it’s given you a new appreciation of the art, now you’ve experienced the other side of it?
Alex Varkatzas: Absolutely. It’s hard. It takes years to learn the craft – so you appreciate it so much more. It’s awesome.
As you mentioned, you’re heading back to the States for the tour with Beartooth, which is really the band’s first ‘normal’ tour since the break – does this mean the band is going back to the touring lifestyle now or is that just a one off?
Alex Varkatzas: It’s more that, as long as it’s fun, and it makes sense, we do it. So we might do this tour and then just cancel everything after it! I don’t think we will, of course – just as long as it’s fun.
Brandon Saller: We just want to take as much of the ‘job’ aspect of being in a band out of the equation, and just enjoy every second of what we’re doing. We’ve scaled back a bit, we might be touring a little less, but we’d definitely want to get some packages together and then perhaps to a few shows here and there as well.
And are you finding the touring experience any different this time around?
Brandon Saller: I think we appreciate it more now. For us it’s been great, the energy at our shows has been pretty fucking crazy.
Alex Varkatzas: We’re touring in a smarter manner these days, not just taking every single show that comes our way. The way we see it is that it’s a lot easier to get through some sprints, than it is to run 10 miles. So we can just put more effort into it. So for me, if I know I’m only going on tour for a couple of weeks, I can just go all out. If you’re going out for 3 months, you can’t do that. Plus it’s not so much fun when you’re just doing the same thing every day, so we just come out here, really push ourselves, give the cliché 150%. Then I feel more engaged with it and I think the audiences are more engaged. A good way to describe it is like the NFL season in America – it’s only 16 games, every game counts.
Dan Jacobs: We want our touring career to be like the NFL season and not the Baseball season which is way too long!!
Well we know the London show in April delivered on that so if it’s half as good tonight we should be in for a hell of a time!
Brandon Saller: It should be great, it’s been sold out for some time I think, I think the kids are excited and we’re excited too.