Interview with Atreyu: “We all grew up listening to a lot of punk. It was cool to wave that punk rock flag a little bit.”


Atreyu - Travis MiguelLast September, the metalcore band Atreyu released their long-awaited sixth album, “Long Live”.

The Californian quintet landed last weekend in Spanish ground to promote their new record, and play three special gigs in Barcelona, Madrid, and Pamplona.

We showed up before their show at Sala Razzmatazz 2 (Barcelona, 25th June) to have a chat with guitarist, Travis Miguel.

We talked about their their comeback to the music scene, their last studio record, and the highs, and lows of the music industry.

HB: Let’s start talking about your comeback. You spent around four years on hiatus. How was to return to the music scene with Atreyu?

It was good! We took about three or four years off, mostly because, at the time, we were really burn out. It was time to take a break for a while. We just wanted to see what life was outside of Atreyu. I got married, Alex (Varkatzas, singer), and Brandon (Saller, drummer) were already married, and Alex was expecting a child. We just needed time to step back, and reassess everything.

We took things for granted, and that’s why the coming back was more [pauses], we were more energized, more excited. It made us appreciate what we have.

HB: What was the main inspiration behind “Long Live”?

I’m not sure there was like a main inspiration or any kind of concept to it. It was just the five of us getting together again after five years. We haven’t released, written or recorded any music in about five years. It was like dusting off the cobwebs, so to speak. Once we got set in the motion, everything just fell into place.

HB: What about the lyrics? We read that the song “So Others May Live is inspired by one of (Alex) best friends who is an ex-military…

I can really say because I don’t write the lyrics. Alex does, and he likes his lyrics to be open to interpretation, so he might say one thing, and the listener might thing it is about something else.

HB: You signed to Spinefarm Records, and worked with producer Fred Archambault (Avenged Sevenfold, Alice Cooper, Lostprophets). How was the writing process compared to previous albums?

We told ourselves: “we are going to try the best to do everything on our own service”. Trying to keep outside influence to a minimum, so when we were writing the album, it was very much that. We didn’t say: “OK, we need this single for the album, a ballad here”. What came out, came out.

Jumping on to a new management, and a new label is exciting, but a little scary at the same time because your future is in this people’s hands. That is what is like for everybody who does music for the living. It has highs, and lows.

HB: You got more experience now…

Yes, we are not as young, and naïve as we used to be. The management, and the label, so far so good.

Atreyu 9

HB: How the reception of the new songs has been so far (live shows)?

It’s been good! A lot of people singing along at the shows, especially over here in Europe where the first language may not be English, but they still know the words. For us it’s kind of hard to get our heads around. We still see ourselves as the five douchebags from California. The fact that our music has come halfway across the planet, it’s pretty awesome.

HB: Talking about your current tour, what can we expect from your live shows?

A lot of energy. We are a band that our live shows sometimes can be really intense, and really serious; and other times, it just can be super silly.

We never take ourselves that seriously. With a lot of metal bands, it tends to be all “skully”, which is awesome, but we are five guys who like to make each other laugh.

HB: The idea is to have fun…

Absolutely! That’s why we got into music. If we have fun, and the crowd have fun, our part is done!

HB: You played at Download Festival, Hellfest, and with bands like Bullet for my Valentine, Bring Me The Horizon, Alkaline Trio or Megadeth. How was your experience?

Download was awesome! I think it might have been the biggest crowd we ever played in front of. It’s weird because when you are on stage in front of that many people you don’t really realize how many people are really out there. I could see the first few rows of people, and then I looked at the video afterwards, and I was like: “Oh my God, all these people are looking at us!”. It’s a dream come true. We feel really lucky to be able to have that experience. Not a lot of people do.

HB: What is your favourite piece of gear?

I have an ESP Custom guitar that was made for me a number of years back, and it’s like my baby. I used to take it out on the road with me all the time because it plays really nice. I liked to showed it up. It’s been broken three times now, and I get it fixed over, and over again, so it think it’s a sign to leave it at home. That’s probably my favourite piece of gear.

HB: How would you define yourself as a guitar player?

I don’t know, it’s so hard because a lot of my influences as a guitar player range from people from all over the place, everybody from Jerry Cantrell from Alice in Chains, and Dimebag of course, to Steve Ray Vaughn. They are completely different. I try to take little pieces of each one. I like to make it fun, and exciting.

HB: In 2010 you released the EP “Covers of the Damned” where you played covers from Aerosmith, Volbeat, Deftones, Thin Lizzy, Dead Kennedys… Which was your favourite one?

The Deftones one [My Own Summer (Shove It)] because they are one of my favourite bands. That was cool to get to cover. I liked the Dead Kennedys’ song as well [Holiday in Cambodia] because it was so different. We all grew up listening to a lot of punk, and it was cool to wave that punk rock flag a little bit. Probably our listeners are familiar with the Dead Kennedys.

HB: Are you planning to do some more in the future?

We haven’t anything planned right now…

HB: We guess it is better to play your own songs.

Yes, it’s fun to do some covers, but right now we are concentrating on the new album.

HB: Who is your main musical influence nowadays? Before you talked about Deftones.

The band that really got me into music was Metallica. I was probably about 9 or 10, and I didn’t know anything about metal, and then I heard Metallica, and I had no idea that music could be like that: aggressive, that double click [makes noise with his feet as he was playing a double drum pedal], the fast guitars, and stuff like that. Metallica was definitely a band that set my up my way.

HB: And nowadays?

I really like the new Thrice record, well that band, whatever they put out, I listen to it, but that album definitely represents me. I really like Gojira, and Royal Blood.

HB: When you are not touring or recording, what do you love to do?

Hanging out with my wife, and do a lot of writing.

HB: You had a side project named Fake Figures.

Yes we probably will get back together. I write commercials, movies scores. I’m still new to it, getting my foot in the door with stuff like that, but it is nice to get away from heavy stuff, and do something completely new. Even when I am not out playing music, I am at home doing music too.

HB: Where do you see Atreyu in say 5 or 10 years time?

I don’t know, that is hard to say. We’ve been doing this for 14 years now, you know, full time, and if you asked me then where I saw us in 5 or 10 years, I probably would said: “broken up”, but it didn’t turned out that way, and here we are right now. It’s amazing!

We’ve been all over Europe, the States, Japan, Australia, so in 5, 10 years I hope we still doing this. A lot of bands that came up the same time as we were, they are long gone. The fact that we are still here with pretty much the same line up, it doesn’t happen very often.

The music industry has changed, people get burn out, and I don’t wanna say that some people “gave up”, but this is a hard field to get in, and you have to do a lot of sacrifices.

HB: We guess it is like your new album, “Long Live”.

Yeah! We didn’t expect that. We don’t plan stuff, we are happy to be here! We feel very very lucky, and really appreciate it, and you know, don’t take it for granted.

Atreyu’s “Long Live” is out. Grab your copy here.

Written by Thaïs Parvez

Creadora de Hot BuZz (Mag). Periodista, productora de contenido SEO-friendly (EN, ES & CAT), rockera, guitarrista y amante de los viajes y la fotografía.


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