Atreyu is no doubt an amazing band and judging by the look of things, they are only gaining steam as their fan base continues to grow.
I will be completely honest by saying that I am one of these new fans and have been nothing short of blown away by their dedication, talent and kick ass performances. We were very fortunate to catch up with Porter McKnight and Brandon Saller to gain some insight into their personalities, motivations and what the future holds for the band.
UG: Nice to meet you guys! We are The Unpaid Gamers and while we cover video games, we have a love for music and are happy to get a few words with you. Don’t worry, we won’t just talk about games.
Porter: But…We can for a little bit if you want!
UG: Ok, What kind of games do you play?
Porter: What do I like to play currently or just overall in my life cause this could take a while? Right now I’m playing Metal Gear; The new Metal Gear and its very very fun. I play the new FIFA and I play Arkham Knight a little bit.
UG: Which is awesome!
Porter: Also Assassins Creed: Unity ’cause i missed that one.
UG: Sweet! Do you get a lot of downtime to play?
Porter: Yeah, we stay fairly busy and in my downtime I usually spend it making art and stuff, or playing soccer. When I’m not doing that I play video games. I find time….. I brought my PS4 with me on the bus.
UG: Do you get in on that? (Referencing Brandon)
Brandon: I’m not a gamer, I just get mad at it.
Porter: Smashes it and ruins it for everyone!
UG: Nice….Yeah that’s no fun. Alright so focusing on you guys, you took some time off in 2011 to pursue your own interests and your new album just released two weeks ago…
Porter: These are all facts, yes.
UG: How did doing your own individual things affect the creative process on the new album?
Porter: I think with just us hitting that pause button and focusing on different areas of life…Like these dudes have been in Atreyu since you were like 15 right? (pointing at Brandon)
Brandon: Oh yeah! About…
Porter: It’s been a part of my life since 2004. We all just wanted to step back and remember what it’s like to be outside of the band. He can tell you what he does. I traveled a lot, filmed a couple movies, did a bunch of commercials and worked on different things. I made a bunch of rad shit, played a lot of soccer and remembered what my friends were like and that I didn’t like them. (laughing)
UG: Are you talking about real soccer or FIFA?
Porter: Real with my feet, I play like 3 times a week.
UG: Oh sweet
Porter: Yeah…I enjoy it.
Brandon: I think it was definitely necessary. I play in another band…Hell or High Water. I did a bit of song writing and stuff like that. It was nice to kind of expand our minds and not think about Atreyu for a bit of time. We were able to come back and be a little more focused on what Atreyu should be and…You know what i mean?
Porter: Just taking that little break and getting that little palate cleanse you know? Coming back to it, we were all so much more…So much stronger. We learned a lot about ourselves and just music in general. You could really tell when we came back to write those songs, they were easy and it just poured out. We didn’t sit there and paint over each little part and rewrite songs and redo songs and redo scrap songs…everything we wrote was pretty much gold
UG: That’s awesome!
Brandon: He’s so honest! (laughing)
Porter: Well, it’s the truth! Why would I lie? It’s a great fucking song.
UG: Now I’m the kind of guy that loves an entire album, I don’t just listen to the singles…
Porter: Cool! I’m the same.
UG: One of the best parts of any album is the artwork…
Porter: I made it thanks!
UG: Yes I know…Which is awesome! On your latest album “Long Live”, the band members are featured in death scenarios…
UG: What was the inspiration behind that direction?
Porter: There was a photo that I found when we were finishing our record. It’s a photo of Hitchcock and he’s on a funeral plot and it’s essentially the Brandon scenario. He’s just up there and he’s about to light a cigarette and just doesn’t give a fuck, like “I’m gonna die who the fuck cares.” He just doesn’t give a fuck.
I love that look and originally I just wanted to do that in the cd booklet. Five photos of each of us in death scenarios, so we wrote those out and I was just like “Fuck! This would be a lot cooler if we did this in the video!” I said if we do that, we will get budgeting then everything gets cooler. I wrote a treatment around it and directed that video, then took some shots while we were filming it and that’s what ended up in the thing.
I don’t know if you have the CD or the Vinyl, but in the CD booklet there are art pieces that coincide with everyone’s death scenario. Brandon is fire related, mine had a bunch of trees and stuff, Dan was Earth related, Alex was with water, and Travis’s was more building related. The cover and a lot of the inside art came from when we played in Australia this year on the Soundwave Festival. I went to New Zealand afterwards and shot a lot of photos and made a lot of it. We played some European stuff and I stayed over in Scotland, went to Amsterdam, Brussels and Edinburgh. All of those places made it in the booklet as well.
Porter: My favorite places and my favorite people. It’s the first album we ever made to coincide with the video and everything. The whole concept carrying throughout.
UG: Very awesome! Definitely Interesting!
Porter: Thank you
UG: You guys have such a devoted fan base…
Porter: We do! Thank you guys.
UG: You have achieved such a huge following, do you ever just stop and think…Wow?
Brandon: It’s kind of crazy you know? Last night the people we saw with the Atreyu tattoos…. We went away for a long time and the music industry moves so fast. The fact that we come back four years later and not only are the fans that were here before are more excited than ever, but there’s so many new ones who have just discovered our us. We are very fortunate to have people like that stick around.
Porter: Last night we played in Pontiac, Michigan at The Crofoot Ballroom and I had a moment when I was on stage and it was just like everything stopped and I was overwhelmed of appreciation for everyone that was there. I was like “Holy Fuck!” These people are still here, and these people drove from various places and took their time out of their day to spend it with us. It’s a wonderful thing, it’s truly a wonderful moment to have. The Atreyu fan is definitely not a Fair Weather Fan, they aren’t going anywhere!
UG: My brother is pretty hardcore about you guys…
Porter: What’s his name?
Porter: Thanks Mark!
UG: Doing research on the band for the interview, I was really surprised to learn at how young some of you were when you started the band.
Brandon: I turned eighteen on my first tour.
UG: Did any of you come from musical families?
Brandon: Not really. My dad was a musician in high school and shit like that. He was in bands and stuff, but no career musicians anywhere in our family.
Porter: My dad played the trumpet growing up a lot. I’m from Alabama, not from California like these guys. He lived in Columbus, Georgia and played the trumpet. He got the chance to go play at Disneyland in California, like a paid trip with his buddies in high school that played in a marching band. He did that, but there’s no like professional musicians.
Brandon: We just all have supportive parents that let their high school kids go play in a band.
Porter: I dropped out of college. Yeah, it’s very uncommon. We are very lucky for that.
Brandon: No musical background, We were all just like fucking little stupid kids with big dreams!
UG: Mentioning that…What was it like basically growing up in a Rock n’ Roll band?
Brandon: It was awesome! I mean we essentially came straight out of high school. I graduated and we started touring within a few months. My mom wouldn’t let me go on tour unless my brother came which turned into him being our merch guy for like 10 years, or longer cause I was 17 and turned 18 on our first tour. I mean it’s fun but I feel like you grow up a lot faster than maybe you would have otherwise.
Porter: That’s funny. I was talking to the lead singer of Beartooth and he’s only 22. He’s been touring since he was 15, so it’s like doing like real touring since he was 15. That’s even crazier, ’cause he’s 22 and I thought he was like…28 maybe? He doesn’t really look older he just doesn’t seem like a 22 year old dude.
Brandon: Yeah it was fun. It teaches you a lot about yourself and how to survive when you’re on tour young.
UG: Do you have any advice for younger bands essentially trying to do the same thing?
Porter: Yeah… I mean it’s hard. It is hard, but it’s an easy world if you try and not copy everyone. Like don’t go in here with the newest Avenged Sevenfold song and try to be Avenged Sevenfold, or try to be us, or try to be Beartooth. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. Just get together with your friends and write the songs that you love. It doesn’t matter what your parents think, doesn’t matter what your other friends think. Songs that like the 5 of you, 4 of you, 3 of you, 2 of you, or whatever the fuck your doing. The songs you love…That’s what will catch fire. The fans see that and they know that. They feel that and that’s how you do well…That’s how this band did well.
Brandon: Also prepare to not make money for a long time!
Porter: Yeah, that takes a while.
Brandon: Just make sure you don’t need money in your life for a little while
UG: So, you know there are people that say “Rock is Dead”…
Porter: Who the fuck says that? I’d like to bang their face off right now.
UG: There’s no doubt that the industry has changed.
Porter: Who said that?
UG: It was Gene Simmons right?
Porter: Well he’s an old fogey. He sucks! Put your makeup on, get your paycheck and shut the fuck up. We write rock songs! I think the music industry has definitely changed, but the people that say rock music or even metal isn’t a predominant genre anymore is ridiculous. One of the biggest tours this summer period was the fucking Slipknot tour. You have band upon band…Very fortunately us included in that charting top 20 with their records, and some in top 10. Metal and like heavy music is very alive. Rock was top of the chain and then Emo, Pop, and whatever comes around and becomes more popular. It’s only a matter a time before Rock will be back on top, and it’s funny whatever genre or style of music or whatever. I feel like other genres crash and burn. They fizzle the fuck out like no one gives a shit. Rock hasn’t gone anywhere, like punk bands for a while were fucked and nobody cared. You know? Now they’re back. We could have kept playing consistently and still done our thing, we have for the most part. In this genre there is always support, and there are always fans that still love it and new kids. You know? Like the next generation hearing Metallica for the first time, or Slayer or Led Zeppelin. They are a huge branch into this world.
UG: I have a 6 year old son at home and we’re trying to raise him in this genre. As far as he’s concerned it’s still the 80’s.
Porter: He’s better off that way.
UG: I don’t want to take up too much more of your time, but I have a question about “Becoming the Bull”. You released that song on your website in the form of a jigsaw puzzle, and contest for the fans. What was the inspiration behind doing that?
Porter: We just wanted to make something cool. Something fun and a little bit different, like you know gets people…
Brandon: More interactive with the first single, Much more engaging than just putting a song up.
UG: We thought it was awesome!
Brandon: People got it quick!
UG: You just released your sixth studio album last month, and the last tour date is scheduled for the middle of October. You then head down to Mexico in December…What else can the fans look forward to?
Porter: We go to Tampa for a festival type thing, that will be fun! Florida shows are fucking incredible! Then we do that thing in December and then we’re gonna um…unreleased as of yet. We are going to be doing something in December as well. We are probably going to go back to Europe hopefully, January, February-ish. We’ll go do some runs over there, we wanna go to Australia, Japan, a lot on the horizon!
Brandon: A lot of ground to cover!
Porter: There’s a few bands we want to tour with, so we’re gonna try and make that happen. We aren’t going back into hibernation anytime soon!
UG: Good, we hope not. Well…I’ll let you guys go. Have a great festival and thank you guys for your time.
For more information on Atreyu and to stay up to date with the band, visit The Official Website.
Images are courtesy of The Official Atreyu Facebook Page.