After a soul-searching 2020 that resulted in significant changes, the metalcore titans have emerged with new music, a new focus, and a renewed determination to prove the naysayers wrong yet again.
For the first installment of Mosh Talks 2021, Brandon Saller of Atreyu checked in for a discussion on the state of the metalcore pioneers.
Revisiting what Saller referred to as a formative 2020 that was loaded with some heavy “soul searching,” the band had begun working on forthcoming eighth studio album and found themselves navigating internal changes in the midst of the same reality shift that the rest of the world was coming to understand. Needless to say, 2020 was a hell of a stress test but Saller confides, the band has come out better for it on the otherside.
Framing the progression the band has experienced in the last few years, Saller discussed how Atreyu’s 2015 comeback album Long Live was driven by a genuine need to make something purely heavy again. Their 2018 LP, In Our Wake, offered a refined, much more methodical iteration of the band that was well received by radio and fans.
As the band was evolving musically, their touring pace followed suit. Starting with two and three week stints, the collective realized that the only way to achieve their intended effect was to immerse themselves and dive back into the kind of frequency of early Atreyu – relentless on the road.
Aligning their creative vision with a renewed sense of touring muscle required to share the music with fans everywhere, Atreyu had arrived at the start of 2020 primed to showcase their full stride.
Embracing an ideology borrowed from their producer John Feldmann, Saller explained that “Song is king” is how the band approaches their continued evolution of sound. Regardless of where the song lands in terms of category, Saller and Atreyu value the authenticity of the music above all else. To ensure that sincerity, the band keeps their craft organic and writes what they feel, rather than what might be expected.
Saller would also go on to address the obvious in the departure of former vocalist, Alex Varkatzas. Tearing at a subtle web of contention that lives online and lingering among some fans, Saller confided that the aim has always been to keep things amicable. Given the history everyone in the band has shared, the decision to part was not something taken lightly. Tastefully disregarding the keyboard warriors hoping to stoke the fire and incite drama, Saller reiterated that the reality of the split was less about indulging drama and more about coming to the right decision a out how to move forward.
However, the added scrutiny that resulted from the split wasn’t something Saller and the band were obvious to either. In fact, for their recent series of streaming performances, Saller discussed how everyone was aware that this iteration of the band would be meticulously dissected – which prompted the band to rehearse more than they ever had in some twenty years.
Apart from the 3-month, 4-day-a-week rehearsal schedule, the band tended to every detail of the production almost obsessively. With the band’s bassist Marc “Porter” McKnight making all of the video content for the production himself, to the band designing the staging and lighting, the band established a commitment to put their best foot forward and introduce Atreyu 2.0 properly. Motivated to make up for the missing intangibles that make a live show memorable, added style and spectacle in their presentation would fill that void. The added workload and investment paid off in spades.
As for where the band resides presently, Saller is content with allowing the music to do the bulk of the explanation. Equipped with a sense of confidence that has permeated throughout their work, Atreyu is aware of the preconceived notions people may or may not have about the most current version of the outfit, but that doesn’t dilute the quality of their craft.
Tuning out the clamor, embracing the positivity, and keeping their focus on the tunes, Atreyu has spent their career proving the naysayers wrong – 2021 offers another opportunity to do what the band does best.
Watch the complete interview with Brandon Saller of Atreyu below.