Latest release: Long Live (Spinefarm)Website: www.atreyuofficial.com
In early 2011, after 13 years and three Billboard Top 20 albums, Orange County emo-metalcore-rockers Atreyu used their Twitter feed to announce an indefinite hiatus to recharge and refocus.
That break came to an end in 2014 when Atreyu reconvened and almost immediately released new material to YouTube. A year after that, their sixth album Long Live had them returning to the charts. The Sabbatical from the band was, according to guitarist Dan Jacobs, “a chance to diversify ourselves.”
“We are all very passionate about our band and about playing music and what we do,” he continues. “If we’re going to be successful at anything else we have to devote that much time and passion into that as well, and that’s hard to two things at the same time. It’s hard to get something started. That time off gave us time to focus on our ventures that we wanted to get involved in.”
Some of those ventures included bands like I Am War, Fake Figures and Hell or High Water, each of which managed to squeeze out an album before the five-piece felt it was right to return.
“It took almost four years, and I think that’s when we finally all were on the same page and we’d grown up a little bit and learned a bit more about ourselves that we didn’t know before,” Jacobs explains. “It felt right and that’s when we all came back together and it’s been awesome.”
Taking any kind of a break from the game of rock n roll is fraught with peril. Entire genres can peak and secede in that time. Bands and artists can disappear under the weight of new talent. Jacobs admits that Atreyu was fortunate to come back from even a four-year pause with their following very much in tact, even as their place in the hearts and minds of fans is under threat from many of those who have come through since 2011 – names like Falling in Reverse, Cane Hill and Aussies In Hearts Wake, all of whom are appearing with Atreyu on the current Warped Tour.
“The scene shifts a lot in that amount of time,” acknowledges the guitarist. “A lot of bands’ careers, especially bands on like a medium level, or even some big bands, have got maybe one to three records, maybe four records before you start to hit that downslope before you gotta try to work your way back up the hill again, and it’s like that because the scene shifts a lot. Something new pops up that’s different and shifts it a little bit, especially after ten years – it shifts a lot! When we came back there was a lot of different bands that are getting the attention now, even on the Warped Tour here they’re all the Big Deal bands, and all the bands that are gone now… it’s interesting.”
While Long Live wasn’t as commercially successful as their three previous records, it won plaudits as a solid return. Jacobs calls it the “album we needed to do” to kick off their second phase, comparing it with their 2002 debut and noting that, like they did first time round, it is most likely a point from which they will progress with future releases.
“The first album for Round Two for us. It was kind of like Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses in being really heavy and progressing from there, this was like that, but on a different level,” he says. “Still doing the aggressive vocals on everything, but then on ‘Do You Know Who You Are’ has this big arena rock vibe, even ‘Long Live’ is almost like a Mötley Crüe-type vibe, or something. It’s fun! I think, for us, we just wanted to come out and kick everyone in the balls and do a darker, heavier-than-we-normally-do album. We’re gonna progress from there, I guess.”
Mötley Crüe, and 80s hard rock in general, gets plenty of props from Jacobs, who is an avowed fan of the era. He is pretty convinced that rock as entertainment rose to its peak during that decade. As a band, Atreyu hasn’t been shy in adopting some of its traits into their own music, especially 2007’s uneven Lead Sails Paper Anchor.
“That genre,” Jacobs asserts, “I don’t think music’s ever been bigger, as far as the production and the overall lifestyle to the way the songs were recorded from the drums to the guitar… the musicianship – everything was just turned up to 11. You had to be the best of the best, you had to look so over-the-top. Everybody was just peacocking like crazy! They had some of the biggest, most sing-along songs ever, so I think that was one of the most entertaining times, one of the most enjoyable times for concert goers and people in bands.”
According to the guitarist, some of the most enjoyable times they have as a band is when they come to Australia – “We like to refer to it as a playcation,” he says, “because we go there to play, but it’s also like being on vacation.”
In October, Atreyu will be Down Under again as guests of Bullet for My Valentine, whose own stature exploded in the years the Californians were away.”It’s nice to tour with a band like that, who’s been around almost as long as we have, and have a similar style of music, and they’re just good dudes as well. It’s nice to be able to tour with people you can relate to and hang with on tour.”