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Interview: Ataris, The - 02.21.14
 

Ataris, The - 02.21.14

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Ataris, The - 02.21.14On March 4, the Ataris' scene classic So Long, Astoria will turn 11. Just days earlier, on February 28, the band will reunite in Scottsdale, Arizona to commence a tour celebrating the album. The line-up for the tour will include frontman Kris Roe, bassist Mike Davenport, guitarist John Collura, and drummer Chris Knapp, the version of the band that recorded Astoria and ascended to nationwide fame with a cover of Don Henley's "The Boys of Summer." In anticipation for the upcoming tour, I chatted with Davenport about the writing and recording of Astoria, the album's lightning in a bottle success, and the band's plans for future music.

Craig Manning: So Long, Astoria is and always has been an extremely nostalgic record. What was going on in your lives when you were writing those songs? In what ways were your songwriting strategies here different than they had been on your earlier albums?

Mike Davenport: This album had a set theme from the beginning. We wanted to write a record based on the idea of making memories in the moment. It's a concept called futuring. We were introduced to the idea by the author, artist, and musician Richard Hell. Once we had the concept in place, the songs just flowed.

CM: More recent pop-punk bands like The Wonder Years and The Dangerous Summer seem to have taken the small town/growing up aesthetic you made prevalent on this record and used it to fuel their own works. Can you comment on the impact you guys had on the pop-punk scene, specifically with this album?

MD: I don't think it was this album specifically but all albums from bands like us, The Get Up Kids, and The Promise Ring. It was just honesty about where we come from and who we are as individuals, which we were expressing through our music at that time. These more current bands that you mention are just doing the same thing.

CM: Do you have a favorite song on So Long, Astoria, or one that means more to you than the rest? If so, which one and why?

MD: “The Hero Dies In This One” is my favorite song on the record. It is my favorite lyrically and the whole band wrote it together. It is the most complete song we ever wrote and/or recorded.

CM: So where’s the new album? Is it still going to be called The Graveyard of the Atlantic? What’s been the reason for the delay? Will the proceeds of this upcoming tour be used to finish the record and get it out to the public?

MD: Yes, that is still the title of the new album, and yes, some of the money from the tour will go toward helping with the rest of the recording. We don't have a label, so we are paying for it ourselves, hence the delay. All I can say for sure us that Axl Rose took 15 years to get Chinese Democracy out, so we are still looking good compared to Guns.

CM: On that same subject, you guys sort of had a slow decade after the release of Astoria. Fans didn’t embrace Welcome the Night in the same way, and we haven’t seen a full-length release since. Was Astoria one of those records that was just “hard to get over”? If so, why do you think that was?

MD: It was more all of us needing a break from all of it. Touring, recording, and just being in a band with other guys. After 10 or 11 years of writing, touring, and just the toll it takes on you, it was time to try new things and change. Whether it was for the better or worse is something that our fans have decided, but for us, it was necessary.

CM: For me, So Long, Astoria is very much a snapshot of what my life was like back in the 2003-2005 era. I think most of the AP.net community would agree with me that something about these songs just really lends itself well to personal soundtrack moments. Are you aware of that sentiment? And did you plan to have that impact when you were writing the Astoria songs?

MD: Thank you, and of course you look to impact your fans like that, but at that time we were just working hard. We really didn't have time to stop and think about anything from our first album through Astoria. The thing I see looking back is that Astoria was the peak of 10 years of hard work. We gave it all on that record and afterwards, we were so exhausted that it has been impossible to recreate the intensity of that time of our lives.

CM: Okay, here’s the “elephant in the room” question. On the subject of “The Boys of Summer”: did you mean for the cover to be on the record? And does it bother you that you are most well known for singing someone else’s song? For me, the song fits the atmosphere of the rest of the record perfectly, it’s just a shame the same level of airplay didn’t come for one of the other singles.

MD: Well, we love it and we hate it of course! It was originally meant for a movie soundtrack, which was way okay with us. But as every horror story goes with major labels, they took it upon themselves to make it the focus of the album. Basically we were told one thing and the label did something else. That being said, I love hearing it on the radio 10 years later, and as much as I love “In This Diary,” radio does not play it anymore. So I'm much happier being a one hit wonder than a no hit wonder.

CM: For the tour, will you guys be playing the whole thing from start to finish, a la Jimmy Eat World's Clarity tour, or will you be picking and choosing different setlists each night? What else can fans expect to hear in the setlist?

MD: We will play the Astoria album beginning to end. Then we will add the B-sides from those sessions – which we have never ever played live before – with a couple greatest hits from the old albums as encores.

CM: If the new album is on its way, what can fans expect? How has your songwriting changed in the past decade? How have you changed? What kind of emotional connection do you still share with the songs on So Long, Astoria and what do you think it's going to be like revisiting those songs with fans after all these years?

MD: The new album is more pop punk in music, but even more mature than Astoria lyrically. We are all a lot older now and our life view is less whimsical, but it's going to be our best album since Astoria - if only Axl can help us get it done.

CM: So you're talking like you are involved with the new album. I didn't initially think that was the case, since Kris released a few Graveyard tracks last year or the year before that were recorded with a completely different line-up. What's the story there?

MD: It's true I am now involved in the new record. This has come about since we started working together on the reunion tour. After Kris finishes his European acoustic tour, I am helping him move back to Santa Barbara to finish Graveyard Of The Atlantic with my Versus The World producer, Thom Flowers. I am confident we will finally get this record out next year with my help.
 
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07:07 AM on 02/26/14
#2
fallingapart101
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I'm confused, the Astoria line-up is who is playing on the new album or is it the new line-up that already recorded the songs?

From this, it seems like the Astoria line-up is recording the new album.
07:34 AM on 02/26/14
#3
sammyboy516
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So what's the deal? The band is reuniting this line-up for a tour to fund an album that the members of the tour aren't playing on? Seems odd.
07:43 AM on 02/26/14
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So what's the deal? The band is reuniting this line-up for a tour to fund an album that the members of the tour aren't playing on? Seems odd.
I think that's why it said some of the money would fund the new record. Compensate the dudes who aren't staying and use the rest to get shit done.

I personally can't fucking wait for this tour to hit Indiana. Hometown love!
08:29 AM on 02/26/14
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I think that's why it said some of the money would fund the new record. Compensate the dudes who aren't staying and use the rest to get shit done.

I personally can't fucking wait for this tour to hit Indiana. Hometown love!
Makes sense. I hope we hear the new record soon though.
08:56 AM on 02/26/14
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Makes sense. I hope we hear the new record soon though.
No shit. It's been a minute.
09:33 AM on 02/26/14
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Craig Manning
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I'm confused, the Astoria line-up is who is playing on the new album or is it the new line-up that already recorded the songs?

From this, it seems like the Astoria line-up is recording the new album.

So what's the deal? The band is reuniting this line-up for a tour to fund an album that the members of the tour aren't playing on? Seems odd.

I think that's why it said some of the money would fund the new record. Compensate the dudes who aren't staying and use the rest to get shit done.

I personally can't fucking wait for this tour to hit Indiana. Hometown love!

What I've gathered is that Davenport, at least, is involved in the new record in some capacity. I originally wrote these questions about a year ago, with the intention of interviewing Kris around the time of the 10th anniversary. That fell through until we got emails about the new tour and started talking again about doing an interview. I emailed the questions to the PR guy, still expecting Kris to answer them, but got answers instead from Davenport. If I had known I'd be interviewing him, I would have asked for clarification on some of this stuff. But from the way he's talking about the album, I got the feeling that things have changed again since we last got an update about Graveyard.
12:06 PM on 02/26/14
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What I've gathered is that Davenport, at least, is involved in the new record in some capacity. I originally wrote these questions about a year ago, with the intention of interviewing Kris around the time of the 10th anniversary. That fell through until we got emails about the new tour and started talking again about doing an interview. I emailed the questions to the PR guy, still expecting Kris to answer them, but got answers instead from Davenport. If I had known I'd be interviewing him, I would have asked for clarification on some of this stuff. But from the way he's talking about the album, I got the feeling that things have changed again since we last got an update about Graveyard.
I was totally gonna say, these questions would better suit Kris, kinda odd for Mike to be answering... now it makes sense haha thanks for clarifying.

Huge fan, can't wait to see this in Denver! Always stoked for ANY Ataris news. The 4 songs they've released from Graveyard of the atlantic have been amazing. Had no clue Davenport was in on the new stuff.
12:49 PM on 02/26/14
#9
Craig Manning
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I'm confused, the Astoria line-up is who is playing on the new album or is it the new line-up that already recorded the songs?

From this, it seems like the Astoria line-up is recording the new album.

So what's the deal? The band is reuniting this line-up for a tour to fund an album that the members of the tour aren't playing on? Seems odd.

I think that's why it said some of the money would fund the new record. Compensate the dudes who aren't staying and use the rest to get shit done.

I personally can't fucking wait for this tour to hit Indiana. Hometown love!

I was totally gonna say, these questions would better suit Kris, kinda odd for Mike to be answering... now it makes sense haha thanks for clarifying.

Huge fan, can't wait to see this in Denver! Always stoked for ANY Ataris news. The 4 songs they've released from Graveyard of the atlantic have been amazing. Had no clue Davenport was in on the new stuff.

See the update at the bottom of the interview. Mike is helping to finish the new album and hopes that they'll have it ready for release next year.
12:55 PM on 02/26/14
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See the update at the bottom of the interview. Mike is helping to finish the new album and hopes that they'll have it ready for release next year.
NEXT year? Damn haha...

At least time seems to moves quicker as I get older. A year feels like nothing now.
Rad to see they'll be working together!
12:56 PM on 02/26/14
fallingapart101
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See the update at the bottom of the interview. Mike is helping to finish the new album and hopes that they'll have it ready for release next year.

Awesome! But next year! Dammit, the new stuff sounds too good to wait on, but I will wait.

Makes me wonder if Mike is now back in the band full time...
01:41 PM on 02/26/14
Craig Manning
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NEXT year? Damn haha...

At least time seems to moves quicker as I get older. A year feels like nothing now.
Rad to see they'll be working together!

Awesome! But next year! Dammit, the new stuff sounds too good to wait on, but I will wait.

Makes me wonder if Mike is now back in the band full time...

It's been so long now that a year seems perfectly reasonable.
04:04 PM on 02/26/14
katietheskatie
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I like the idea that Mike is doing Ataris things again, outside of just playing them on the reunion tour. Some of his bass on their earlier work is killer (the second half of 'Blue Skies..' is so damn underrated)
11:14 AM on 03/27/14
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