Orange County’s Atreyu bursted onto the metal-core scene in 1998, releasing independent ep’s until they were signed by legendary hardcore record label Victory Records in 2001 and eventually releasing their debut full length, Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses the following year. Though Suicide Notes did a good job recruiting an impressive fan base, it was 2004’s The Curse that really cemented Atreyu’s place in the metal scene. Heavily inspired by vampire fiction, The Curse impressed audiences worldwide. After one more album for Victory Records (A Death-grip on Yesterday) the band signed to major label, Hollywood Records and released two more albums (2007’s Lead Sails Paper Anchor and 2009’s Congregation of the Damned) before calling it a day.
Lead guitarist Dan Jacobs was nice enough to answer a few questions for Icons Of Fright, regarding the formation of the band, the horror-themed aesthetic of The Curse and a hint at the future of the band. Read on!
It’s been a little while since Atreyu went on hiatus, what have you guys been up to since, any new musical ventures, or stuff outside of music?
I personally have started playing with another band called “Angels Fall” which is a great way for me to vent musically in a totally different way then I did in Atreyu. Aside from that my brother and I own 2 merchandising companies called Rock World Merchandise and Craft Beer Merchandise, where we produce clothing and promotional items for brands and artists like Rock Star and Monster Energy Drink, Sullen Clothing, Skrillex, The Bruery, Cold Cock Whiskey, etc. Brandon currently is the lead singer for a band called “Hell or Highwater” in which he is a prominent part in the writing and orchestration of the music. Travis plays for a new band he formed called Fake Figures as well as recently touring with the band “Trapt” as their main guitar player. Marc is currently putting is photo, video, and graphic designing skills to work in some short films he has a hand in, as well assisting Fire Brands with some graphic designing for their clients. Alex fronts the band “I am War” as well as owns and runs his own Cross Fit Gym called Hellenic Fitness in Costa Mesa, CA.
You guys were able to make a good name for yourselves throughout the years, what was it about Atreyu that you feel was the factor that made so many fans gravitate towards your band?
I’d say we had several ingredients that were a big part of our success… Brandon, Alex, and myself have been playing and writing together since we were 12-13 years old so we have great musical Chemistry which is just as hard to find as true love. We clicked very early and when we came across Travis and Marc they both seem to fit in seamlessly. We have been very fortunate for things coming together the way they did. Second, we never tried to sound exactly like one band in particular, and that, mixed with all of our different musical influences, created a very unique sound and style. We would mix influences from very heavy music and very melodic rock as well as Alex writing very poetic and emotional lyrics that seem to have a deep connection with our fans. Alex had mentally and emotionally been through a lot during those years and you could hear and feel it in his lyrics and our music. Last, I would say our dedication to always wanting to be the best we could be on all fronts. From our musicianship and energetic live performance, to always trying keep all our records interesting and different from the rest. I feel doing that has showcased the musical diversity that Atreyu is capable of as well as keeping us from getting bored playing our own music. Whether bands realize it or not, fans can tell and feel when you are bored of playing your own music.
Alex and I met in 8th grade. We had 1st period P.E. together and one day after Class I overheard him talking to some common friends of ours that he was looking to start a band where he would sing and play bass. All he needed was a guitar player and a drummer. I chimed in and let it be known that I played guitar as well and was a fan of the bands he mentioned he was a fan of. The two of us would jam Green Day songs at our parents houses till Alexs friend Ryan Saller introduced us to his younger brother Brandon who played drums. The 3 of us played under the name Retribution for a few years until becoming Atreyu in 99. At that point we had our friend Chris Thompson on Bass and Alex moved to just vocals. At the time Alex was working at Hot Topic and a fellow employee named Travis, who happen to play guitar as well, was interested in joining our band. Travis was a perfect fit of course and came along for the ride. Fast forward to 2004, we were in Vancouver recording our second full length record The Curse , and our current Bass Player Chris wasn’t able to play the parts. We felt it was best for all parties if Chris left the band at this point and we would find someone more suitable for the future. The one and only call we made was to a talented gentleman we knew through other friends in bands around Orange County, named Marc McKnight. The rest is history. \m/ \m/
Atreyu always seemed to have a darker aesthetic to the band, lyric and even visually at times, something that goes hand in hand with the horror genre, are you guys fans of the genre?
Initially our darker vibe came a lot from Alex’s lyrical content and love or old Horror movies. For The Curse in particular he was reading a lot of Anne Rice Novels at the time which lead to him writing a lot of Vampire influenced lyrics. We just ran with it musically and played off that for that record cycle.
Alex has I Am War, and Brandon has Hell or Highwater going on, but a lot of fans are curious..will we ever see a reunion for Atreyu?
There is a definite possibility. The 10 year anniversary of The Curse is next year so we might have some tricks up our sleeve.