In one of the more candid interviews I’ve done in recent times, Atreyu bassist Marc McKnight spoke about shitty labels, dying genres, phantom song writers and… arseholes?
Interview w/ Atreyu (USA)
By Cameron Chambers
For the record, your name and
what you do in Atreyu.
My name is Marc McKnight and I
play bass. I sing here and there too.
Given your obvious appreciation
of “The Never Ending Story”, what made you choose the name Atreyu
instead of Artax? Seriously, who wouldn’t want to be named after a
Well, we decided Artax sounded
WAY nerdier than Atreyu.
IGN (Imagine Games Network)
referred to your last record (A Death Grip On Yesterday) as a “brief
but potent hissy fit”. What the fuck does that actually mean?
Well I suppose we’re a bunch
of whiny little teenagers who luckily wrote an album that was somewhat
decent? No idea. Ya think “potent” is a good thing?
Prior to its release you guys
stated that “A Death Grip On Yesterday” was a healthy balance of
all the Atreyu elements. Taking that into account, were you surprised
by the album’s sales?
Well aren’t you an asshole?
Thanks for that little shot there. I think we were on a label that knew
we weren’t coming back and they didn’t feel like putting any effort
into pushing us OR our record. Or ever paying for ANYTHING, or paying
us for that matter. You think they’d maybe even release the record
in places like, Japan, but no.
Your newest record “Lead
Sails Paper Anchor” has caused quite a stir amongst your long term
fans, were you at all concerned that the change in sound would alienate
some of your listeners?
Well sir, we do this because we
love it. So in turn, we’re gonna write albums we love. If you
want a band that will write the same record 20 times, we’re not it.
We wanna grow, we wanna be better musicians just like we want to be
Is the current Atreyu sound
something you guys have been working towards for a while, or did the
over saturation of the scene you’re a part of force you guys to change
it up a bit?
We’ve never tried to a part
of any “scene,” let’s get that out of the way right now. Bands
like Poison the Well, Killswitch Engage and others were the first to
try new things. Now I’m not saying them and Atreyu were the first,
but we created the highways for many bands to drive down. Some have
grown larger than us, some have faded away, but I think you can agree
that with each record we try something different, something that doesn’t
sound like what’s happening at this moment.
With so many bands aping the
metalcore sound (in one way or another) do you think the large number
of imitators has negatively affected the older/longer serving bands?
It’s definitely made the “metalcore”
a laughable topic, but the press who kept trying to force bands to be
portrayed in a certain genre and lump everyone into categories is pretty
laughable too. No decent band goes around calling themselves a “metalcore”
band and if they do they’re probably ripping off some other bands
Where do you see Atreyu in
relation to your quote/unquote peers? Do you still feel like you have
a place with the band’s you rose to prominence with, or do you think
you’ve grown into a more individual band?
I think we have definitely grown
into our own styles, but I still see us all as a happy family. I love
Norma Jean, As I Lay Dying and ETID. We’re supposed to play a show
with Killswitch and I couldn’t be more excited to see em. I’ve bought
every Poison the Well and Thrice record and I absolutely LOVE both their
new directions. We’ve done tons of tours, but I think the ones with
those bands will always be the best.
John Feldman (The Used, Story
Of The Year) was t the helm of your most recent release, what kind of
an influence did he have on the songs themselves?
I’m gonna just answer the question
I know you’re trying to ask, he DIDNT write out record. He worked
his ass off, gave great suggestions and got the best record out of us
possible. He’s easily the best producer we’ve ever worked with and
we couldn’t be happier with him.
Did the band approach Feldman
with a particular goal or vision, or was it a case
of trying something new and seeing where it took you?
Well, since we knew we had an
incredible producer who likes to be very involved, we approached the
record in a different fashion. Before (ie. Deathgrip since it’s the
only record I was on before LSPA, but I know it’s how they did it
before me) we would write the, say, 10 songs for the record and that’d
be it. We’d sit holed up in our practice space for HOURS re-writing
and painfully going over each part and that’d be what was on the album.
With this record, we decided to just write the songs, record them on
garageband with one mic for the drums, layer the guitars and that was
it. We didn’t agonize over writing them. I think we came out with
24 songs for this record (including the 4 we wrote during the recording
process, 2 of those 4 being Honor and Blow.) We brought those terrible
recordings to John and he told us the parts he liked most and we sat
down in his living room with acoustics and re-structured the songs together.
Alex “freestyled” the lyrics while we played the parts over and
over. We all came up with the melodies together, and went down to record
them in Johns studio. Much, much different than before. Each of us were
much more involved and passionate about it.
How does your new material
translate live? Does your set still have a level of consistency given
the differences between your old and new songs?
I think our new stuff sounds great
live! I have more fun playing these songs than any others and they really
challenge me as a musician on most parts. We always try and have a good
balance between old and new. On the Australia tour we played about 9
songs, 5 new and 4 old. When we get a chance to headline again, I’m
sure we’ll play some more stuff off Suicide Notes, if you’re lucky.
With such a significant change
in sound over the last year couple of
years, what can we expect from your next release?
Honestly? I have no clue. None
of us do, we’ll just have to see what it sounds like when we head
back into the studio. I could maybe beatbox while Dan raps for the whole
record. Who knows (although it probably won’t be that.)
Atreyu are heading back to
Australia in May to open for Bullet For My Valentine and Avenged Sevenfold.
What can we expect from an Atreyu live show this time around?
Well, I didn’t get this till
WAYY after but I say we kicked some ass out there! I know we successfully
ran around like idiots on stage and made terrible jokes. The shows were
easily the best we’ve had in a long, long time. Actually, since the
new year all our shows have been better than ever, thanks LSPA!
As you’ll be playing a shorter
set will you be including material from your older releases or will
you focus on the “Lead Sails Paper Anchor”?
Like I said before, it was about
5 new 4 old contingent upon our allotted set time.
Once the Australia tour wraps
up you’re back to the US to take part in the Projekt Revolution Tour.
Are you excited about playing with such a diverse group of bands (as
is traditionally the case on that tour)?
It should definitely be an interesting
summer. We’ve never toured with these kind of bands but I’m sure
it’ll be an incredible tour. And yeah, have you read the lineup? It’s
What’s in store for Atreyu
for the rest of 2008?
Hopefully a big fall tour that’s
being booked now so I can’t talk about it, then a headlining tour
in the fall? Not sure yet.
Any final words?
Yeah sure, do you hate our band?
Cause some of your questions are pretty, well, negative and pessimistic.
Reminded me of some german “lost in translation” questions like
“So your new record is terrible and I hate it, how do you feel about
that?” Those are the best. Don’t take offense to that, it was a
good interview, just wondering!