Kris Roe, lead singer from pop punk band The Ataris, is heading to Australia in April for a small run of solo shows.
He was kind enough to answer the following questions for us while on tour in Europe!
Growing up, what kind of bands/artists influenced you to pick up and instrument and write music/start a band?
I am 32 now, I grew up in a small town in the Midwest where you really had to go search out good music, luckily there was a program on MTV every Sunday night at midnight called 120 Minutes. For two hours they would play all the best punk / indie / shoegaze / alt rock, Since it was a school night I would have to wait up til my parents were sleeping then sneak up and quietly turn the TV on, I remember always particularly hating Mondays at school as I had been up all night discovering all of these great, exciting new bands. It was through this program that I discovered Sonic Youth, The Replacements, My Bloody Valentine, Superchunk, Dinosaur Jr. and so many more.
Being right handed, why have u chosen to play your guitar left handed with the strings upside down?
Since I am right handed it always felt correct to make all my chords with my right hand… my more prominent hand which I use all the time. And do the simple part – (the strumming) with my left. I always wondered why more of the right handed population of the world play this way as to me it just seems to make much more sense. To me everyone else are the ones that have it backwards. Think about it. 😉
Do you write most or all of your songs with a personal meaning or message behind them?
I feel as a songwriter for the most part I only know how to write descriptive, personal stories. I would say there are a few songs throughout the years that are exceptions but I feel overall that talking about life experience even though sometimes brutal and from the most painful places within is still what I do best.
Have you ever taken any professional photography classes or courses, or has photography just been something that you have enjoyed to do in your spare time? Do you still plan to release a book of your photographs one day?
No, I have never taken any photography classes, guitar lessons… etc. I feel that true art comes from within rather than from a book. I admire people that have the patience to go to college, but honestly it has never been something that I could deal with. I started taking photographs sort of by accident, around the time “Blue Skies…” was recorded I had many ideas for the artwork. I had a friend at the time whom I really liked his photography, I asked him to do the art for the record. But after he took way too long and we were way past deadline I just sort of stole my roommates’ camera and took all the photos myself. Afterwords, I just sort of realized “Hey, I can do this!” and just kept taking photographs from then on. Yes, it seems I will finally be publishing a book of my art photography prints later this year after the release of our new album. Probably sometime in the fall.
The Ataris have had a huge amount of lineup changes. Is there any sole reason for this, or does it just come down to people not being able to gel?
The Ataris in the studio has pretty much always just been me and a drummer. I write all the parts, show the drum parts to the drummer and then play all the rest of the instruments. I have done this on all of our records. The only record that is an exception is “Welcome The Night” which was the first record where everyone wrote and recorded everything together as we wanted things to feel really live and really organic. John also wrote a couple songs on “So Long, Astoria” and played some guitar on that album. In the end as much as I am always proud of trying new things, I feel that overall in the studio The Ataris just works best the way I have always done things. As for the live lineup… I started this band when I was around 19. Some people get sick of touring. Some people move to other states, some people just let the nomadic touring lifestyle get the best of them… A lot happens over 13 years. I continue playing in this band because I love playing these songs every night and I don’t see that changing any time in the near future.
Welcome To The Night saw the band stray from their pop/punk roots and ultimately lose a lot of long time fans. Would you still write the same record (Welcome To The Night) if you were to do it all over again?
I just write what is honest and in the heart. I feel that the worst thing a band can do is write something safe. To me music is way more art than entertainment… at least in my eyes. I am proud of “Welcome The Night”, I always want to keep people guessing and could never write the same record twice. As for this new album, I guess it sort of sounds like if I wrote something along the lines of “So Long, Astoria” but at 32 years old. Descriptive personal stories, big sing-along rock songs, lots of solid melodies, big choruses. I like bands that just be themselves, stay away from genres and labels. Definitely never considered us anything more than just a rock band. Anything else just puts you in some little corner, and I would rather be doing our own thing.
Why not do a full band tour to celebrate The Ataris return to their original sound?
The Ataris will begin a world tour with the full band once the album is released in roughly July / August. Yes, of course Australia will be included… and we have always been celebrating.
Is there any planned release date for the new album?
July / August.
All drums, bass and rhythm guitars are done. I am in Europe right now, I will fly back to Arizona right before the Australia dates and finish the vocals then mix the record directly after I return from Australia.
What kind of set list can Australian audiences expect on the upcoming tour?
A fair mixture of all the fan favorites from “Blue Skies…”, “So Long, Astoria” and “end is forever” and the occasional obscure request or two. I will likely play a couple new tunes as well as the album will be nearly finished by then.
Is there any truth to the rumor that the support band on each show will play a full band encore with you?
Come to the show and find out. 😉
If you could tour with any band, who would it be and why?
Dead or alive? I suppose if I could pick one from the past I would say Nirvana Fugazi or Jane’s Addiction. Current I would say Foo Fighters or I suppose Radiohead All just great innovative bands that didn’t follow any trends, just simply write beautiful songs.
What’s your favourite album(s) at the moment?
Mono – “Hymn to the Immortal Wind”
Russian Circles – Enter
This Will Destroy You – S/T
Still regularly listenin’ to:
Radiohead – “In Rainbows”
Wilco – “Sky Blue Sky”
Luceo – “Tennessee / “That Much Further West”
Portishead – “Third”
The Notwist – “The Devil + You and Me”
… and the list goes on and on and on.
Any parting words?
I look forward to finally coming back to Australia, it has been way too long. I promise it will not be as long next time, New record in the summer. Then we will hopefully see you all again with the band shortly thereafter. Check our Myspace for tour dates and other info., (which I personally run.)
Thanks for the interview Kris.
No, Thank you! The pleasure is all mine. Cheers.