If you’re in your early-to-mid-twenties, chances are Atreyu was a permanent high school soundtrack. Returning after a six year absence, the Orange County metalcore outfit presents, ‘Long Live’ – the band’s sixth studio album. Guitarist Dan Jacobs recently sat down to discuss the comeback and where everything is placed in 2015.
If you could tell your past self about something that you’ve learned from this hiatus away from the band, what would it be?
I feel like what we’re doing now, we had to go through everything. I don’t think anybody – even myself – could tell me just do this and you’ll win. My stubborn self would want to learn the hard way and try every other option first to prove that whatever other situation is wrong and to find that, “Oh, okay, all I needed to do was that. Now I know what it’s like to mess up from things and what I should do or what not I should do.”
Your new video for ‘Long Live’ is really intense and has a weird twist at the end, but the meaning behind it is fairly ambiguous. Have you had a lot of fans approaching you with strange theories on what the meaning behind it is?
Yeah, strangely enough [though], for the most part everyone kind of hits the nail on the head. We’re surprised. We didn’t think anybody would pick up on it. Like you said, it is supposed to be very ambiguous and kind of leave you kind of guessing a lot of it, but strangely enough a lot of people seem to explain it very well. All in their own way but everyone is kind of getting that same message across. It’s really interesting. I thought there would be more of a variety of people’s interpretations, but it seems pretty one-sided for whatever reason. They’re pretty straight forward.
Your bassist Porter [Marc McKnight] directed the ‘Long Live’ video, and art directed the entire album. Now you’re working on the new video for ‘Do You Know Who We Are?’ What can you tell me about that?
The video is essentially playing off individual people we know – fans – and people [are] submitting videos of them holding up cards saying like who they are as a person. Whether they’re a soldier or a father or a musician or an entrepreneur or a stuntman or whatever. It’s live shots of us playing mixed in with those shots of the people and who they are, as well as us as the band members participating and showing us, who we are, as people, outside of the band.
You guys were here earlier in the year for what was some of the most intense weather we’ve ever had for a festival. But it was also a phenomenal festival. Do you guys see yourselves coming back out here again – maybe for Soundwave or maybe for a solo tour?
Absolutely. Australia is one of our favourite markets to play, partially just because the entire country is very similar as far as the weather and architecture of southern California. Us being from southern California it feels very homey and familiar, as well as the shows being just incredible and the crowds are so intense, and have so much fun, which makes things fun for us. We definitely always have our eye on Australia and hopefully next year we’ll be back – at least once. Maybe twice.
What’s the feedback been like from the new album and new material so far?
Yeah, it’s awesome. Because for us, especially on our last two albums, they were both very controversial for us as far as [far as] us changing our sound. Because of that, when you see comments on those songs and those videos, it’s very, very hot and cold. You’ve got people that are really all about it and others that are really against it and others right up the middle. Whereas, this album has been very positive – like 99% positive. It hasn’t been released yet so not everybody has heard it but so far, just from what I’ve seen from the past two albums and just to see this response, this is by far the most positive response we’ve gotten from anything in a long, long time. Since The Curse.
How are you feeling about putting this record out after being away for so long? Is it like putting out a debut record? Are you nervous? Or is it the opposite and that you feel more confident and comfortable knowing you’re set as a band again?
I say a little bit nervous, just because we have been gone for a while and the playing field has changed and the game is a little bit different to when we left. Coming back into it, we have to acclimate to how things work now, as well as kind of play catch up a little bit because we don’t have the social networking reach of some of these bands that have grown up in the social networking era when things like Twitter was popping up. For us, we’ve gotten a great response and everything we’ve been doing has been awesome, but, at the same time, we just don’t know what to fully expect. It’s hard to really tell.
In terms of performance, are there certain songs on this record that you’re eager to play live?
Yeah, ‘Start To Break’ we’ve started to play live. We’ve already been playing ‘Long Live,’ but we haven’t played many others yet, so yeah, ‘Start To Break’ I’m really excited about to play live. That’s going to be a fun one.
Has it been a matter of also figuring out how the new songs are going to fit in with the new setlist? Are you guys excited to figure out that process of how those songs will all mould together?
Yeah, it’s always a process, every time we put out a new album, working in the new songs into the set. With every album cycle you kind of get this comfortable set that has all the necessary songs you feel to make the set as strong as possible, so then all of a sudden when you get a new album thrown into the works, you have to lose some of those favourite songs of yours you thought could never leave the set. It becomes more difficult each time, because it eventually gets to a point where you can take out one, maybe two, songs at most off any album and after that we just wear ourselves thin.
I think in some of these shows that we’re doing around our album release we’ll probably play a lot more of the new stuff – three or four songs, just to really drive it home a little bit. But for festivals we’ll probably play two new songs and the rest [will be] all old [songs] because we want people to know it better. Playing all new songs, people just kind of stare at us going, “What is this? I don’t know this.”
Well, considering your hiatus, for some people when they see you on these shows it will be their first time ever seeing you and these songs will be their first introduction to Atreyu. Do you have a specific song that you would pick as the quintessential Atreyu song that you think best represents you as a band?
Oof, that’s a tough one. I guess I’d have to go with ‘Right Side Of The Bed.’ I feel that that song kind of has a little bit of everything we do and it still sounds like our new album right now, but it also sounds like a mix of ’80s. I’d say ‘Right Side Of The Bed’ – it covers everything.