The Ataris

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The Ataris came through Durham last night on the Paper + Plastered tour with Red City Radio and Flatfoot 56. It was my first time seeing The Ataris and they put on a great show with a quality mix of old and new songs. Kris Roe was extremely accommodating and took more than a half hour to answer Conor’s questions…

Listen to the interview with Kris Roe (35:27)

So, first of all, Durham doesn’t really have any sort of punk scene to speak of, and this place is pretty small…when’s the last time you guys played a club this small?

Oh, this whole tour is only in intimate, personal venues, like little dive bars and what not. It’s my favorite type of place to play because growing up, when I would go to see shows and even currently, the type of shows that I like to see are the ones where the band is right in your face and the fuckin’ microphone is getting smashed into the teeth of the artists and the crowd and the stage and the barrier is broke down. It’s one, it’s unified, it’s very much a feeling of everyone there together, uniting and having fun and singing along.

Whether it was seeing Avail or The Descendents or any band I like locally. I think that’s the thing we all kind of unite with, that’s what punk rock music is about, or should be about, and I think that’s been slowly lost in the Clear Channel, Live Nation, corporate world. None of these shows have anything to do with that. We’ve managed to keep every show completely free of outside, big corporate interests, as much as we could.

There’s a couple venues that have their corporate sponsors and shit like that, but you’ve got to bite the hand that feeds sometimes. There’s a lot of bands that are way more political and manage to do that too. Us, we’re just four guys in a little van going out and playing our songs. What we do best is just trying to bring our music to as many people as possible and we’re trying to do it on our own terms.

That’s awesome. This definitely takes me back to when I was 15, 16 and first going to shows and everything like that.

I appreciate that. That’s the vibe we want. I mean, I’m 35, so I’ve kept this band going since 1996 and I’ve always tried to keep that aesthetic to it, the very do-it-yourself ethic. Granted, there are certain times in this band, at our biggest points, it’s really hard to rock the boat when you have all these people who really want you to reach an audience of 1,000 people who want to see you. And, where my heart is, I’d like to play these small clubs.

We would still, at least one night a week, try to play a show in a bar that holds 350, but you realize you’re going to turn 600 kids away. Now, I feel we’re at a level where I feel like we can play small places and pack ’em out and I think you’ll have some nights like we have on the east coast, where they’re our biggest shows and we turn some people away.

But, ultimately, I feel the kids who want to go will be smart and they’ll get their tickets early and they’ll realize that these type of shows are what really matter and the House of Blues and all those fuckin’ venues are just this kind of soulless gentrification of rock clubs. Build ’em up and shut ’em down, or they build ’em up and stamp some bank or some insurance company’s name on it. Like, First National Amphitheater. You know? Like, c’mon…I’m not here to sell somebody’s fuckin’ insurance or bank or whatever, you know? I’m just here to play some rock songs.

Yeah, no doubt. You talked about the band’s progression a little bit and it seems like a lot of bands you and I grew up listening to have kind of gone through that progression—almost like a bell curve—starting out small, getting bigger and then back down. What has the band’s progression been like and what keeps you going?

Well, for me, the best parts of life are the struggle and the climb and I don’t look at this as a down slide. I look at it more like I’ve always been doing what I’ve wanted to do. I’ve always kept this band as my vision and I enjoy this band when I can control the vision and steer the ship. There’s a certain point where, you’re at a level like I said, where you’re playing in a lot of large venues and things where, as much as you want to steer the ship, well…part of that ship belongs to the people and they steer it for you based on what the demand is. It’s like, if you have a restaurant, and you make a really awesome dish, you have enough people who are going to want to come eat it. And after a while, you know, you’ve got enough people that want that, you really have to let go of some of that control and give in to the demand of the people to meet the demand.

Musically, my tastes have always evolved as I’ve gotten older. When I started this band when I was a kid, writing songs was way different. It was more simplistic in the way where you’re starting out and you’re discovering your craft. You don’t really know how to write a song, all you know is you sit down with a guitar, you write it and you don’t think about it. What I would chalk it up to is that when you first discover a band, like when I first discovered The Ramones when I was like 12 or 13, you go down and you sit down with a guitar and write like 20 songs that are all like, “1…2…3!” and you’re like, “Fuck, this is awesome!” You go through that and then you move on.

I remember the time I discovered Dinosaur Jr. and Sonic Youth and all the Chapel Hill bands like Archers of Loaf and Superchunk and I went down and I fuckin’ hammered out on my guitar in my bedroom and I wrote a ton of songs that sounded like Merge and Matador and all that stuff and I loved all that just as much. I think, as you get older, you learn to take all the things you love and hybrid that into what’s in your heart and what you do best.

As a songwriter, my strong points I feel are being a good storyteller and having a strong narrative in my songs. Musically, I think I’ve just taken what I love about those bands and about Jawbreaker and The Replacements and morphed it in with all the stuff I love in the indie world. Because to me, nowadays, there’s not a lot of punk rock stuff that excites me. Like I said, I grew up and got to see The Ramones and got to see those bands I loved. That was the thing that fuckin’ moved me out of punk rock.

Now I get excited when we go out with good friends, like the bands we’re on tour with, but there’s nothing I can write in punk music that hasn’t been done and done better by those bands that I love. But, when I discover another new band out of another genre, or when I go listen to old country records, or when I listen to old jazz or like some modern singer-songwriters or folk guys, or fuck, when I listen to Radiohead or Wilco or Godspeed or some of these post-rock bands that are completely different than the punk world, it inspires me to write a song just out of sheer…like, this other thing that I don’t write like necessarily inspires me to write a bunch of songs that are like what I write, if that makes any sense.

I think you write your best songs out of pain or frustration. Man, there are some lyrics that are just so fuckin’ good, it makes me want to quit what I’m doing. There are some writers that do that for me, whether it’s Tom Waits or if it’s a modern songwriter like the guy from The Weakerthans or David from Pedro The Lion or those guys, or the band Lucero. Those are a few modern guys who I think write such harsh truths and such deep parts of their soul that make me just say, “Okay, these guys set the bar, and that’s the bar for like modern songwriters.”

So, anyway, without going on a complete fucking tangent, music still excites me and art still excites me and traveling still excites me. I think that’s the one thing that, no matter what stays the same in your life, you’re always evolving as a human and you’re always traveling and finding new ways to find inspiration though life and relationships. The struggle and the climb are always things that make me feel like I’m still alive and I’m still on fire in my heart. As long as that’s never burning out, then I’m going to continue writing something that I’m proud of.

Your worst enemy if you’re a writer, I think Bukowski said it best that, if you find contentment or if you start to believe people’s accolades and all their compliments…to me, I write some songs and as long as I make myself proud, that’s all that matters. At the end of the day, I hope we get some people to listen to them, but that’s not what I write for and I’m honored to be able to go out and share my music with the world.

Yeah, I’m a writer myself. I write for a baseball magazine based here in Durham. So, I wanted to ask you…you guys played before the 2003 Home Run Derby. Are you a baseball fan, at all?

Yeah, and we got to play at Fenway Park, too! We were one of three bands who every got to play at Fenway, but that was a big fucking honor. I loved collecting baseball cards as a kid and I loved the romanticism of being in a park and the smell and just the history. Going to Yankee Stadium or going to Fenway Park and those places and just all the history behind it because I’m just a hopeless romantic at heart. And just knowing all of what went on there, thinking about how many people fell in love there, how many lives were changed in those places. That, to me, excites me more than anything.

Because, when it came to sports, we got into punk rock in Indiana, in the midwest, because the kids who were good at sports wanted to kick our ass and we weren’t good enough at sports. So, it never co-existed. But as we grew up, we learned to love those things for what they were. So, that was a huge honor and getting to meet the players. At Fenway, they took us on a big tour of the park. Chicago was more of a clusterfuck because it was post-9/11 and everybody was like super crazy with security. It was a little overkill. My parents came up and I didn’t even get to see my parents that day. I flew in and they wouldn’t even let my parents backstage. It was just like, I get it, but at the same time I wish it was a little more tranquil.

When we went and saw the Yankees and Sox play, they gave us seats right above the dugout, it was so awesome. Then I got to go to game six that put the Sox in to the World Series, so that was really great!

Yeah, I bet! Well, he’s a little bit younger than you, but did you ever know Adam Lind? He’s from Anderson and he’s a major leaguer now.

No, I know Carl Erskine is from there, one of the original Brooklyn Dodgers. But, no, I didn’t. Who does he play for?

He plays for the Blue Jays and he went to Highland High School.

Oh yeah, Highland. I dropped out when I was in ninth grade, but that was like the high school on the north side, in a little nicer area. There used to be three high schools and I know that high school and have friends and family that went there, but how old is he?

I think he’s like 31. (He’s 29)

I’m 35, so he probably would have been around after I moved away, but I probably have some friends that know him. That’s cool, I didn’t know that. But I try to like pay attention and always carry the banner for where I grew up. Anyone who knows our band knows I always try to really represent the Midwest. Growing up in a small town is part of what I was and what I am and I think that every one of my songs that I write about any type of vivid story, it’s usually some part of that upbringing, growing up in this little town with all these abandoned factories.

My father worked at General Motors for 37 years and now having all 35,000 of those jobs gone. My father’s now retired, but going back to this town that is now just strip malls chewing on farmland and a casino that’s filled with people who don’t even have jobs or money to spend there, the casino is eating up the last dollar of the town. When I take photography and when I write songs, I find that the sad beauty and the broken-down desolation of America is what I tend to write about most or set my scenery. Or when I take photos, I think it’s the thing that most excites me. I don’t know why, but there’s way more beauty in things that are old and decaying, to me, than things that are new and pretty. I’d much rather go to Virginia Beach in the winter when it’s desolate and sit there and write by myself, than to fuckin’ be there when it’s all, “Ooh! Fuckin’ Girls Gone Wild!” That just annoys me and it’s the same with like going back to this (show) versus big festivals.

I don’t mean to sound elitist, but this is like a gathering of a bunch of friend to get together and really enjoy music for like the right reason. And, I think on a larger level when you go to festivals, sometimes it becomes just a social event where people just go to get drunk and fuckin’ socialize and they don’t even care about the bands. Not everybody. Everybody deserves to listen to our music or to anyone’s music. I don’t mean to sound like an elitist, but I definitely feel like there’s a certain douchey element when shows are more tranquil and more personal. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say.

So, you sound like a well-spoken, intelligent guy and it sounds like you still have a good relationship with your parents. What was it that led to you dropping out of school in ninth grade?

Well, I guess my parents were always my biggest supporter of what I did musically. Ever since I was 3 or 4, I played guitar or always expressed interest in music. I would always sit in my room and listen to vinyl. My dad had the greatest record collection, everything from Pink Floyd to Zeppelin to The Who, or anything that was good singer-songwriter, it was my dad. And my mom loved The Beatles, so they really instilled music in me from an early age and I guess when I started playing in a band when I was like 15, I was the one that was like carrying it, but all the guys in my band were older because I couldn’t find any kids in small town Indiana that could seriously play.

Not like today where everybody has Garage Band or ProTools or guitars and everybody can like polish garbage and make it music. Back then it was none of that. You had a shitty four-track and you had a garage that you begged your parents to let you practice in and you find the one or two guys who were lucky enough to have a beat-up drum set  and you started a band. So I started a band and started playing and a lot of the songs that became The Ataris’ first album, …Anywhere But Here were songs that I wrote for my first band and I just played guitar because at the time I wasn’t really sure if I could sing or I didn’t really feel confident enough to do it yet and we had a guy that sang.

So, around that time, I started taking it really seriously and my parents knew that I was one of the smarter kids in my class, but when it came to school, I felt like growing up in Indiana, I was kind of the odd man out. We had our weird few friends that were into music and we were the kind of nerdy rock kids, but we didn’t really fit in in that environment, so we’d be the ones who would get the shit kicked out of us by kids for being different. I’m sure it’s the same thing that goes on now, but I think now being into this kind of music is just so much more socially acceptable that everybody goes to Warped Tour and everybody now, it’s a younger thing. But back then in Indiana, I guess it was pretty risque to like punk rock and you were a weird kid.

So, at the end of the day, my parents were like, “Look, we understand you just hate being in school.” And they realized that as long as I was going to work a job and as long as I was going to be a good kid who wasn’t into like any sort of substance abuse or anything like that, that I could live under their room and play music and also, at the same time, work. But I wouldn’t recommend quitting school to anyone. But at the same time, at the end of the day, it worked for me and that was just because it was the only thing I wanted to do and I came up at a time, pre-Internet, where coming from a small town, being in a band was a valid dream to have. For anyone it’s a valid dream to have, you just have to apply yourself.

But nowadays, it’s 10 times as hard to make it from step one all the way up to being on a label because I jus don’t think a lot of those things exist anymore. Back then, you had to get in a van, tour, and build your name up word-of-mouth. Now, you can just put some songs online and overnight you can be the next Justin Bieber, where you had a YouTube video that got a million fuckin’ views and suddenly some people put you through a corporate machine and make you a fuckin’ celebrity. That’s just kind of sad, actually. There’s so many people out there nowadays that just don’t get that opportunity.

Then again, you have a lot of other outlets for music because now you can put your music online and there’s somebody in fuckin’ Russia that’s downloading your song. We didn’t have that. We had to bring our music to those people via a label or via other bands passing it on. So, I don’t regret anything I’ve decided on, but at the same time I’ve realized this is the only thing I do and if it wasn’t for this band, what the fuck else would I have in this economy?

So did that fuel you in a way?

Well, yeah I mean it eventually led to, after some other things—I got married and had a kid when I was young—but after all that, I used to go to shows and this is what I always did: I would take my demo cassette that I recorded myself with a drum machine and I would give it bands I liked at shows. And I went to a show in Cincinnati, Ohio, this band The Queers were playing with this band The Vandals and I gave a demo to The Queers and became friends with Joe. But my buddy was like, “Well, The Vandals are starting a label, you should give them one too.” I didn’t listen to The Vandals, but I was like, sure, give them a demo for me.

So they wrote me a letter and said they’d really like to put out my album. So I said, “That’s all me and a drum machine, but if you can help me find a drummer, I’d be more than happy. I really need a drummer for my band.” And so, though them, I met my first drummer from Santa Barbara, California, and I moved out there and the main struggle for me was that I moved out there, it was the most expensive place to live, I was homeless, I had nothing but the clothes on my back and my shitty van that broke down. So I was living in my van and that was something that really pushed me to struggle and made me realize that, no matter what, I was not going back to Indiana. I was going to make it work and I was lucky enough that, by fate or whatever, I met some people out in Santa Barbara who gave me a place to stay on their couch, helped me to get a job doing maintenance on some houses at UCSB.

The dude also played bass and I was like, “Do you want to play bass?” And like the drummer flaked out because he was addicted to heroin and we found another drummer that went to UCSB through a want ad and everything just kind of clicked together. We actually had a tour booked that was with a couple big bands and I was ready to flake on it all because I was like, what can we do now? Our drummer flaked out.

But instead of flaking, within two weeks time I found a drummer, a bass player and I added a second guitarist like I always envisioned. So I put the whole fuckin’ band together, we went on tour which—the booking agent was a pretty big agent and she booked our old drummer’s past band, Lagwagon, and we showed up to the first show and I was like, “Well, I’m sorry. Derrick’s not in the band anymore, but we’re going to make all these shows, we’re going to make it work and hopefully you understand.” And she was good buddies with Derrick and I think she put us on as a favor to him, but we showed up and I think we were a stronger band than we’d ever been prior.

Then we did our Blue Skies Broken Hearts album and we just kind of took off. I remember we played a show on the West Coast, we played the basement of a bagel shop in Albuquerque to five people and by the time we got to the East Coast, there were about 150 people at the shows, so we noticed it catching on, word of mouth, and I’ve been able to support myself since ’96 just by going out and playing songs. I never take it for granted, I always try to be the most humble band and that’s why, for me, playing places like this is what I’ve always loved. It’s definitely at a level where I feel it’s everything that I like and I enjoy. It’s the most comfortable.

If you had to estimate, how many Ataris shows do you think you’ve played?

Oh my gosh. Well, at our 2003 level when So Long Astoria came out, we toured like nine months out of the year and we would not usually take any days off. So, if you estimate that, we had like a couple years where we took most of the year off because we fuckin’ burnt ourselves out, but I would say thousands. I’ve never stopped to think about it, strangely enough and also strangely enough I’ve never had that question asked. So, I’m not prepared. But we started really touring in 2000 and it’s 2012, so I would say a minimum of 150 shows a year, so like 1500 to 2000 shows. That’s crazy. But it’s more crazy that I was able to basic math in my head on the spot! That’s Indiana right there, boy! In my hillbilly accent!

Haha, well tell me about the acoustic tour you recently went on. How is that different from Ataris shows?

Oh, well I’m about to do a few more, actually. I’m going to announce at the end of this tour, I’m going to go up the East Coast and up through the northern tier of the U.S. I love touring for acoustic shows. I put out this acoustic album free on our Band Camp page for anyone to download because I really felt like when I play songs with myself with just one guitar, that’s the way I write a lot of my songs and that’s the way I feel that the narrative and the story of the song can really come across. So, when I go out by myself in my van, it’s when I feel most inspired. I love touring with my friends and the four of us get along really great and it’s honestly the most fun I’ve every had touring with a band.

But there’s also something great just being out in silence, not having to talk to anyone. When I tour like that, people ask, “Don’t you get lonely?” But, no! You realize that at least nine hours of the day I’m behind our merch table talking to people or I’m on stage, so it’s social hour for like most of the day when I’m hanging out at the club. And then the rest of the day, I feel I’m most in my element when I’m driving around just looking out the window at the lines of the road and the scenery and when I’m taking photos. So, it’s great. It’s great to balance both. I mean, I have to realize that for the guys in my band, this is their only outlet to make a living. Where as I still make some money from the songs I’ve written, I want to stay on the road long enough to make everyone happy and make sure they’re paying their rent. So, we try to tour with the band at least once or twice in the states every year.

After Christmas we’re going to do a really big tour of Asia and Indonesia, Malaysia, China, Singapore, Japan, Australia, Philippines, Thailand, too. So, that’s going to be great because, honestly, The Ataris in those places…like, we played Indonesia a few years ago and we drew like 8-10,000 people on our own. So there’s places like Asia and Latin America and the U.K. where we still draw bigger than anywhere in the world, where as America we do like 400 on the West Coast. The Midwest…some of those shows are small, but you still have just as much fun when it’s 20-30 people or 100 or 200 people.

But I chalk a lot of those show in Asia up to the fact that a lot of those places are just discovering punk for the first time because of the last five years the internet is coming to those countries and people are suddenly able to have this outlet for their frustration. I mean in Indonesia, it’s like 90 percent Muslim and the big thing in their life is religion. So for them, to discover punk rock, it’s an outlet that is acceptable to their family, but it’s also a little rebellious and they don’t really know how to act yet. So you go play there and it’s chaotic and fun and people are jumping off the fuckin’ rafters. It’s like what I remember of being a kid. So if you still want a taste for that and you feel America has gotten a little stale and a little jaded, you go to like South America to play or Mexico to play and those shows are so crazy and I think they give us a run for our money here.

That’s awesome! You mentioned your photography and this is actually the first time I’ve seen you guys and I noticed you have a lot of beautiful photographs for sale on your merch table in there. How long have you been doing that?

Well, the first photo I took was the cover of the Blue Skies album we did. I had this friend and I really loved his photography. We were just staring out, so we didn’t have any money to pay the guy, but I was like, “I’d really love for you to take some photos for me for our album. I’ll give you a list of some of the things I want for it and some ideas, and will you take them?” And he was like, “Sure” and then he demanded all this money and was kind of a dick about it and I told him in advance I couldn’t pay him, so I was like, “Fuck it! How hard can this be?”

So I stole my roommates’ camera and I went out and took all these photos. I like shooting on film still to this day, but she had this old Canon AE1 that shot on film and I went out and took all the photos myself and I took that Blue Skies shot and people were like, “Damn, those are some good photos!” and I enjoyed doing it, so I just kept doing it. That was like ’98 or ’99 and now I just do it casually.

I’ve had some bands ask me to do it for their album covers and I’ll do it, I mean, if it’s someone who I like their music. It’s fun and I enjoy it and, strangely enough, I never thought I’d be able to sell my prints but every night I’m amazed, I’ll sell tons of prints on the road and the fact that somebody has a photograph I’ve taken in their house is almost more flattering to me than the fact that someone listens to our songs in a way. Because it’s like, after a while, you become used to being a songwriter or an artist in that aspect and it just becomes like, this is what I do. This is my job and I love it and I’m honored that people listen to what I write. But I never sit and think of myself as a photographer, so that aspect of it is kind of weird and cool in another way.

Yeah, absolutely. I noticed you guys re-record a lot of your songs and you talked about how you’ve recorded all the instruments on some of your albums…is it safe to say you’re a perfectionist?

Uh yeah, I’m really OCD is what it is. I’m totally OCD and I’m totally ADD at the same time. My mind’s racing a million miles a minute at all times and in the studio it’s even worse. Because I feel like most writers or painters, you have this idea in your head and there have been times in this band where I’ve felt some of the band members’ musicianship wasn’t up to par with what I felt needed to be there in the studio. We put egos aside in the studio and they’re like, “Hey, this is what you have in your head, you should play it how it sounds.” Rather than, we spend a day of our studio time with me showing it to our guitarist or bass player who then will not still not play the idea that I had in my head. So, for the most part, perfection is just…if you have a sound or you were a painter and you have this idea of what the painting is supposed to look like and you’re like, “Here, you paint it for me.” It’s going to come out completely different, which sometimes is good, and that’s why there’s been some songs where we will record as a band, live.

With the lineup now, I feel this is one of the strongest lineups we’ve ever had and I feel really comfortable with everybody playing different parts and it’s just a matter of like, our drummer lives in Pennsylvania and we all live in Arizona, so we never rehearse. So, when I have an idea, usually I’ll think it up and I’ll have all the parts in my head and then I have to delegate like, “Okay, live, Thomas, our other guitar player, you’ll play this and I’ll play this.” Sometimes I’ll write multiple guitar parts. So in the studio sometimes it’s just easier for me to play all the parts and that’s how it’s been. But the good thing about this band is that, on our good nights, we breathe new life into old songs that I feel the old albums versions are kind of stale or dated. That’s why we’ve chosen to re-record some of these old songs.

For our new album, The Graveyard of the Atlantic, which I’ve got to finish vocals for like seven songs, but once that comes out there’s one song, Fast Times At Dropout High that is from our End Is Forever album that we re-recorded because when we recorded it originally, I was sick in the studio and the vocals, I felt, never came out the way I wanted them and the way we played that song live forever was so much more powerful. So, when people hear that, I think they’ll agree that this version is far superior and crushes the old one. I think it’s, to date, the strongest thing I’ve ever recorded out of any song. I think it turned out great and it really captures what it sounded like when we played it live in ’06 and ’07 on our tours when we were a seven-piece with three guitars, cello, bass, drums and keys and it really had this kind of big, swelling, atmospheric, post-rock vibe of the instrumental bands I love and there’s a big, 4-5 minute epic, quiet-loud, peaks and valleys chaotic buildup.

So what is the status of the new album? Is it just those vocals that need to be done?

Yeah, I’ve recorded about 20 songs and there will be about 12 on the record. So that’s one thing, that’s the album The Graveyard of the Atlantic. And then, before we left for tour, I had this idea that I talked about a bit on our Facebook, that throughout the years, out of all the stuff we recorded for all our albums, there had been a lot of stray songs like leftover—not necessarily leftover because they weren’t a good song, just because when you record an album some songs just fall to the wayside.

There were a lot of songs I wanted to release from those demos, but the tapes had just decayed over time and had a lot of damage and the cassettes were old and fucked up. So I scrapped the idea and thought it would be cool to just go in the studio with the four of us and just record a lot of these old songs live, the better ones. So I had that idea and we learned a bunch of these old tunes.

We recorded about six before we left and I’m going to go in when I get home and record maybe eight or 10 more and we’re going to try and get that out before the end of the year. We’re going to do a limited release of vinyl only and then put it on our Band Camp. I don’t know what it’ll be called or anything but the songs turned out really great. And anyone who listens to it would never be able to tell if they’re old songs or new songs because we recorded it the same way we record all our albums, all analog, all on tape and just very organic, big, trashy room sounds and the end product sounds just as cool as any previous Ataris album.

So, I think it’ll be cool and it’s a cool precursor to the actual Ataris album The Graveyard of the Atlantic because it captures what these old Ataris albums did and, to me, it doesn’t sound like something I’d write today because it was me writing these songs when I was younger. So that’s what was cool about it. You can go back and revisit those places in your life, but you can’t go back and recapture that same feeling that you had back then. So recording these songs was cool because it was me putting myself through the ringer of what I wrote at 13 or 14 or 19, but capturing it with the sounds of how we play it today.

So I think it’ll be a really cool thing and a really cool project and I think, in the end, when people hear it, they’re going to be pretty excited because if you like the old Ataris song—definitely nothing too silly—but the more Jawbreaker, Samiam, Hot Water Music, pissed-off kind of rock songs, this has that kind of aspect. There’s a little of that on our new album, too. But I think the new album has a little bit more instrumentation and is a little more adventurous, where as these songs are a little more straight forward.

Okay, well here are two silly questions here for you…if you could be in the Guinness Book of World Records for any one thing, what would it be?

I’ll just say the first thing that popped in my head: Like Forest Gump, I would like to see how many times I could walk across the country, just back and forth.

Did you read about the guy who just did it?

Oh yeah, that guy’s awesome! And there’s a couple other people I know who do it on bikes. So like, I would like to try and do that because I love walking. Everybody who walks with me hates walking with me because I power walk everywhere with a purpose. It’s annoying, but at the same time you might as well try to get some exercise. So, that sounds like fun and I could see the country. Maybe someday I’ll do that when I retire.

Finally, if you could be anyone for a day, who would you be?

I don’t know…John Lennon? I mean, obviously he’s not alive anymore, so I wouldn’t want to be him on his final day, but maybe on one of his other days. He was an amazing musician and an amazing human, so that would be pretty awesome.