After 12 years together and a four-year hiatus, Californian Metalcore trailblazers Atreyu rebounded late last year with sixth album Long Live. They play Metro City on Thursday, 20 October with Cane Hill as guests of Bullet For My Valentine, who are old friends, as lead guitarist Dan Jacobs tells SHANE PINNEGAR.
“Yeah, I wanna say that we took them out on their first actual tour over in the UK a long time ago – probably, like 10, 11 years ago,” Jacobs remembers. “It’s always good to see them. Those guys like to have a good time. There’s very few bands that have been around as long as we have from our genre and era of music, so it’s cool to have guys like that to tour with and you can relate to and a similar age and similar vibe and a similar style of music.”
Being one of the first Metalcore bands to forge that new genre, I wonder if Atreyu listened back to their first Metalcore forays and sat back thinking, ‘this doesn’t sound like anything we’ve ever heard before – we’re really breaking new ground’?
“I don’t know, sort of,” he answers, cautiously. “The reason everything that we do sounds the way it does or why Metalcore, that kind of vibe, came about, is more so because we wanted to sound like SO MANY of our favourite bands from so many different genres of music, but at the root of it, be a heavy band.
“Collectively (we were) trying to sound like all of our favourite bands of every genre of music that we like – from every dude in our bands’ opinion, all at the same time! That’s why our band’s got this unique [sound that is a] mix of all this stuff.”
Talking about the long hiatus the band took from the end of 2010 until late 2014, Jacobs confirms that the band were burnt out and a couple of months off wasn’t going to solve the problem.
“I think a lot of it was just that we were steering in the wrong direction,” he admits. “I think mentally we all were just not feeling the way that we wanted to with everything, the way we should doing something as cool as getting to be in a band for a living. I think we were like, ‘you know what, maybe we just need to step back and shake it off for a little bit.’
“It almost made us come full circle and also gave us time to see how green the grass was on the other side, as well as find ourselves as individuals outside of the band. I think we just wanted to see what we’re all made of and not just be the dudes from Atreyu our whole [life], since we were teenagers, you know?”
Dan and his bandmates all started other bands and/or businesses and spread their wings during their time away from Atreyu.
“As you get older and you’ve toured, you live with them 24 hours a day for months at a time, 7 days a week – you get to a point where you don’t really get to have that bit space… [and] dealing with the stressors of making sure your band is successful and [how to] maintain this lifestyle so you can keep doing what you love.”
Musically Long Live sounds more like what the band were doing 10 years ago, rather than the albums just before they went on their break. Jacobs says that was a natural result of the break they had, just realigning in the direction they would prefer to be going in.
“I think it’s kind of like I was saying with us coming full circle,” explains Jacobs. “I feel this is almost like round two for us. We’ve come all the way around. It’s like, ‘all right, let’s start over again.’”
The reinvigoration hasn’t adversely affected their live set – Jacobs even shares a tour-band-hack for set list writing!
“[We’re playing] a little bit of everything,” he says. “Honestly, the trick that we’ve come to when it comes to playing live shows, is you can go on things like Spotify, iTunes and you can go look up [your songs]. You can click it over to a different country and you can go look up a band in that country and get their page and see what their top 10 songs are in that country. You have a much better chance of pleasing your audience by going in and just looking at the top 10 – there’s your set! Just mix those up however [you like]. You go in there and it crushes!”