(January 11th, 2009) Right before Atreyu was set to take off on a tour with The Used, drummer and co-vocalist Brandon Saller announced two live shows of his own. The solo material has been on his Myspace for a while, and Saller’s live band would be an all-star lineup – featuring members of Good Charlotte, The Aquabats, and Death By Stereo. Decidedly different than what Atreyu fans are used to, the music shows another side to the musician, which is sure to surprise many a fan. We spoke with Brandon to find a bit more out about his new venture as well as the current happenings of his main band Atreyu…
First of all, how long have you been writing songs on your own?
I’ve been focusing on it now for probably about the last year or so. It kind of started when we were writing the Lead Sails Paper Anchor album.
Obviously your lyrical ideas are going to be a lot different than what is written for Atreyu. Where do you get some of the lyrical ideas for your solo project?
I’m going just pretty much from what I know. For Atreyu, I never had too much involvement with writing lyrics. I just wrote about things that I knew for the solo project.
How nervous do you think you’re going to be, playing this material for the very first time in front of a live audience?
I don’t think I’ll be nervous – I’m more anxious. I think it will be a little bit strange being up front with a guitar instead of hidden behind four other guys behind a big drum kit. It’s definitely going to be different. But I’m excited about the material and I’m excited with the band that I have. It’s not so much nervous – I’m just anxious and excited to get out there.
Aaron from Underoath has The Almost as a solo project. Will this be kind of your version of The Almost?
I wouldn’t say that. The only comparison I guess would be is that we’re both drummers. But it’s definitely a different thing – like the musical style is completely different. He’s a great writer, but I think that it’s something completely different on its own.
Atreyu hasn’t played Chain Reaction in quite a while. How do you feel about going back there?
I mean, that’s kind of why I chose that venue for the show. That’s really where we got our start. The others venues we used to play in aren’t open anymore, so it seemed perfect to go back. It’s like to revisit where we started – it would only make sense to have me start solo in the same place.
You have an all-star lineup for your solo band. The biggest surprise I think would be Billy Martin from Good Charlotte. How did he become involved with your solo work and where do you know him from?
We’ve just become friends from the last couple of years. Obviously he’s a great guitar player and a great writer. Just through being friends, we’ve written some songs together and recorded some songs together for fun. And it just seemed right to have him involved. I asked him to play and I got lucky. All the people that are in my band are people that I really, really respect. I’ve gotten lucky.
And Ian Fowles from The Aquabats is in your band – that’s another big surprise too!
It is! It’s very cool, because for me it’s just my friends, but when you look at it and you put the lineup there and put their bands in there – it’s like wait – where the fuck did that come from? (Much laughter) Ian’s been a friend of mine for a long time. He was a couple of years older than me in High School and we were both from the same town. I grew up going to shows watching his band and we used to play in an 80’s cover band back in the day. So I’ve known Ian forever.
Now your drummer Jarrod Alexander (ex-Death By Stereo) is in the band Dead Country who is also playing at Chain that night as well as your band. How exhausting do you think it will be for him to play in two bands on the same night?
(Laughs) He’s a trooper. I think he’ll do just fine. Luckily my songs aren’t super fast or super gnarly like that. I think he’ll be good. He has what it takes.
Is this only a one-time thing or do you plan to do these shows later on at some point?
Absolutely. I definitely plan to play more shows and put out a record – see where it takes me. Obviously Atreyu is the main focus, but it’s definitely something I want to do when I have time off. There will be more shows for sure.
Is there any estimation when a solo CD from you might be out?
I’m hoping for the end of 2010 or early 2011. We still have a lot of touring left on this Atreyu record. We’re just getting started on this album cycle. So hopefully sometime at the end of this year or the beginning of next year.
I have a few Atreyu questions now. How did your tour with The Used come about and is this your first time touring with them?
We did a tour with them about 3-4 years ago and it was awesome, because it was at the point where we were starting to build our fan base. We played to a lot of new kids and we had a great time on that tour. So it was a no-brainer when it came time to tour with them again.
Is there anywhere in the world you have not played that you’d like to go to?
There’s plenty of places. We still haven’t been to South America. We still haven’t been to Russia. We haven’t been to Alaska – I’d like to do that. There’s definitely a lot of places we haven’t been and I think that might be something that we focus on in the coming year or so.
How does Congregation Of The Damned compare to the previous releases?
It’s definitely the best Atreyu record that we’ve put out. I think that our new record, compared to all of the other ones – if you’ve liked our band at any point in time throughout all our career, you’ll like this one. There’s something from every record – there’s something taken from Suicide Notes, The Curse, Death Grip, and Lead Sails – but then again there’s some new things that you haven’t heard before. This record is definitely like a fan’s record. If you’ve been a fan of our band at any point through our career, there’s going to be something for you on this record.
When you look back on your early work such as the Visions CD, what do you think of them now? That was like over ten years ago when it came out!
Dude, I look at that record and that’s an accomplishment. We were a bunch of little kids writing that record. We were borrowing our parent’s cars and driving to fuckin’ Vegas to play shows. I think back on that, and it’s crazy – the amount we accomplished at such an early age. When you look back at the songs – obviously we’re better songwriters now. I mean, we had this recording put out when we were 17-18 years old. We were still figuring things out and learning how to play music. It’s definitely a good thing to look back. It’s shows us where we’ve grown.
Atreyu performed a lot of shows with Avenged Sevenfold over the years. Would you comment on the recent passing of their drummer The Rev?
Those kids are definitely good friends of ours. We’ve known them for a long, long time. It was a very, very sad thing that happened to Jimmy. I think at this point we – as well as all their friends and family and everything – we’ve started to accept everything that happened. It was tragic, but Jimmy was the kind of person who would never want people to be sad for him. I’m lucky to have spent time with him and to have been his friend – and I’m happy with that.
Do you have any messages for Atreyu fans or for people who might be interested in your solo music?
For anyone who likes Atreyu, you might not like my solo stuff. It’s definitely the exact opposite of Atreyu. I think a lot of our fans are open-minded. It’s definitely worth giving it a shot. If people are a fan of my voice, then you’ll definitely like it. But I don’t expect all Atreyu fans to like it, because it is something really different.
Brandon Saller and band will be playing January 14th at the Chain Reaction and Anaheim and January 19th at the Continental Room in Fullerton. Then be sure to catch him with his band Atreyu on tour with The Used!!!
(Interview by Kenneth Morton)