Tattoo You!: A Chat with Porter McKnight of Atreyu at Musink!
It was a weekend of tattoo art and sonic mayhem at this year’s editon of MusInk Fest, which took place at the OC Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. On the final night of the annual event, right before Atreyu’s performance on the main stage, we caught up with bassist Porter McKnight for an interview. Topics of discussion would include the new album Long Live on Spinefarm Records, their comeback concerts after a long hiatus, tattoo art, and a whole lot more! Read on…
Tell me what you do in Atreyu and how many tattoos do you have?
My name is Porter McKnight. I play bass and yell things and run around like an idiot in Atreyu. And I have no tattoos. I’m the only person in the band and crew and pretty much every single person I know that doesn’t have a tattoo.
What does a person with no tattoos do at MusINK?
I play a show. [laughs] I perform on the stage.
Do you walk by these booths and think, I should get that.
No, no. I do more art than I do music to be honest. I love music – don’t get me wrong, and one doesn’t exist without the other – but I have done art my entire life as far as I can remember. I did our new album art for this record. I shot our own promos. I wrote and directed the first music video for this and have directed the one subsequent, and so I have a lot of hands in the art world. So, why I bring that up, is it makes me very picky. I’ve been close a few times to getting tattoos, and there are certain things that I probably would still like, but mostly the idea is, “Fuck, I’m really glad I didn’t do that.” You know what I mean? So, there you go. I am 32 now and I’ve found a couple artists that I really, really like and there’s one of them in Germany near where my girlfriend lives, so I’m going to get his, probably this summer I’m thinking. Then there’s a guy named Dave Quiggle here who actually did our logo in 2005 that we still use today. He’s fucking awesome. So I’ll probably get something from him. I’ve spoken to him a while back. It’s just a matter of, I’m so picky and I’ve got to trust the artist, but I finally found those two and I really love their work. There will be something soon.
Have you met Travis Barker or hung out with him at all?
Going to say no. No. I haven’t met him. I would love to. He’s a very talented musician, and I respect him and all that world. I’ve hung out with Matt Skiba, the newest member of his band, before, many times. But no, never Travis Barker directly.
What made you guys decide it was time to reform Atreyu after your hiatus?
We just knew it was right. I know that sounds kind of weird and lame and hippy, but we just knew. We had been out long enough. We had explored all the avenues. I went and I worked as a graphic designer. I worked on a lot of film shoots with my friends. I made a lot of CD art. I did a lot of photo stuff. I traveled around a lot. I shot a movie in Ethiopia and Iceland. I just did a lot of art based things for a while. Dan went and started a business and started doing printing stuff. Alex started a gym. Brandon did his Hell or High Water stuff and wrote a lot of music. And Travis went and did his stuff as well and played a lot of music. We all just were gone enough that, especially those dudes because they’ve been in the band since ’96, ’97. That’s all they’ve ever known since high school and before is just this band. So they really wanted to figure out what they were outside of it. Just to know what it was like to put Atreyu on the back burner for a bit and just to understand it. I had been doing art for my whole life, and I went to school before I was in it, so I’ve kind of had my feet a little bit more planted and understood what I wanted to do. But I think all of us, we just had the itch. We love this. We were doing all these things and experiencing all these different things – and they’re all wonderful. We all had a great time. But we knew it was time. We needed to do it again. And I couldn’t remember what it was like to be on stage, to be honest. I didn’t think I’d like that. I didn’t think I wanted to be up there. I don’t like the limelight. I’m kind of a shy dude that likes to just be a part of the creation side of it, but then when we played our first show again on September 11th, 2014 at Chain Reaction, it was, fuck. I had forgot how wonderful it is. I really, really love this. And all of us, after that show, I remember that moment of just looking at each other and just like, “That was fucking awesome.” We were all stoked to be doing it again.
What was going through your head at the time on stage?
At Chain Reaction, if the reader or listener doesn’t know, is a very small venue in Orange County, so it was sold out in like a minute or two minutes. An exorbitantly short amount of time. And it was just like a tidal wave of love, is the only way I can really describe that. It was just an onslaught of an outpouring of love from the fans. And then us giving it back. It really was a wonderful time. And I still have felt that with every show we’ve played since. It’s really wonderful.
What does the title of the new album Long Live mean to you?
I’ve actually never thought about that, that’s really funny, considering I did the video and everything. I think it’s obviously a nod at our return and that we’re not going away. We always knew that it wasn’t an actual breakup, that it was just a pause button. So now, once we had those shows and once we came back, we were like – we just want to do this. We’ve wanted to do this for a very long time, that was the idea. The first song on the record, we all had joke titles that I won’t repeat here, but Alex wanted to call the first song “Long Live.” I was like, that should be the album. We had a lot of ideas for the album title and we were like Long Live. Let’s fucking do that, and here we are. I think it’s perfect. I think it’s a wonderful thing. And I think doing the art based around that idea was real fun too, the empty coffins, funeral wreaths. I like that.
What can we expect from a live Atreyu show in 2016?
Running around like a bunch of idiots, I never stop running around. There’s no part of the stage that my feet don’t touch. I run around in the crowd as well, often. I go in the pit and have them circle pit with me. We just run around and just love it. We really enjoy being up there, singing, yelling, playing the instruments and doing the things that bands do for people. We really just enjoy performing and just playing the music in front of people that really love it, there’s no describing that feeling.
What are you looking forward to the most about your tour with A Devil You Know?
It’s awesome. I really like Howard’s voice. I like him as a frontman and I think we maybe did one festival with them when he was the singer in Killswitch. I never really got to hang out. I really, really like watching him. The old bassist of Bleeding Through is with them, he’s a good friend of ours. It was really good. I never really had seen them until last night. I was standing in the crowd, giddy, this is fucking awesome. Just really really happy to be there. I really look forward to a lot more show across the US with them.
Do you have any messages for Atreyu fans who are reading this now?
Just, thank you. If you take the time our of your life or whatever you’re doing to read this interview and you’ve gotten to this point, and haven’t moved onto the next youtube video or whatever you’re doing with your life, thank you. We really appreciate you. Come say hello at a show because we’re always wandering about.
(Interview by Ken Morton – Photos by Jack Lue)
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