The Ataris - Bryan Nelson and Chris Swinney

Interview Date: April 23, 2009

Associated band: The Ataris


For the last year, much of the news coming from The Ataris pertained to acoustic tours and talk of a new record. Kris Roe embarked on a series of solo acoustic tours which spanned multiple continents to play some older material. When he came back, a renewed vitality in The Ataris was born. The new The Ataris album is set to be released this summer, and leading up to that, the band is playing some dates including Bamboozle and the Vans Warped Tour this summer. Bassist Bryan Nelson and guitarist Chris Swinney took some time out of recording to talk with us about what to expect in the months to come.rn

What have you guys been up to lately?rn

CHRIS: We are in Indiana right now, and the weather is horrible. We’ve been doing a lot of press and promo for our South African tour we have coming up after Bamboozle. Other than that, we’ve been pretty much just finishing up the album. Kris is finishing up recording the vocals right now. He just got back from Australia; he did an acoustic four-show tour there. rn

BRYAN: A lot of the time we’ve been practicing too.rn

CHRIS: Yeah, lots of practice. We are doing a Misfits set at Bamboozle, and that’s been pretty much taking up all our time trying to get those songs down.

Why did you guys specifically choose the Misfits for Hoodwink [Day 1 of Bamboozle], and what era of Misfits should we expect to hear stuff from?rn

BRYAN: We did Misfits because the Descendents songs were too hard to play. *laugh*rn

CHRIS: Yeah, we wanted to do the Descendents, but man, we just didn’t have enough time. Misfits were our fall-back plan so we went with them. We pretty much are doing all Danzig Misfits era, not anything after that.

Bamboozle is just around the corner. With all the bands playing, are there any in particular you’re excited to see?rn

CHRIS: We’re really psyched to see No Doubt because they haven’t played in so long. We’re really excited to see Sum 41 again ‘cause it’s been a while.rn

BRYAN: And Face to Face.rn

CHRIS: Yeah, Face to Face. We’re crazy excited about that. The Get Up Kids reunion will be great too. I’ve never seen them live so this will be my first time seeing them.rn

BRYAN: I saw Matt Pryor play a couple months ago with Dustin from Thrice, Chris Conley, and Anthony from Bayside.rn

CHRIS: I’m stoked to see Bayside too. I really like them.

After Bamboozle, you’re heading to South Africa. How did that tour come about? Do you guys have friends over there who helped set it up?rn

BRYAN: We had been talking about wanting to go to South Africa for like the last month before it was scheduled. *laugh*rn

CHRIS: Yeah, we watched NOFX’s Backstage Passport from South Africa, and it looked pretty cool. We talked to some guys who have toured there…. Henry Rollins said it was awesome. Underoath went there and had a good time. We had some friends at Johannesburg talk to us about getting the shows together.rn

We have some dates in the Midwest, Pennsylvania, and New York leading up to Bamboozle, Florida and Texas too. Then we have Warped Tour, and after that, we go to South America for a month. Hopefully after that, we get a package deal to do some more touring. We thought about doing a US tour after Warped, but we didn’t want to be touring at the same time as Warped Tour and having to compete with that.

Kris mentioned recently that you re-recorded ‘Fast Times at Drop-Out High’ for the new album. Does that mean the album will have an older End Is Forever feel to it?rn

CHRIS: We’re definitely progressing forward from the last album, but with a flare of the old Ataris style to it. Kris fell back in love with a lot of the old songs on his acoustic tour that he was doing. He shied away from that stuff a lot, but after playing them on the solo tour, he fell in love with them again. We are a bunch of punk and metal guys so naturally the stuff we wrote for the new album had an old Ataris sound to them. I feel like a lot of doubters of The Ataris are going to love this album. It’s very reminiscent of Blue Skies and So Long Astoria.rn

BRYAN: Especially lyrically, the album is a lot like So Long Astoria with the subjects of memories and reflection.rn

CHRIS: I think the skeptics and the lovers will both really dig it. The lyrics make for a really fun rock album.

With the record industry tanking (as well as our country’s economy), have you guys thought about self-releasing your album or following Pennywise’s footsteps of pairing up with an organization like Myspace to offer it online?rn

CHRIS: We are thinking about a certain record label for the album. We are in talks with several agents, figuring out where to put the new CD. The idea of putting the album out DIY was enticing, but I’d be worried about us having enough push to get the ads and promotional support out that would be enough for it. Perhaps we can do a vinyl with a digital download or something like that. Bands are doing pretty well, but the record labels definitely need to figure out some other way to get albums out better. But anyway, we are looking at some decent-sized labels. I’m hoping we can do a couple good tours and get a good single out there or something.

Chris, you were on Warped Tour back six years ago with one of your old bands, and The Ataris were main-stage on that tour. Is it surreal to go from being in one of the bands that played with The Ataris to actually being a full-time contributing member to the band?rn

CHRIS: Surreal is a good way to say it. I’ve been in a lot of different bands, and I have toured on the Vans Warped Tour four or five times now either as a band or a roadie. Our band The Widow Jenkins was in talks with Victory Records and had just booked a big showcase when our singer quit. It kinda worked full-circle for the best though. The old members of The Ataris had started a side-project in New York together and left The Ataris to pursue that. Kris contacted us about getting old friends together from Indiana and play as an actual band instead of like a Kris Roe-show or something. It worked out very naturally. We had our first show as a full band to 3000 people in Las Vegas. They had us in a hotel, and we had a really good time there. Then I realized “Oh man, we have to play tomorrow.”rn

BRYAN: We had minimal problems…. Other than technical difficulties with the bass.rn

CHRIS: Yeah, we borrowed gear from Carolina Liar, who opened the show, because we flew in for the show. We had a bunch of technical difficulties, and it was tuned up high in a country-style sound. *laugh*

Have you talked to Kris much about his recent experience with airplanes being struck by lightning this weekend?rn

CHRIS: He called before the flight saying he was stuck in the airport in Melbourne with his tour guide because flights were getting delayed by this storm. Then he goes onto this plane, and the thing gets hit by lighting! People were going crazy, thinking they were going to die and stuff. He calls me at like 3 in the morning after they landed and was like, “I just went through the most crazy experience. I miss you guys and love you guys and will see you soon.” *laugh* That’s pretty nuts because Kris has been on like 150 flights, and ten minutes before this flight, he called me, and then immediately when he lands, he calls saying how he loves and misses us. What a crazy thing.

You two have a recording studio together, right?rn

BRYAN: And we are sitting in it right now! *laugh* It’s called The Gallows.

Aside from your own material, who have you been recording?rn

CHRIS: We just finished recording a full length for the band Crusoe. We also just recorded Zephyr and Dreams of University. I teach guitar when I’m home, and Bryan does a lot of the recording. He’s like the head recording guy. We also started recording Chopper (old bassist of Emery who was also in our band The Widow Jenkins) [Joel Green]’s new solo full-length album. We played some stuff on the record as well. It’s like a blues-y, country type sound.rn

BRYAN: We also recorded Sergeant Shepherd, Everything Now, and one song for Remember Paris.

What do you guys do aside from recording and hanging out with friends and family?rn

CHRIS: Friends, family, and recording is a good chunk of our time. I watch a lot of TV. Bryan works out a lot.rn

BRYAN: I work like constantly.rn

CHRIS: I watch a lot of Ghost Hunters. We’re very much into that paranormal type shit, like ghosts and stuff. We also read a lot. We’re a pretty lame group of guys. *laugh*

Last question to wrap things up: You guys are getting an opportunity to see a lot of the world. What are you looking forward to seeing outside the US?rn

CHRIS: Africa is going to be especially crazy. We’re planning on swimming with sharks at some point. Our friends over there want to take us to some beach to see penguins.rn

BRYAN: We also really want to go to Iceland.rn

CHRIS: Yeah, we’ve been in talks about going over to Iceland soon. It doesn’t seem like many bands get to go there-rn

BRYAN: Well, other than Norwegian metal bands. We’re looking at getting over there after the summer hopefully.rn

CHRIS: We want to definitely see Machu Picchu in South America. We are going to Japan in October for a bit, which will be awesome. rn

BRYAN: Pretty much going to all these places is awesome.rn

CHRIS: After a couple weeks of touring, we’ll be in tour-mode and having as much fun as possible. We love playing shows. We’re also looking into possibly coming to Boston around the 26th or 27th of April. We have a friend who owns a tattoo parlor there, and we’re talking with him about doing a show at the Middle East Club. Oh, and we’re possibly doing a weekend in Hawaii and another weekend in Alaska after Warped Tour. rn

BRYAN: We’re looking at going to Puerto Rico too.rn

CHRIS: Maybe Cuba.rn

BRYAN: I’m not sure if we’re allowed to go there *laugh*rn

CHRIS: Oh, and we want to get over to China in October as well. Lots of tours coming up!

Thank you to Chris and Bryan for taking time out of recording to talk with us. You can catch all the info on the latest tour schedule of The Ataris and news on their new album at