ATREYU are a band in the truest sense of the word: five friends who come together to create music for themselves, for each other, and for the thriving community that has forged around it.
They are bonds born of time; of joy and sadness; of success and hardship. But most importantly, they are born of an openness that allows five unique creative personalities to unite in something far stronger and far bigger than the sum of its talented parts. It’s what makes ATREYU – frontman Brandon Saller, guitarists Dan Jacobs and Travis Miguel, bassist/vocalist Porter McKnight and drummer Kyle Rosa – one of the most respected names and potent forces in heavy music, and their live show one of the most heralded on the touring circuit.
“We draw strength from each other and give each other the space and support to be the best, most creative person we can be,” Dan Jacobs explains. “And together, right now, that makes us the best band we’ve ever been.”
He’s not wrong. With a 20-year career and eight acclaimed albums in the rear-view mirror, ATREYU in 2023 are focused only on the present and the future, and a mission to continue shaping and defining the rock and metal scene, just as they have always done since their emergence from Huntington Beach in Southern California.
It’s a journey that has seen them hit stages in the furthest corners of the globe on tour, collect multiple Gold records, amass over one billion streams and unite millions of fans through their social channels. And they’re only just getting started.
Arriving at this point hasn’t been without growing pains expected of any decades’ long relationship. But ask the band and they will tell you that through adversity comes strength, and that the journey has seen them arrive at a destination with sunnier climes than they could ever have imagined.
“It has allowed us to reach a point where we finally feel like we found ourselves,” is Jacobs’ summation. “Everything that we have put out to this point has built to this moment. Something special is happening with ATREYU right now. We can feel the creativity and collaboration when the five of us get in the studio. We can feel the confidence we all give each other when we stand onstage together. And we can see it in the audience when they’re losing their minds. They’re having as good a time as we are ourselves.”
Where once the band were heralded as the early innovators of the nascent metalcore scene, their place in heavy music’s diverse and boundary-breaking scene has never felt more relevant, with inspirations of pop-punk, hardcore, thrash, ‘80s rock and more melding into a unique and varied sound that has never felt more relevant than in today’s increasingly genreless world.
“It feels like the world has been catching up with the diversity of influences and sounds that we’ve been putting into ATREYU for some time now,” Saller says. “There are no limitations, no barriers.”
To that end, new EP ‘The Hope Of A Spark’ embodies everything that ATREYU have come to be, to mean, to represent. The first new music from the band in 2023, it marks the beginning of the next chapter in the band’s story, and the tantalisingly promise of what the future holds. Each of its four tracks are assorted pieces of an expansive puzzle still taking shape, form and focus.
“These songs are the culmination of our entire artistic endeavours,” McKnight attests. “It’s everything we’ve learned as humans, everything we’ve ingested as musicians, and everything we’ve experienced in this lifetime. It is ATREYU unleashed.”
Produced by long-time collaborator John Feldmann, the new release finds ATREYU reflecting and ruminating on the pressures, pleasures and pains of modern life, each track a snapshot of deeply personal lived and shared experiences with which listeners the world over will identify. Individually profound, yet speaking to a wider meaning as a collected body of work, these are universal truths which presented in song provide catharsis and comfort to its creators.
“The overarching concept is essentially about the seasons of life,” Brandon Saller explains. “Everyone goes through the same things, the ups and downs of life. The emphasis really is the importance of at least respecting those, and finding the positives and the lessons from even your lowest moments.”
In that regard, opening track “Drowning” could not be more apt. Capturing the feeling of being, in Saller’s words, “buried by life”, the track was written as a collective effort into which all of the band pored their own experiences – be it familial health problems that Jacobs’ was shouldering, Saller’s first encounters with feelings of anxiety, or McKnight’s long-running fight with depression. Stark lyrics including “The clouds in my head always block out the sun,” conjure intimate and varying feelings from each, and create a track that could not be more timely in its relevance and importance, standing as emblematic of the environment fostered both inside and around ATREYU.
“As a writer, it’s therapeutic to get our feelings out; music is the best way for us to express ourselves,” Jacobs nods. “And I think that’s why it connects with people, because they hear it and it’s therapeutic to them, too.”
ATREYU fans old and new are sure to find such catharsis throughout ‘The Hope Of A Spark’. “God/Devil” laments a loss of identity, self and faith – a desperate cry for help from a higher power, when our greatest power is one we need to find within. “Capital F” was inspired by Saller’s observations of the human plight he saw in his local community; an imploration, as McKnight suggests, that “we’ve all forgotten the point of this existence, which is us ourselves and our loved ones”. “Watch Me Burn”, meanwhile, is the phoenix rising from life’s trial-by-fire – a call to arms to let renewed hope emerge from smouldering embers and ash.
“To me it’s a song about being cleansed by fire,” explains McKnight. “Whatever it is that’s bringing you down and holding you back, burn it down. Use it, learn from it, move on and grow. That thing does not deserve you and you don’t deserve it.”
“It’s very relatable to all of us individually,” adds Saller, who leads the track’s anthemic, hooky chorus with a defiant cry of ‘Even when flames grow higher / I’ll be fighting till I’m dead.’ “But it’s also incredibly pertinent to the journey of this band.”
Where that journey leads ATREYU next is thrillingly limitless. ‘The Hope Of A Spark’, though, is the open invitation for fans new and old to join them on the ride. And after all, doesn’t knowing the final destination spoil the surprise?
“ATREYU is a place for everyone, us included, to be open and to be themselves,” Porter McKnight concludes. “When you are with us, you are free. Have fun. Make friends. Create memories.”