The way things are going for the Ataris, the band’s next album might warrant the subtitle “Heeerrre’s Johnny!”
The band’s newest member, guitarist Johnny Collura, has taken the lead in writing the Ataris’ follow-up to So Long, Astoria, according to bassist Michael Davenport. After the mostly California-based band wraps up some remaining headlining dates and performs at a few radio-sponsored festivals, Davenport, singer/guitarist Kris Roe and drummer Chris Knapp will head to New York, where Collura resides, to build upon the 14 songs they’ve already written the music for. The heavier sound the band is toying with can be attributed to Collura’s East Coast influence.
“It sounds really great,” Davenport said of the new material. “We all collaborate on the music, but Johnny’s been really stepping out with it. It’s really been his time right now for writing. I think that him being an East Coaster, he’s got a lot more of that Glassjaw influence.”
But don’t look for the Ataris to trade in the catchy melodies and fervent tempos that made hits of songs like “In This Diary,” “Boys of Summer” and “My Reply” for Glassjaw’s irregular time signatures and blood-curdling screamo. Traveling around this summer on the Vans Warped Tour with the Long Island band also exposed the Ataris to the heavier sounds of groups like AFI, Poison the Well and Finch.
After six years and five indie albums, the Ataris feel like they’re finally hitting their stride. They plan to work again with Astoria producer Lou Giordano (Millencolin, Goo Goo Dolls), and they recently shot their third video with director Steven Murashige. The clip, for “The Saddest Song,” illustrates Roe and Davenport’s heartrending apologies for often not being there for their 8- and 9-year-old daughters (see “Ataris Releasing Their ‘Saddest Song’ When ‘Summer’ Is Over” ).
“I love it now,” Davenport said of the video production process. “We work with the same crew, the same producer, the same bunch of guys. And we’re all starting to really click. A lot of bands that go from one director to the next are maybe limiting themselves. With Steven we found a match where every video we do just gets easier, more fun and better. You have to find your core team and just go with it. You always want to suck as much great work out of your collaborations as possible.”
The past year has been the quartet’s most successful. So Long, Astoria has sold more than 516,000 copies since its release in March, and the Ataris had no trouble staying on the road throughout most of the year, living up to the theme of the title track from So Long, Astoria.
“It’s sort of about American kids getting away from your hometown and following your dreams,” Davenport explained. “Taking your destiny in your hands and not limiting yourself to staying in your town and doing what your parents or adults think is what you should be doing. Chasing your dreams is the most important thing in life. We went after what we believed was our destiny, and I really think we’re much happier for it. Astoria is us wanting to tell everyone out there to do it too.”