Interview: Alex Varkatzas & Dan Jacobs of Atreyu

Atreyu are a band that cannot be put into any on box. They are unique, original and “too old to care”. After twenty years together as a band, there’s not much they haven’t seen, and it has helped them hone their craft. And they’re returning to Australia this month to remind us just how great they are at what they do!

Spotlight Report chatted with both Alex and Dan to get the dirt on their latest tour, and to talk about their fundraiser for the Australian Bushfires.

SR: You were around fifteen when the band started, right? Did you ever imagine that you’d still be doing it today?

AV: I was actually like thirteen or fourteen – just to clarify. But yeah, no – it was something that we always wanted to do, the guys and myself before I met them. I didn’t really know anything about being in a band. I was just a little kid. I liked Punk Rock and I thought that was cool. And I thought, somehow you can make a living doing that and that would be your job. And that’s what I’ve wanted to do since.

SR: That’s amazing. I can’t imagine knowing what I wanted to do at thirteen, so that’s really impressive!

AV: It wasn’t a long-sighted thing; it was more of just a short-sighted … you’re thirteen you don’t really have long-term views. You want something obsessively and then next thing you know you’re thirty-something.

SR: Is there anything else you could ever imagine doing?

AV: Yeah, absolutely. I have a lot of different passions in life, but this is the one thing that always calls me back and always holds me in place and gives me the proper purpose and clarity.

SR: Very nice! And I wanted to get your opinion on this quote I found on the internet describing Atreyu. Atreyu is too goth to be emo, too metal to be punk and too brazenly emotional to be metal” – what do you think of that?

AV: Atreyu is too old to care. No offense, but I care so little at this point in the game about reviews and things like that … or what people say about the band. I’ve been doing it so long that those people are gone. You have to remember that my job is to make art, and those people’s job is – however lame it is – is to talk about it. People have to say weird things like that. But I don’t know, I think we’re a great band, we make great music that defies being called one sort of thing all the time, you know what I mean?  And I think that’s really hard to do. I think most bands fall into some sort of categorisation. We stay in the “rockish”, heavier vein. Rock for the most part, but our influences are deep … punk and hardcore and metal … so of course we sound like those things that we like.

SR: Absolutely. I’ve always found that the bands that are the most attractive are the ones that don’t really label themselves. They play what they want to play. And that’s definitely more important than trying to fit into a box.

AV: Yeah, I think it is … you’re trying to do something, you’re trying to sound like yourself, trying to make a great song.

“…There are fires in California … And what’s going on in Australia is a lot bigger. So, we want to lend a hand…”

SR: Atreyu never shies away from tough, personal lyrics. What’s it like to play those songs for the first time in front of fans?

AV: You know I just kinda go into my head; I go into my place and I just perform. I try not to think too much about the moment and things up there or get too emotional or personal. I just set my eyes on the task at hand and I kind of lose myself in the song.

SR: What a great response! A really good answer! And speaking of live shows … you guys are back down here very soon. Are you excited to be coming back to Australia?

AV: Yeah, absolutely. I think Australia’s one of our favourite places to tour. I don’t necessarily travel well. It’s hard for me emotionally to leave my family, and I’m kind of a control freak, so flying … I have to pump myself up for it. Australia’s very easy for me to get pumped up to go to. My wife and I went there on our honeymoon. I love Australia. We always have great shows and always beautiful, nice people and good vibes …

SR: For anyone who might be seeing you for the first time … what can they expect from your live shows? 

AV: A little bit of craziness from us. But being more serious than that, we’re playing to the best of our ability, we’re trying to give a good show. But we like to have fun up there. We’ve been doing it a long time. We like to interact with ourselves and the crowd and just enjoy each other’s presence in the moment. We don’t get super, super serious, but we’re not a fucking joke either.

SR: And do you guys prefer intimate shows or big festivals?

AV: They both serve their purpose. I think normal size – intimate shows as you’re calling them – will feel more routine and that feels normal to me. And then the bigger festival shows – it’s normal too … we’ve played a tonne of them, but there’s always just a little bit more hype in them because you’re playing a bunch of smaller shows at one time.

SR: Oh, yeah. I’ve never thought of it that way. That’s really interesting! And what’s your favourite thing about playing a show?

AV: Just the release. And channelling my anxiety and emotions. I don’t always process those things the best, and I never have, and if you look at the lyrics – which, at the beginning of our band was 100% me and the past couple of years it’s like 80% me – they’re pretty fucking dark sometimes. But it’s cathartic, it’s a catharsis for me. It’s how I release. I’ve said that word catharsis in conjunction with my lyrics so many times over the years, but it’s true. I look forward to that. Spending time with my best friends is the second. But that outlet, that focus for deep emotion, that I don’t know how to process other way. If I just wrote it down on paper, maybe just put that on paper, I wouldn’t be able to get them out as much. So that. The release.

SR: Listening to you talk, it is so clear that you still love this music, this band. Yeah.

AV: Ha. Yeah. Catch me on the right day, when I’m in a great mood, and I’m really appreciative, grateful for all the cool things I’ve got.

SR: So, there are days you’re not quite so appreciative?

AV: [laughs] I think everybody has those days.

SR: I can imagine with all the travelling that you guys have to do … that can’t be easy …

AV: It’s more so just the separation from your family. I have small kids. That kind of thing. We all handle it differently. But when you have a purpose, it makes it a little easier to meet it.

SR: It must be so hard, especially coming to Australia which is so far away from everything else. You must feel so much further from your family.

AV: You know, I don’t think of it in those terms. But yeah, it’s different, it’s far, but it feels very like home to me. I live in Southern California and there’s a lot of parallels between where I live and Brisbane or the Gold Coast. Not the city area or Sydney, but the surrounding areas, the atmosphere, the weather … it’s very similar.

SR: That’s good. It’s a little bit of home for you when you’re far away.

AV: Yeah, absolutely.

SR: I love “The Right Side Of The Bed” – it’s my favourite song – is that going to make it on to the setlist for Sydney?

AV: It’s hard to say. Probably … yes … but we haven’t really talked extensively about what set we’re going to play yet. But “Right Side Of The Bed” is one of our more popular songs and we enjoy playing it. There’s a good chance. Right now, I’d say there’s about a 75% chance; there’s a better chance of it getting played than not.

SR: Thank you! How do you guys make your setlist?

AV: Usually Dan or somebody who’s little bit more technologically advanced than myself goes on Spotify or something like that. We just kinda look at the regions – the places we’re going – and what songs are getting the most streams in those areas. And as long as we don’t hate those songs – which we don’t – we play ‘em. And obviously if we have a new album, then we’re excited about that and we’ll want to play new material, but the new songs we play are usually higher streaming new songs. So, we kinda give the fans what they want – I like to think we look, and we see what they want to hear. When you come to the show, you’re interested in me and the band and what we like, but you want to hear the songs that mean something to you. And I think that makes for a better show. And that’s what we want to do. We can play some B sides or C sides – if those exist – deep emotional tracks from way back when … the gratification’s not there for as many people.

SR: And I saw that for 20th Anniversary shows you guys did online polls for the fans to pick their songs. It’s very clear that you want your fans to hear the songs they love.

AV: Yeah, that’s the whole point of going to the show. It’s disappointing when you go and you don’t hear that one song that you really, really wanted to hear. And if it’s some super fucking obscure song off a demo, then that’s your fault for picking a weird song. But for the most part I think we’re playing the songs that people are excited and amped about.

SR: Awesome! You’ve got me really excited for your show now! I can’t wait!

AV: Hey, that’s my job. I like it.

“we’re playing to the best of our ability, we’re trying to give a good show. But we like to have fun up there. We’ve been doing it a long time. We like to interact with ourselves and the crowd and just enjoy each other’s presence in the moment…”

SR: And what’s your writing process like? Is it the same process every time or different for each album?

AV: Writing usually ranges from …. How can I say it? It’s like good stress. It’s a good type of stress. You’re stressed out about … for me, the fear the unknown kind of stresses me out a little bit … making something out of that fear of the unknown is super cool. And when we write – basically for the past two records – we just show up in the studio with John, our producer, and he goes “okay, let’s write a song” and we each throw out some different ideas that we have, and then we see which we gravitate to. Maybe one day we take Brandon’s idea, maybe one day we take mine. Maybe one day we mix ‘em all together. It just varies. But every time that we’re writing, we’re writing fresh, original stuff. We’re not taking something from … “hey, this worked two years ago” – does that make sense?

SR: Yeah. I love hearing bands talking about their writing processes. Everyone works so differently. And I love hearing how great things come together!

AV: Yeah. And in some cases – like this last recording session, because we’re halfway through recording a new record right now – sometimes we do two songs a day. No matter what we write one song a day.

SR: Wow!

AV: And … It’s not just like “here’s a guitar”, “here’s the riff”, “here’s the chorus” … it’s like drums, vocals, at least one verse, usually two verses, chorus, bridge, the bells and whistles. 80%-90% of a finished product.

SR:  Nice!

AV: Maybe 75% – our producer does shit behind the scenes that blows my mind! John does stuff behind the scenes that I don’t even know about. All the types of things … working on it when we’re not around.

SR: Oh yeah. And you joked earlier about not playing songs if you hated them. Are there any songs that – maybe you don’t hate, but – you’ve gotten sick of playing?

AV: You know, for the longest time “Falling Down” – it was like pulling teeth for me. And I think some of the other guys like “yeah, let’s not play that for a little bit”. So, we stopped playing it for a while, and I was super happy not to play it and then I of all people – maybe one or two tours ago – was like “yeah, let’s play ‘Falling Down’ – I wanna just see how that feels”. We play it for fun. It’s a fun moment in the set for us. It’s kinda like a light-hearted song even though the content is not light-hearted. But that’s kinda like what we do.

SR: Yeah, you really do! A lot of your songs have such tough themes but they’re so much fun to sing along to! It’s just the energy you guys have!

AV: Yeah, we’ve all enjoyed that juxtaposition of light and dark.

SR: You don’t hear that often in other bands. I think it makes you unique – that mix of light and dark, as you said. And do you have any final words for everyone eagerly waiting for your Australian tour?

AV: We’re excited to be back down under. Not to compare the two, but I live in Southern California in a high wildfire area … so in a very minimal way, our heart goes out, and I can relate to some of the things that the people down under are experiencing. And we just want to come down there and provide a good show. And maybe some of the people who have had some hard luck and some hard times because of the fires, can come out and celebrate with us and have a good time, have a good night. We’ll bring the joy, and everybody can forget about all the bullshit that’s going on in the world and we can just be together and have a nice evening.

SR: Fantastic! Before I let you go, the t-shirts you guys created as a fundraiser – that was such a wonderful idea! What made you think of that? Is it because in California you are very used to wildfires as well?

AV: Yeah. We can relate. We’ve had a very similar thing. There are fires in California … And what’s going on in Australia is a lot bigger. So, we want to lend a hand. And that’s the least that we can do. We’re happy to do it. Like I said, we enjoy the country. We’re all on this rock together. It’s Australia’s property, but, it’s on my planet, so it’s my responsibility too.

SR: Wow. Fantastic. And I can’t thank you enough. It’s so wonderful that you’re doing this. A really great way to fundraise. Thank you!

AV: Our pleasure!

SR: What does being part of Atreyu mean to you today?

DJ: For me … I mean, it’s everything. It’s the root of my world as far as everything I do … as far as work or … especially artistically. It’s set me up and my family up with so many opportunities outside of the band … and things that have been able to better our lives because of it. And it’s all rooted from the success of our band. And it’s an incredible thing getting to be a band for 20 years and seeing where it started and where it’s come as well … what’s come from it. And I think that’s one of the most incredible things … an important, special thing to me. It’s more than just a band, it’s my livelihood, it’s the heart of everything I do.

SR: Oh wow. What a wonderful answer!

DJ: Thank you.

SR: When you guys went on hiatus several years ago, did you ever think you’d be coming back to Australia to play? Or did you think that was the end?

DJ: We all knew it was just a matter of time before we all came back together again. It was one of those things. We didn’t want to break up, it wasn’t like we wanted to go away forever. We definitely did want some time apart, some time away from just touring and being in the band world. It’s gruelling. Everybody has their 9 to 5 and there’s things about jobs that can be stressful, but when you’re in a band, you don’t get to ever really turn it off. When you’re on the road, you could be gone from your loved ones … it’s not like you’re gone from 9 to 5, or even for a 12 hour day, whatever … you’re gone for months at a time sometimes and it’s … it takes a toll on you being away for so long and being away from the comforts. So yeah, take some time off and getting to come back … I think we needed to get away from all that basically and shake it off a little bit before we could come back refreshed and be like alright, it’s time to go back to the grind and work at that level of intensity.

SR: When I was speaking with Alex, he said something very similar. We were talking about how exhausting the plane trips – especially to Australia – must be. And how that must be quite draining.

DJ: Yeah, it’s like everything in life, there’s a give and take … and wherever there’s good, there’s bad. For us to do something as amazing as being in a band and getting to play our music around the world and come to somewhere as amazing as Australia, there’s got to be some sort of give back. We’ve got to pay the price for that. We can’t just have that for nothing. The balance for that is we’re going to fly over on this really, really long flight – there and back – as well as flying every single day to get to all these shows and do the things. Because the good in it is so good it’s worth the bad.

SR: Well, that’s good to hear you say that it’s worth it. Do you ever get used to the jetlag? Or are you perpetually jetlagged at this point?

DJ: Yeah … you know, when you do long tours overseas, it takes … I’d say a good week unless you have the luxury of flying in a really comfortable situation – in first class or something like that, it helps a little bit – but most of the time we’re just flying coach and stuff like that … it takes about a week to come down from that transition. Especially with something as extreme as coming to Australia, where the time difference is so different from where we’re from. So yeah, it can be a little weird sometimes. Trying to perform especially, I think that’s the hardest part. Having to get on stage and you’re like “alright, pretend you’re not tired right now, guys” and you want to go to bed super, super bad, but you’ve gotta get up there and basically start a party. It’s the opposite of what your brain wants to do. It just wants to go to bed so bad. But again … we just muscle through it … Some of us like to drink here and there … we just go out and enjoy ourselves at night, whether it be getting food or drinks or whatever … just stuff to keep our mind off falling asleep.

SR: Well, every time I’ve seen you guys you haven’t looked jetlagged at all, so you’re doing really well!

DJ: [Laughs] well, thank you. I appreciate it. It means we’re doing our job right.

SR: And it’s been a while since you’ve been here … are you looking forward to coming back?

DJ: Yeah, absolutely, I mean Australia is very similar to California – four of our five original guys being born and raised in California – sometimes acclimating to different places  can make it uncomfortable at times because of that kind of culture shock or even just the landscape or the weather … but coming to Australia it’s a very familiar feeling … it kinda just feels like another version of California. Just with prettier beaches and nicer water. But yeah, it’s cool. It’s like this interesting spin on California … where you’ve got the English culture mixed in with … guys driving on the other side of the road … and having accents … even the food has got a kind of an English vibe to it a little bit. You can see how it has this perfect combination of California and England, which for us is a nice blend.

SR: Do you get any time off on this tour to enjoy yourselves?

DJ: I don’t know if we will this time around. In the past we’ve tried to go to the zoos or do sightseeing and whatnot and try to explore a little bit. But a lot of times when you’re touring you don’t get to see much more than your hotel room or your bus, or your van, and the venue you’re playing in. Sometimes those places are so close together you’re only seeing a block or two of the city – if that. Sometimes nothing. Sometimes you’re literally just seeing the venue and that’s it. We try to explore as much as we can, make it feel not so like a job, and make it feel like vacation as well. Sometimes we even like to do … something … we like to call it a playcation … basically the flights and a lot of our accommodation are paid for by the band touring places, so if you look it as trying to do a vacation off the back of it, a lot of your expenses are already paid for. So, it can be a really inexpensive vacation – or playcation­ in this case. Like, for instance you could fly out to Australia and afterwards you can stop by New Zealand or Tahiti, Hawaii on your way back for a third of the price, because you’re doing it off the back of a tour. So that’s a nice way to see the touring aspect … trying to do a vacation as well.

SR: What a great way to look at it!

DJ: Yeah, it’s good.

SR: And back onto your actual tour. Your shows are always so high energy and your crowd is always so enthusiastic …

DJ: Thank you.

SR: What’s your favourite thing about playing a show?

DJ: Enthusiastic crowds! [Laughs] I’d say yeah … if you were to go up there and play your show – I guess there’s two sides here. One is having those moments as a musician where you just get to hear your tone – as a guitar player – just getting to hear my amp and my guitars and everything, just the ambiance of it all together on stage with a crowd in front of you. It’s just a very unique situation to be in as a musician. That’s part of being a musician, just getting to listen to yourself play. Especially when you can get better and better and you can play well … it’s finally getting to hear yourself play the songs you love, or the songs you’ve created. And in an environment like that, it’s so unique … to hear it in that special way, it’s kind of a drug. And the other side of that being of course the crowd. There’s nothing like it … being able to create something like a song and go onstage and perform that with your friends – that you’ve grown up with – and to have all these people that you’ve never met before in your life, all over the world, want to come and listen to the songs and sing along and stuff. It’s so surreal. It’s very neat. It’s one of those things … you never want to forget about it, you just want it to happen forever because it’s such a cool thing! So, yeah, that would be the other side.

SR: Nice! And do you have a favourite song you like performing live? Is that a stupid question? Are they all favourites?

DJ:  Um … it’s tough. I guess there’s certain songs … it’s not necessarily you enjoy playing the entire song, it’s just moments in songs … it’s like “man I really like playing the riff in “Becoming the Bull” or I love playing the guitar solo in “My Fork in the Road” or something like that … Some songs you really like doing the whole thing, and sometimes you’re just like “I really like this moment in the song” more than anything else … that really sticks with me … I don’t know … It’s always fun playing “Blow”, it’s one of those songs where we’re stop and just let the crowd sing and everybody just kinda screams curse words real loud … things like that, you know? It’s kind of fast … It’s got a little bit of everything in it; it’s got the kind of sing-along vibe … guitar solo … yeah … it’s got cowbells, it’s got a lot of cowbells …

SR: You mentioned “Becoming the Bull” … what inspired that change of sound for the record [‘Lead Sails, Paper Anchor’]?

DJ: It’s a few things. I mean, one is … as far as what we were doing before ‘Lead Sails, Paper Anchor’ … it was in a tighter box as far as what we were doing creatively. And we wanted more. We kinda got to a point, we were just like “man, how can we make our sound bigger?” Every album, if you listen from our demos and listen to album after album – in order – you can hear the change, our sound get bigger and bigger with every album. And one of the things that we personally like to use is a little bit more melody in the vocals … for us there’s more versatility, there’s more options, there’s more interesting things you can do and … not like … not screaming anymore … we wanted to – at least vocally – just have more options. And try something we hadn’t done before. I mean when you look at it, every album that we’ve ever put out … it’s not going anywhere … it’s always gonna be there and we can always play those songs. That’s always there. So why do that again? Why not just do something different every single time? And collectively have this really interesting catalogue of music that can take you on such a journey. It’s almost like a Choose Your Own Adventure of Atreyu records … it all sounds like Atreyu, but it goes all over the place … so short story long, for that album we wanted to take our sound to another level. Not just vocally … but even the way the guitar sounded, the drums, and even the song writing … just make it sound bigger. So, we went to John Feldmann and he influenced that a lot and really kind of took the things that were best about our band. As individual musicians, what we did best, and what we collectively did best as a band, and he kinda just pushed those all up to ten and tried to not focus as much on the stuff we weren’t as strong at. And by collectively doing that and taking all our strongest features and bringing them all together, it made a really big sound that was fun and exciting and fresh. You can kind of hear that influence in everything we’ve done since.

SR: I love that you guys don’t try to fit into one box. And I think that helps bring in so many fans. You’ve got so many people from so many different musical backgrounds who find something to identify with … Because you’re not just one thing.

DJ: Yeah, I think … the five members of our band are just like everybody out there … collectively looking for different types of music and all, for our own personal reasons, want to have as many of our influences taken to our own band. So, our sound is the way it is because we don’t all collectively hear Metallica and want to sound like Metallica and something kinda like that. It’s more so … we love … everything … Deftones, to Judas Priest, to Revolution, to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons – it’s all over the place. It’s so eclectic that we just have to have all of that in there. And because of all those influences that you can hear in our music, it just draws people from all different fanbases … and kinda helps cross people over, you know? It helps introduce people to other styles. You kind of dangle this … maybe a metal carrot in front of them and then you get in and realise there’s some bullshit Twinkie on the other side. Or it’s more of an emo world or vice versa, you know? Maybe someone hears the softer side of our band and gets drawn in and realises that there’s heavier stuff and it’s like “wow! I’m not normally into this kind of music, but this is actually pretty cool … maybe I wanna listen to more heavy bands”.

SR: Speaking of that, that’s actually how I get people into bands I like. I’ve played some of your softer songs to introduce people to you and slowly get them into the heavier stuff.

DJ: Yeah … you can almost put together a … you could make a Spotify playlist – now that I think about it it’s actually a kinda neat idea – you could take our softer songs and put them in order from softest and start working up to heavier and heavier and heavier until you get to our heaviest songs. You could literally use that as a tool to get someone into metal: “… start at the top. By the end of this you’re going to love metal”.

SR: Exactly!

DJ: Yeah!

SR: So, Alex and I touched on the fundraiser you guys did and I thought it was such a wonderful idea! I was wondering if you could tell me a bit more about how you came up with it.  

DJ: It was just something where you see something that catastrophic going on … I mean, we know … especially personally being Californian … if you’re a Californian, like I was saying earlier, it’s similar to Australia. Another way that it’s similar is it gets very hot here, especially in summertime and it’s very dry and desert-like, so fires are a really big thing out here. It’s really hard in a lot of places to get insurance if you own a house … because insurance companies … if you want to build a 3million dollar house next to a place that’s very flammable, you can never get insurance on your house. So, it’s kind of a similar thing out here. I’ve been evacuated from my house on multiple occasions because a fire’s getting a little bit too close. I’ve had friends whose houses have burned down. We deal with it a lot out here and seeing it at the biblical level that it was on in Australia … it was just mind-blowing. I was like “guys …” it’s one of those things like “is anybody seeing this? This is crazy”. It’s like an insane … this is like half of California, like literally cut it in half and burn the whole half down. That’s the amount of damage there is … it’s just unfathomable. It’s like “dude, we have to do something … we can’t do nothing” … especially for us. We’ve been to Australia a lot and we love coming down there and it feels like … if anywhere else on the planet were like a second home, as far as the most familiar type of place … we just had to do something. We’re not the biggest band in the world, but we can do something. Every little bit helps. So, if anything, it inspires other bands and other people to do fundraisers as well and collectively that’ll start its own … people donating and helping … a wave of positive vibrations that’ll get that fire out and put things back where they should be.

“…So, our sound is the way it is because we don’t all collectively hear Metallica and want to sound like Metallica and something kinda like that. It’s more so … we love … everything … Deftones, to Judas Priest, to Revolution, to Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons – it’s all over the place…”

SR: And the shirts themselves would be a reminder of what you’ve done to help and what Australia has been through and that might help remind others who will do their bit to help too.

DJ: Yeah. It was interesting … On the side I also have a few different companies that I do merchandising … and in doing so, we get to see who all the sales are coming from and the names that are coming in. Some of them are people we knew that don’t normally buy Atreyu merchandise or friends of friends and stuff – not even fans, just friends of ours and they would go and buy shirts, or several shirts as a way to donate … because we started realising a lot of people don’t put any research in. They just kind of think in their head “man, I wish I could donate but I don’t even really know how, I don’t even know how to start”. The idea of Australia is so far away, it’s so foreign that people can’t wrap their heads around how to help … so, doing what we did, it kind of just made it an easy outlet … easy to think about and digest for people … so they’re like “oh, I just buy a couple of these shirts and give this money to Australia? Alright, I’ll take 5 … I don’t care what they are” which is kind of the whole thing. For us it was like put them together, it says Atreyu on it, it’s not even really about the shirt, it’s more something to say thank you for donating some money.

SR: And like you said, it also helps that many Californians really know what it’s like. You go through it all the time too. That makes it easier to identify with us, even though we’re so far away.

DJ: Yeah, absolutely. It’s crazy. And I can’t even imagine at the level they’re happening over there … and like here … the wildlife and stuff … you see animals that are starving and stuff because of all the fires here … by my fiancée’s house – her parents’ house I should say – they back onto a wildlife area and they’re having a really big issue with mountain lions attacking people, pets, goats and stuff like that because they’re starving. Normally they don’t come around, normally they stay away from people, but they’re so hungry because the fires burned up so many acres of land and killed off so much of the stuff that they eat. That they’re desperate. So now they’re coming down here. We had an issue a couple of weeks ago where a small child was walking in front of a group of about five people and a mountain lion jumped out and grabbed the kid by the backpack and ran off about 15 feet. Luckily this guy threw his bag at the mountain lion. The mountain lion dropped the kid, picked up the bag and ran up a tree with it. Luckily the kid was okay. But they’re so desperate, they’re getting to that point because these fires killed off all the stuff they had to eat. So, there’s a chain reaction from it … we’re seeing stuff we’ve never seen before … mountain lions coming around … what the hell is that? You know they’re around, but we never see them.

SR: That’s so terrifying to think about! No one really thinks about all of the other things affected by fires until you see it.

DJ:  It’s crazy. And they’re a lot more helpless. So … we gotta try to do something, you know? Positive vibration … and luckily things have kinda turned towards the better as far as we know – I think it started raining out there, right? A little bit of a slow down on it?

SR: Yeah, quite a few of the fires are completely out now.

DJ: That’s great. That’s crazy. It’s seriously like … I was like “man, is this the apocalypse or something?” … Is this the start of it? Is this how the world’s gonna end? It’s gonna start in Australia and then just keep going from there? It’s pretty big.

SR: It really felt like that!

DJ: Right?

SR: But thankfully I think we’ve seen the worst of it now.

 DJ: Yeah, thank goodness.

SR: And hopefully it’s not too bad for you guys.

DJ: Yeah, right now it’s not too bad because it’s kind of the colder season but summertime it usually starts to get a little bit interesting as you guys know.

SR: I’ve kinda brought the mood down. Sorry!

DJ: No worries!

SR: And lastly, do you have any final words for your Australian fans eagerly waiting for your return?

DJ: Yeah. A huge thank you to anyone who’s been coming out for years and supporting us and giving us a reason to come back to Australia to do what we love. And anyone who’s a new fan who’s getting to see us for the first time or who’s just getting into us, thanks for coming and wanting to check us out. We love doing this and we love getting to play shows for all the lovely people in Australia, so this is really exciting for us. And a huge thank you to everyone.

SR: Thanks for taking the time to talk to me. It’s been really enjoyable despite the sad topic we sort of ended on.

DJ: [Laughs] no worries!

SR: I’m really looking forward to seeing you guys again too! It’s right near my birthday so it’s a birthday present from me to me.

DJ: Nice! Treat yourself!

SR: So, I’ll see you very soon!

DJ: Thank you very much, I appreciate your time.

You can check out Atreyu when they return to Australian shores! Tour Dates:

Wednesday 26th February: The Zoo; Brisbane

Thursday 27th February: Manning Bar; Sydney

Friday 28th February: Max Watts; Melbourne

Saturday 29th February: Amplifier; Perth

Sunday 1st March: Jive; Adelaide

Grab your tickets now: