With its major label debut, So Long, Astoria, The Ataris are taking the country by storm, and will stop in Tampa at the Masquerade on Wednesday.
So Long, Astoria consists of a sound that the band perfected years ago and that the mainstream is finally catching up to. The Ataris were signed on the indie label Kung-Foo prior to making the step onto Columbia Records and into the MTV culture, where they were deemed “Buzzworthy.” The band members — who once claimed “the radio still sucks” on a Fat Wreck Cords compilation and sings “call the request lines and tell them that it’s over” on the band’s recent album — are happy about their progression.
“It’s trippy, it’s different, but it feels great, of course,” bass player/vocalist Mike Davenport said in regards to being played on MTV. “We were ready to broaden our horizons and open up our band to other audiences.”
As always, image is important. However, The Ataris don’t take their image seriously, but rather strive for their image to be serious.
Previous songs included quirky, immature lyrics such as, “I’d drive you to Las Vegas/ Do the things you wanna do/ I’d even have Wayne Newton dedicate a song to you,” from “San Dimas High School Football Rules”on the 1999 LP Blue Skies, Broken Hearts — Next 12 Exits. The band has broken into mainstream with a smarter head on its shoulders.
“As we have grown as musicians and Kris [Roe] has grown as a song writer, we have taken our music more seriously,” Davenport said. “In the past we had some goofy songs, and I think we just grew out of them. We don’t want to be remembered as some joke band. We’re serious about our music and how we are looked upon.”
The Ataris are true indie rockers at heart. The band members still manage their own record store, Down on Haley, in Santa Barbara, which they opened in 2001.
In addition, band members manage younger bands they think should be heard. Davenport credits the band’s closeness with fans to earlier touring schedules which frequently hit skate parks throughout the country.
“From that we learned not to hide on the bus,” Davenport said. “Our goal is to stay real and to stay close. You can tell that we’re not one of those bands that started on a major label; we really have a relationship with our fans.”
That relationship was even extended onto track four of So Long, Astoria. “My Reply” is Roe’s (lead vocals/guitar) reply to a letter he received about a fan with a life-threatening illness.
“I want to make sure that every thing I say is something that is really from my heart,” Roe said. “I want to know that if I’m reaching kids, I’m reaching them in a way that’s really helping them.”
In addition, So Long, Astoria includes a cover of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer” and two hidden tracks: a re-release of “I Won’t Spend Another Night Alone” and an acoustic version of “The Saddest Song.”
Touring will continue for the Ataris throughout the summer, with the band’s name on the main stage of Van’s Warped Tour. The only bay area stop for the summertime tour is in Vinoy Park, St. Petersburg on July 25.
Emo-rockers Further Seems Forever will also take the stage Wednesday, along with the Juliana Theory and Damone.
Contact Andrea Papadopoulos at firstname.lastname@example.org