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Atreyu
Atreyu (Courtesy of Total Assault)

Mideast edition, Saturday, August 25, 2007

From the carnage of Southern California’s punk scene to the tattooed mosh pits of Korn’s “Family Values” tour, Atreyu is igniting a heavy-metal firestorm.

The metal-punk band has sold more than a million records and is performing on the main stage on the summer’s hottest heavy-metal tour.

Atreyu will heat up even more as it releases its fourth album, “Lead Sails Paper Anchor,” on Tuesday.

The album’s first single, “Becoming the Bull,” already has debuted as part of the hugely popular “Madden NFL ’08” video game released Aug. 14.

Stars and Stripes recently caught up with Atreyu and spoke with one of its founding members, drummer/vocalist/songwriter Brandon Saller, in a parking lot somewhere near Norfolk, Va.

“Right now we are on tour with Korn and Evanesence,” Saller said. “The show has about thirty buses just cruising around, and so far has been very cool. … We are playing with so many other bands, so it is cool to come out and try to win some new fans.”

Saller described the band’s music as “heavy melodic” and aggressive, adding, “If people are looking for a band that is 100 percent fun and energetic live band, then Atreyu is the band for them.”

Prior to recording their new album, Atreyu toured throughout the U.S., Europe, Japan and Australia, honing their live act and refining their sound and expanding their range of musical styles.

But foremost among those styles is punk, Saller said.

“Punk has always been our root, and if you listen carefully, you can still hear our punk influences,” he said of the band’s sound. “Punk is our mentality, and it shows the way we perform.”

Saller said he and bandmates Alex Varkatzas, Marc McKnight, Travis Miguel and Dan Jacobs expect to be on the road for about two months with the “Family Values” tour before returning home for a one-week rest. Afterward comes more touring — this time headlining their own shows — and then wedding bells for Saller.

Saller said he and his fiancee have been together for a long time and “have learned the ins and outs of making a long-distance relationship work. When I get home from touring, I just try to spend time focusing on her,” said the admitted homebody.

Saller said the road band myth of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll is real, but it’s only as real as you want it to be.

“If you want tons of chicks, madness, drugs and parties, you can have it,” he said, “but that can only take you so far. The road is what you make it. If partying every night isn’t your thing, it’s easy to avoid.”

For Saller, being on the road is kind of like the movie “Groundhog Day.”

“You wake up in a parking lot somewhere about 11:00 a.m. You work out, get something to eat and talk to the press,” he said. “Later that night you play the show and go to sleep around 2 a.m. The next day you wake up somewhere else, in another parking lot.”

Family ties lead to care packages

TOKYO — Atreyu drummer/vocalist Brandon Saller worked with his father-in-law-to-be to get a special gift to some special soldiers.

The father of Saller’s fiancee is a contractor who “spent time working in Kuwait and Iraq recently,” Saller said. “He had a job where he was provided constant military protection, so he had the same 12 dudes protecting him all the time.”

Saller said his father-in-law told him about how these soldiers would cruise around Iraq in armored vehicles blasting Atreyu.

“He would spend time in the mess hall with them when he noticed that they were jamming out to our last CD,” Saller said. “He was like, ‘I know this is going to sound crazy, but that is my son-in-law’s band. He is getting married to my daughter.’”

The band put together a care package with T-shirts, autographed posters and other band merchandise and shipped it to the soldiers.

“No one in our band is very political, or even has a positive stance on the war,” Saller said, “But we know how hard these dudes work and how much of their lives they sacrifice. We just wanted to do something nice and send them a little care package.”

— Chris Fowler

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