“We just hoped at the time we would get asked to play one day. It was part of our bucket list.”
We had the opportunity to speak to Brandon Saller, the drummer and co-vocalist of metalcore outfit Atreyu after their set at Download Festival. We spoke about how over the years the festival experience has grown, the recent 10th-anniversary tour of their album ‘A Deathgrip on Yesterday’, touring Europe, the Warped Tour and more.
Broken Arrow: It’s been six years since you last played Download, how does it feel to be back?
Brandon: It’s awesome, I was talking to someone earlier saying how there is nothing else in the world like this festival. It’s insane to come back, we were lucky enough to get main stage last time, and to get the same again with a later slot is nothing to complain about.
Broken Arrow: Wasn’t there a cock up with stage times the last time you were here?
Brandon: Yeah we were on earlier than scheduled, like we ending up playing the second slot on the main stage. But there are no bad slots here, no bad stage either.
Broken Arrow: Your first Download Festival was ten years ago, how has the level of excitement changed since that first performance?
Brandon: I think it just builds because we remember how good it was the time before. The first time we were on the second stage, then we started playing main stage slots. This time around there was a hell of a lot more people watching us so it just repeatedly gets better.
Broken Arrow: When you first played here, did you know about the history of Download Festival?
Brandon: Well, before we came we knew about it, we were in America watching sets on the internet of all our friends that got to play Download. We just hoped at the time we would get asked to play one day. It was part of our bucket list.
Broken Arrow: This time did you get offered or did you have to ask?
Brandon: We got offered, which is nice to know they want us here.
Broken Arrow: Atreyu recently finished celebrating the 10th anniversary of ‘A Death Grip on Yesterday’ with a tour in the US. How was that?
Brandon: It was awesome. We were planning on doing a tour anyway. And we figured it was around the time of a ten year anniversary and we went with it. We knew people liked the record but people went crazy for it when we played the whole record back to front before playing some classics.
Broken Arrow: We take it there were some golden oldies that you hadn’t played in a while?
Brandon: Yeah, there were some tracks that don’t get played live ever. Since that album and new albums have come out we’ve only really played maybe four or five songs from ‘A Death Grip…’. It’s mostly ‘Ex’s and Oh’s’, maybe ‘Creature’ and ‘Untitled Finale’ that the crowd dig more.
Broken Arrow: Is there a chance of that tour coming over to the UK at all?
Brandon: If we can get back over here before the year is over then maybe. I’d rather not do it after that because it becomes irrelevant and becomes the eleven year anniversary tour. It’s not got the same ring to it. It went well in the States, so we never know.
Broken Arrow: People seem to like the novelty of catching a band perform a full album live.
Brandon: Yeah I think that’s cool. People have a sentimental spot for certain albums and songs so it’s fun to help people relive that emotion live. We did actually do a one-off show of ‘The Curse’ around that ten year anniversary, which we know is quite a fan favourite and it went down well.
Broken Arrow: We noticed during your set that your bass player Marc (McKnight) likes to go off on adventures, does he do that all the time?
Brandon: Yeah, on and off the stage, you can’t control him. There is no controlling that guy, he likes to get in the mix of everything.
“I think I’ll always like bigger shows more but there is so much energy at a tiny show, it’s chaotic and it’s hard to capture that anywhere else.”
Broken Arrow: You’re heading to mainland Europe for the summer, then back to the US for Warped Tour. That all sounds a bit hectic.
Brandon: Nah it’ll be alright. When the shows are good then it’s all worth it. There are always awesome festivals every year and show in between, it’s fun. We haven’t done Warped Tour since 2005 so we’re excited for that. It’s great to be able to say we did this tour eleven years ago and we’re still getting asked to play it all these times later.
Broken Arrow: Is there anywhere on your travels that you haven’t visited before?
Brandon: We’re going to Slovenia, we’ve never been there. We’re going back to Budapest which was our first show ever outside of the US back in 2003. We haven’t been back since. It’s going to be like an 8,000 person show and we’re playing with Killswitch Engage so it’s gonna be fucking rad. There are the odd festivals we’ve never done before like Nova Rock and Hellfest.
Broken Arrow: How are you enjoying the weather?
Brandon: I’m loving it right now, its sunny, not raining. It’s nice, though I heard about the shitty weather yesterday.
Broken Arrow: Are you sticking around for the rest of the day?
Brandon: Yeah we’ll be around for a bit, catch a little Deftones and Sabbath. I’m gonna be stoked. Then we’re off to Slovenia tomorrow.
Broken Arrow: How does Download compare to other festivals in general?
Brandon: Honestly, I think it’s the biggest. There is like 100,00 people here. You can’t play a stage like we did today anywhere else in the world. We’ve played festivals and stadiums at home and they still aren’t as big as Download is. You couldn’t even see the end of where the crowd actually finished today, it was just massive.
Broken Arrow: Last year you played the tiny little Camden Underworld. Do you like playing the intimate shows still?
Brandon: Yeah definitely. It’s a totally different experience. And it’s great because we get the best of both worlds. It’s great to play the big shows but it’s also fun to be right up in people’s faces. I think I’ll always like bigger shows more but there is so much energy at a tiny show, it’s chaotic and it’s hard to capture that anywhere else. So it’s still fun to do that.
Broken Arrow: Do you cater your setlists to be different for these types of shows?
Brandon: I feel we just do our thing no matter what the size of the room is. We give every show the same Atreyu experience no matter what.
Broken Arrow: The biggest miss from your setlist today was ‘Bleeding Mascara’, what happened to that?
Brandon: Well, we only get so much time for our setlist, and it nearly did make it. We just felt that other songs would get a bigger reaction from this crowd, we know what stands out. We tried to make today a sort of greatest hits and singles setlist. Maybe next time we’ll play it.