Alex Varkatzas – Atreyu ‘Constantly Pushing The Envelope Of Change’

Californian metalcore legends Atreyu were last here touring with Bullet For My Valentine, and now they’re finally heading out on their own headline tour (the first in a LONG time)! Whether you moshed your little emo heart to ‘Ex’s & Oh’s’ in high school or rocked out to ‘Right Side of the Bed’ in your bedroom, Atreyu are early 2000’s metalcore royalty. The band released their latest album In Our Wake in 2018 and are finally taking that record on tour, so we got lucky and had the chance to catch up with frontman Alex Varkatzas on the verge of their forthcoming tour down under.

You guys were last out here supporting Bullet For My Valentine back in 2016. How stoked are you to head out on your own headliner this time round?

Great! We’re excited to be coming there no matter what, whether it’s supporting Bullet or headline. We’re pumped! It’ll be nice to play a little longer, in a bigger show context, and playing extra songs. I’m sure for the people that want to see us, that’ll be a really good thing.

This’ll be the first time in a long time Australia gets to hear a longer set. What can fans expect that they didn’t see in your Bullet/Soundwave set?

People always ask if I’m gonna light myself on fire at one of the Australian shows. I don’t know which one it’ll be yet! But expect pyrotechnics, live farm animals, it’s gonna be insane!

Atreyu’s been a band for about 20 years now, you guys have released 7 records and played countless shows and festivals, you’re pretty much rock veterans on the live circuit. What motivates you to continue doing what you’re doing on the stage 20 years on?

I think we’ve always liked to push the envelope, and we like to make sure that no Atreyu record sound the same. We are always finding different ways to present our feelings and emotions and I think, the past couple records for us have been really awesome, emotional representations of that so, for me that’s how we keep it fresh and exciting. We always are trying to do different things musically than we’ve done before but never trying to be the same band or the exact same musicians. 

And you’ve just released a new track titled ‘Battle Drums’ in collaboration with EDM producer Kayzo. Can you tell us how that collab came about, and what intrigued you to go down the EDM/Metal crossover route?

His people talked to our people; Kayzo’s a cool dude. He comes from the same kinda background, he likes a lot of similar hardcore bands that came up in that scene, so he gets what we do and he has a great vibe and great ideas for songs. I think he thought it would be cool to do something with us, so we decided to collaborate.

So are we going to see more Metal/EDM crossover music on future Atreyu albums?

Ahhhh..I don’t know. I gotta be honest though, other than Kayzo, I don’t listen to EDM at all, that’s not my world. But I wouldn’t mind in the future, incorporating some of those aspects into our music to make it heavier, you know? I’m open to it.

You released your 7th record In Our Wake in 2018, which is an amazing rock album by the way. What was your biggest inspiration whilst writing that album?

For me, I don’t remember that album as much, but I can talk about this new album, the one we’re working on now. I drive to and from the studio every day, five hours total, so I have a lot of time in the car. Instead of listening to indie, modern music or satellite radio, I listened to only 80’s and new wave music, just because it’s like really dark, emotional and atmospheric. I don’t want to be influenced by, or sound like any of the bands in our contemporary genre, if that makes sense? Like, I love Killswitch Engage, but I don’t want to make a record that sounds like Killswitch Engage, you know what I mean? I love Hatebreed, I don’t want to make a Hatebreed record, you know? I want to make an Atreyu record, and if I listen to too many of those influences, I’ll do just that. Now that I think about it, more of the last record I was listening to a bunch of Hot Water Music, and like I’d be trying to in my own way to sing like Hot Water Music, and I don’t like that in our stuff. I want it to be more obscure and weird. 

Speaking about that new record though, when do you reckon we’ll get to hear the first taste of the new album?

It’s so hard to say because electronic music makes things come out so much quicker and so much easier. We have 18-19 songs done, we’ve just finished our first studio session, we’ll go back in around mid April and do another 10-15 songs and then we’ll choose the tracklisting. So maybe we’ll drop a track before (the US) summer. I would like to though. My goal is to put out just something new off the record, for people to hear. But at the very least, we’ll have an album out before winter and some new songs out by summer, or towards the end of summer.

Awesome! You heard it heard here first. New Atreyu music is coming this year!

Tell your friends!

You’ve been asking fans to name their fave Atreyu songs but what we wanna know is… what are your top 3 Atreyu songs?

It’s always been hard for me to pick favourites. Right now, for some reason I always enjoy playing ‘Right Side of the Bed’ and it’s a classic song for us. ‘The Time is Now’ is rad to play, I like to see people chant that back, and ‘Doomsday’ has a lot of significance to me. I wrote that song about my grandfather that passed away years ago. I had to leave tour and go home, and at the same time there was some drama with one of the bands we were touring with at the time. So I was in a super negative bummed out place. I remember writing the first couple of lines down in my journal at the time, the day of my grandfathers death, so that song holds a special place in my heart. 

Thanks so much for the chat Alex! See you at the shows!

Interview by Tamara May (@citylightstam)

Atreyu are set to tour around Australia next week.

atreyu tour

Atreyu – Australian Tour 2020
With Ocean Sleeper

Wed 26 Feb – Brisbane – The Zoo

Thu 27 Feb – Sydney – Manning Bar

Fri 28 Feb- Melbourne – Max Watt’s

Sat 29 Feb – Perth – Amplifier

Sun 1 Mar – Adelaide – Jive

Tickets Here

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