Welcome The Night
[2.5/5] The Ataris’ MySpace page “Sounds Like” section contains a quote from famed writer Charles Bukowski: “If you’re going to try, go all the way.” That certainly appears to be frontman Kris Roe’s mantra with Welcome The Night, the long-gestating (and potentially fan-isolating) follow-up to 2003’s near-platinum So Long, Astoria. Yes, the band’s lineup has swelled to seven; and yes, their sound has become more atmospheric and moody; but while Roe’s intentions are true-and he fully commits to the tortured-artist idea with impassioned vocals and open-diary lyrics-it’s still really, really hard to forget that this dude still gets royalty checks from a major label because of a Don Henley cover.
So what you end up with on Welcome The Night is a band who’ve made their career as entertainers trying to switch horses midstream and become artists, and while at times they hit it square on the head (“A Soundtrack For This Rainy Morning,” “The Cheyenne Line”), more often they end up lost in their own seriousness (see the spy-noir cliché “Connections Are More Dangerous Than Lies” and the go-nowhere “Far From The Last, Last Call” whose song title is as misguided as the music it represents). Roe definitely tried to go all the way with his sonic reinvention. It’s a mixed bag, to be sure, but you gotta give him an A for effort. (ISOLA/SANCTUARY) Scott Heisel
Superdrag’s Head Trip In Every Key
Jejune‘s This Afternoon’s Malady
IN-STORE SESSION with frontman KRIS ROE and guitarist JOHN COLLURA
How does it feel to finally have this record done?
KRIS ROE: It’s a relief. We spent so much time making this album, and it was mostly just because we wanted to make sure all the songs really stuck with us. You’ll create a record and by the time the record comes out, you’ve already moved past it. We just had this opportunity to finally-because Columbia [Records, the band’s former label] was internally falling apart-we just took advantage of that and continued writing. I think in the end, the end product of this record stepped it up about four notches from where I thought it was. I’m really proud of it.
The tracklisting has changed quite a bit since you first started work on the album, based on what leaked on the internet last year.
ROE: That’s the one problem with all the incomplete versions of songs floating around is they were just that-they were not complete. When we had an opportunity to write and build upon this record, more and more, people were like, “Dude, I got a copy of the record!” No, you don’t. [Laughs.] You’ve got, like, 30 percent of the record with rough vocals.
How did those earlier tracks get out?
ROE: There are seven people recording and creating in a band living scattered across the United States, and we would make copies for friends just to give them an idea of what we were up to; it was bound to, in that timeframe of what we took to finish this record, that something was going to get out there. And I’m fine with that. I’m completely all about downloading music. But if anything, I just want people to understand that what they heard was totally incomplete. It’s really funny how some people base their opinions on really early versions of things. If you’re not gonna give a band a chance based off a 30-second preview on their MySpace, well fuck you anyway.
Was there ever a point where you said, “Maybe we should change our name?”
ROE: There were a couple times in the very, very beginning of writing that we discussed that, but it was thrown out the window so quick. It was shot down immediately because we came to the conclusion that who’s to say what this band cannot do?
JOHN COLLURA: I think the only justification of changing the name of the band would be if we completely changed, as in-this is a ridiculous analogy-but if we played nothing but polka songs. [Laughs.] I just don’t understand the mentality of people to think a band is always supposed to sound like the genre they get lumped into. -Scott Heisel