The Ataris Will Open
So Long Astoria Tour In Scottsdale
Kris Roe Reunites The Classic The Ataris Lineup For Nationwide Tour Kicking Off In Scottsdale More Than A Decade Since He Left Indiana And Began A Whirlwind Rock And Roll Life
By Josh Wyrick
Modern Times Magazine
Feb. 22, 2014 — Kristopher Roe has literally been around the world.
From clubs in Germany to England and Venezuela to Indonesia, he has taken his alt-rock outfit The Ataris anywhere with an amp.
On Feb. 28 at 8 p.m. they will land at Pub Rock Live, 8005 E. Roosevelt Street, Scottsdale, for the first date of the So Long, Astoria reunion tour along with openers Versus The World, Miles To Nowhere, and Neo Geo.
Joining Roe at Pub Rock Live will be all of the original members during the Astoria era, including bassist Mike Davenport — who now plays in Versus The World — along with drummer Chris Knapp and guitarist John Collura. The Ataris will be playing So Long, Astoria in its entirety.
Beginning in 1995 in Anderson, Ind., with Roe, companion Jasin Thomason and a four-track recorder, The Ataris first recordings were done inside Roe’s bedroom. Eventually, a demo tape landed at Vandals-owned Kung Fu Records, who would give The Ataris the opportunity to release their debut album Anywhere but Here, where Roe, Thomason and newly-minted drummer Derrick Plourde would track the entire piece in just under a week.
Shortly after the release of the album, Roe moved from Indiana to Santa Barbara, Calif., but would still keep his Indiana area code, as he does today, where the band would see multiple member changes before the year was out.
In the next four years, Roe would sharpen and define his intimate storyteller style while releasing the band’s next two albums Blue Skies, Broken Hearts…Next 12 Exits, and End Is Forever. During this time, The Ataris kept up a persistent touring schedule, honing their live performance skills until the release of So Long, Astoria under new label Columbia Records in March of 2003.
What Roe remembers most about the production process of the album that would become the biggest of his career is the length of time in the studio with new producer Lou Giordano.
“That was our first experience not having to rush an album and finish it in just a few weeks,” Roe recalls. “I still carry things I learned from Lou around with me today.”
Although Roe views it as a blessing now, The Ataris second single, a cover of Don Henley’s “The Boys of Summer” was never intended as such.
“KROQ in Los Angeles just started playing it straight from the record,” Roe states. “We were like…can they do that?”
Roe later relates that he would have liked to have released it as a B-side, but the attention it garnered The Ataris was not unwelcome.
When asked what makes a cover great, Roe responds “I put my heart in that song…I bought Building the Perfect Beast when I was ten.”
During this time, Roe would listen to the record constantly through the summer his parents got divorced, helping him develop the strong emotional connection which would later become the basis for the cover.
Los Angeles has been eventful for Roe, who shares his most harrowing moment while residing there.
“I lived in Korea-town in a nice area, just driving around one night looking for free WiFi,” he explains “in a rental car with this strange feature. When you put it in park, the doors all unlock!”
While regularly a safety feature, this meant Roe was sitting in a new-model car with a cell-phone and computer glow lighting his face.
“These two kids, must have been seventeen…have one gun to my right temple, and one to my left,” he said.
Roe was then relieved of all his possessions: stunned but safe.
While this lineup disbanded for creative reasons just a year after the release of So Long, Astoria, Roe and Astoria guitarist John Collura would add friends with keys, cellos, and pianos for Welcome The Night, which would never see an official release with Columbia Records. It would take The Ataris starting their own imprint, Isola Recordings, for the world to hear.
More than a decade has passed since the release of So Long, Astoria. Napster was in its infancy, and people and bands still used MySpace to talk to their friends when it came out. When asked about how the industry has changed since, Roe had plenty to say.
“It’s kind of desensitized everybody, hasn’t it?” Roe says of social media and its instant feedback. “Like when I was a kid, I used to save up my allowance to get just one record and listen to it non-stop…then two months later, I’d go buy another one. Now all you have to do is click a button.”
While Roe quickly acknowledges that this is a good thing (The Ataris biggest market is now Indonesia), he expertly grasps that part of the process of listening to and loving new music has changed forever.
“Like going on a first date, and you skip straight to…well, you know, there’s no buildup!” Roe says through a chuckle.
Roe has since moved to Tempe, where he expresses his love for the old analog recording equipment at friend Bob Hoag’s studio, Flying Blanket.
“It’s kind of how I’ve always done it,” Roe says of his analog recording process.
The Ataris have recently released a free 54-song collection of rarities and demos that can be found on their Bandcamp web portal. When asked of the purpose of releasing these now, Roe says, “basically just giving people a reason to bring up the album again, get them talking about it.”
Roe also posts material from his upcoming project The Graveyard of the Atlantic, which he is slating for a possible release in the next year.
Tickets are on sale now for $13, or $17 the day of. Doors open at 7 p.m. at Pub Rock Live, 8005 E. Roosevelt Street, Scottsdale, where the opening act will start at 8 p.m.
Josh Wyrick is a freelance.
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