By ANDREW MCKAYSMITH
BRANDON Saller is the drummer and clean vocalist in metalcore superstars, Atreyu. He also fronts Hell or Highwater as the band’s sole lead vocalist.
Hell or Highwater release Vista, their upcoming second full-length album on Spinefarm/Caroline Australia on May 19! I thought it a good opportunity to have a chat to Saller and obtain his thoughts on the new album and his career.
Hot Metal: I want to congratulate you for a stellar career not just with Hell or Highwater but with Atreyu as well!
Brandon: “Thank you very much, it’s been a fun ride so far.”
HM: What’s your perspective on things as you look back on the last 20 odd years?
BS: “It’s kind of insane. I’ve been able to travel the world and do things I’d dreamed about. It’s been kind of a crazy, rewarding thing. Atreyu going away and coming back and still feeling tons of love from the fans in Australia, then being able to kind of start a whole new project, it’s a lot of fun.”
HM: How do you think fans are going to react to the new album from Hell or Highwater (Vista) once they get a chance to hear it and get their ears around it?
BS: “It’s my hope that they’ll enjoy it. It’s so different to Atreyu, obviously people should be expecting that. I’m just excited, this album’s been years in the making. We’ve been doing Hell or Highwater for five years now and this is kind of the first time where we really just are out in force, there’s a label involved and we really getting into the music. It’s a real opportunity to show the whole world what we’re working on. We’re all really excited and raring to go, can’t wait for this album to come out.”
HM: What was the inspiration behind forming Hell or Highwater? Most people know you as the vocalist and drummer in Atreyu.
BS: “It kind of started when Atreyu was kind of winding down and about to go on hiatus and I wanted a project making music, so it kind of all formed there and it’s just been a lot of fun and it’s kind of just become this kind of family along the way. I found some guys that I have insane chemistry with and we make really great music.”
HM: What do you think your biggest challenge has been as both an artist and a musician?
BS: “Making art is always subjective. We love the art we make, it’s up to the listener to decide your fate essentially. That’s always the difficult part. We love making music, we love hanging out together. The difficult part, with any kind of art, is the reaction. You always hope for a positive reaction.”
HM: Did you start playing the drums first or the guitar?
BS: “I started playing the drums first when I was very young. I picked up guitar maybe three or four years after, just because I wanted to write music. I just kind of hung out, started my band and then figured out what I was trying to do. I went with guitar and taught myself the basics and from there it’s just kind of gone and gone.”(continued below)
HM: If it all ended tomorrow, do you think you’ve achieved everything you’ve wanted to with both Hell or Highwater and Atreyu?
BS: “Not even close. I’ve think I’ve only just begun and Atreyu’s been here 15 years. There’s still so much more that we want to achieve. There’s so much ahead of us, especially how much we work at each stage of our band. It’s been a long journey.”
HM: Do you expect much crossover from Atreyu fans into Hell or Highwater? Or do you see Hell or Highwater as a standalone project that you think will attract new listeners and new fans?
BS: “I think that there will be some crossover, that’s to be expected, but I do think it will stand on its own. It’s so different that we’ll be in front of a lot of different fans and a lot of different people that Atreyu never got the opportunity to go in front of. I think it’s going to be a little of both. The crossover is going to be there from the beginning just because I think that’s inevitable with any band, but I think there’s a lot of people that will be touring with the different bands and a lot of different kind of ears will be hearing what we do, not everybody knew about Atreyu.”
HM: Can you share funny story from the studio, on stage or on tour? It can be as NSFW as you like!
BS: “We recorded Vista out in the middle of nowhere and a lot of times you’d get very intoxicated or just conked out my mind and the antics and voices and dialog would be probably funny to us, maybe not funny to other people, but we have a good two hours of us just being the most ridiculous people on Earth. It’s seclusion, alcohol and too much caffeine. Fun things happen.”
HM: So, is there a grand plan for your good self? Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?
BS: “I’ll still be making music. I love making music, I love being in multiple bands and multiple musical projects and I’ll be doing the same thing hopefully get introduced to more people and be doing the same thing I’m doing now on a bigger scale.”
HM: Final question, memories of Australia? Are you planning on bringing Hell or Highwater to Australia?
BS: “Absolutely. It’s one of the places we can’t wait to go. Every show that we’ve played in Australia has been phenomenal, people are so great, so receptive and passionate about music, and it’s just a beautiful place. I literally don’t have a negative memory of Australia, I cannot wait to get there.”