While out on tour promoting their new album, Kill Surf City, released March 16 on Solidarity Recordings, Dying Scene was able to chat with “horn-tinged rock ‘n’ rollers” The Atom Age before their performance in San Jose last Friday. In the interview, vocalist/guitarist Ryan Kwon Doe discusses the meaning behind the album artwork, what it was like to play drums with The Queers, and how amazing the band’s new release is, and more. The Atom Age has a lot of plans coming up in the future, so be sure to keep checking back for updates as they come. Learn yourself something about one of Northern California’s up-and-comers and check out the entire interview here.
The Atom Age has several shows lined up in the next month; visit their Dying Scene Shows page here to find dates and locations.
Thanks again for doing the interview guys!
What’s the story behind The Atom Age? How did you guys come about?
We started – well, I played drums in The Queers, and so, I moved out here in 2007 to basically start this band. It was just after a tour, and I was just writing music, came out here because it’s the best place to tour in the world, and found these guys and just got it going. I mean it took awhile, we’re a pretty new band; we’ve only been around a year and a half. I don’t think anyone was doing what we’re doing right now, with the rock ‘n’ roll and sax, and we’re trying desperately to make rock ‘n’ roll still alive.
What was the inspiration for the band name? What’s up with the apes?
It’s just because I love the 1950’s, and I think The Atom Age is a cool name – space exploration, Sputnik, apes, and all that shit, but…there’s cool imagery with that era with the nukes and blowing stuff up, Cold Wars and communists and all that. Whatever, its’ rock ‘n’ roll.
What exactly is “21st century horn-tinged rock ‘n’ roll?
That’s our sound. Haha, that’s The Atom Age; there’s no other band. I invented that. I’m a genius. No, I don’t know, that was kind of the sound I had in my head, and I was luckily able to execute it, found the right people and was able to do it. That’s what I want to do all the time.
What was it like working with Rick Rubin producing the new album?
Hahaha, it was awesome. You know, we paid $100,000 a day and we…[at this point in the interview, members of the Gnarboots come outside to clap and sing “this is the start of the show”!]… Since we’re real punk rockers we grew our beards real long and auto-tuned everything as much as possible, and took all the life and energy out of our recordings because that’s what punk rock is all about – being the same as everyone else. Being different just like everyone else. Ya exactly, that’s what punk rock’s all about, conformity, these days.
How have you enjoyed your time with Solidarity Recordings?
It’s been awesome. It’s been really cool, because I started playing out here on drums with this band called Wardogs, and Wayne (lead singer of For.The.Win) was in that band and his brother [Randy] owns Solidarity, he’s the one thaty runs the label, and they’re all hooked up with Asian Man. So it’s been really cool; we did a split on Asian Man with The Queers that was really cool and Mike is definitely a cool guy. He told us that he would put out the record, but he honestly said Randy will do a better job. You know, Randy is new to it and he really wants to push his bands, and Asian Man has done everything already. So, it’s been awesome, we have distro, and Hot Topic (haha), and the records only been out for a month and it’s been selling, it’s been working.
You mentioned you filled in on drums for The Queers, can you play other instruments besides drums and guitar?
No, just guitar and drums. I have been with The Queers since like 2006 on and off, cuz they have like 3 different drummers.
How has it been managing time between The Atom Age and The Queers?
I mean, it’s been pretty easy. I’m with The Atom Age more because The Queers have been around for like longer than I’ve been alive, but they tour sporadically so when they ask me, for some reason I might be on tour [with The Atom Age], for some reason I might not, so it just depends.
What was it like being asked to play drums for The Queers?
It was amazing. You know I was only 20 years old, and I was freaked out. You know, going on stage and having Joe Queer be like, “Don’t fuck up!”
Have you guys thought about bringing other horns or instruments into your ensemble?
Um, I think…well, my two favorite bands are The Clash and Rocket From The Crypt and Rocket From The Crypt has a full horn section, well a sax and trumpet. But, I think we would be too much like them haha. I mean, I think we sound different, but the influences are obviously there. I think the only other thing that would be cool would be like some sort of old 60’s-type organ, like Murder City Devils. We have a bunch of organ on the record, so to bring it live would make it really intense, that low-end organ, the “Vox Continental” organ, as it’s been called I guess.
You’ve mentioned The Clash and Rocket From The Crypt, do you have any other musical influences?
We just want to make music that’s really high energy, and that has its own sound and is really catchy, and that’s our ultimate goal. I don’t know, it seems so many bands these days are just following a formula, and I guess it’s no different from like 10 years ago or whatever. I think it’s been particularly draining for me this time around. And so many bands just don’t put on a rock ‘n’ roll show, they just drink PBR and stare at the audience and bob their head up and down.
So you see yourselves going back to a glory day of rock?
Exactly, ya. I mean, we love garage rock, anything from the ’50’s. Most of the music I listen to is late ’50’s, early ’60’s; girl groups, Sonics, Music Machine, and then like any newer bands, we like mostly 90’s rock bands like the whole rock ‘n’ roll vibe from that era – like Rocket From The Crypt, New Bomb Turks, Riverboat Gamblers, The Bronx are my favorite band playing now, Voodoo Glow Skulls, some ska stuff, but only weird ska stuff. We like weird fusion things.
Do you guys have a favorite place to play?
Well, we’re just starting to tour a lot. Like I said we’re a new band and, Seattle’s awesome; that’s the first place we started doing good on tour actually. There’s a lot of older rockers there, like the crowds there are older and they like us more, where as in California the younger kids like us more, which I think is cooler actually. I mean, anywhere in California is awesome, Austin’s cool.
Any crazy memory from a show or during a tour?
Peter: Oh, well there was this drunk chick in San Diego, she pulled out her titties in like the middle of our set, and then after the show, she pulls down her pants and flashes us.
Ryan: Just female nudity, nothing new. We’re the best looking band in the world, so it’s nothing new. But you know, just general craziness and debauchery.
You recently posted on Facebook that you’re working on new material for upcoming releases; can you shed any light as to what those may be?
We’re on an Intervention Records comp in Sacramento, and they only want unreleased music, so we’re just going to do a song. And, Solidarity is doing like a 7″ Series, so we’ll be doing a 7″ with them. I mean, in my mind I want to rock it and do like 100s of unreleased songs, but it’s just the practicality of that is pretty daunting.
What can we expect from The Atom Age in the future?
Well our album [Kill Surf City] just came March 16, that’s our first record, and we’re just going to be on tour all the time. We’re going out June 12 with Treephort, which is going to be fucking awesome, really crazy. I think we’re going to be on tour pretty much until November, on and off. Our biggest thing is just getting our album out there. I think we just need to get really good at pushing ourselves, especially when you’re trying to wade through every band sounding like 100 little Against Me’s. Ha, we don’t talk politics we just have fun.
What’s up with all the very descriptive words you use in your blogs and updates such as nasty, greasy, slimy, sweaty, raunchy, gnarly, sax sex sounds, wild pig squeals, dripping some form of liquid in your undies, christian-crab-core metal punk, etc?
Ya you know, I’m kind of a poet I would say, kind of a word monster. That’s just me expressing my art. I’m just trying to make kids see shit they’ve never read before. I’m just ripping off James Brown and John Reis and whoever, cuz it’s fun to talk like that and people will be like, “this guys out of his fucking mind,” and that’s the point cuz everyone else is so fucking serious. I just want music to be fun, and really loud.