Atreyu Drummer Brandon Saller Loves Being the Singer In Hell or Highwater
For more than 15 years, drummer-vocalist Brandon Saller gave his all to the Southern California metalcore outfit, Atreyu. But after hammering out five studio LPs with four of his best friends while traveling the globe and performing for legions of exuberant fans, Saller is now ready to go front and center.
Meet Hell Or Highwater.
Formerly known as The Black Cloud Collective, this is his new band, featuring Saller as front man. The five piece band will self-release 'Begin Again' on August, 9th, and will support the release by touring on the UPROAR Festival kicking off in August along with Avenged Sevenfold, Bullet For My Valentine and a host of other bands. Recently, Saller spoke with Noisecreep about the new project, which also includes guitarist Matt Pauling [The Confession], guitarist Neal Tiemann [MWK, David Cook], bassist Joey Bradford [Thieves and Liars], and drummer Kyle Peek [MWK, David Cook].
Where does Hell or Highwater fit within your career right now?
Everything I've ever done has led to this. When I first started I was just a drummer. I started singing and got more and more comfortable and then evolved to where I am as a performer now. It was the time for me to get out front and try something exciting. And here I am.
What's it like to now be the front guy?
Lots of fun. I had obvious nerves, but after the fist show it was cool. A stage is a stage for me. I'm comfortable wherever I am up there. Being face to face and getting to interact with an audience more is something I love. I've never gotten to do that before, I'm always at the back. In Atreyu, I was as crazy as I could be from the back. But it's not quite the same.
Not a lot of guys have made the move from drum kit to center stage. Dave Grohl comes to mind. Are there any specific front guys that have influenced you?
Not really. I never thought of who I wanted to emulate. As a kid, I was into hardcore and punk and all that and so the front men were psychopaths. So I like that kind of style. Otherwise I just try and be me. If I'm comfortable and proud of what we do, that will come across. If I let people understand I'm having a good time, I hope they will too.
Have you gotten much feedback on the new record?
It's been overwhelmingly great. There's always a scary thing when you make new music. Atreyu fans may expect something along those lines that we did, and so there will always be people that hate it because it's not what you did before. For me though, I did eight or nine of these songs before I had a band, so it's kind of like my baby. I care about this music and so far so good on feedback.
Is it tough to break new music when a band has a legacy like Atreyu?
When this band idea got more serious and real, in the back of my head, I always wanted the Atreyu fans to know, this is not that that band. Don't expect the same thing. Now it's time to deal with that. I think a lot of the fans will enjoy and come along with me, but there are some who won't at first and that's cool. But I will try to win them over - I'll try to help them fall in love with the new thing.
Hell or Highwater is like a new family for me. Atreyu played for so long and we toured for so long; there was a nice routine to it. But this is a whole new fresh thing thing. I feel like an 18 year old kid again, starting over - it's all new - that's why the album is called "Begin Again." It's all about a new musical awakening.
What's the status of Atreyu today?
As of now, there are no plans for us. We'll all focus on our own things separately, which works for me because now I can put my full attention, 100% of my being into Hell or Highwater. I'm sure there will be a future, but nobody knows when or where. When the Atreyu monster peaks its head out of our hearts then it'll come back. Until then, people will be able to enjoy some fun and new stuff from us.
M. Shadows from Avenged Sevenfold makes a special appearance on the new record. You both live in Huntington Beach, California. Have you known each other a longtime?
We've been friends for a long while, we've toured together a lot in the past - it was just a cool opportunity. It was real mellow how it came about. I said to him I've got this cool song I'm working on, do you want to help me get it together and then sing it with me? He was like, "Sure - I'm not doing anything tomorrow." (Laughs)
So we did it and I think it sounds great, it totally sticks out on the record. It's a different, sort of the story telling lyric on the record, and I'm glad that we wrote that together and recorded it together. It makes the record more interesting. I've always been a huge fan of his voice so it was great to get into a room with him and put our heads together.
What are the chances of you guys singing it together on the UPROAR tour?
I'm sure it will happen at some point. He's a very disciplined person when it comes to his voice. He has a heavy role as the headliner, but I think it will be fun for fans to have a cool surprise. Not sure where or when or where, but I'm pretty sure we can make that happen.