It was a great time talking with Peter, Tim, Brendan and Spellman (Taylor) while they were here in SLC. Thanks to all of you for taking the time to hang out with me. We all made a decent attempt at making this interview easy to transcribe but a lot was still mashed together so it was put together as a collaborative. You guys are all great and we will see you next time you’re in town.
I highly suggest that anyone interested in The Atom Age to definitely go see then live, you will be a fan for life… Even if they don’t have the organist, Fred with them. I’m excited to see them again soon and so should you!
Go buy some of their stuff!
New album “Cry Till You Die” out August 23rd – How has the response been in comparison to your previous albums so far?
Yeah, it’s been good. We haven’t really been touring a ton the last couple years because we were waiting to put out this record so, this is our first tour since we put it out and it’s been great. We’re just kind of going out on our own and working away. But yeah, it’s been good.
New album, new label – Tiger Dream – Who is Tiger Dream Records?
Everybody and nobody.
This is you guys doing your own thing? Taking that next step from Asian Man Records?
Yeah, we just put it out ourselves.
Mike (Asian Man Records) still helped with everything on this record, it’s basically an Asian Man release but with our name on it.
So, is this the start of something new?
We [Peter & Ryan] have another project called Nobody’s Baby and the plan is to release everything under the Tiger Dream label and I’ve been working on my own solo music that I’m probably going to be putting on that same label too.
We started branching out and wanting to do more shit. We thought that if we have this and make it our own label then we could start putting all of our own music on it.
We still talk to Mike (Asian Man) often, he just officiated our keyboard players wedding and he just recorded the Bruce Lee Band record.
How was it working with Dave Schiffman in comparison to working with Blag Dahlia?
Extremely different. Yeah, Blag is great, but he is super informal. Blag is literally a dude that comes into my work and hangs out and we can just shoot the shit with. When we were making that record, we had recently met him within the year or so before and he was interested in working with us.
So we ended up just corresponding back and forth, we would be working on new songs and we would send it to him to see what he thought of it. He would offer up suggestions like, I would change this or this and simple things like, maybe don’t repeat this riff in this song so many times or let’s move the chorus around a little bit. He really helped the technical side of things. He was really helpful, but it was never a situation of him in the studio with us.
Schiffman, he engineered the record also. We did pre-production stuff like we did with Blag and I remember actually playing the Kilby Court show with Bad Cop, Bad Cop and that was when he first started giving us notes, when we were in Salt Lake. He was there the whole session and he engineered the whole thing, he just let us all be assholes and then sometimes he would just say, No.
We’ve never really worked with a fucking producer before. He [Schiffman] was incredibly diplomatic which I thought was a really unique and a weird quality, but it made everything so efficient. We’d have little arguments here and there about where we want the sax part in the song or how we wanted the baseline to go, a couple of us, just being the dickheads that we are would start yelling at each other and he would say, all right, all right, we’re going to try both ways and see how it goes. Instead of us yelling at each other for an hour, we would be done in like 15 minutes. He was so efficient and was awesome to work with and he had stories about every rock star that he’s ever worked with and it was really fun.
What do you do outside of music?
I [Peter] run an amp repair shop in Oakland and I work at a venue called Bottom Of The Hill in San Francisco. Ryan runs District Recordings which is studio where we’ve made our last two records at.
I [Tim] teach drum lessons in Texas.
[Everyone directing to Taylor] He’s a fucking grifter! [Laughter]
I’m Taylor, everyone always calls me a drifter. I sell stuff on eBay and Craig’s List, I’ve been doing that for about 8 years now.
I’m Brendan and I work with coffee
Our keyboard player that isn’t here [Fred] is a stay-at-home dad.
What did you guys do before music?
[Peter] Well, music does not pay the bills, but at least half of us have music related jobs. I used to work at a Pete’s Coffee. I used to work in a movie theater, I was a projectionist back when actual film was still used. Ryan used to deliver pizza, both he and I used to deliver pizza… and Fred. We were definitely the pizza brotherhood band for a little while.
Even I [Brendan] worked in pizza, I lasted about a month because we had a very complicated POS. I had to place a very complicated order and I accidentally held down the shift key during the entire order. I ended up with a teriyaki pizza with carrots, feta cheese and anchovies, this thing got delivered like this and came right back. I ended up loosing my job over this. [Laughter]
While you’ve been out on your tours, what are some of your favorite local bands that you’ve played with on the road?
Like everybody, I get fucking obsessed with my favorite, favorite bands and one of my all-time favorite bands doesn’t really play anymore but they are a small band from San Francisco called The Soaks. The guitarist went on to join that pop punk band, The Frights and now that’s his full-time job now. Before that he had this super fucking awesome van, and we used to play house shows together and we did a little tour together.
Another cool band, Last year in South Carolina we were on tour and we played with this band Dumb Doctors. It was a cool garage rock band that dress up like doctors, I still listen to them all the time.
Most embarrassing or crazy thing that has happened to you on stage?
Years ago, in New Orleans I [Brendan] was cut by a wayward guitar string that broke and it sliced my arm, there was blood running down my arm and this person took it upon herself to come up on stage and lick the blood off my arm. [That’s just gross!]
There was that show at Three Links where the night before we were in Houston and we went to eat at a Taco Cabana and it horribly poisoned Peter.
[Peter] I was throwing up before the show and we had to cut the last two or three songs to the set. I immediately had to go out back and throw up some more and again in the bathroom. That show was really fuckin packed too.
[Tim] While Peter was outside puking, our keyboard player Fred grabbed the microphone and said “Sorry dudes. That’s all we got.” Then this dude through a half-full tallboy of Pabst at him and split his head open. He was bleeding pretty profusely out of his head and there was this nurse at the show who ended up gorilla gluing his head shut. So, he had this big glob of Gorilla Glue again on his head for about a week. We are a bloody band! [laughter]
What about some of your best shows you have played?
Oh, yeah. Okay. This is definitely one of my prouder moments. We played at this festival in France called The Cosmic Trip, it’s like garage rock festival and right before we were supposed to play our keyboard broke. Between the time of getting on stage and setting up my shit, I had to disassemble the keyboard, fix it and then put it back together. I was soldering on stage and there was 800 people there just watching me solder. Yeah, that was that was a pretty good one and the show was pretty rad too.
I think maybe my favorite show that I’ve ever played was our record release show for this album. We played with The 126.96.36.199’s at Slim’s in San Francisco and it was the night before Fred’s wedding and the whole wedding party was there too. It was just this fucking perfect show, it’s not even a good story it was just a perfect show!
What advice do you have for any young musicians that are looking to follow in your footsteps?
Be ready to make sacrifices. Be your own worst critic all the time and fucking always try to continually become a better band. If you’re having fun keep doing it, if you’re not having fun the stop playing music.