Bryan Nelson is no stranger to delays. When the bassist joined the latest formation of the Ataris in early 2008, most of the music for the band’s sixth studio album was already written and would soon be released, or so Nelson thought. Several tours later, there’s still no end in sight for The Graveyard of the Atlantic. Nelson and the rest of the melodic-punk quartet seem to be waiting on lead singer, principal songwriter, and founding member Kris Roe to make his final track selection, finish writing the lyrics, and lay down vocals. So the question remains: is Roe on the road to overtweaked Chinese Democracy ruin, or is he merely a consummate professional fine-tuning an indie-rock masterpiece? Being the team player that he is, Nelson believes it’s the latter.
“I’ve been anxious for a couple of years now,” he admits, checking in from a Denver, Colorado, tour stop. “But there’s been some other songs that Kris has been working on that he feels will fit the album a little better, so he might want to re-record some stuff and take some stuff out. But, you know, you can’t rush it—you don’t want it to come out bad.”
In the meantime, the Indiana group is touring to celebrate the reissue of its 1999 career-building pop-punk album, Blue Skies, Broken Hearts”¦Next 12 Exits, and to promote a new EP that has yet to be released—and this time the delay is more machine-made than man-made.
“When we got ’em back from the pressing plant, there’s a skip in one of the songs, so they had to redo them all,” says a disappointed Nelson, adding: “It is kind of a bummer.”
For now, fans can get a taste of the group’s new material on its MySpace page. That’s where they’ll find “All Souls Day”, a track that will appear on both the EP and LP. Here we have a guitar-driven, angst-ridden, SoCal-sounding, highly emotive special. And Nelson promises that the rest of the album will have a little something for every kind of Ataris enthusiast. Musically, he says, it’s got a rawk edge to it à la 2003’s So Long, Astoria. And lyrically, things are going to get quite meaningful, as on 2007’s Welcome the Night.
In terms of live shows, despite the fact that Roe is the only original member left, the Ataris have been getting great feedback.
“People that have known Kris for years and have seen the band for years say that this is the tightest lineup and the best-sounding lineup they’ve seen,” Nelson reports.
You can see for yourself this week, when the Ataris hit the Biltmore stage. And who knows? You might even hear some new material.
The Ataris play the Biltmore Cabaret on Saturday (July 31).