Interview: Atom Smash talk "Love is in the Missile"
Fri, 03 Sep 2010 11:31:12
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Atom Smash combine all the elements necessary for great hard rock.
They've got soaring hooks on the likes of "Mile High Love" and "Rocker Girl." They've got poetically powerful ballads in the form of "Bianca." Then they've got the ass-shaking anthem that could very well seduce the girls back into rock 'n' roll—their incendiary first single, "Do Her Wrong." Atom Smash just dropped their full-length debut, Love is in the Missile, and it's bound to blow up. This is how hard rock should be…
Atom Smash vocalist Sergio sat down with ARTISTdirect.com editor and Dolor author Rick Florino for an exclusive interview about why girls inspire the best tunes, getting serious for "Bianca," some favorite records and the Scream influence on the record.
For you, is there on thread throughout the whole album?
Like any other rock album, one of the common threads would be emotions such as love and hate. I've always said that I think rock 'n' roll is really driven by women. I wouldn't have anything to write about if it wasn't for women [Laughs]. Let's face it: the world revolves around women. Men try to make tons of money to impress women. That's all there is to it. No matter how powerful a man is, it's really all about a woman.
That extends to all art forms…
Yeah, I think God's a girl [Laughs].
Do you aim to create visuals musically?
Yeah, I definitely like writing about very visual subject matter that draws a picture for you. I grew up listening to guys like Eddie Vedder. If you listen to Pearl Jam's "Black," the visuals it brings are incredible. I would never compare anything I've written to something like that, but it's a big inspiration. If you haven't read the lyrics, you might mistake a lyric for another lyric. Sometimes, it's intentional. Sometimes, it just works out that way.
What's the story behind "Do Her Wrong?"
It's an honest love song. For as long as songwriting has been around, men have written the most unbelievable love songs that supposedly speak from the heart, but the reality is, it's all a bunch of crap [Laughs]. I wanted write a song about how men really think and how they really are. It's an honest track. We weren't sure if the record was going to be a dark grunge-y record or if we were going to go more of a pop route. There was something about "Do Her Wrong" though. It was our ticket to write a record that really does have variety in the sense that we can be as brutal as we want and we can also be as romantic and as fun as we want. We get our fix of all that stuff. We don't want to be pigeonholed into one style. Bands like Queen, Led Zeppelin, The Doors and Aerosmith could play a blues song or an Arabic themed song. They had an incredible variety. "Do Her Wrong" set the tone for the album.
How did "Bianca" come about?
The subject matter is something a lot of people are dealing with, considering the rate of cancer out there. There are so families struggling through it. It's a song that covers different ground than you'd normally hear. We wanted to make sure that song was on the record; we think it's going to make an impact. Bianca was a girl that our guitarist Z grew up with. She's his guitar teacher's daughter. He was Z's mentor for years over in Austria. When we first met, he told me that he'd found out Bianca had brain cancer. It was early in the week. Literally a week later, she was gone. She was in her twenties. When you hear about something like that, it shows what a beast cancer really is. People out there need some hope. So we decided to write a song about it.
At the same time, you guys capture a classic vibe. You might get the girls back into hard rock.
[Laughs] Yeah, I don't know about all that. I think girls getting back into hard rock has to do with the guys in the bands. Kings of Leon managed to do it. The subject matter of our album is definitely something a girl could have a good time with. It does call for that energy—especially on songs like "Rocker Girl." It seems like girls are more into John Mayer, but it was somewhat of a goal of ours.
If Love is in the Missile were a movie or a combination of movies, what would you compare it to?
That is a good one! There's a bit of a serial killer vibe to some of it. I'd say a combination of Gone with the Wind and Scream [Laughs]. There's definitely a creepy vibe. I know what I'm saying, but the lyrics are written with a couple different meanings. That's always been the case with this band. There might be a "You did me wrong," spiteful underlying lyrical approach. "Naked" is a perfect example.
Which records shaped you?
I always go back to the same albums. I still listen to all that early '90s music. It's what I grew up listening to, and it's what I still listen to. I am really into Shinedown and 30 Seconds to Mars. There a batch of modern bands I'm really impressed by. I can't say that the grunge era or the great era of stadium and arena rock have really died. There's still a desire for it. Rock radio plays it all day. You're going to hear Nirvana, Stone Temple Pilots, Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains on modern rock stations. I'd say Pearl Jam's Ten, Stone Temple Pilots' Purple and Core, Alice In Chains' Dirt and there are a few Nine Inch Nails records. I still go back to the same albums.
The goal is to stay out on the road. We don't really function well in the real world [Laughs].
Have you heard Atom Smash yet?