Posted Aug 27th, 2015 (2:15 pm) by Michael Negron
Atom Age
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The Atom Age has been called a lot of different things: an "angry ska band", "Berkley future punk," and of course "mutant ape rock." With an affinity for all things early rock 'n roll, they've come together to make Hot Shame with the help of Blag Dahlia of The Dwarves. We called up Ryan Perras, vocalist and guitarist of The Atom Age, to chat about organs, Elvis, and punk rock energy.

IYS: So you guys have around for a while now and you've got a new record coming out, as sort of an introduction, what would you say Atom Age is all about?

Ryan Perras: I think we're trying to like harness the energy of all the old '60s garage and rnb stuff. We really love all the really crazy sounds of the past and want to put a modern spin on it. I think for the beginning that's what we've been trying to do is just bring that energy.

IYS: You guys recently toured with Richie Ramone and The Queers, a band you've played in too.

RP: Yeah, yeah I've been playing with the Queers on and off since 2006, I just did something with them in Puerto Rico. I do drums for that band.

IYS: Very cool. What were the shows like, any different than the norm?

RP: I mean it was just that we're all rock and roll history and nerds, Richie is so cool, he really knows his stuff and he's a great drummer. When I was playing, he'd be like "oh this is really cool, but try this" or "try that," and I never thought I'd be touring with one of the Ramones, you know.

IYS: Yeah definitely, and he's not the only interesting guy you've been working with; Blag Dahlia is co-producing Hot Shame, how'd that happen?

RP: It was great, he's a total nerd like we are about all the early rock and roll stuff, and has some obviously really good ways to modernize it like stuff he's done with The Dwarves, and he just lent us another ear and he would say try this and try that and he'd push us to do a lot of different stuff. I think the big thing he did was get a transistor organ player because he thought it would really cool, and that's something that we've wanted to do for a long time anyway.

IYS: So the organ was something both you guys and Blag wanted on the record?

RP: Yeah, it was both. On our record before this, there were a couple organ parts we put in to recording to enhance it, 'cause we were a 5-piece back then and we're like, "we can't be a six piece, no way." So Blag called us up and he's like you definitely need to do it. So I talked to the bass player and he's like "yeah I think I can do it" and you know, it's a lot easier to get another bass player than to get an organist *laughs*.

IYS: Blag had a pretty big impact on the direction of the album then.

RP: Yeah like the songwriting and the direction of the band, figuring it out and finding it out like, I record bands for a living, that's my day job so as far as the actual production goes I knew what I was doing, but yeah Blag definitely was a big part of it.

IYS: And I just gotta ask, did Blag come up with the Elvis impersonator idea for the Wasteoid video or was that you guys?

RP: *Laughs* No that was us, yeah we're all like dorks about early rock and roll. That was actually our bass player who found the guy; he gets paid like 250 bucks an hour! So we called him up and he knew all the stuff, he knew the song straight away and the dance moves, and it was kind of like a spiritual experience! *laughs*

IYS: *Laughs* So other than Elvis, the organ and Blag, how do you think Hot Shame is different from your earlier work? What direction are you heading in?

RP: Well, we just spent a really long time demoing, and you know we always just toured heavily, and part of that was just finding the right people, people who can handle the road. But we were always a better live band, so we just really tried to capture the energy, the vibe of the road show, and this is also the first record I share half the vocals with Peter. So we just tried to write the best songs we possibly could, somehow get that energy on tape like we hadn't before.

IYS: Would you say this record is the closest to getting that sound?

RP: By far. Like absolutely. I mean the other records are cool, but I don't think they're a good representation of the band because we're just better live always. Everyone in the band sees it almost as a new band honestly, we even talked about changing the name because we've changed so much, but I mean it's cool also to see a band develop, I guess nowadays that’s rare because of the internet, people just explode instantly and there's no development time.

IYS: Is there a track that really taps into that energy?

RP: I think "Ms. Death Texas" is pretty crazy sounding, that one is pretty pumping, it feels like it does live, but I'm pretty happy with the sound overall for this record. I think that with the other records we could have used some help; I was developing as a recording engineer, but this time we really conveyed what we had in our heads finally.

IYS: So I was reading an older interview and saw you've been called an "angry ska band", "Berkley future punk", and "mutant ape rock". What column does Hot Shame fall under?

RP: *Laughs* Uh, I would definitely think an angry ska thing, we always joked around about that. I think we've been confusing people a little bit, but it's clearly influenced by '60s punk like The Sonics, and some modern bands like the Murder City Devils, Hot Snakes, The Bronx. So I don't know, it's kind of like '60s punk with a new school edge that's kind of been forgotten about.

IYS: You guys take a lot of inspiration from older music, clearly, but do you think there's a problem with some of today's music?

RP: My thing is definitely like there's a ton of bands saying they're garage or psych or whatever, and it is kind of true because they are playing the style of it, and they might even be truer than us to it in the sense that they're super lo-fi, but there's an energy to it that I think is missing. They like to play this very mellow psych stuff, and I think the high-energy stuff is what really sets us apart, I don't think there's a lot of the crazed energy that I really like about what we're doing.

Hot Shame (and our review) is out Friday, August 28th on Asian Man Records. See tour info here.

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