Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Redux: The Ataris, "End is Forever"

Almost everyone I know who's met Kris Roe, the singer and guitarist for The Ataris, have told me he's kind of a douchebag. Actually, that's an understatement. I've definitely heard from one person that he's the biggest douchebag from Indiana and a former roommate tell me that he's a fucking asshole. And I can kind of see that, but the two times that I've spoken to him he was polite, so I have nothing ill to say about him on that level.

The Ataris are probably one of my favorite sophomoric pop-punk bands from the 90s, particuarly their watershed album, "Blue Skies, Broken Hearts...Next 12 Exits," which served to be my personal soundtrack for the latter part of my high school years.

In my freshman year of college, they released "End is Forever," which was their "serious" album of sorts. There were still some fast pop songs and most of the songs about love were boiled down to a middle school-level, but songs like "Fast Times at Drop Out High" which covers the topic of an adopted child (a lost brother Roe later found out about) and "Road Signs and Rock Songs," which addresses the polarizing effects of being a band on tour and being away from the ones you love. Through these weighty themes, and for better or worse, The Ataris started branching out as a mature band (for lack of a better term).

It's interesting that The Ataris were pretty much castigated because of this (and moreso over subsequent releases, "So Long, Astoria" and "Welcome the Night") in 2000, yet other contemporaries like Sum 41, Blink 182, New Found Glory, and Alkaline Trio followed this pattern in the years to come and while they were not without their critics, they didn't seem to get hit as hard as The Ataris did.

In the last few years, The Ataris sort of fell apart on the weight of their own "vision" (releasing an indie rock album for a crowd of teenagers who know you for a Don Henley cover will do that) with Roe doing solo acoustic tours of "Blue Skies..." and selling off his possessions via eBay. Though the band has always pretty much been Roe, many longtime collaborators, like John Collura, Mike Davenport and Chris Knapp, have been shown the door. A new version of the band has a new record coming out soon, promising to recapture the "End is Forever"-era, so it'll be interesting how this all pans out for them.

"Summer Wind Was Always Our Song"

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