I first heard of Atta Boy back in 2012 through their debut album Out of Sorts. As the bands debut album gained traction, the band seemed to disappear just as fast as they had burst onto the scene. Atta Boy came out of hiatus 8 years to release their sophomore album, Big Heart Manners in 2020. Thankfully we didn't have to wait another 8 years to hear from Atta Boy again. We recently had the opportunity to talk to the band about their latest release, Crab Park. Y'all, I've been an Atta Boy fan for at least a decade. This is truly a dream come true. Getting this interview was a goal I had set back when I first started interviewing bands, and look at me now. Enjoy the interview, and be sure to listen to Crab Park, out now wherever you listen to music. (Except maybe Napster?)
1. What have you been listening to lately?
Eden: Alex G’s new album God Save the Animals. Denitia
Dashel: Angel Olson, Julia Jacklin
Freddy: Florist, Briston Maroney
2. How do I pull off wearing a bolo tie without looking like I’m someone's uncle?
Freddy: It’s okay to be a funcle (fun uncle)
Eden: If you wear one buy from indigenous artists!
Dashel: My uncle wears one all the time so I pretty strongly associate it with uncles. Sorry.
3. First concert you ever attended?
We talked about this while recording this album!
Eden: Tom Waits
Freddy: Earth, Wind & Fire
4.If Shrek had to work a modern-day job, what do you think his profession would be?
Eden: Forest ranger
Freddy: Insurance recruiter
Dashel: Social media influencer
5. What album or artist first made you fall in love with music?
Freddy: Guns ‘N’ Roses
Eden: TLC and Green Day
Dashel: Honestly I think it was Millennium by Backstreet Boys then Let Go by Avril Lavigne
6.Why would Willy Wonka leave a whole chocolate factory to a little boy? There is no way that kid knows how to run a business.
Dashel: Wasn’t he super burned out and wanted someone with childlike joy to continue his chocolate empire? Pretty relatable.
Freddy: Because a grown up would’ve known that unpaid labor is bad
7. My biggest fear is bumping into Tony Hawk on the street and not recognizing him and saying something like “Hey, you kinda look like Tony Hawk.” What is your biggest fear?
Eden: losing a loved one and not knowing out to come out of it
Freddy: people will never truly understand who I am, also sharks
Dashel: being buried alive
8. I need advice. I was talking to a girl, and it turns out that she doesn’t know who Bob Dylan is. Is that a dealbreaker?
Eden: Yes, she’s probably too young for you
Freddy: Does he even go here?
Dashel: No way, now you have a bunch of music to show her
9. What would your game plan be if you inherited a chocolate factory?
Eden: Burn and turn, flip it baby
Freddy: Compare health plans
Dashel: Artificially inflate the value via cryptic tweets
10. On a scale from 1-10, how would you say this interview is going so far?
Dashel: We’ve taken like 45 minutes to get through this part so I’d say maybe a 3?
Eden: Same as Dashel
Isaac Gutierrez for BL Mag: Thank you so much for taking the time to do this! I’ve been a fan since like 2013, so it’s a huge honor getting to do this interview!
The pleasure is all ours!
To start things off can you introduce yourselves?
Freddy Reish Los Angeles bad at running, has cat
Dashel Thompson, from LA originally but currently living in Cleveland, Ohio
Eden Brolin, Central California
I know that you have known each other for years and years. When did you first meet, and how did Atta Boy first form?
Freddy: Eden, Dashel and I first met in 6th grade. We were all in the same advisory (kind of like homeroom). The next year Lewis came to our school. We all were involved in the music program at the school from our early ages. The summer before our senior year I cleared out a room my parents had for storage and Dashel and I started a few projects that didn’t really go anywhere. Right before the start of the year we asked Eden if she’d be interested in writing music with us and she said yes! After our first songwriting session in the park where we wrote about a song and a half we realized we were missing a big part of being in a band, a drummer. We’d all been friends with Lewis and knew he was a bad ass drummer but it wasn’t until I ran in to him at a music festival called Sunset Junction, I realized it was a match made in heaven. Next thing you know we’re at Lewis’s family music room known as the Weather Station practicing our first three and a half songs that still live on a cassette tape thanks to an answering machine that we used to record with. The school year went by and we lost focus until we realized everyone would be moving soon. We got our shit together, recorded our first EP, which exists somewhere in the corners of the internet, and spread across the country.
I heard that you got the name “Atta Boy” by pointing to random things in a newspaper. What were some of the other band name contenders?
When it was just Freddy and Dashel, we went through quite a few (bad) ones. I don’t think we ever called ourselves anything before landing on Atta Boy.
I personally consider Out of Sorts to be a 2010’s classic. It helped shape my music taste while I was in college. Did you expect Out of sorts to gain as much traction as it did when you were first working on the album?
100% no. We did it as a fun project and put it out without any expectations, so it was a very pleasant surprise when people beyond our close friends and family were listening to it.
You released your debut album in 2012 and didn’t follow it up until 2020 with Big Heart Manners. What was everyone up to during that time gap?
We all pursued higher education and started careers in other disciplines, although we all still maintained our passion for music.
Was it difficult getting back into the rhythm of things after that 8 year hiatus, or do you feel like you picked up where you left off?
Dashel: There was some initial discomfort for me personally, but as we got started I do think we reached a productive rhythm that resembled the energy we’ve always had. It was a new thing, given that we’d all grown up a good bit during those 8 years, but it still ultimately felt like Atta Boy.
Freddy: I was incredibly scared. I had been trying to make this happen for so long and it felt like it never would. Then when it started I felt the pressure to make something as good as the first album but once I started hearing what everyone was bringing to the project I knew we’d make something special.
Eden: The process was a bit of a blur, I think there were a lot of ideas that marinated during that hiatus and so when it came time, it seemed we were sort of wildly throwing shit at a wall. It was interesting to see where our ideas and musical interests sat after such a long break from collaborating.
I know that you didn’t tour for your 2012 album, and your sophomore came out during the height of the pandemic. Have you had the opportunity to tour as a band yet?
Dashel: We have not, although we hope to one day!
Freddy: We played one show in Dashel’s parents backyard, and Eden and I played at Pete’s Candy Store in New York so we’ve covered the whole country pretty much
Congratulations on your upcoming album, Crab Park! Are you nervous? Excited? How do you normally feel before a release?
Dashel: I’m very glad the album is finally coming out. This has been the longest time between finishing recording and the actual release, so I’m happy that folks can finally hear what we’ve been working on. I’m really proud of this record and I hope everyone enjoys it.
What was the writing/recording process like, and what are some of the inspirations behind the album?
Dashel: Because we’ve spent so much of our time as a band in different locations, we’ve gotten used to coming up with ideas separately and sending them to each other as voice memos. In that regard, this writing process was very familiar to us. What was somewhat new for the group was having time before we were actually in the studio to tweak songs and just hang out. I think that time was so huge for refining the music and getting comfortable with the whole process. This was the most fun I’ve had recording any of our albums.
Throughout your discography, there’s been exponential growth both musically, and lyrically from release to release. What do you think has helped contribute to that growth? Is that something that you aim for with each project?
Freddy: Something that we all value is personal growth and I think that’s reflected in our music. Especially since we’ve generally taken time between albums, we’ve all faced new aspects of life, positive and negative. We just naturally have new perspectives every time we get back together to make new music.
Eden: I think there’s a mutual trust and respect that has been cultivated through creative collaboration and many years of friendship that has inevitably led to growth that we’re not necessarily conscious of. We all have fairly different musical tastes too, so as those influences have evolved so has our willingness to try new sound and explore a variety of themes.
Were you listening to anything in particular while working on the album?
Dashel: Before we come together to record, we put together a playlist of the songs we’re currently listening to. The playlist ended up having like 60 tracks and covers a super wide range.
I think my personal favorite track is We Ran from Midnight. The lyrics:
“I know sadness now, but I never knew it had a face. Leaving you was easily to date my most beautiful mistake”
get me every single time. Can you give us some background on that song?
Eden: We Ran From Midnight was a song I wrote while my now-husband and I were taking a few months of personal time without contacting each other after we first met. It was about 5 years ago that I wrote the song as I was really trying to hold onto those first few memories we cultivated in the beginning. We weren’t in touch so everything I would’ve said over the phone I just put into the song.
Is there a particular song that you’re most excited for everyone to hear?
Freddy: I think I’m most excited for people to hear Steller's Jay. It was probably the most difficult song to record and mix. The final song has two different versions of the song blended together because we couldn’t agree on which style we liked better. So I had this idea of melding the two together which took a whole weekend to make happen
Eden: I’m excited for people to hear “Crab Park”
Dashel: It’s really hard to choose, I’m so proud of all the songs. “Spring Seventeen” was one I particularly fell in love with during recording, and the music video Eden made for it is such a beautiful companion.
I absolutely love your songwriting. Is writing for you kind of like a flow on consciousness type of thing? Do you have some sort of structure? Or does it vary from song to song?
Eden: For me personally it tends to vary, I haven’t found one perfect approach to songwriting and it mostly comes with a lot of trial and error. I think the more I’ve opened myself up to taking different approaches and writing down or recording any little ideas that come to mind through the day, the more I let go of perfectionism and just trust that whatever needs to come out will find a way to. Being able to then see the songs find shape and flourish through the boys’ ideas and additions really brings necessary color and life to the initial compositions.
Dashel: Being able to come to the band with bits of a song - melody lines, snippets of lyrics, a few chords - is such a nice way to write music. More often than not I have something incomplete that the rest of the band can help fill out and turn into a final piece of music. The collaborative process makes the song so much richer and more alive than it ever could have been if I was just writing it myself.
Freddy: Most of my contributions to the songwriting consists of recording voice memos on guitar with a loose song structure. Then I will send them to the band and they pick out which ones resonate with them the most. Sometimes I’ll include a prompt with what the song could be about and Eden will run with it or write something awesome on her own.
Is there anything you want our readers to know?
Dashel: For anyone in the United States: depending on where you live, you may still have time to register to vote! You can get more info at vote.gov. And if you are already registered, make sure you vote on November 8 - local elections are often just as, if not MORE important than state or federal ones!
To wrap things up, do you have any questions for me?
Do you write and record music?
I don't! I think that's why I started interviewing bands and stuff. It's the closest I get to it.
What was the first song of ours you heard?
The first song I heard was Jack and Blow wayyyy back in 2012 or 2013.
Thank you so much for taking the time to do this interview!
Thanks for having us!