How The Atomic Tanlines Went From Church Choir to Crawling Around in Broken Glass
The Atomic Tanlines received plenty of praise last year with their blend of punk, free jazz and soul. The Denton-based five-piece sat down with us at the Waffle House where they started to discuss their background in music. You can catch them this week at Le Bitch Manor on Thursday and at Dada on Saturday opening for Ty Segall.
Eric Grubbs The Atomic Tanlines, at the Waffle House they started in
When you were growing up, was MTV -- in any way -- an influence?
Ally (vocals): No!
Taylor (bass): No!
Bill (drums): Not me, personally.
Reece (guitar): Kinda. My parents watched a lot of it, so my earliest memories are seeing grunge music videos.
Ally: I watched a lot of VH1 and the countdowns like "Best Songs of the 90s" and the "One Hit Wonders"!
Pablo (guitar): When I lived in Costa Rica, my babysitter would play MTV. Madonna, Michael Jackson. That was the only real thing to watch.
So, what got y'all into music?
Pablo: That's kind of a tough question.
Bill: I can answer that easily because my dad was a musician for 15 years. He quit being a professional musician right when I was born. My first drum set was one he had since 1972. It was kinda like I inherited being a musician. I don't play the kind of stuff he ever played. He was in a band that sounded like The Smiths or The Cure in the '80s in Austin. Then he did a rootsy thing, more or less, in the last few years he was playing music. Then he'd play punk, free jazz and weird shit.
Taylor: I got into Jimi Hendrix when I was a little kid, and it made me want to play music.
Ally: I always wanted to sing because my mom used to be really big into the choir. She listened to a lot of Erykah Badu and soul music. That was my dream: to be some sort of singer. Then I got into punk and I was like, "That's what I want to do!"
Taylor: I didn't start playing music until I got into punk. I got into The Germs and Black Flag and then I really wanted to play music.
Pablo: I played piano, saxophone, but I didn't really care that much until I got into punk when I was 14 and then I started playing bass and guitar.
Ally: I wasn't allowed to play instruments 'cause my family is Church of Christ.
Wow. Couldn't dance either?
Ally: Well, my mother wasn't that strict about it. It was more like, my grandmother. I didn't have any interest in it anyway. I mean, I didn't grow up around it.
Who were your gateway punk bands?
Bill: It's weird for me being in this band. I don't really listen to punk. I mean, I play it and I enjoy playing it a lot. For me, I got into no wave first. I was listening to The Contortionists before I was listening to Black Flag. I was listening to DNA before I was listening to The Ramones. Kinda did it backwards: got into the fringes of punk first and then started getting into [punk]. I like more straightforward punk bands now. I mean, fuck, I listened to the new Bad Religion album yesterday. It's pretty good for a bunch of 50-year-old dudes.
Well, when you have a drummer like Brooks Wackerman, you'll be OK.
Bill: Oh yeah!
What about you, Reece?
Reece: It's kinda similar, honestly. I didn't really listen to punk; I listened to no wave. I kinda came to punk. I still don't know if I listen to a lot of punk.
For me, it was hearing Henry Rollins read Get In the Van, talking about Black Flag. It just sounded so vivid and scary, that I was like, "I gotta hear this!"
Pablo: I read only half of Get in the Van, but I couldn't finish it when he started to get really depressed. Just like, "I hate my band" and all this stuff.
Taylor: He talks a lot about working out and stuff.
Bill: That's how he got his tortured, miserable feelings out.
Ally, what about you?
Ally: My very first punk band was the Bad Brains. I grew up on hip-hop and soul. In high school, I was just over it. I was listening to metal, like Motörhead-type stuff, and then the shitty music that my soccer team listened to. Then I met my friend Patrick and he introduced me to the Bad Brains.