Denver band the Photo Atlas makes irresistibly fun, hard-driving dance-punk music. See for yourself when the band plays the Replay Lounge this Saturday at 10 p.m. Ambulants and Jordan Geiger support. We recently checked in with the band to see how it's reacting to all the positive attention it has been receiving over the past year.
The Pitch: Out of all the accolades you've received over the last few years, what's the one mention/write-up that made you guys go, "Wow, that's just crazy awesome."
The Photo Atlas: We've been lucky enough to have some nice things said about us by some cool people. As of recent I was blown away when Tim Kasher from Cursive was at a show we did in Omaha, Nebraska. After our set he came up to us and said he thought we were awesome. Not so much a press thing but it's crazy to have one of your heroes come up and say he likes your band. That and when Alternative Press said we sounded like a "new At the Drive-In". Just being in the same light as the artists that wrote some of your favorite songs is crazy. And I kinda feel like a namedropper right now.
You were recently in a skate/snowboarding magazine ad campaign? Do you think your music fits into that culture?
Denver and Colorado are really into snowboarding. I think being as our music is more at a fast tempo, some people like to move to it in a lot of different ways: dancing or snowboarding or running. We've actually had a lot of people say we're great exercise music. I've always thought the snowboarding culture was more of a hip-hop or pop-punk thing, but I guess we fit in somehow.
What's the next release going to be like?
We're actually face deep in a new album right now. Our last two releases were EPs, so we're really focusing on finishing a full length. We've been incorporating a lot of synths/keys while trying to stay fast and interesting on the guitar and bass lines. It's kind of giving us a darker feel but staying fun at the same time.
I don't see many punk bands who also commit to the dance-rock label. Am I wrong about that? I think that's pretty sweet. Also, because people can dance to your music, are the shows a bit more fun/crazy?
We've never been afraid to have our own sound. Which is risky and a total gamble if your trying to mix a post-punk edge with a dance club kinda vibe. Our influences are pretty obvious, but we've always just wanted to have fun and be energetic and try to create a good loud party for everyone. Which is why we've played so many shows. It's great when people get it and jump around and dance and feel like getting on stage. But there are a lot of bands willing to take the risk as well Two Door Cinema Club or Foals.
What's the story behind the band's name?
When we started out we were called Atlas. We put out an EP and did a couple tours and then we finished our first full length and we had some legal complications on using the name so we decided to change it. We were sitting at our favorite Denver bar/clubs, the Hi-Dive, and there was a photo booth. Someone said, How about the Photo Atlas, and it just stuck.
Judging from your Twitter feed, you're playing shows like nuts.
We have done a lot of shows in our six years as a band. In 2009 we did over 230 shows. And we always tour the country three or four times a year. We've just always loved playing live and I think that’s where we can really get things going. We've always been a good party band, or good at partying at least. Which is why we've only released a few albums and a few EPs in that time. But we slowed our pace on the touring the last few months to really focus on this new record.
We're doing an East Coast tour in October and a few West Coast shows in November. Right now we're really focused on this new full-length and hoping it will have an impact.
You guys tend to head into the KC area a lot (Lawrence this weekend, KC in October). Are there any clubs you particularly enjoy playing?
Kansas City and Lawrence are both great music cities. I have had a lot of fun nights in the area. The last few times through KC we've played the Riot Room. It's a great club and one of my favorites around the country. Just a good dark rock club. And I really enjoyed Cowboy Indian Bear and The Noise FM last time I saw them. I feel like through history Kansas City and Lawrence have been amazing indie rock towns.