The Atlas Moth – No Distance Too Far
By: David E. Gehlke
There’s so much to like about The Atlas Moth’s new An Ache For the Distance (Profound Lore) that it makes one forget about the fact there’s a naked chick (and a tasteful one) on the cover. Most bands go to such lengths when they know they don’t have the wares to back it up, but The Atlas Moth does many things well at once on Ache. This includes swarming melodies (“Coffin Varnish”), clean sung passages (“Perpetual Generations”) and vast soundscapes (“Courage”), all of which coalesce into a would-be breakout album for one of Chicago’s most appetizing bands.
The boys from the Windy City have been hitting the road at a regular clip since the release of 2009’s A Glorified Piece of Sky, which made Blistering want to catch up with singer Stavros Giannopolos, who recently shed his trademark moustache. No worries – it’s all about the music with the guys now anyway…
Blistering.com: You’re part of an ever-growing scene both in your hometown and in the style of music you play. How oversaturated are you finding things to be these days?
Stavros Giannopolos: As far as Chicago goes, most of the bands here sound completely different from one another. I don't think there is a "doom" or whatever you want to call it scene here. Of course there is some competition, but we're all friends and I think we all realize when we get together and do shows around town together that the results are usually incredible. I don't necessarily think that the underground scene is that over-saturated across the board, but I do think that things are changing a bit right now. There are a lot of bands fighting for the same audiences but I also feel as though there are a lot of bands that cannot tour whenever they want, so it evens out.
Blistering.com: What prompted the move from Candlelight over to Profound Lore?
Giannopolos: Candlelight didn't seem like they knew what to do with us and Chris [Bruni] professed an interest in working with us a couple years ago. We are huge fans of his label and we were just waiting for the opportunity to finally work together. I've said it before and I'll say it again, this record had to come out on Profound Lore. I can't imagine it coming out on any other label.
Blistering.com: How important is it for the Atlas Moth to be on a smaller, but very forward-thinking label?
Giannopolos: We talked with Profound Lore about three weeks before we were scheduled to go into the studio and I think it honestly shifted our entire mind frame walking into the session. Chris has incredible foresight as to where a band is heading, not to mention his general enthusiasm towards his releases. He understands what we are trying to do and he knows how to present it correctly, which is the main thing I don't think Candlelight understood.
Blistering.com: The band is no strangers to the road, so how has the latest spate of touring activity been?
Giannopolos: We just finished a three week run of the east coast with KEN Mode. It was a good time, ups and downs as always, but we're used to it by now.
Blistering.com: Given the economic challenges in touring facing just about every band in the industry these days, how is the band making out?
Giannopolos: It’s a struggle for sure, but one thing you realize really fast is that you have to pay your dues in this business. We want to do bigger and better things but we are well aware that it comes with hard work, which we are not afraid to put in.
Blistering.com: A Glorified Piece of Sky went a long way toward putting the band on the map, but An Ache for the Distance totally bumps you guys up a notch. Upon its completion, did you realize what you had on your hands?
Giannopolos: I actually had no idea if anyone was going to like it. I didn't even know what to think of it at first. I definitely thought it was good but I don't think even we could have anticipated the response we have gotten.
Blistering.com: Thus far, the album has received very favorable reviews. Do you pay attention to such things?
Giannopolos: Yeah for sure, it’s been a trip reading the reviews. It’s nice to see hard work pay off.
Blistering.com: What prompted the move to inject more melody and discernable singing into your sound?
Giannopolos: We walked into the studio with a few skeletons of songs and knowing we weren't going to include noise between songs on this record. Other than that, we had no idea what we were going to come up with. We just tried different stuff until we found something we liked. It was all very organic.
Blistering.com: The album cover is certainly going to draw a myriad of reactions. How did you stumble across it?
Giannopolos: I actually found a box of slides from vacations my family took in the 60s and we hired an incredible model named Liz Harvey to be photographed with them projected on her. Our friend Damir Ara photographed it and I couldn't have been happier with the outcome. There was no stumbling upon that photo, pure dumb luck creating it, though.
Blistering.com: Conceptually, what topics do you explore on this album? Is it all tied to the title of An Ache for the Distance?
Giannopolos: It's a very personal record for me. I like to write lyrics that someone can connect with on their own level as oppose to saying things out right. An Ache for the Distance came up very early on as the working title so the initial influence lyrically all spawned from that. I drew a lot of comparisons to what was going on in my life to the wanderlust we were feeling as a collective.
Blistering.com: How are the songs from the album translating live?
Giannopolos: Great, we were playing “Perpetual Generations” on the Metalliance tour earlier this year and we played almost the entire record on the KEN Mode tour. I think it’s more natural feeling for us to play these songs than it was for us to play our old songs.
Blistering.com: Finally, what’s on tap as we head into 2012?
Giannopolos: Well, we have some Midwest/West Coast dates with Kowloon Walled City and Batillus coming up. Then we are working on some tours for early next year including Europe. We want to be out as much as possible without people getting sick of us. We also have plans to do another covers EP and package it with the last one and press it in physical form as well as a new press of the Pray for Tides EP. We are also going to be on a "soundtrack" for a novel, but I'm not sure how much I can say about that yet. All sorts of shit, and we are ready to go.