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Interview: Brandon Saller of Atreyu and Hell or Highwater

Following in the foot steps of other great drummers, such as Roger Taylor and Dave Grohl, Atreyu’s talented skin smasher Brandon Saller steps out from behind the drum kit to front...

Following in the foot steps of other great drummers, such as Roger Taylor and Dave Grohl, Atreyu’s talented skin smasher Brandon Saller steps out from behind the drum kit to front his own band, the amazing Hell or Highwater. I listened to the album a few weeks ago and loved it, so I thought I’d catch up with the man himself to see how the new project was going.


Hell or Highwater is a brilliant Heavy Rock band who’s debut album was re-released recently much to the delight of fans, Brandon Saller has already shown us what he is capable of vocally, providing vocals for his other band Atreyu but now we see how the man does out front right up in the audiences grill.

TBF: Hi mate, thank you for taking the time to do this.

BS: No problem


TBF: How old were you when you first got into music?

BS: Really young. Id say about 9 or 10. I played in school band and started drumming at about 12.


TBF: Who did you listen to growing up?

BS: My dad raised us on bands like tom petty, The Traveling Wilbur’s, Roy Orbison and The Beatles. When I started branching out on my own it was a lot of punk rock. Swingin Utters, Misfits, Dead Kennedy’s, The Addicts, Joykiller. shit like that


TBF: When did you decide you wanted to be in a band?

BS: probably about age 9. I had found weezer and green day. That just looked so appealing to me. Going nuts on stage. The energy of it drew me in.


TBF: What were the early days like?

BS: Early days of being in a band where much different from now. When I started, I was 17 touring the world in a van. I didnt care about anything. I didn’t worry about anything. The scene and music as a whole seemed a lot stronger. People came to shows just for fun w/o knowing who was playing. It was a great time to come up in the music world.


TBF: Was Hell or Highwater always a project you wanted to do?

BS: Absolutely. I’ve always been a metal fan but I am deeply rooted in melody and rock music.


TBF: Who are the other members and how did you meet?

BS: We got Joey Bradford, Kyle Rosa, Neal Tiemann, and Matt Pauling. I met the guys via a try out that I had but of about 60 people that tried out, the ones I picked ended up being about 1 degree of separation from me. They where all friends of friends ect. I actually had toured and played shows with matts old band as well as kyle and joys old band.


TBF: You weren’t always called HoH, why the change?

BS: When the project first started…back when it was just a “project” it was just me and the name was the black cloud collective. Once it became a WE situation, we wanted a name that was us.


TBF: How does the sound differ from Atreyu?

BS: It’s a lot more rock and roll. The songs aren’t nearly as heavy and were definitely not a metal band. I think that atreyu fans will hear my influence in the band but its much much different.


TBF: Is it strange not having a drum kit in front of you?

BS: I’m loving it. I love playing drums but you cant match the energy of being right up in people faces.


TBF: How are writing duties handled? Is it a team effort?

BS: Absolutely. Like I said, about 8 of the songs on the album are just me. I didnt have the band yet. We wrote the remaining tracks together and it went great. I think the songs we wrote collectively are some of the best on the album. We definitely have a great chemistry.


TBF: What or who was the influence behind the sound?

BS: There wasn’t a general band or sound we wanted to go for. I just started writing songs from the heart and it came out sounding like hell or highwater. I like to think we have a sound on our own.


TBF: Is there a target audience or is it purely for whoever likes it?

BS: Whoever likes it. This band can be a favorite for rock fans, punk fans, classic rock fans, metal fans. It really ranges.


TBF: When creating the album was there any significance in the title ‘Begin Again’?

BS: The album kind of continually touches on re invention. This band was a big step for me and a big chance. Sometimes you have to really search for yourself and make changes to make yourself happy. Those changes are never easy.


TBF: The sound is pure American rock, was being patriotic a big part of this journey?

BS: Not really. It just kind of came across that way…which i love


TBF: What are your highlights on the album?

BS: For me personally…Gimme Love, Rocky Waters edge and Pretty Penny


TBF: Can I ask about that amazing cover of ‘The Boxer’, how did that come about?

BS: Our guitar player matt is a genius when it comes to covers. He has these way off ideas that don’t sound like they will work but they do somehow. He had the idea and went as far as making a demo with the original vocals on it so we could hear what he was thinking. We loved it and are stoked to finally have it out.


TBF: What is the future plan for HoH? Another album?

BS: Absolutely. With the re-release just out, we hope to tour the US some more. We hope to get over to the UK, Europe, japan and Australia asap. We love touring and cant wait to play different places. We are already writing another album so were definitely thinking about it.


TBF: Have you seen any of the other Atreyu side projects? What do yo think?

BS: They’re cool. Fake Figures is really cool.


TBF: Is there a chance of future collaborations or tours together?

BS: With the atreyu side projects? No, probably not.


TBF: Is there a solid timeline for the future of Atreyu or is it more fluid?

BS: There is no timeline or future really. Its kind of just on hold until it’s not.


TBF: Where can we see Hell or Highwater on stage this year?

BS: Hopefully everywhere. Like i said we want to play everywhere


TBF: Lastly, anyone you want to mention or say hi to?

BS: My dad…Hi Dad


TBF: Thanks very much.


Great to get a few words from the man himself, the flag wants to salute Brandon Saller for taking time out to talk to us despite a busy schedule.

Catch up with Hell or Highwater on their website or for now have a listen to this beauty


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The Mighty Machine Steve, forged in the heart of a collapsing sun, born in The Dark Star, the soul of Heavy Metal. He is the Apollo Creed of Alternative Music.... except not black.