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Across The Atlantic

With the excellent ‘Works Of Progress’ this Texan band releases their first album on their new Sharp Tone/Nuclear Blast label. Soon they will even go to Europe to play a string of shows. Fortunately for us, singer Jay Martinez had some time to answer our questions. He even went so deep and honoustly, that it is clear to everyone that the life of a rock musician is one of very heavy sacrifices, accompanied by the necessary blood, sweat and tears.

By: Koen W. | Archive under metalcore

Across The Atlantic is a new name here in Europe. So can you explain us briefly what the band stands for and what’s your particular place in it. If I google on your band name one of the first things coming up is a American silent movie from 1928. Was this perhaps the inspiration, or did the band name came about another way?
It is funny, the name is actually one our drummer Cody came up with, he had just moved states into San Antonio and knew no one here so the theme of distance was on his mind. But I feel over time, we have really grown into our namesake, through the diversity buildup of the band and a message we hope that transcends cultures. First off, we ourselves are very different from one another in the band. San Antonio is a military city there is always an influx of people coming and going and we have a untraditional start in that none of us knew each other before joining. The band was actually the result of an anonymous ‘craigslist.com’ classified posting. So zero knowledge of who we were and what kind of music we wanted to play was a challenge when trying to form. We had all come from different backgrounds and had different ages. But we shared a same passion for music, not one particular genre of music just music in general. It was a challenge, pride, prior bias and preference were barriers we all had to overlook and that is easier said than done. The result though was what we are today. A band with no limits, barriers or pre-existing limitations in what our music can or can’t be. It is one of the things I love most about being in the band. By that same notion though, that whole process taught a lot about the importance of diversity and the importance of being open minded. I think know more than ever the state of affairs and the pulse of America is troublesome, communities are segregated, isolated and unity seems to be at an all-time low. With this is mind we want to cling to the one thing in life that we feel is universal: ‘Music’. Just in the way it brought all of us together, we feel it has the same power to do that with people around the world. It's hard to explain but when you hear a good song it just moves you, regardless of background, language barriers, age, etc. it's just something you feel and it takes grab of you for those three or four minutes. It was important to us that we make sure our message would be available to people everywhere and not just in North America. I think a lot of times bands make the mistake of just focusing on their home market and disregarding the many other beautiful countries in the world and that was something we wanted to make sure we did not fall victim to. Sharptone/Nuclear Blast gave us a true international platform and one of the first orders of business was booking the European tour that is coming up in September. The point I'm trying to make is that diversity created this band, you see it in our faces, you hear it in our music; as artists its is vitally important we pay that sentiment forward in hopes of making music that inspires not just people of America but people everywhere around the world.

The media loves to pigeon hole every band or artist to a specific genre, but if you had to describe your music to somebody that isn't familiar with your work, how would you do that?
That's a tough one haha. Every time we proceed to do an interview, we are labeled a complete different genre than the one proceeding it, So I'm not entirely sure what we are. I know we're a rock band and I know we're writing emotionally charged music that is sometimes poppy, sometimes aggressive but always genuine. I'm not sure that answers your question but that would be my best description if I had to pick one.

What bands are the main influence on the sound and style of Across The Atlantic as it is today? Who where your musical (or other) heroes that shaped you while growing up?
It is a funny question because if you asked all five members of the band this you would have five different responses of influence. For me it's got to be a more of the hardcore bands I can say made me fell in love with this particular sub genera of music. The passion in bands like Hatebreed, Madball, Terror etc. is something that has always stood out to me, it was aggressive and it was genuine.

‘Works Of Progress’ is your first album for SharpTone. How did that deal come about? How much effort did you put in the making of ‘Works Of Progress’ when you compare it with the band's previous releases? Is there a concept behind ‘Works of Progress’ or is it just a collection of songs? Where do you find the inspiration for the lyrical content?
Strap yourself in cause this is going to be one long, dramatic story but to start I'll need to provide you some context on the origins of the band and how our journey started. For five Years we were an independent band in America. When I posted that classified Craigslist ad wanting to start a band I was hoping just to find a hobby to play music with people. I never thought it would become a career I never even though we'd play a concert. Eventually though we had our first lineup in order and the other guys felt that a concert would be fun. I was intimidated and nervous but I agreed and we played our first show. It's hard to accurately explain the feeling but it was like a drug almost, the adrenaline and the bliss in that moment was unmatched. We played a half empty room for about thirty friends and family but from that point moving forward everyone in the band decided that this was something to pursue as a livelihood and everyone in the band took an oath that for as long as we were doing this we would be 100% committed to the band, this was the priority; not girls, not school, not work, not even family, Music. We knew then and there that to succeed we would have to persevere over everything else and always invest in putting ourselves in the best positions to succeed. So over the years we did just that. It wasn't easy by any means. For starters, Texas was and still is a very much metal oriented state. That made it hard for us to find shows and when we did we weren't necessarily greeted with a warm welcoming but on the other side of the coin we were too heavy for pop shows as well. So being in this weird place where our music was too light for metal, and to heavy for pop really made it a challenge early on to build a fan base let alone be half-successful. But we were young, prideful and driven so we refused to take no for an answer. As a matter of fact, we only doubled down on what we believed in and made the choice to invest in professional recordings on the east coast in Florida with Andrew Wade. This is the moment I can accredit to the initial success of this band. After booking the dates we stressed to pinch nickels and dimes together just to get enough to get us there and record some songs. This was unheard of for a new band. Most would record with a friend in their bedroom or by their own doing in their garage but we knew that if we wanted to stand out we would have to invest in the best. So we did, and man, did it pay off. Andrew taught us and continues to teach us so much. The first time we recorded with him was 2014 and we've gone back for every release since and probably will for as long as he'll keep taking us. He is masterful in what he does and he developed us from the ground up. Every time we entered it was a complete learning experience not just in music but in marketing and business. This is the part that is often the hardest to understand as a new band but with his insight after having great success with bands like A Day To Remember, Neck Deep and Ghost Inside, we were ahead of the curve. So like sponges we just soaked in every word and every action he took just to try and position ourselves even better for the future. As a result we put out a EP and our first full length album to modest success as an independent band and that allowed us to tour and inch by inch grow our band with the content to back it. We booked about a handful of DIY tours in America each one surpassing the last and we did see growth each time but the rate at which all this was happening still was not at the pace we all would have liked or expected.

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When I started this band I was 19. At the time I had very little care in the world outside of chasing girls and writing music. When we began production of this album I was 24, the script had changed a bit over five years. I was still in college but looking at the end of the road six months away from receiving not my first but second college degree (this one a masters in Mass Communication and Journalism) and a whole lot of debt accumulated from attending school. At that same time I had the realization that somehow I had fallen behind my peers in life pursuits. People that I graduated from high-school with were now buying houses, having babies, getting married, entering careers and all I had to show for my endeavors was less than $500 in my bank account, still living with my parents. I started to think maybe I had taken the wrong path. Maybe I had fucked up, maybe I let my heart get the best of my head. Was I selfish for chasing a passion so strongly? At 24 years old this was my concern. I was lost. Reluctantly, I approached the people around me that I cared about (friends, family) for their opinion and thoughts on the topic. I expected them to urge me on, to see things through and that things would work out. But instead they insisted maybe it was time to throw in the towel and give up, maybe I had indeed made the wrong choice and music was nothing but a waste of time and financial death wish... This was the spark moment for me, I instantly thought how hypocritical it was that the people that once sold me on ‘the American Dream’ that I could be anything or accomplish anything were now the same ones telling me it was time to turn back. I was hurt, I was offended and I was pissed off and my only ambition at that moment was to prove them wrong. This was the start of the construction of ‘Works of Progress’. Though admittedly in the back of my mind I knew they were right, I knew that after recording this album we would probably have a two or three year cycle and that would put me at 27. I knew the chances were slim that I would be able to fund and contribute to a independent band still fighting up the ranks with the looming responsibilities and payments I was about to inherit so I went in to this album with the understanding that this could be my last one ever written. This was the first time in my life that I wrote an album for me and not for someone else. I think in the past we had been so consumed by writing something we though would be appealing for a label for the industry but with "Works of Progress" I only wanted to write something that I could be proud of. Something that I could take pride in knowing that if this was indeed my last bit of music on this earth it was truthful and it talked about everything that had inspired my life in that point in time. So I wrote the lyrics with that sentiment, just saying what I had to say and not leaving anything private. The best and the worst of me exposed and just knowing I did my absolute best damn job on this record. This is news I had kept to myself though, I did not exactly want to add extra pressure in recording for the guys in the band and I also didn't want to worry anyone with my personal dilemma so I purposefully kept it to myself until recording had been finished. I remember the day everyone finished tracking their parts I said I had to share something with them and that's when I let them know I just didn't think I would have it in me to do another album cycle after this. Getting older and having no money and fighting the odds as an independent band at 27 just didn't seem realistic for me. As you can imagine this news definitely put a somber mood on the things and for the next couple of days everyone was kind of low. We were still in the studio finishing other minor things on the album but the mood was absolutely shot. Two days later that all changed. I remember I was sitting at breakfast in the hotel lobby and I received a call from an unknown number, with the weirdest area code I ever saw in my life. On the other side of the line I was greeted by someone who was awfully excited at 6 am in the morning who was speaking some rough English but seemed very adamant as well. That was Markus Staiger, he was calling me to let me know that Sharptone/Nuclear Blast was interested in hearing the album and possibly signing us to a record deal... Needless to say that was the last thing I was expecting to happen only two days after telling the band that this could be the last rodeo. I' am not sure what I believe in but I will say that fate was on our side that day. I think things had to happen in the sequence and the way they did or we wouldn't of wrote this album. I cannot envision a better album coming without such doubt and emotion put into it, I also can't imagine having the platform that we do without the help of Sharptone & Nuclear Blast. You talk about dreams come true, this is one for the books.

The albums seems to have two parts. Part one and that is the first half is easy listening pop rock and in the second part the band is playing some more aggressive metalcore songs like with ‘Word Of Mouth’ and ‘Blind Eyes’. Did you chose for that effect or is it pure coincidental?
We always write our music with no agenda and follow emotion. Basically what will happen in the writing process is that Jason will write many and many instrumental demos and he will forward them to me. Then I will pick out the ones that impact me the most and proceed to listen to them on repeat day in and day out until I feel an emotion, moment or memory resonate and then I just write about that, organically. One of the things that has always been important to us is to make sure things are authentic and not forced. We never go into writing an album saying we need to write so many pop songs or so many metal songs, we just write. And sometimes the results vary but that's the beauty of it, as a songwriter it allows me to express myself in the way I feel is best suited for the song. This particular album represents a time capsule of my life leading up to my 24th birthday and I made it a priority to discuss all of the most important things that had happened to me personally. It's a diary of sorts and as you can imagine just as your emotion changes throughout a day, my emotion changed a lot throughout the course of 24 years and that is why there is such diversity in the tone of the album. It's a representation of me.

The promo for the album has been out for some time now, so I guess the reactions from the media are coming in by now. Any ideas about how well ‘Works Of Progress’ is being received by the critics? And do you really care about good or bad reviews?
To be honest we haven't seen much reviews as of yet but the little that we have gotten back seems to be mostly positive. Which is very reliving for me, this particular album is so personal to me that it's hard not to be so attached to it but I always value feedback that is good and bad. I think no matter who you are there is always room for growth and one of the best assets to help you do that is constructive criticism, music is subjective so there will never necessarily be one "right answer" but being an artist means that you have to upkeep a connection with the audience and ignoring them isn't just disrespectful to them, it's disrespectful to your craft. So I do my best to stay humble, unbiased and really take the good and bad reviews and use them to make myself better.

Next up there is a tour coming in Europe with Alazka that will also bring you to Holland. I take it that you are pretty much looking forward to that, right? So tell me, what can the crowd expect from you guys on stage?
We are very excited to visit Holland! We have actually all never been but have heard so much about the beautiful culture and people and we honestly cannot wait. This is a life long goal we have been striving for, for a long time and I don't think the idea has really hit me yet that we are finally going to have the opportunity to play our music internationally. I don't know how exactly to articulate this but I think our emotions are all going to be very high- full of energy from start to finish. This is monumental for us and we thrive on the personal connection we make with the people we meet so we are just so overwhelmed in looking forward to meeting so many new people. This is truly a dream come true. I think these shows in September and Imminence are going to be the best performances we've ever done solely because of the excitement and love that we have for such a wonderful opportunity.

And to finish the interview, are there any last words of wisdom you want to share with our readers? The space below is yours....
Thank you for giving me the opportunity to do this and thank you all for taking the time to read. As I said before this just doesn't seem real, one year ago I was dreading life thinking I would have to quit the band and to be here now a month away from visiting you all is surreal thank you so, so much. Whether you've heard of us before or reading for the first time, I just thank you for helping us live out this journey that brings us all such happiness in life. It is something I will never ever take for granted. We cannot wait to see you all. I hope this story and our music can inspire you to pursue the things you love just as we have. No matter the odds, no matter what doubts say, if you love something go get it! I don't know you but I believe in you, we love you!

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