When you hear the song “The Boys of Summer” today, it’s typically The Ataris version reviving that Don Henley classic and whether intentional or not, it became a massive hit peaking at No. 20 in the Hot 100 and helped place the band in the mainstream. The band’s most successful album to date, ‘So Long, Astoria’, spawned singles like “In This Diary” and “The Saddest Song” and 10 years later, the original lineup will reunite to play the album in its entirety.
Despite ups and downs and a “break” that has continued since the release of ‘So Long, Astoria’, the band brings a renewed spirit to the experience of the album and is looking forward to restoring the nostalgia that the band enjoyed during their time together while reigniting that same spirit in the fans that loved the album. Kristopher Roe, John Collura, Mike Davenport, and Chris Knapp will embark on a 25-date US tour kicking off Feb. 28.
We caught up with guitarist John Collura and here’s what he had to say about the tour:
Going back to the recording of So Long, Astoria, did you know it would be the commercial success that it was?
I think we felt as if the record was a solid piece of work and we figured that there were at least a couple of songs that would be worked at radio. I think our first week of sales were around 60,000 which completely took us by surprise. Once the Boys of Summer single was released we started to sell 20,000 copies a week for almost 3 months. Going into the 5th month of the release of the album we had a gold record. In the past the band had sold just about 100,000 copies of both Blue Skies and End is Forever so we really thought we would at least sell a little more than that and we were wrong!
How did the production experience with Lou Giordano differ from previous recording experience?
Well, there was so much more time available to us for pre production and recording. With that there was also a much bigger budget for us to access different studios and all kinds of guitars and amps…etc. Lou also taught us how to structure our songs better and there was a lot of smaller details that he helped us with to make the songs more dynamic. He was also extremely patient!
Was there any particularly awesome or particularly awful moment during the ‘So Long, Astoria’ recording/touring process?
During pre production Kris was choking while eating and Lou had to administer the heimlich maneuver on him! For me playing the Reading festival was a pretty amazing experience. We also opened for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Germany and that was probably the largest show I had ever played.
What inspired the Don Henley “The Boys of Summer” cover? What were the feelings on that single becoming a massive hit?
The song was purely about nostalgia for Kris. When he was young he spent his summers in Florida with his grandparents and he had bought that Don Henley record during one of his visits. It really was just an ode to his grandparents and to that time of his life. The cover was never intended to be a single until KROQ Los Angeles started spinning it without consent from the label. So we were pretty much forced to release it as a proper single with a video. It certainly helped to sell records and maybe even attract listeners who may have never heard of the band before but it’s always difficult to have a song that isn’t your own representing you to the masses. The band had so much history of their own prior to that single; releasing 3 independent records, touring globally for years, gaining a solid fan base. So for us we really did fight the label by not performing it at shows and radio sponsored events. I think that whole experience had a part in why we disbanded. Many years later it is kind of cool to know that our version is still being played on the radio, at malls, gas stations and most major league ball parks.
What was your favorite location during touring in support of So Long, Astoria?
I really liked playing in Japan. The people are really friendly and it’s culturally the most diverse country we had played at the time. I also really loved being in the UK, the people there embrace many different genres of music and that’s why they created some of the best festivals to date.
10 years later, what are the feelings on the reunion tour with the same recording lineup? What was it like for the bandmates to reconnect and can we expect the same magic live as we heard on the album?
I think it’s nervous excitement! It’s kind of the unknown, not really sure what will happen, will people show up, will there be the same chemistry? For myself, my only intentions are to simply plug in, play loud and have a great time. I’d love to be able to recapture the same feelings I had when we were touring over 10 years ago.
Check out a sneak peak of what the reunion has been like for the guys below and don’t miss The Ataris at the House of Blues in Los Angeles, March 5.