Published in The Music (NSW, VIC, QLD, WA) and on theMusic.com.au, Apr – May 2015
In just a few short years, drummer Atom Willard has gone from being the new guy in Against Me! to an integral member. He discusses the transition and the band’s next album with Daniel Cribb.
From keeping the beat with big name acts like The Offspring to being engaged in the depths of the multimedia project that is Tom Delonge’s Angels & Airwaves, drummer Atom Willard is prolific in his genre. He’s bounced around and played for Social Distortion, Danko Jones and more since making a name for himself as drummer for the iconic punk rock act Rocket From The Crypt, but now, in Against Me!, he’s found his true calling. “Basically, what I did is, I took both James [Bowman, guitar] and Laura’s [Jane Grace, vocals] kids hostage and said, ‘You better make me an integral member or else!’ And then it just came naturally,” Willard laughs. “I’m surprised to hear when people say it’s only been a couple years, because it seems like it’s been like, five or six years – in the best way. Against Me! are very open to input and they’re really up to collaborating on stuff. It’s just kind of comfortable for us. I haven’t approached it any differently, it’s just they’ve been more open to it, I think.”
He’s back home between tours and on husband duty. “I’m helping my wife move furniture because she refinishes furniture and reupholsters things for a living so I get roped into helping her with that… Well, I have the truck, right? I mean, every drummer has a truck. I come home and she’s got all these things going on and I’m like, ‘Ok, babe, whatever I can do to help!’ And then I regret it,” he laughs.
With the band’s Australian tour slated for late May, they’ll likely get together earlier to keep writing for their next record – a follow-up to the 2014 game-changing Transgender Dysphoria Blues. “We’ve been demoing songs every time we get together before tour and just been hammering stuff out. So we’ve been demoing things and then, it’s cool because then you can listen to them on that next tour and start playing them at soundchecks and that kind of stuff. Hopefully we’ll be recording the next full-length record by the end of the year and it’ll be out early next year.
“It’s definitely got elements of Transgender Dysphoria Blues for sure, but I wouldn’t put it in any specific category, like saying that it’s more like New Wave or more like Blues or more like Eternal Cowboy or anything, it’s going to be its own thing.”
With a live album almost ready for release, it’s clear that Willard’s true passion lies in drumming as much as possible, which is partly why he departed from the aforementioned Angels & Airwaves in 2011. “Tom’s got such a complex brain – like there’s all these different things going on, and he’s constantly got these different plans and ideas and things in the works and, you know, I think that that really became his focus in a lot of ways – to do the multimedia things and all the different stuff. I just want to be making music.”