Hunting Beach-based Atreyu Drummer Brandon Saller on New Solo Project, Death of His Pal James 'The Rev' Sullivan

Brandon Saller has spent the past decade-plus drumming, co-writing and singing backup vocals for Atreyu. The Orange County metalcore band's string of hit singles--"Ex's and Oh's" (2006), "Becoming the Bull" ('07), "Falling Down" ('08) and "Storm To Pass," off Areyu's latest album

Hunting Beach-based Atreyu Drummer Brandon Saller on New Solo Project, Death of His Pal James 'The Rev' Sullivan
Porter McKnight

Saller maintains he's content with the group's success and current direction but needs an outlet for other musical ideas. Speaking from his home in Huntington Beach, he reveals details about his upcoming debut as a solo act Thursday at Chain Reaction in Anaheim (he'll also play a solo/acoustic date Jan. 19 at the Continental Room in Fullerton), the pros and cons of performing back-to-back homecoming shows at House of Blues Jan. 28-29 with Atreyu and the loss of his drumming pal James "The Rev" Sullivan, of Avenged Sevenfold.

OC Weekly (Wade Tatangelo): Where exactly in Orange County are you from?

Brandon Saller: I was born in Northern California and lived there until I was 6 years old. I have been in Orange County the rest of my life. Living in places all over. Fullerton, Huntington Beach, Brea. I was actually born in LA and then we moved to Northern California.

You have traveled the world. Spent time in pretty much every major city on the planet. What keeps you here?

It's just perfect. Everything you need is within a half hour and you don't have the hustle and bustle of LA. It has all things you need right here and when you do have to go to LA, it's only 40 minutes way. It's perfect.

Tell me about this upcoming solo show at Chain Reaction and your decision to start a solo project. For starters, what instrument will you be playing?

It will be me upfront playing guitar and singing. I've been working on my own music for a little over a year. I just think it's the right time to play shows. I've been sitting on a bunch of songs. There's something inside me right now that I have to get out and share with people. I just have a lot more to say as a musician, stuff I do not get to say in Atreyu. I'm real excited. It kind of exploded on its own. Now, it's time to do it.

What kind of backing will you have for the Chain Reaction date?

Full band. Two other guitars, bass, drums and maybe some keys. We've been rehearsing the last couple weeks. I'm lucky enough to put together a band of amazing friends.

Do you a solo album in the near future?

I believe so. I'll probably look to do something at the end of 2010. Whenever Atreyu record cycle is coming to an end. Hopefully late 2010.

Your first gig as a front man. Audience of friends and family. Is this the most anxious you've been about a show? 

It is. It's so different. In Atreyu, I've known those four dudes for a long, long time--10 years. And it's definitely different playing standing up from the drums. Standing is a whole new ball game. I'm anxious. But in a more excited way. I'm so confident in the songs we've been rehearsing.

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Judging by the songs posted on your MySpace site, your solo music leans more toward conventional rock. How would you say it most differs from Atreyu?  

Pretty much the polar opposite. It's a lot less aggressive. There are hints of classic rock, Americana, it's slower, more just rock with an older sound than Atreyu. 

I see that after your solo show you go to Japan with Atreyu for a couple gigs before playing House of Blues. Is it fair to say Atreyu is big in Japan?

Yeah. We've only been once and it was incredible. It's a different world to play there but we have great fans. It's amazing. We're all excited to go back. 

What's the best thing about playing a gig in Orange County?

It's funny. Homecoming shows used to be this golden opportunity to play all over country, build up steam then come home and almost like have something to prove. But now, the best thing is being comfortable going home after the show. We still love playing at home.

Drawbacks?

(Laughs) all the people that want to come tot he show (for free). It sucks when list is full people call you that day acting like they don't know how it works.

How close were you with fellow James "The Rev" Sullivan?

Pretty close. 

When he died, right there in Huntington Beach, how did you react?

Shocked is the best way to put it. I'm terribly sad. We had become great friends with all those guys (from Avenged Sevenfold). It's definitely something no one expected and a total bummer. He was one of the kindest persons.

  • Brandon Saller w/Endless Hallway/Beta Wolf/Stars Align/Dead Country, Chain Reaction, Anaheim, Thurs., Jan. 14, 7 p.m. $10. All ages. 
  • Brandon Saller (solo/acoustic) w/the Steelwells, Continental Room, Fullerton, Tue. Jan. 19, 8 p.m. Free. 21+.
  • Atreyu w/the Used, House of Blues, Anaheim, Jan. 28-29, 8 p.m. $29.50-$32.

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