Atreyu’s Brandon Saller on Hell or Highwater, Fronting a Band [Interview]


Story by Anne Erickson

Past Atreyu drummer is eager to tour with Me Talk Pretty and Madina Lake

Former Atreyu drummer-singer Brandon Saller is touring North American with his own rock band, Hell or Highwater, and the outfit’s debut album, Begin Again, packs ’70s and ’80s-style sounds with a modern edge. The group, formerly called Black Cloud Collective, have spend the past few months on the Rockstar Energy Drink Uproar Festival, playing to thousands of eager rock and metal fans every night.

On his way to an Uproar gig in Cleveland, Saller checked in with Audio Ink Radio to discuss his new life as a frontman, connecting with fans and the upcoming “Wake Up Tour” with We Talk Pretty, Madina Lake and New Years Day.

You’re currently on the Uproar Tour with a great lineup, including Seether, Three Days Grace, Bullet for My Valentine and more. How’s it going?

It’s been quite phenomenal. This is our first tour out as Hell or Highwater. We’re super excited to get out there and play the new record, and people are responding well. For being a brand new band, people have been really responsive to the shows.

Are you enjoying hanging with the bands on the tour?

We’re friends with a good amount of the bands on the tour, actually. We’ve known the guys of Avenged Sevenfold for the longest, and we’ve done a lot of tours with Bullet [for My Valentine]. The Black Tide guys are cool, and we’ve been hanging with them a lot. Everyone has been nice and mellow and accepting.

What groups have you checked out live?

I was surprised by Three Days Grace. I’d never seen them live, and they have a great rock singer and great tight, live band. I always watching Avenged Sevenfold and Bullet, and the whole tour has a solid line-up.

You were a drummer in your previous band, but with this band, you’re solely the frontman.  How was the transition of going from behind the kit to in front of the band?

It was pretty smooth. It was very comfortable. I feel comfortable onstage and confident in the band that’s with me, too. It was fun, really. I feel free out front.

What do you like most about being the lead singer?

I don’t have to be sitting down! [Laughs] It’s cool to be up front and be able to connect with fans at a personal level. You feel the energy more when you’re close enough to reach out and touch people and when you’re up in their faces, right there with them.

How does this band differ from your previous metal group, Atreyu?

They’re quite polar opposites, actually, from the obvious different musical style to the fact I’m playing music with completely new people. We met each other eight months ago, and we’re four different musicians with four different personalities. We’re all fortunate enough to have found each other. We feel like we’ve known each other for a long time, and we all have the same goal in mind and musical vision, and that’s rare in a band. We have a strong connection and good chemistry.

Why the name change from the Black Cloud Collective?

When I first started this project, I was on my own, and I would just bring friends in to play live with me. So, that name was more suited to myself, and it’s a name I came up with when I first started playing and it was just me and random players. When I found permanent members, we wanted something that was more suited to us and more representative of us as a band.

You combine different sounds into your debut album, Begin Again. How did you come to mix such a broad array of influences?

As far as musical styles, my approach was always to take very classic elements of rock and roll from the beginning of the ‘70s and ‘80s to today and apply it to a modern rock band. That’s where our musical influences are derived. Lyrics-wise, everything on the album comes straight from my life or our lives. It’s the world as we see it.

What’s next for Hell or Highwater, after the tour ends?

We’re doing another tour in November and December: the “Wake Up Tour” with Me Talk Pretty, Medina Lake, New Years Day and more. It should be a full run for us, and we’re excited. Then, we’ll take a few weeks off around the holidays and get back on the road.


Watch Hell or Highwater Perform at the 2011 Uproar Festival:

Anne Erickson
Posted by Anne Erickson | Features, Interviews, Music, Rock