Pop punk hardcore rockers, Across The Atlantic, have already released two tracks off their sophomore album "Works of Progress". "Playing for Keeps" and "24 Hours", both will be included on the album, are getting the buzz they deserve. Frontman vocalist Jay Martinez, discusses the album, singles, and overall insight into the band that is Across The Atlantic.
1. What role do you play in the band?
Jay: My name is Jay Martinez I am the singer of Across the Atlantic.
2. Across The Atlantic is your namesake, but why is that? Does the name represent a meaning or is it just a name?
Jay: Our drummer Cody actually came up with the name of the band because he was feeling distant from his hometown after moving to Texas immediately after high school but really I think it is fitting for us and the diversity that is not only our music but the make up of the band. If you look at a picture of us, its not hard to tell we're very different from one another. Our backgrounds, cultures and even ethnicity come from very different places. We met and formed in San Antonio Texas, which happens to be a melting pot of sorts & I think that really shows in the band. But it is this same diversity that I can accredit for the sound of music. Our influences and musical backgrounds varied so much that it was hard at first to mesh well and all get together on the same page but once we did it just opened up my mind to a whole new world of music & I would actually say I'm a better person because of it. Furthermore, I think we all share this same universal hope that our music can touch others lives the way it has impacted our own and I mean that for people coming from all walks of life from everywhere around the world, no matter what age or what faith. I feel like music is one of the few things in life that can truly be considered universal & I feel like Across the Atlantic embodies that well.
3. What has influenced your sound and style?
Jay: I would credit our sound and style to each member of the band. Their upbringing, their favorite bands, their life experiences. I wanna be clear, there was never an intention for our music to sound the way it does. When we write an album we don't produce it with the intent to have x number of pop songs or x number of heavy songs, we just write. And that's what we've always done. It was hard at first because we all had different influences and ambitions but at the same time we've all been open minded and because of that the variety in our music has flourished. Nothing has ever been considered off limits & I think that's honestly one of the best parts of being in this band.
4. What are your songs about? (What specific themes do they cover?)
Jay: Our upcoming album "Works of Progress" is themed closely around my life over the last 4 years and my journey through life. To be honest, I wrote this album lyrically with the intentions that this could be my last piece of music ever recorded. I was 24 at the time, in college. Racking up the debt that comes a long with it, sitting 4 months out from a Masters degree that I had no idea what to do with. And on the other side of the spectrum, I was in the band, we were independent working our asses off just trying to catch a break, show after show, tour after tour, record after record. Rinse and repeat, it was an enduring process in my life. One that I had been doing over the last 5 years. Though I knew that I wasn't going to be able to keep this tightrope act up forever - juggling the band life vs "real' life. Couple this with the fact that I felt 2016 was the year virtually everyone got their lives together. People I graduated with were buying houses, starting families, getting married & here I was pinching my pennies to fund another album. It made me feel weak, it made me feel selfish. I questioned as to if I was pursuing the right path in life, if it was time to give it up. I did a lot of soul searching and really just went into this album with a full heart. The love I have for playing music and being in this band has never been matched and probably never will be but I knew that realistically I needed to start thinking about what I was going to truly do with my life. So a lot of the album is centered around that internal battle of chasing passions vs riches. But its also a reflection of self and the good & the bad that has dominated my 25 years of existence, regrets, triumphs & heartaches through the evolution of me.
5. Do you write your own songs? (Discuss the songwriting process in detail.)
Jay: We do write all of our own songs. Typically what will happen is Jason will write out a skeleton instrumental of a record (drums, guitars,bass). And he'll go on these writing binges daily where he's sending me 5-10 instrumentals per week. So then what I do is download these songs and just play them on repeat. I keep them running in my headphones, in my car, at the gym, everywhere! And for a few days I just let them marinate with me. Each songs conveys an emotion, each song tells a story, even without words. I know that sounds cheesy as hell but its true. The songs make me feel different ways and really then its off to the races, pen to paper. It starts with one line and it just goes on, unfiltered and unapologetic (with a whole lot of errors). So I'll just write and write in an empty notebook while listening to the song way before I even start working with melodies, all that comes secondary. The most important thing for me is always just capturing that raw emotion, in my mind that's the lightning in the bottle. And when it clicks, it just clicks, everything else becomes background noise. I look over the lyrics I pick out the 30% decent material from the 70% rambling and I write a song. A little unconventional but authentic nonetheless.
6. How do you describe your music to people?
Jay: This is tough. I think if you asked 10 people what genre we were, you'd get 10 different answers. So I stopped trying to breakdown what "Type" of band we are. I'd like to just think of our music as a rendition of art capturing the emotion of the human spirit. I hate to get deep on you, but really I just think that's the easiest way to define it. It's genuine and its unfiltered but its also vulnerable and dramatic.
7. What image do you think your music conveys?
Jay: I would like to believe that our music conveys an image of hope. Of ambition & optimism an image that says even if the hand you've been dealt in life has been shitty there's no reason why you can't shuffle that deck and run the house for all its worth.
8. "Playing for Keeps", and "24Hours" were both made into singles and videos off this album, why was that and will there be others off it as well?
Jay: 24 hours is actually what I'd like to believe is one of the strongest lyrically charged songs on the entire album. The song was originally entitled "24" and stemmed around my 24th birthday. I talked a little bit about it above but I felt that I was at a crossroads in life where I was in the band investing so much time, money, relationships & sanity for 5 years straight. I had never really questioned it or even thought about my life outside of music really. But after my 24th birthday I just started considering my life as a whole, I was approaching the deadline for college about to be finished, I had no real plan on finding a job or making money, in fact I was only losing money every tour we did or every time we saved for an album so there was some time there where I doubted being in the band was the right move for me. I thought I was being selfish by committing myself to only pursuing my passion and neglecting my responsibilities as a man.
It was tough. I did not want to quit but I was tired of being broke, tired of not having anything to show for my accomplishments. Being in an independent band wears on someone both physically and mentally. Eventually I reached out to friends and family hoping to find some comfort in their words, some motivation to keep going or to carry on chasing my dream in the band. But instead I was met with the opposite, people were telling me to quit, people were telling me to give up, that the dream was over. I was shocked as much as I was offended. Not because of the words but moreso because of who was saying them, these were people I trusted with my life. People that had been by my side for 20 years plus. And they were saying quit, focus on a job, focus on school, your wasting your time. I'm wasting my time!? I was so mad and so enraged that I can really credit this moment being one of the most significant in my life, it gave me a motivation like never before, a fire like never before.
I immediately went home and started writing and just didn't stop until this song was over. The thought behind it is that when we are young and growing up in America we are told we can be anything or we can do anything if we work hard. There is no limitations to where you can go or what you can achieve; the American Dream right? Well as we age the narrative gets shifted and all of sudden we are told we can still be anything or do anything but it suddenly comes with disclaimers "You can do anything BUT". Its hypocritical and its discouraging. And for a young person this can be very damaging, who knows what we can be depriving the world of by dissuading someone to abandon their passions? So much has come from taking the untraditional road or doing something that was once thought to be crazy. 24 Hours is about staying true to yourself and what you wanna do regardless of what others might think If you believe in what your doing than there's no better reason to do it and I felt that there was no better message to lead off the album cycle with than that. Couple this with the energy and the emotion of the record and I just think its a complete in your face banger.
Playing for Keeps is a little bit different. It's more of a stepping stone connecting our last album to this one. I'd like to think of it as picking up right where the last album left off, capturing the journey of being an independent band and going through the grinder working your way up the ranks. Persevering through all the bullshit that comes when your just trying to get your name out there. Staying the course, really. It's a much lighter tone and a poppier song but I think the message is just as relevant and closely related with that of 24 and overcoming adversity but reminding yourself to stay grounded and always try and give yourself sometime to appreciate the triumphs and the accomplishments you've gotten, no matter the size.
There is actually going to be one last single off the album scheduled before the release on September 1st and I'm personally the most excited for it because it's my favorite song "Sundress Funeral". It's a really fun record that walks a fine line between being a pop-anthem and a ballad. I know that's a weird combination but trust me, it's suitable. Lyrically, this is another one of the strongest tracks on the album as it is centered around facing your fears and overcoming the anxiety that is associated with "the unknown". I think often times in life we become victims to the things we cannot foresee or the things we can't control and as a result we become comfortable in the routine of life, never giving a thought to the possibility of what else might be out there or expanding our horizons. And rightfully so, sometimes the unknown is absolutely horrific but I would side that most times its not as bad as you think and you probably won't ever know for sure until you actually give it a try. Sundress Funeral is all about self-empowerment and taking your life into your own hands & instead of being victimized by the unknown, embracing it!
9. What is the concept behind “Works of Progress" and how did the idea come about?
So for months & months I tried to just FORCE something down, try and puzzle up words or fill in the blanks but it just wasn't working. I was stumped, convinced I just could not write to this song. Every time I'd attempt I found myself more and more disgusted at the effort. It just wasn't working. I literally wrote through every demo before writing "Works of Progress".But I finally caught my break while on a cruise ship ironically enough... It was late at night maybe 2 or 3 am. The ambiance was incredible, literally just the sound of waves crashing under the moonlight as far as I could see. It's hard to give that moment justice. But I was sitting out on the deck lost in the moment, listening to all the demos we had recorded in preparation from the album. Each one was so personal, each one cut so deep with me I couldn't help just being consumed by so many different flash backs of memories from my life. The moments in time that influenced this album were the moments in time that had defined me as a man. It just all started to sink in. I thought about my naivety at 20, my bitterness at 22, my insecurity at 24. All these different lessons I had learned along the way, how entire perception of the world had changed. I couldn't help but think, Jay your a Work of Progress. And it just hit me like a ton of bricks. Everyone's a Work of Progress. Life shapes us all through different paths & experiences but the one thing we all share is opportunity. Each morning we all take our first breath and we're given a chance to do better, to learn something, to improve. No matter how down on your luck you are or how great things are going I think one of the things we don't consider as often as we should is how incredible a thing the gift of opportunity truly is. This what I had been searching for, this is what tied the album together. From that point forward it was a song that wrote itself & I thought there could be no more appropriate title for an album that is exposing so much of my own personal life.
10. What is your favorite track off “Works of Progress" and why?
Jay: I spoke briefly about Sundress Funeral earlier but next to that my favorite song would be "Chin Up". It's just such a positive track. It probably sounds weird but I feel like I when I wrote that song I was writing it only for myself. It was almost therapeutic. I was at the breaking point between my personal life and the band, money was at an all time low, I had just ended a relationship and to put it simply things just sucked. I wanted to quit and fall into a deep case of self loathing but instead I took too the pen and paper and just wrote and I wrote some more and I wrote some more... until I believed the words that were being written. Chin Up is the song that came from that & a song that will truly hold a special place in my heart for a long time.
11. What can fans expect from the new album compared to the last album, how much difference is there between them?
Jay: Comparing "Works of Progress" to "Holding on to What We Know" I would say we've grown leaps and bounds. Not just as musicians but as people, I think we've all just aged a little bit and matured and I think that it shows in the music. It's kinda counter intuitive to say this but I also feel like I was a lot more "free" on this album. I think before I had always written songs kinda "safe" not saying anything that I thought was too personal or too vulnerable and just trying to center around making something that would appeal to a label. This time around we really just went in with no expectations or outside pressures and we made the album that we wanted to hear & I believe the difference shows.
12. What was the writing and recording process like for the album?
Jay: We recorded "Works of Progress" with our longtime producer and engineer Andrew Wade. And to me the record doesn't just symbolize the evolution of the band but also the evolution of our working relationship with Wade. We've been going to the Audio Compound for as long as we've been a band and really at this point in time he's essentially our 6th member. I believe the first time we made the the trip to Florida was in 2013 & its just been game on ever since. I've gone on record a few times and I will say it here again, The single biggest thing I can attribute to our success especially early on is making that initial decision to record with Andrew Wade. There is just so much we learned in terms of being a band that we wouldn't of ever been able to get anywhere else. From musicianship, to marketing, to investing we're forever indebted to the awesome things Wade's done for us & taught us. Literally every time we record we're like sponges, we try to pick off anything that we can to be that much better prepared for the next time. Works of Progress is a product of the awesome rapport we have. We've been working together for so long now that it's almost second nature, he knows what we're thinking before we even say it and his vision is 100% so-well aligned with ours that we can entrust him completely and know that anything he does is going to make the song that much better. We're just really lucky to have him in our corner.
13. Why do you think people should check out your new album and what do you want to achieve as a band?
Jay: This is another tough question but really I just think people should check out the album to witness a story in real time. It's no surprise that much of our music is centered around the happenings of my life, for better or worse. With that comes a sense of vulnerability for myself as an artist but it also gives the audience an insight that is not often shared in public. I think so often now, much of what we choose to share or express is regulated. Every Instagram photo looks perfect right? Every Facebook post talking about how great things are going has hundreds of likes, right? Anyway, I think with so much of that manufactured imagery being circulated its still important that people realize sometimes others are struggling and that life is a marathon sometimes. I don't want a world that's disconnected from adversity and I don't want a kid to grow up in a place that's disconnected from the reality. I think my duty as an artist is to make use of this platform I'm lucky enough to have and tell the world my story. Not the airbrushed version of my story, just my story.
14. How would you say you differ from other bands and artists on the scene?
Jay: I think our music is as much personal as it is aggressive and that combination can really make for some impactful songs. Quite honestly, we are not making music to just sell records, we're here to change peoples lives. To give the kid who's being bullied the bravery to keep going to school, to give the dude that's just been laid off a sense of optimism for his future. I just want my music to help people. Whether that's through motivation, inspiration or just an escape, If I can impact just one person in a positive way I would say that all of this was worth it. And I would say that the thing that makes us different is the same thing that brought us all together to begin with and that's our diversity. No topic is off limits, no music is off limits & everything that comes out on one of our CD's will always be authentic with no hidden agenda, pen to paper.
15. What does next year hold for Across The Atlantic?
Jay: Well were starting our album cycle with a tour in Europe supporting our label mates in Imminence and Alazka so we are very excited about that and hopefully coming back home to the states for a national tour or two later in the year. The personal connection your able to build when you hit the road and talk to people face to face is a relationship that can't be replicated and quite honestly one of my favorite parts of being in a band. It feels like its been years since we've toured just being locked away in the studio and preparing for this album, I can't speak enough about how exciting it is to finally share this album with the world and embark on an entirely brand new journey with so many longtime fans while hopefully getting some new ones along the way. To be quite honest this whole thing still doesn't seem real. To have this platform is just something we've been working on for such a longtime that its hard to truly fathom it all. Still, we're very humbled to be here and we just hope to do justice on behalf of the awesome team and fans that got us here.