Look up Philadelphia-based geek-punk icon Atom and His
Package in the thesaurus, and you’ll probably
find every synonym of the word “weird” known
to mankind. But don’t get all in a tizzy: this is
the good kind of weird (the kind that has fallen out of
the grace of Michael Jackson, for example), the kind of
weird that makes you want to get out off the couch and
celebrate the inner nerd. We’re all different, but
some of us are really different, and man, do we ever rock.
Just the track titles alone make you want to giggle with
childish glee, the songs themselves make you jealous of
Atom’s genuine gift for writing really funny, yet
really insightful songs: “Happy Birthday Ralph”,
a man Atom apparently very good friends with, even though
he is “fucking disgusting”; “Hats Off
to Halford”, a long rant against homophobia in the
metal community (when lead Judas Priest singer Rob Halford
came out a few years ago), "I, Professional Gambler"
is about the few months in his life when Atom thought
he could give up the great american workforce all together
and become... you guessed it... a professional gambler.
In the toxic waste dump that the airwaves have become,
Atom and His Package is truly a deep. long breath of sweaty,
alt-rock air, and God, did we ever need it.
I was lucky enough to interview the man that is Atom,
and hear is views on songwriting, modern music, and, er,
HarlemLive : Ok, Atom, let me get this clear straight
off the bat: what exactly is your package?
Atom: The package at this point is a few different music
sequencers, keyboards, guitars and amps that I write and
record music with. At first, I just wrote it on one music
sequencer, which was dubbed the 'package' stupidly...
and now it's too late to change the stupid name.
HarlemLive: What should I expect from attending an Atom
Atom:I suppose you can expect for me to play the songs
louder than you would probably play them on your home
stereo with me explaining the songs before I play them,
and jumping a bit.
HarlemLive: How does the crowd normally respond to your
Atom: It varies. Sometimes people like it. Sometimes they
hate it and sometimes they don't care. Though more often
than not, these days, the people who attend shows that
I play actually want to see me play.
HarlemLive: For your upcoming tour, you have several shows
slated in Germany, and your website sports a MP3 of one
of your songs being spun on a German radio station. Why
do you think you’re big over there?
Atom: I'm not 'big' over there. But I have toured Europe
a few times, and plan to return in May, and I do have
friends over there, and people I've met over there....
so that would explain the Germany connections.
HarlemLive: Although you seem to have a loyal fan base,
your site has a section dedicated to hate mail, mostly
from people who just don’t get it. You persistently
tell them that your music “isn’t for everyone”.
What exactly do you mean by that?
Atom: Surely I do not expect the music that I make to
be to everyone's liking, and I'm totally okay with that.
I'm not okay with people misinterpreting things that I've
HarlemLive: How do you think you have evolved as a musician
from “Redefining Music” to your upcoming album,
“Attention! Blah Blah Blah”?
Atom: I feel like there is continuing progress in terms
of songwriting, and recording quality from the first record
through the 6th full length Attention! Blah Blah Blah.
I think starting with Redefining Music (the 5th full length)
the songs started to hold their own in terms of being
good songs, rather than being more 'jokey' if you know
what I mean.
HarlemLive: What are your views on modern music?
Atom: Like most things, one has to wade through the crap
to get to the good stuff. There are shitloads of terrible
bands out there, but there are a few great ones too. I
try and concentrate on the ones I like.
HarlemLive: Do you wish you could get airplay on, say,
K-ROCK, amongst the likes of mediocre bands such as Linkin
Park and Puddle of Mudd?
Atom: I don't really think about it too much. I'm very
much satisfied with the level of success this thing has
had, and while it's nice when lots of people get to hear
my stuff, I don't worry about having my stuff played on
big radio stations.
HarlemLive: How does the writing process of your songs
work out? They seem to be really long rants against one
thing in particular, (such as homophobia in the heavy
metal community in “Hats Off To Halford”;
Racism in “If you Own the Washington Redskins, You’re
a Cock”, etc) and the way you pace your speech is
Atom: Hey thanks, Cam. I tend to write about things that
I think about. I write the music first, and write the
lyrics second. I don't really have an algorithm or a x2000
HarlemLive: Your music also has a kind of cartoonish vibe:
is there a specific cartoon character that you find inspiring?
Atom: Nope. I'm not much of a cartoon fan, though I do
think the Simpsons are wonderful, and some of the Adult
Swim cartoons are also great.
HarlemLive: This question I totally ripped-off from The
Greatest Movie Ever Made: Stephan Frears’ High Fidelity.
What are your Top 5 favorite records of all time?
Atom: This is ever changing, but for the moment:
1. Beatles - Abby Road
2. Brutal Truth - Need to Control
3. Pixies - Trompe Le Monde
4. Pink Floyd - The Wall
5. The Magnetic Fields - 69 Love Songs
Check these out:
Or email Atom and tell him what a cool guy he is at firstname.lastname@example.org
Why? Because we say so.