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Ataris’ singer Kris Roe talks about solo tour

Editor’s Note: Kirsten Crow, a writer for the Laredo Morning Times in Laredo, Texas, recently interviewed Kris Roe, the singer/ songwriter/guitarist for the alternative rock band The Ataris. Roe will perform an acoustic show in Whitesburg on Friday night at Summit City. Crow’s report appears here in its entirety.

By KIRSTEN CROW Laredo (Texas) Morning Times

Kris Roe could be anyone sitting around waiting in Santa Barbara, California as the oil is being changed on his Dodge Neon while he chats on the phone with his laptop firmly in his lap, killing time.

But he isn’t. Although Roe, the frontman and founder of the rock group The Ataris, seems to be a just another down-toearth guy who happens to foster his creativity, he’s become something of a cult figure within the past eight years for a groundswell of fans across the country.

For more than a decade, The Ataris have survived numerous lineup changes, record-label switches and varying degrees of success in different markets.

Now, the group is getting ready to embark on recording their sixth full-length album. But before hitting the studio, Roe is trekking across the continent to play an acoustic set of their 1999 hit record, “Blue Skies, Broken Hearts … Next 12 Exits.” In a recent telephone interview, the 30-year-old Indiana native said he’s been enjoying his current solo tour that has him criss-crossing the United States and Mexico in his car. (Roe will be performing in Whitesburg on Friday, January 25, at the Summit City Lounge on Main Street.)

“I think that the best thing about these acoustic shows is that they are very intimate and very personal,” he said. “I’ve learned that if I get enough whiskey in me, that I’m quite animated … (I’m not) a pretentious guy in a coffeehouse.” It’s pretty amazing he’s sitting in the street, because he speaks with a frenetic, enthusiastic energy.

The shows are meant to be interactive, Roe explained. He often sprinkles his sense of selfdeprecating humor throughout the performance, and tells the stories behind the songs.

Much of the album was written as Roe was leaving Indiana to take his chances with forming a band in California, and the difficulties he faced in a young, failing marriage.

Roe said it’s been at times interesting, embarrassing and fun to relearn the songs he wrote when he was about 18 years old.

“It’s a lot of lovelorn heartbreak material,” he said. “Where the hell was my head at 18 years old?” Roe has no qualms about the fact that the lyrics can be, as he described it, “sappy,” but he likes to joke about it. He added that his writing has become “deeper and metaphoric and descriptive … but these songs on ‘Blue Skies’ are more straightforward, to be sure.” The album, released in 1999, consists of 14 tracks composed of catchy poppunk tunes with addictive hooks and anthem-like lyrics, which are hardly dense. Rather, they seem to rely on their simplicity to convey a wide range of emotions.

Whatever the formula, “Blue Skies” spawned legions of fans that could easily relate to the words, and the album nursed untold numbers of youth through various breakups, misunderstandings and angsty sentiments.

The new album, which the group will begin creating soon, will bring back the sounds of “Blue Skies” and “So Long, Astoria,” Roe said, so the tour is helping him “open the doors” and revisit some of his roots.

Although Roe views “Blue Skies” as the album that put the band on the map, he also notes that “So Long, Astoria” was the CD that caught attention and airplay on radio.

The album boasted the popular, revamped version of Don Henley’s single, “Boys of Summer.” “Do I feel (mainstream radio) sometimes is a blessing and a curse? Sure,” Roe said. “A big single can kill a band; you don’t want your song to be bigger than the band.”

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