Q&A – Atom Willard

With the 2014 release of Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Against Me! showed the world that even after 5 albums, a band can still break through in new and rather phenomenal ways. Part of that magic was certainly the addition of Atom Willard on drums. Atom’s thunderous performances in bands like Rocket From The Crypt and Angels and Airwaves truly set the stage for this master craftsman of rock and roll to lend his chops to a band of emotionally stellar musicians with guitars in their hands and rock in their hearts.

Between dates on their latest European tour, we were able to catch up with Atom over email for a quick Q&A. If you are indeed a fan of Against Me! (and you probably are if you’ve read this far), this quick read will give you a glimpse into Atom’s touring life, what the band is up to, and what that means for our future as fans. Enjoy!

Q. This may be old news, but as a fan I am very curious. How did you get the nickname “Atom”?

A. When I was in RFTC we all had nicknames and that was mine. I was like 16 and pretty small at the time so it kinda fit.

Q. How’s the tour going? Is AM! Going to be on the road for most of 2015?

A. Tour is great, yeah we will be busy all year.

Q. Is Against Me! in the process of writing any new songs?

A. Yeah, we will start recording the next record in September.

Fanboy note: This is an awesome update. Direct from the drummer, Atom Willard, Against Me! will be hitting the studio later this year to record their follow up to TDB. Sweet. Now, where were we…

Q. What’s the craziest place you’ve ever toured through? From a cultural standpoint.

A. Japan is wildly different from anywhere in the world, but Korea and Indonesia probably.

Q. How do you pass time on the road? If you’re an avid reader, what books do you enjoy?

A. There’s actually very little down time. We usually watch movies at night after the show.

Q. Your Instagram account is fantastic. As a fan, it’s great to be able to see what’s basically a photo journal of your life and tours. Is photography an interest of yours? Or just something you happen to have a knack for? (also, what phone/camera do you use?)

A. Thanks for that. Yeah I’ve always liked photography and took some classes in high school. I just use my iPhone.

Q. You’re easily one of the hardest hitting drummers in rock and roll. Yet drumming is notorious for inducing back injuries, among other things. Do you have a set fitness routine to keep your hits strong and your back from going out?

A. I stretch quite a bit. I go running almost every other day just to keep everything rolling.

Fanboy note: Excellent advice. Stretching and running are great ways to exercise and stay healthy. Just sayin’.

Q. Do you prefer wooden drums or acrylic? Why?

A. I love the way acrylic drums look, but prefer wood shells sonically.

Fanboy note: As a drummer, I concur. This also explains why I’m 99% sure I’ve never seen Atom play on an acrylic kit.

Q. Although you are quite accomplished at both…If you had to choose, would you rather be a studio musician or a touring live drummer?

A. I really like both elements, but it would be really hard to be just a studio guy and not have the interaction with the audience ever. I don’t think I would like that.

Fanboy note: You heard it here! Atom, much like the rest of the band, feeds off the energy from the crowd. The next time you’re at one of their shows, give him a shout!

Q. You’ve played in so many phenomenal bands over the years, yet your transitions between them appear almost seamless. When you’re ready to leave a band and move on, do you usually have another project lined up already?

A. There hasn’t been a pattern really… things have just happened.

Fanboy note: This is awesome. There are a lot of talented players out there, but not all of them get recognized. It’s refreshing to know that such a killer performer like Atom has been able to naturally be a part of so many excellent bands.

Q. What’s the most amount of bands you’ve ever been in at once? How did you keep up with it?

A. I guess I was in 3 bands at one time but none were full on full time. You just have to get people to plan shit ahead and let you know so you can let others know.

Fanboy note: As a drummer, there are many times where you’re in multiple bands. The advice Atom offers here is dead on. Not just for drummers either, but for life. Plan ahead!

By Brendan McGroggan

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