In The Pipeline: Atreyu drummer takes center stage in Hell or Highwater

August 15, 2011|By Chris Epting
(Courtesy Hell or…)

On the musical front, over the last five years I've written here about a variety of Huntington Beach-based artists. There's been Dean Torrence, of Jan & Dean fame (as if I had to qualify that), songstress Franki Doll, the mighty Avenged Sevenfold and the reggae sensations the Dirty Heads, among others.

Recently, I interviewed another well-known rocker, oblivious to the fact that not only is he a longtime Huntington Beach resident, but also that we live about two minutes away from each other!

For more than 15 years, drummer-vocalist Brandon Saller gave his all to the Southern California metalcore outfit Atreyu. But after hammering out five studio LPs with four of his best friends while traveling the globe and performing for legions of exuberant fans, Saller is now going front and center in the band Hell or Highwater.

Formerly known as the Black Cloud Collective, this is his new band, featuring Saller as front man. The five-piece band released "Begin Again" on Tuesday and will support the release by touring on the Uproar Festival kicking off in August along with Avenged Sevenfold, Bullet for my Valentine and a host of other bands. Here's my discussion with Saller about the new project, which also includes guitarist Matt Pauling (the Confession), guitarist Neal Tiemann (MWK, David Cook), bassist Joey Bradford (Thieves & Liars) and drummer Kyle Peek (MWK, David Cook).


Where does Hell or Highwater fit within your career right now?

Everything I've ever done has led to this. When I first started, I was just a drummer. I started singing and got more and more comfortable and then evolved to where I am as a performer now. It was the time for me to get out front and try something exciting. And here I am.

What's it like to now be the front guy?

Lots of fun. I had obvious nerves, but after the first show, it was cool. A stage is a stage for me. I'm comfortable wherever I am up there. Being face to face and getting to interact with an audience more is something I love. I've never gotten to do that before. I'm always at the back. In Atreyu, I was as crazy as I could be from the back. But it's not quite the same.

Not a lot of guys have made the move from drum kit to center stage. Dave Grohl comes to mind. Are there any specific front guys that have influenced you?

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