Atreyu's Dan Jacobs: the 10 records that changed my life
With influences spanning from 80s glam to Swedish death metal, we find out more about the 10 albums that shaped Jacobs as a guitarist…
“We all needed to feel like we could completely focus on the band and this is what it took,” says Atreyu guitarist Dan Jacobs of their four-year hiatus, which came to an end last summer as rumours began to spread of a sixth album on its way.
Official confirmation came soon after, bringing much welcome news for fans of the Orange County metalcore titans, especially when considering how many side-projects and distractions the members kept busy with as the years passed them by.
“I think a lot of the reasoning behind needing a break was down to us all having other things we wanted to accomplish in our own lives. So we all needed the hiatus to achieve our own goals and get it out of our systems. Almost evolve as individuals rather than as a band. It was like taking time out to get some air.
“After that, it was much easier for us to all come back together and focus fully on Atreyu. And here we are. This record feels like a fresh start: it’s about pushing our limits, mixing different styles and redefining our sound. It’s like we’ve found where we are musically most comfortable and now we’re just going for it!”
Released this September via Spinefarm, new offering Long Live promises more neck-snapping heaviness from the Californians, who rose to fame at the turn of the millennium as part of the New Wave Of American Heavy Metal alongside fellow scene heroes Killswitch Engage and Trivium. And though it’s an album that marks a new era for the band, Jacobs is very much using the same weapons to keep old-school heavy metal values alive and well in 2015, defending the faith one lick at a time.
“I’ve been using the same ESP I got about 12 years ago, which I’ve played on pretty much every Atreyu recorded. Most of my guitar tone comes from that going into an EVH 5150 III. Those amps just sound so good and heavy, you just plug into it and everything sounds great straight off. All you have to do is turn the volume up and go!”
Warrant - Cherry Pie
“When I was 11 years old I had just moved from my hometown of Fullerton, California to Yorba Linda, California and that was where my journey through music would officially begin.
“I was turning 12 and wanted to have a party to celebrate my birthday as well as a way to meet some new local friends. At this party a friend of a friend brought over a cassette tape of Warrant’s Cherry Pie album.
“I’d never heard of the band but when the song Cherry Pie kicked in, I was instantly hooked! I had never heard music like that before so it left me blown away and wanting more. I'm still a huge fan to this day and now even have the pleasure of calling them friends of mine!
“The lead guitarist Joey Allen was actually my neighbour for a few years and we would golf together. Funny how life works sometimes.”
Green Day - Dookie
“I can remember the moment that I knew that music is what I wanted to do for a living. It was 1994 and I was at home watching MTV.
“This was of course back when they still actually played music videos! The band that came on my television was Green Day and the song was Basket Case. Billie Joe Armstrong was a little guy with green eyes and played guitar that everyone loved. Especially the girls!
“I remember thinking that if he could do it so could I… He was living the dream, you know? So soon after that I picked up my first guitar, learned how to play every Green Day song I could, and the rest is history.
“They are such an important band, I think for many people Green Day were like a gateway to the heavier stuff.”
Rancid - …And Out Come the Wolves
“At a time where I was just really starting to fall not only head over heels for punk rock, our singer Alex [Varkatzas] came through with something that was a gateway drug to get me into even more punk.
“He gave me Rancid's …And Out Comes The Wolves as a gift on cassette tape back in 1996 for my Bar Mitzvah when I was 13 years old.
“It was the catchiest and best produced punk album I had ever heard at the time, so it spent more time being played then not. Now knowing that punk like this existed I had to have more.”
Nofx - Punk In Drublic
“Alex also gave me Punk In Drublic at the same time. From the second I first heard that intro riff to Linoleum, I instantly knew this music was going to be something I would love forever.
“From the grit in Fat Mike’s voice and his intelligently comedic lyrics to the amazing melodies and upbeat energetic punk riffs/beats, listening to this record definitely influenced a lot of the earlier Atreyu songs.”
Def Leppard - Hysteria
“At the height of my love for punk rock when I was 15 years old, a friend of mine jokingly played me Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard.
“All joking aside I felt that old spark that I once felt when I first heard Warrant four years earlier. Everything about Def Leppard was so huge sounding and had its own vibe. To this day, I have heard no other band sound close.
“It’s the record that sent me spiralling into the world of 80s hair metal, which would greatly shape my writing style and sound as a guitar player. And especially as a lead guitar player, because their melodies were just so catchy.
“That 80s sound is a very prominent signature to the Atreyu sound, so it was a life changing moment for me. I love the entire Def Leppard catalogue, but this album will always hold a special place in musical heart.”
Queen - A Day At The Races
“Just like Phil Collen from Def Leppard, you can tell instantly when it’s Brian May playing.
“It’s so identifiable… and I just love that. His playing on all the Queen stuff is really full-on and theatrical. The music they wrote was pure rock ’n’ roll.
“Instead of cranking it up to 11 all the time, he seems to think about what’s most valuable to what he’s playing over. It’s tasty and melodic, he plays with such style… you can sing his guitar lines.”
Van Halen - Van Halen
“I wanted to find out more about where shred came from, so started listening to Van Halen and couldn’t believe what I was hearing.
“And Eddie Van Halen is the king himself, there’s just nobody else like him. When he turned up in 70s playing Eruption, he floored everyone… people were just stood there wondering how the hell he was doing it.
“I try to sneak in Van Halen licks into our songs, that’s how much of a fan I am! There really is no one else like Eddie.”
In Flames - Colony
“When Colony came out, I was really into hardcore and this was the album that made me start listening to real heavy metal again.
“This record proved to me that you can be really, really heavy but also keep things very melodic. The guitar parts really shine and there’s a lot more than just one thing going on. And that’s definitely something that rubbed off on Atreyu for sure.”
Sonata Arctica - Silence
“Sonata Arctica are a Finnish band that I really like, they did a record called Silence that came out in the early 2000s.
“I’d never heard power metal before and was blown away by how it took the 80s rock and metal I loved and added this modern twist which felt like everything had been really overblown and amplified.
“Songs like Wolf & Raven had these really aggressive and repetitive themes that blew me away.”
At The Gates - Slaughter Of The Soul
“Like In Flames, At The Gates were another band from Gothenburg that really influenced the heavier side of Atreyu.
“They sounded insanely heavy and yet with loads of musicality.
“You could say American metalcore in general owes a lot to this Swedish wave of melodic death metal bands!”