Crave the Sound interviewed Mr. Atomic's frontwoman Boneth Ahaneku on their latest Nashville tour, the Denver music scene, and the band's plans for the future.
article by Krista Barry
Mr. Atomic recently headed out to Nashville for a small tour – can you tell me more about that? Did you have a particularly favorite night or memory there?
The whole thing kinda came together at the last minute. We were already booked for one show in Nashville at The Basement back in January, so we decided to route dates around it. The hardest part was picking venues in that part of the country with audiences that we thought could get down with our music, which probably led to us confirming everything the week before we were about to leave.
As far as a favorite memory – that’s such a hard question because there were so many! One of my personal favorite memories was at the 70’s Punk Tribute Show we played at The Basement Nashville with our good friend J.Marco. His band had the last song of the night (“Last Caress” by The Misfits) and invited anyone who wanted to sing it to head up to the stage, and the only person who went up was Mitch – he rocked it! I was so blown away, because if you watch him play bass he only looks in two directions – up or down. Probably one of my favorite memories of the tour and my life.
Could you see a difference between the Nashville and Denver scenes in the time that you were there?
The biggest thing that stuck out to me was the sense of “feeling established”, if that makes sense. Nashville has such a rich history in music and you could feel that history everywhere, even when it didn’t seem like anything big was happening. I think Denver is still so young but it has so much potential to get to that Nashville-esque feeling, which makes me super stoked for the future. Also, the food in Nashville was pretty awesome. Not sure how it fits in with the music scene, but I’m just going to go ahead and say that there is a correlation.
What’s your favorite venue in Denver?
We’ve had quite a few great shows. We played a really fun show at the Marquis Theatre in August with our friends in LaRissa Vienna and the Strange. They have great pizza there and I pretty much solely judge a venue off its pizza options. I also love Lost Lake Lounge – it has great sound and great people.
What’s it like to be a female fronted band in the Denver rock scene?
It’s always interesting to think about that because I always feel like when we’re booking shows the whole “female-fronted” becomes a genre of its own. I want to help shift away from the whole gendered thing. It should be about our music, not who’s in our band.
What are Mr. Atomic’s plans for the upcoming year?
We’re talking about recording a split single or maybe going for full album, we’ll see. We’ll definitely be playing a lot of shows in different places.
Can you tell me a little bit about the recording process and the inspiration behind the band’s latest EP “Avert the Skies”?
We recorded it with a friend, Nick Schmidt. He actually recorded it for most of last year. Then we had it mastered by this really amazing mastering engineer based in Chicago named Carl Saff. The title is a play on “avert your eyes” – we thought we’d bring it to a grander scale of aversion. It only really makes sense to us, though, because everyone else just looks at us funny when we say that.
The inspiration behind it – we mostly just wanted to get something out. Not to say that it wasn’t purposeful but listening back to it, I love the songs, but I’m also very critical of them. So I’m like, I want to get more stuff out now, because the stuff we have now is 10x better than that.
We wanted to touch on 4 different subjects for this EP. The first song touches on the political sphere, reminding people they have a voice, that there’s a lot we can do as a group in America, and that the politicians can’t just decide on their own because they need us. The second song is about the push-and-pull of a relationship. The structure was inspired by “All Apologies.” The third song is pop punk. I started writing that song probably 10 years ago, and that one is about growth and maturity. Then the final song is just a feel good song about remembering the good times.
Do you have a favorite music platform?
I prefer to listen to all of my music on Spotify, however I’ve found that YouTube is the most easily accessible platform. SoundCloud is a little messy the way it’s organized, but besides that, I like the community aspect of it. Of course, Bandcamp is great because it provides a great service for artists and they’re always making good updates. If SoundCloud and Bandcamp were to merge, they would create the ideal platform.
What music has inspired Mr. Atomic?
My personal musical inspirational – I’m a huge 90’s fan. I also love older music – Debbie Harry, the lead singer of Blondie, and Siouxsie Sioux, the lead singer of Siouxsie and the Banshees. As far as newer stuff, I’ve always loved Courtney Love, and of course, Shirley Manson from Garbage, and more recently from Sadie Dupuis from Speedy Ortiz. She’s badass. She used to teach at a university and is a great songwriter. Our bassist Mitch and myself also really like Sleater-Kinney, our drummer Mike loves Drive-By Truckers, and Red Hot Chili Peppers is the favorite band of our guitarist Matt.
How did the band meet?
Matt, Mitch and I met first. I posted on Craigslist, crazy enough, and Matt went to CU also, and as it turned out we also had mutual friends. We met Mitch about two weeks later. We originally had my friend Chris as our drummer, then he left the band, and then Mitch found Mike. We’ve technically been playing together for two years.
Your band Mr. Atomic is a part of the local management group, At Night Group – can you tell me more about that?
Basically, At Night Group is Bryan, Nyall and myself. Our whole goal is to get local artists the support they need to get their foot into the music industry. Smaller artists don’t have a lot of resources for promotion and press, etc. We filed as an LLC, and we’re working on rebranding – before the end of the month we’re going to relaunch.