My first ‘Music Spotlight’ will be shining a light on local Pittsburgh alternative pop/punk band, Atlantic Wasteland.

Atlantic Wasteland describes their sound as being “alternative, emo, make-you-feel-something-rock” and it is 100% true. One of my favorite songs of theirs is “Durango” off of their 2017 EP, ‘Cities‘. “Durango” is about friends who got married and had to move, and basically reminisces about the good times and how much they will be missed. I belt out that song anytime I’m shooting their show or even just attending it. I can’t give them enough praise.

In preparation for this first music spotlight, I decided I wanted to dig a little deeper. I asked Sam a few questions to give an inside look to how the band started, where the name came from, and even asked about some new music.

Each member of that band seems to have dedication and passion into the music and I love that. The band consists of Dan Downie (bass), Tom Hopton (guitar), Jerrod Borkey (drums), Ausinette Rodriguez (vocals), and Sam Quatrini (vocals, guitar).

The band began as a duo, consisting of Ausinette (Aus for short) and Sam. They both attended Grove City College and met through mutual friends, and happened to find that they loved playing music together. Both have really great voices, but before the band, Sam had not seriously sung before. “I legitimately did not sing before I started playing with Aus. She would force me to sing and do harmonies [and stuff] and I was so terrified. Eventually I grew a pair and got over it.” By the end of their college careers, they did their first EP together, ‘A Bittersweet Departure‘, which consisted of 5 pop punk covers.

Aus and Sam’s first show together was opening for locals, A Summer High, in 2017. “I hired a couple musicians to play with us, but the funny thing is, we couldn’t coordinate everyone’s schedules, so the show was the first time the entire group actually played together.”

Their next bigger show was opening for The Spill Canvas in October of 2017. Tom Hopton, who soon became their guitarist, reached out after the show wanting to jam with them. “He’s a weirdo so it was a perfect fit and he’s been with us since,” Sam says. Dan was Tom’s roommate and a “stellar musician”, so he was an easy pick. Lastly, Jerrod was a longtime friend of Sam’s, and soon became their drummer.

If you go to see an Atlantic Wasteland show and talk to the band afterwards, you will come to realize that, one, they are all really fantastic people, and have become good friends of mine, and two, Sam is just hilarious. I asked him where the band name came from and he started with, “the inspiration for the band name comes from a Shakespearian sonnet, written in the 16th century. Would you believe that? K, don’t cause that’s a lie.” It turns out, Aus came up with a bunch of cool band names, and they picked Atlantic Wasteland simply because it sounded edgy. Of the name, Sam says, “It’s ironic because I am a very introspective person, so all of our songs, branding, etc. always has some kind of underlying context… our band name is the only exception there.”

Finally, here they are today. They’ve played numerous shows at the South Side coffee house, Black Forge, which was the first show I’d caught of theirs. They also played on the lineup of the the 5th Annual Four Chord Music Festival, headlined by Less Than Jake and Bayside. In 2018, they also kicked off a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the production of their new album, which they’ve made major progress on. I’ll let Sam talk more about the album.
“We’re rolling with the title, ‘You’ll Never See the Bigger Picture if You’re Standing that Close‘. Longest album title ever? Possibly. In short, the album speaks to the theme of perspective. The songs are a cumulation of events, victories, etc. that have taken place in my life and of the lives of people around me. It’s really easy for me to get caught up in the day-to-day of my life. The title is my way of refocusing my attention on how God continues to work in and through my life.
“Imagine trying to watch Netflix with your nose pressed against your TV — you’d have no idea what the hell was going on. And your eyes would hurt a lot. That’s kind of what life is like for us sometimes, right? We have this death-grip on our lives as we try to control and understand every freaking puzzle piece and steer everything in the direction that we think is best for us. It pretty much boils down to this — I am exhausted from trying to plan out every detail of my life, so I’m saying HECK with that and letting God steer me in the direction he’s got planned out. And if I get to play some rock ‘n’ roll as a result of that, then I’d be stoked.”

A very cool inside look into what to expect next from Atlantic Wasteland. I speak so highly of these guys because of their passion and utter talent, on and off stage. Every single performance, from the big shows, to the acoustic nights, they make every show an experience. I am so excited to see what 2019 has in store for these guys.

Atlantic Wasteland will be releasing a brand new song, titled, “It’s Mid-July, Take Off the Beanie” on February 14th, available here, to start 2019 off with a bang.

Give them a follow on all their socials and I highly recommend a listen on Spotify/iTunes/Apple Music/Amazon Music/etc. as well as catching a show.

Atlantic Wasteland: Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify

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