The Ataris is headed to San Luis Obispo on its reunion tour — the first time they’ve played together in approximately a decade.
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The tour highlights what the band believes is the best album of its time together, So Long, Astoria. The album will be played from start to finish — something they have never done before, even in the recording studio.
The Ataris has put in two months of non-stop rehearsal time to prepare for the tour. This is the first time it has played together in approximately 10 years, since it disbanded in 2004.
“It’s a lot of nostalgia to come back and do this tour,” guitarist John Collura said. “It’s a celebration of what the four of us accomplished as a band.”
The band formed in 1996 and sold hundreds of thousands of albums on the independent label Kung Fu Records. It signed to Columbia Records in 2001 and produced its career-defining album on that label in 2003. A year later, the band members went their separate ways.
“I haven’t seen these guys in forever,” drummer Chris Knapp said. “It’s going to be crazy.”
Each of the members started on different paths, some pursuing different bands and others quitting music altogether.
“I am just so happy that we got to do this again because I missed them bad,” bassist Mike Davenport said. “You just don’t realize how much until you are back together. It’s sort of like an old girlfriend that you get to hook up with again; that doesn’t happen very often.”
The band traveled the world together in small vans and close quarters for the nine years it was together.
“I look at it like a marriage,” Davenport said. “Being in a band — a touring and professional band — you are cooped up together, and it is a business, too.”
After years of nonstop touring, the band got the opportunity it was waiting for from Columbia Records.
“They told us to stay home for an entire year and write a record,” Davenport said. “That’s what So Long, Astoria was. It was us being able to come home and relax and really try to focus while writing music.”
A culmination of the band’s career, the album contains hits such as “The Saddest Song” and their iconic version of Don Henley’s “Boys of Summer.”
“(The album) is sort of our swan song,” Davenport said. “That’s why we are playing it from beginning to end. We never got to do anything like that before. You always want a challenge. You record it one song at a time, and not necessarily in that order.”
Davenport’s favorite song to perform live is “In This One the Hero Dies.” He wrote part of the song when he was in Hawaii.
“It is one we wrote as a band together,” Davenport said. “Astoria is the accumulation of all of our hard work; that is the best part about the album of the best part of the band.”
But before The Ataris performs and the nostalgia begins, opening band Versus The World will take the stage. Davenport is opening with Versus The World, the band he started playing in after The Ataris disbanded.
“I actually have to play in two bands and do double duty, so it is going to be pretty interesting.” Davenport said. “I have never done that before. Hopefully, I won’t be dead by the time we get through.”
Davenport is no stranger to SLO Brew, as he grew up in Santa Maria and currently lives in Santa Barbara.
SLO Brew events and promotion supervisor Jessica Puchli expects a mixed crowd in the audience.
“I think the crowd might be a little older (25-30) for this one, seeing as how the album So Long, Astoria came out in 2003, but there is definitely a cross-generational appeal to the album,” Puchli said.
Reunion shows, such as Pennywise’s show at SLO Brew this past year, are unique in their atmosphere, Puchli said.
“I think it adds to the excitement when a band hasn’t played together as its original lineup in some years,” Puchli said. “It will be great together, to have the guys back together on the San Luis Obispo stage.”
Tickets are $16 in advance and $18 at the door. The show is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m.