In Nov. '94, at.the.drive.in's first 7", "Hell Paso" (Western Breed) was released on the band's own label. The following month, the band trekked 2,000 miles across the great state of Texas on their very first tour. In June of '95, after a member change, ATDI's second single, "Alfaro Vive, Carajo" (Western Breed), showed the progress the band had made in such a short time. A '81 Ford Econoline was purchased and the band hopped in and headed out on a 42 day/10,000 mile US tour.
People began to take notice, friends were made. (These two 7"s are no longer in print, but "Alfaro..." is now available on CD from Jim's very own new label, Headquarter Records). One of those friends was me, Blaze James. I, along with other Flipside staff members, eye-witnessed them explode in front of 9 people in a now defunct LA bar. I was so enthralled, I offered to put out their record that night. So, ATDI headed out again for a 21 day Southwest tour that ended in LA, where they recorded "Acrobatic Tenement" (Flipside) for $600, a blistering outpouring of youthful energy and feelings rarely explored by other bands of any genre.
In the months following, Tony and Pall joined the band and Omar moved from bass to guitar, and as soon as the record hit the stores, the band hit the road. This time it was a 100 day/24,000 mile US tour (Feb-June, '97), that included shows with Screw 32, JChurch, AFI, Still Life, Mustard Plug, Face to Face, Cosmic Psychos and hundreds of others. Their following began to grow. The band took a month off before it began rehearsing for the next record/tour. "El Gran Orgo," (Offtime) a six-song CD EP, was released on September 18, '97 and showed a more melodic side of the band, but the musical depth and heartfelt emotion was never more apparent. Two days later the band was in Boulder, CO kicking off a 35 day/11,000 mile tour that included six dates with Karp and the Young Pioneers. Headlining shows in the midwest the band was now drawing between 100-350 kids.
Flipside was no longer putting out records, and Offtime couldn't afford too, so the band literally approached almost every indie label they could think of. No one would bite. The band was seriously feeling like there would be no next record, until Bob and Michelle Becker of Fearless Records came to see them at a bar (Club Mesa) one night while the band was opening for Supernova. It was hard to imagine for both the band and Fearless, because of Fearless' history of putting out mainly "pop/punk" style bands. But the band felt very comfortable with Bob and Michelle on a personal level, and the Fearless camp couldn't deny how much they liked the band, so it was done.
They began recording "In/Casino/Out" the third day of June, 1998. With Alex Newport at the helm, they spent the next 4 days recording and two more mixing what would become the record to establish ATDI as a "real" band. The song writing had obviously matured, Jim, who took a break from the band during the "El Gran Orgo" recording and tour, was back. This recording aimed at getting the live sound across on record. How to do that? Record them LIVE, of course! The entire record, including vocals was recorded straight to tape, with only a few vocal and guitar overdubs. From the initial blast of Alpha Centuari, to the heartwrenching epic, "Napolean Solo", to the ballad-y (with Jim singing lead) "Hourglass," the band made a record that truly reflected what they were doing, proudly, from start to finish.
The record was out six weeks later, and the band began a seemingly endless tour that day, July 24th in Los Angeles with a 4 day stint w/AFI, Good Riddance and By the Grace of God. They toured. Two weeks with Knapsack in the Midwest and East. Two Weeks with The Murder City Devils in the West. A date with Fugazi in Des Moines. Texas with the Archers of Loaf, and so many dates in between. The tour lasted (with a few short breaks in between) until December. They took off a few months to rest and record some songs for different comps and splits that never saw reality. So the band toured again in March of '99. This time two weeks of big shows with Jimmy Eat World through the South and East. Then, three days off before they boarded a plane for their very first trip to Europe. Six weeks and 11 countries; shows with Good Riddance, Promise Ring and a whole slew of european bands, and all new friends to be made. Remi was the tour driver, and Paul Drake came along to supervise.
The band then layed off touring, except for a 5 day So Cal sweep in late May and the "This Ain't No Picnic" festival on July 4th in Irvine Canyon, CA with Sonic Youth, Get Up Kids, Sunny Day Real Estate and more. ATDI was on the itsy-bitsy "side stage". Still, it was awesome. So, the boys had these songs that were mostly newly recorded, and now that it had been nearly a year since their album came out, decided to put them together on an EP for their beloved Fearless label. "Vaya" was born on July 13th, 1999. A 7-song peek at what the band is and will be, "Vaya" shows the power and the delicateness of the band's writing capabilities. Like snuggling with a rabid pitbull. The reaction to "Vaya" was overwhelming. The tour to support "Vaya" began on July 28th in Austin, TX with their friends, Universal Recovered, also from El Paso.
After 6 days, the band said a fond goodbye to their hometown pals and met up with Blue Tip (Dischord), to finish the final 3 weeks of the tour. New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego were among the Sold Out shows on this headlining tour. Gary Gersh and John Silva were starting a record company, and they took notice. They soon signed the band to DEN Records.
As the band was preparing to start writing their next full length record, they were invited to do a 3 week tour with pop-emo stars, The Get Up Kids... This began on halloween night in Minneapolis and covered parts of the Midwest and most of the northeast, including two dates in Eastern Canada where the band had never been. These shows were even more amazing than expected. Phenomenal turnouts, passionate fans, great shows, night after night. 22 days to truly remember. It was on this tour where the band recorded a song with producer Ross Robinson, during a few days in New York and were truly taken in by his methods. It was this session that convinced the boys that he was the guy who could get every ounce of them onto tape, and that he would be the one to produce the full length.
So once again, it was thought that these were the last shows of the year, until we got a call from Rage Against The Machine wanting ATDI to open a six date stint of their tour, two weeks away... How could we pass up this? We had just played those cities with the Get Up Kids, so it didn't feel like we were forcing fans to see us in this ungodly large, unintimate atmosphere, and they could surely come if they chose too. So once again, writing was postponed a little longer so that we could join the Rage guys for a brand new experience... It was a great time, though occasionally uncomfortable on stage, but new friends were made and isn't that what it's all about? Can we get to the new record now??
On January 17th, 2000, the band entered the remote Malibu cabin known as Indigo Ranch. Over the next seven weeks, the band was pushed to the brink and back by themselves and by Ross to put their lives and limbs onto tape as "Relationship Of Command" was created. Sounds corny, but their blood, sweat and tears were literally laid out for all to see. ROC demonstrates the band exploding more vigorously and dynamically then ever before. The struggle, the angst, the sincerity, the joy… everything that comes out in the live performance, trapped in a jar and pressed on to CD and vinyl, with nothing held back. Andy Wallace stepped in to mix it all down to a final cohesive package. Near the end of the recording, the band was alerted that the label known as DEN was merging with Grand Royal Records, and that Mike D was now involved. This was good news.
After the recording, the band made its initial trips to Japan and the UK (as well as a return to the mainland of Europe), and the kids and press over there simply freaked. Within days of their shows, word spread like a Malibu brush fire throughout both lands that this was one hell of an exciting band. We've been saying that for years, haven't we?
History Thanks to www.atthedrive-in.net and Blaze