You have to hand it to the singer/songwriters … the men and women honing their craft and following their dreams, making music to please themselves and if others like it too, well … that’s good too.
Atlas:At Last is the brainchild of Eric Mason, of Indianapolis, Indiana. It’s a collecting place for his gentle, emo-tinged songs that capture the most raw human emotions — love, loss, betrayal, survival …
There is something haunting about his performance in “Not Anymore,” which starts with just his voice ebbing into a mournful guitar. A choir of voices fill the chorus making it quite touching.
“You Owe Me One” is a look back at a failed relationship and “The Sea, She Crept in on Me” plays with Maritime ideas and makes a complicated, yet beautiful song.
So, a deep conversation with this gentle soul was in order:
So tell me your musical background … When did you start playing?
I started writing music when I was around 12 years old. I got my first guitar for Christmas around 10.
Did you ask for it?
Yes. Every year since I was probably 6, haha. I wanted to be in a hair metal band so bad.
Which hair bands are you a fan of?
My mom was really into Twisted Sister and Cinderella.
They both have some good tunes. What other influences?
My heaviest influences are probably Margot and The Nukes and City and Colour. I also really love Taking Back Sunday and Brand New.
I’ll have to look them up, I’m not familiar… What style are they?
Indie acoustic stuff.
No worries. So what all instruments do you play?
I play guitar, bass, piano and harmonica.
Are you a solo artist or do you play with a band?
I also sing if that counts, lol. I am a solo artist but I play with a live band when necessary.
Yes, singing counts. How often do you play live?
Well, I just launched Atlas about a month ago, so it has been mostly recording so far. Shows are going to be coming more in the next couple months, but my project before, this I played out a couple of times a week for a long time and I hope to be the same with Atlas.
So tell me about Atlas … What is the concept?
As far as the actual name or the lyrical content?
My favorite topics to write about are the happy ones — jealousy, betrayal, infidelity, heartbreak and loving it the whole time, haha.
Well, you aren’t playing under your name, so is it like a band name or an alter ego?
The name Atlas:At Last is kind of just saying like … I finally know my path. Like all these musical endeavors were leading up to this one point and at last … Atlas. The culmination of all my hard work and effort and failed musical swings.
Atlas is also a guide. It’s one big metaphor like everything else I create. I am a drama queen.
Haha … Ok, I get the idea … and I did notice you write a lot about heartbreak and lost love.
Yeah. I just didn’t feel like there were enough sad songs in the world these days so here I am. Lol.
Can we expect some happy songs at some point?
I love to embrace the disfunctionality and irony of being a weird, backwards human being. Oh, there will be uppity songs here and there. But less common for sure.
How do you approach songwriting?
I write the music, then hum the melody, then write the words to it. I keep a note on me at all times I called the “One Liners list” and anything that triggers a feeling of any kind, I write it down and come back later so that is a good reference guide too.
I am a passionate lyricist. I always have been. I only began creating music because I needed something to do with my lyrics, haha.
Do you plan time to write or just do it when it hits? So you are kind of a poet …
Oh I would say I am a poet wholeheartedly. I plan nothing.
How often do the ideas hit you?
Couple times a day at least. I live and breathe music. It is all I do or think about. It is a problem, probably.
Is your family supportive of your music? Being devoted to music can’t be a problem.
They are supportive enough. They are as supportive as I require them to be.
Have you played any festivals before?
No I have not. I have been on several tours and played a lot of venues, but only with a couple other artists of varying size. Nothing I would call a festival, but that would be fun!
What have been your favorite shows? Big ones, or small clubs?
I like them all honestly. As long as people get off their phones and listen. I always call the people in the back to the front before I play, haha.
Yes, phones seem to get in the way of everything these days! How bad is it and do most listen if you tell them to put it away?
I hope so. I probably come as a jerk because I have never been one to beat around the bush. I am always like “HEY LAMEO-S GET UP HERE OR LEAVE,” basically. Haha.
Oh no … Well, if they are there to be entertained, they should know better. People are getting ruder every day.
It’s rude, man. There should be a concertgoer handbook complete with etiquette guidelines. Don’t chatter and text during someone’s set, especially if it’s acoustic! But 95 percent of people are great and I love them.
That’s good. Bigger shows you see everyone trying to video it and you can’t see the band half the time.
True. Also the fan interaction is way more generic in a big setting. I freaking love when people can come and just hang with me or whatever after I play. The big setting makes that impossible.
Yes, that’s a definite bonus for the small shows. Have you made many friends that way?
Well. I don’t really have any friends. I am such a weird reclusive anti-social type that I have a ton of acquaintances, lol. Many from that. I am like Scrooge, honestly.
It is easier to meet people on the web these days … But how is a reclusive anti-social musician going to succeed in music?
Well. I don’t expect to ever be extremely successful in music. I am not quite marketable enough. If I was a heart-throb, then maybe. Also, I kind of open up when it comes to music.
When it comes to being normal and doing whatever normal human beings do, I am bad at that. So, I suppose I am only reclusive when it comes to anything besides music. Music sort of brings me out of my shell.
Well, it is a wonderful creative outlet, even if you just do it for yourself.
True. I make music for real listeners. Not people who like whatever is trending on Twitter at the time. Exclusively. Does that make sense?
Exactly. Your music is a lot deeper than say … the boy bands … Which is great. You are really saying something!
I feel like there’s a huge difference between making music to make money or because you are under contractual obligation and making music because it is in you and you’re just kind of letting it out.
Those kinds of bands too are a passing fad. Their music isn’t made to last. You are writing songs designed to last.
I am trying, haha. I have a new song coming out either tonight or tomorrow. Then another next week, FYI. Actually, would you like to check it out? It is un-mastered at the moment so forgive the roughness, but you would be the first on Earth to hear it besides my producer and I! It is called “Bedroom Eyes.”
Nice! Be sure to tag me in it so I can listen. How do you do your recording?
My producer owns a studio that I use pretty much any time. He is fantastic. His name is Josh and you can find him at www.facebook.com/joshryanmusic.
Oh, I like it … Very nice … The melody slightly reminds me of Sarah McLachlan’s “Angel.” I’ll look up Josh too.
Lol, I wish I could write a song half that beautiful.
You don’t give yourself enough credit. I like how the second half gets harder.
I do too. The second half needs the most work at the moment. It is all wonky. It’ll be good when its tightened up.
Yep, so don’t rush it and get it right.
That is the plan!
Should I send you my bill now for the advice? Lol!
Lol, bill my manager. (Which doesn’t exist)
Haha, will do … When you record, how long does it take?
I would be a management nightmare. I am so un-PC and over-opinionated, lol. I can write a song in an hour. I can record a song in three hours. “Secrets,” “You Owe Me One” and “Not Anymore” were written, then I recorded them.
How many parts are you playing?
I play guitar/sing and my producer plays the rest. He is a phenomenal musician.
So he does keyboards and percussion?
Yep. And bass, and whatever other strange instrument I need. Vibraphone etc.
That’s cool. How long have you known him?
We go back a ways — partner in crime kind of deal. Atlas would not exist without him.
That’s good, so he knows what you are trying to accomplish.
Oh yeah … I wouldn’t sign a contract unless he was included.
Good thinking. How many songs have you put out so far? The album in the fall will be your first?
It will. There will be seven released songs as of tomorrow. With another nine by fall/winter.
Sounds good … What kind of goals have you set for yourself?
I just want to be able to pay my bills from my songs and find fans that my music genuinely resonates with. I want to create relatable and relevant content with splashes of cheeky fun mixed with melancholy lows and have the end product be an awkwardly beautiful uneasy kind of thing.
You can find Atlas:At Last on Twitter @AtlasAtHome, on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/atlasishome/?fref=ts, on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, GooglePlay, MediaNet, Bandcamp and more.
On Soundcloud at www.soundcloud.com/Atlasishome
Reverb at www.reverbnation.com/atlasishome
Bandcamp at www.atlasishome.bandcamp.com