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Atom is a funny guy, which of course, is a bit part of what his music is about. Although he'll argue that his new CD, Redefining Music (just released on Hopeless Records), isn't as funny as some of his older ones, just how serious can you take songs with titles like "Anarchy Means I Litter," "Mission 1: Avoid Job Working with Assholes" and "If You Own the Washington Redskins, You're a Cock"?

Atom is Pennsylvania native Adam Goren (according to the press clips, that is. There isn't any evidence of this in his promotional materials or his new CD's liner notes). His "package," on the other hand, is most definitely his trusty sequencer -- his entire traveling back-up band. Atom writes, performs and records all of the music himself, using only his guitar and his trusty package. 

Here's the interview.


  Atom Uncensored!

The full interview transcript...


Where are you right now as we're talking? Atom: I'm in Tampa, Florida, and leaving to drive to Tallahassee. Thank god were leaving Florida. Florida is pretty ugly. We just got gas and are about to get on the interstate. Sean (of Har Mar Superstar) is driving… He's gonna have road rage.


(Just then, much yelling and screaming in the background and I ask what's going on).


Sean is now road raging.


I'm impressed at how well you keep up that tour diary (located at -- great reading!) Some days like when you don't do anything and play the show, it may get really boring. At least for me, when the tour is done I'll have a tour diary.


How's the tour?


The tour is going well. It's been really fun since the beginning. This one is two months' long, but I was away for a month before this one. I really enjoy doing it. Sometimes when I get sick it can suck because you've got to play anyway.

Oh my god! The person in front of us has hydraulics and is hopping up and down. I've never seen that before. He's alone, too. He's flossing his teeth.


Where are you? You're not on the Interstate, are you? We're lost in America's crapland of strip malls, Wendy's, gas stations and fuck-me pants. And I want our car to bounce up and down, too.


What are you driving? My mom's Ford Explorer. We're very comfortable. It has about 80,000 miles on it. They've always had an extra car for me and brother and sister when we were younger. Our parents are very protective of us. Whenever we borrowed any car, it was always the one that was the safest.


What do they think of your music? They're very supportive of me doing something I like to do. They're proud that it's been moderately successful, but they're not fans of the music. I mean how could they be? They tell me that they love it. My dad is a gigantic opera fan and tried to force it on the kids. I grew up with Beatles and Duran Duran and speed metal and punk stuff.

My mom was worried when I was in high school and started listening to different music. I thought the vocalists sounded like the Cookie Monster. She thought that they sounded like demons. My dad loves music, but I don't think he's a Napalm Death fan.

They say they like my stuff but I don't think it's humanly possible for them to like it. They know it's funny now, but when I first played it and asked them if they thought it was funny, they sort of gave me a look, and then said 'Oh yeah, it's funny.' They really really mean well.


I particularly like the team mascot song on your new CD, but I could see where someone might be offended. Has anyone been offended by any of your music? That record comes out on Tuesday, so there hasn't been too much response to it. I will take on anyone in that debate. There was a song in support of Rob Halford ("Hat's Off to Halford," his ode to Judas Priest's Rob Halford). A lot of people misunderstood that song and I got ridiculously dumb e-mails. The song is in support of this guy. Metal is a homophobic subculture. It's awesome and brave for this dude to come out in an area that's traditionally homophobic. The e-mails say 'You're a faggot, you're a dummy.' Fine, whatever. And then there's the kind that say 'Hey, asshole, I like metal. Why call everyone in metal gay?' Idiot. Just read it. People's reading comprehension is pretty awful.


It makes you lose faith in the intelligence of your listeners… It's not like everyone's like that. Plenty of people pay attention very well. Plenty of people say 'right on.' I've met a lot of 'right on' people. The overwhelming majority understands it.



Since you've been on the road playing mostly punk clubs, give me your perspective on the current state of punk rock in America. It's impossible to generalize anything. There's many people who are productive and smart and are impressive, and then there are some people that are dopey and stupid and obnoxious. Still, there's a lot of amazing people You'll get an amazing feeling that there's a connection to people you don't know but have similar feelings about things. When grunge happened, I don't feel like it had an overwhelming effect. When Green Day got big, you had an influx of of people who weren't involved in most stuff before that. I think there will always be this underground.


I read a ton of your interviews online. Do you ever feel like you're under pressure to be spot-on funny. Do people expect you to be funny all the time? I don't feel that from interviews. After a show and I'm staying at someone's house, they expect me to be a hellluva lot more entertaining than I am. In Europe after a show I wanted to drink some tea and go to bed. The guy who had the house said, "Do some crazy things, you're so funny!" and I said I'm tired and I just want to go to sleep.

This new record isn't overtly funny as the other ones. The songs are better and music kind of stands on its own.


Are you really a sports fan? What's your prediction for the Final Four? (The interview took place the day before the NCAA Men's basketball semi-finals.) I'm not much of a basketball fan. I can watch last five minutes of a playoff game. I'm a big hockey and baseball fan, and NFL.


So no XFL for you, eh? I watched the first XFL game. It was really boring. I thought it would be offensive. It was kind of funny, but a whole bunch of friends came over and watched it. By halftime we weren't even paying attention to it. After the first game, I would be surprised that they would even finish the season. Sean's brother films games for the Chicago XTreme.


I figured you might be a 'Sixers fan... Actually, I do follow them. I support the Mutumbo trade. I think think they can get to the finals this year.


Some punk people find the mix of punk and sports to be incompatible... Might be because their experience in dealing with sports people has been negative, and my dealing with sports people has been pretty negative, too. Some cool people are interested in it, but the average sports fan -- actually the average person --  is an asshole.


So what's Sean like to tour with? With Sean, it's a nonstop, totally extreme party. We've known each other for a while. Sean is from Minneapolis, I live in Philly, but we met a really long time ago when he was on tour with Sean Na Na, then the following year he played two weeks worth of shows with me.


Ever thought about forming a band? No. There's drawbacks to doing it all myself. I miss going on a tour with a bunch of people, but if I want to go on tour, I go. I don't have to ask anyone or schedule or practice, I just do it when I want.


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Copyright © 2001 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.