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.
The result is an in-your-face mix of wry social commentary, clever
innuendoes, witty observations and pointless wisecracks all sung/rapped
in Atom's nasal croon over a rocking beat and some awesome power
chords -- sort of an intelligent Weird Al meets Nerf Herder crossed
with the Dead Milkmen. You get the drift.
For example, on "If You Own the Washington Redskins…"
Atom attacks with abandon what he deems "The f***headness of
sports teams that name themselves after Native Americans and think
it's somehow flattering to stereotype because it's 'in a positive
way.'" Among the lyrics:
Would it be offensive if we cheered
'Rah Rah Rah' for the Carolina Negroes
With our beatbox cheer and our fake foam afros
If the Minnesota Vikes became the New York Kikes
With dollar bills on their helmets
'Cause that's what they're like, you know?
"I will take on anyone in that debate," Atom says when
asked if anyone's been offended by his music. "This CD comes
out on Tuesday, so there hasn't been too much response to it."
He doesn't have to look far, however, to find a song that's
touched a nerve. On "Hat's Off to Halford," his ode to
Judas Priest's Rob Halford upon his "coming out of the closet"
Atom sings, "So I think it's safe to say that many more metal
guys are homosexual/That may frustrate the gay community/Why would
they want the ugly metalheads available?"
"A lot of people misunderstood that song and I got ridiculously
dumb e-mails," he said. "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."
But not all of Atom's songs are controversial. In fact, he and
the Package cover three songs on the new CD by lo-fi folk pioneers
The Mountain Goats, none of which are very funny, but all of which
are still very good.
Atom stopped in mid-sentence to note that the Explorer's red engine
light -- which has been on since the tour began at the end of March
and recently was thought fixed -- was back on again. The mini-van
really is his mom's car. "It has about 80,000 miles on it,"
he says. "My parents are very protective of me and my brother
and sister. Even when we borrowed the car, they always made sure
we borrowed the safest."
He says that though his parents are very supportive of his music
and are proud that it's been moderately successful, "they're
not fans of the music. I mean, how could they be? They tell me that
they love it."
He grew up listening to the Beatles and Duran Duran before shifting
to speed metal and punk. "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."