Atari: Pennsylvania Band Looks Back on Their Time in the ‘90s Hardcore Scene

Atari @ their 2004 reunion show. (Photo: Brian Froustet)

Atari was a hardcore band that busted out of Kutztown, Pennsylvania in mid-'90s.

With a sound that kept things speedy, moshy, and free of the metallic influence that was so prevelant in that era, the group released a demo, EPs on Teamwork Records, Broken Man Records, and Sitton Records, and also made various compilation appearances.

Just last month, Atari released Ten Years Strong: A Complete Discography, across most digital music streaming outlets, introducing the band to a new generation of hardcore listeners along the way.

I spoke with the members of Atari to get the story on their time together, the straight edge hardcore scene they came from, their connection to skateboarding, and much more.

Tell me a bit about Kutztown.

(Brett Barto, vocals): Kutztown is a small, rural town about 20 minutes west of Allentown and a little over an hour north of Philadelphia. It’s 100% surrounded by farm fields. Lots of Mennonites in horse and buggies. In springtime the farmers fertilize their fields and the whole place smells exactly what you’d expect it to. Its most famous resident is probably Keith Haring. He grew up there. There’s still a floor he painted in the '80s intact in one of the galleries on Main Street and supposedly in one of the municipal buildings there are still some chalk drawings he did when he came back to give a talk to some kindergarteners.

The university is by far the biggest thing there. For me, it was between Philadelphia and Kutztown to study graphic design after high school. My older brother Brian started at KU a year before me. I’d go up to visit him on the weekends and saw the scene that Kutztown had going on, so between that, it being just 20 minutes from my hometown and me not really wanting to move to Philly after highschool, Kutztown was an easy choice. 

(Jon Nigro, drums): Kutztown and Kutztown University were a big part of my life from the get go, as my dad was a Professor there. I went to the University free as a result and started a year before Nate and more before the other youngsters. I initially didn’t hang out with any other straight edge kids until a year or two into college.

What were some of the early hardcore bands and records that had a big impact on you?

(Brett): I found punk music first through skating. Reading Thrasher and watching the videos. I was in Boy Scouts and a lot of the older scouts in the troop were into metal and punk so I got exposed to a bunch of bands through them. At that time I was really into Suicidal Tendencies, DRI, Exploited, Dead Kennedys, Misfits, etc. The total punk starter pack. Hardcore came a year or so later. There again, Gorilla Biscuits, Uniform Choice, Agnostic Front. Just all the really easily accessible ones. 

As far as bands and records that stand out for me, without a doubt Ramones Mania was an eye opener. I loved Misfits Walk Among Us, Uniform Choice Screaming for Change, and Youth of Today Can’t Close My Eyes. If I think about it for too long I’ll just keep coming up with others but those four were on repeat for me back then. 

(Jon): I discovered hardcore and the like through a 7 Seconds tape a good friend lent me. It was Soulforce Revolution, so not very hardcore, but it was a gateway to all things indie and positive. I couldn’t get enough of the opening track and that was it. I must admit that Youth Crew style hardcore was not my thing but Brett and Nate insisted.. 

How did Atari get started?

(Brett): I was in a band with my brother called Blindside in high school. I met Nate at one of our first shows. We had to do a sound check before our set so we just quickly played through a song. Nate came up to me afterwards and said something like, “You guys sounded pretty good but you should move around more.” and I was like “Oh yeah, don’t worry, we’re totally gonna go off. That was just our sound check” or something lame like that.

Anyway, he wrote his number on the back of a flyer and I can’t remember I ever called him but fast forward a year or two later to fall of 1993 and I’m up at Kutztown with my parents to check Brian in for his freshman year. We’re standing in a line outside a dorm and I look over and Nate is standing there waiting to check in too. We recognized each other and I remember immediately saying something to my brother like, “Yo you should talk to that dude, he’s into hardcore and was at our show. He’s cool.”

Fast forward another year and Blindside is winding down, I’m good friends with Nate from visiting Brian at KU, Chris and I (who I’ve been friends with since junior high) are now roommates there and hardcore is in a transition period.

The late '80s straight edge bands we grew up obsessed with are gone, the metal sound is creeping in and shows are getting “serious”. All those factors led to us sitting around at a diner one night and saying, “We should start a no bullshit, straight edge hardcore band.” We’d see all these old videos of '80s bands with the band and crowd going ape shit the entire show. We wanted to see shows like that again. There were of course some exceptions, but at that time in 1994 most shows were not like that. 

How did you land on the band name?

(Brett): The name Atari was chosen just because it was something we all had in common growing up. It was slightly obscure and not your typical band name and I liked that. At this point in time, it was the original lineup of Atari with Chris on vocals, me on bass, Nate and our roommate Justin on guitar and Jon on drums. We had two songs and they were literally about straight edge and Atari games.

We were pretty much just a goof around project at that point. We met Andrew through skating once he started at KU the following year. He came in and replaced Justin on second guitar and we played our second show with me still on bass. Andrew introduced us to Bryan in the cafeteria one day and eventually he took over on bass, I moved to vocals and Chris became our roadie/manager. That’s when we really came together as a “real” band. (Whatever that means).

I know that’s a long answer to your question but even though there were a few lineup changes, I guess since the goal was always the same and everyone was into it, we never considered changing the name. 

(Andrew Low, guitars): I grew up in New Jersey going to shows at Middlesex Community College and house shows at Josh Grabelle (Trustkill Records) and Jon Hiltz’s (Born Against) places. My brother introduced me to bands like Sick of It All and Breakdown. I remember when GB’s Start Today came out that I felt like I really wanted to be part of the “scene” and start a band. I also promptly cleaned my room and went vegetarian.

Found on

Were you clear on what direction you all wanted Atari to head in musically, or did that happen more organically?

(Nate Clemens, guitars): It was clear from the start. Brett and I used to talk about doing a band that basically copied everything about Chain of Strength; playing fast songs that were more about being able to jump around and stage dive than much else. He and I have always been huge fans of Turning Point, and they were also a major influence throughout.

Jon is an amazing drummer and he would be the first to admit that hardcore was never primary on his sources of inspiration. Andrew and Bryan brought another dimension that really rounded things out, and I would love to hear what either of them have to say about this question. It sounds lame to talk about Atari having a “sound," but if we had one, I guess you could say it came from having a bit more diversity in music interests than some other bands. 

(Brett): Yeah, for sure. There’s a reason all our thanks lists ended with Chain of Strength, Gorilla Biscuits, the Turning Point demo, and the Reveal 7-inch. But that was all Nate and I. We forced Jon to listen to Chain against his will just to learn a cover. Before we even became a “real” band, I think Nate and I kind of spearheaded the image.

He and I were definitely on the same wavelength when it came to what we wanted the songs to sound like. Granted I can’t play a note to save my life, but I knew I’d be cool with whatever guitar riffs he came up with and I think he knew he could trust my lyrics. And of course everyone brought something to the table but I’m talking about from day one, just as far as the image and sound, he and I were always in the same lane.

Bryan and Andrew are both crazy musicophiles and I think by the time they were at Kutztown, they were already listening to and dissecting Fugazi, Sabbath, Dylan, and Wu-Tang more than the Rev catalog.

(Bryan Gassler, bass): The sound was led by Nate and Brett. Andrew added guitar melodies. I am a guitar player so I approached some of my bass lines from the guitar perspective. I also got to lead us into a bunch of breakdown parts so that was always fun as hell at shows!

(Andrew): We were all into a lot of different music, and Bryan and I were in The Jazz June playing totally different music, but I think the really cool thing about Atari was that, despite all that, we all were on the same page when we were writing music in Jon’s parents basement. We would joke that we weren’t into it but I could never deny loving, playing and writing cool, melodic fast riffs and clever breakdowns. Especially with Jonny Jackets blasting away on his white Fibes kit. 

I was in a band at the time in the NYC area and I remember when the Atari demo came out in 1996. There was definitely a new wave of bands playing a straight-up, no-metal style of hardcore. Did you instantly connect with the other groups of that era in the region who shared your love for that style of hardcore?

(Nate): Yes, pretty much. Like a lot of other bands of our era, Atari was a reaction to what hardcore had become by the mid-'90s. I remember going to a show in Syracuse in 1994 with Brett’s brother Brian. We drove home dejected by how slow, serious, and angry hardcore was by then. 

Bringing back its fun, youthful aspect drove the idea for the band, even our name itself. As far as other connections with other bands, some of that was through friendships that already existed, and once we started playing other bands of that mold naturally started to gravitate together. 

(Brett): I guess you could say we were sort of brother bands with Rancor and Rain on the Parade from the start. I knew Andy and Jamie from Rancor since high school and met Ronny and Justin from ROTP my freshman year at KU. Nate already knew Ronny from the Doylestown area. It was just easy to hook up with both those bands for shows. We’d go to each other’s recording sessions at Signal Sound and help with backups or just support.

Steve Lucuski from Over the Line also went to Kutztown and he was the first to tell us about Floorpunch. The Floorpunch and the Ten Yard Fight demo were on repeat for me back then. Definitely a breath of fresh air at the time. Shows were starting to get fun again for me. 

What about the band’s connection to skateboarding, something you represented in not only your lyrics, but also on the vinyl reissue of your demo that Siton Records did?

(Brett): I loved pushing the skate agenda whenever I could. At that time in my life I ate, slept and breathed skateboarding and hardcore music. I’m sure Nate and Andrew were the same back then too. I’ve seen Gassler give it a shot and I know Nigro owned a Vision board when he was younger but I don’t know if he ever actually stepped on it. My board was always with me and I got to skate some really fun spots in random towns before shows.  

(Jon): I never skated and still haven’t to this day. I’m a bit of a coward when it comes to falling on my face and breaking bones. That said, I did have a Gator board given to me by the same friend who lent me the 7 Seconds tape (in hindsight, I’m glad I didn’t rock that one). Funnily, Brett and Chris got me into cycling during the pandemic, and I just crashed a few days ago, hurting myself pretty good. Maybe I’ll just stick to drumming.

(Nate): When I was in eighth grade, a friend I made through skateboarding gave me a tape that had 7 Seconds on one side and Minor Threat on the other. I know this sounds hackneyed but nothing was the same after that. There are countless others who grew up in the late 1980’s who were introduced to hardcore through skateboarding, or vice-versa.

The two just went hand in hand back then, but didn’t as much by the mid-'90s. Having it come up in our lyrics, shirts, etc., was part of the whole bring-it-back thing that we were about. Most of us skated then and still do now, so this wasn’t exactly a Beach Boys situation, haha. 

(Bryan): Everyone skated except me and Nigro. I tried many times but broke my ass way too much; we all grew up in or around skateboard culture (punk, hardcore, DIY, Thrasher magazine, Maximum Rocknroll, record stores, boardwalks, etc.).

(Andrew): Skating and skateboard culture has always (and still is) appealing to me. It sounds kinda corny but skateboarding is all about expression and the non-pretentious side of art. 

Speaking of that, Atari’s first 7-inch, We’ll Be Fighting, came out through Teamwork Records in 1997, a label also known for its love of skateboarding.

I interviewed the label’s founder Chris Kelly on No Echo some years back and here’s what he said about working with you: "It was great to deal with them at first, but quite difficult to deal with them after a while. They probably don't have much nice to say about me, either.”

What do you think about that relationship? Why didn’t it work out?
(Nate): We really appreciated Chris giving us a shot, first on the Growing Stronger comp and then with the 7-inch. Ultimately, I think we just weren’t as serious as some other bands. We did not turn things around to him very quickly, and I can see how frustrating that would be for a guy running a record label. 

(Brett): Chris Kelly was honestly always cool with us. I think he got heated on the phone with me once but it was just because we were on a deadline with the 7-inch and we were slacking on getting everything together. 25 years later, I can of course sympathize with someone trying to run a label and get things out in a timely fashion.

He was running the label in New Jersey and we were skating, hanging out, and occasionally practicing in Kutztown. The fact is if he didn’t put us on the Growing Stronger comp, I honestly don’t know how far we’d have gotten with the band. "Times Together" on that comp really gave us some traction and got our name out there.

(Jon): I was always on the periphery of the business side of Atari, but Chris bought my vintage Fibes kit (I hope he still has it);  he came to my parents’ place to pick it up and everything was perfectly cordial, and I’m pretty sure this was after the frustration. 

(Bryan): We certainly weren’t that responsible at the time. Brett nailed it, everyone was focused on skating and hanging out at KU. At the time we didn’t have any idea what it took to release a record. We kinda had a whatever goes slacker attitude. 

(Andrew): It’s all water under the bridge now, but he was a dick about a few things at the time. However, I take everyone’s point that we were young jerk offs who weren’t thinking about the business side of things. 

All that said, I really love that EP. Listening to those songs again on the discography reminded me of that. What are your memories about that record when it was initially released? What was the reaction like from the hardcore community, both locally and otherwise?

(Nate): There was a decent buzz after the Growing Stronger comp came out. I think we lost some momentum after dragging our feet with the 7-inch, but there seemed to be a good reaction to it. Compared to some other bands, we didn’t play that much. Atari was never that serious of an effort. We all had other things going on, Andrew and Bryan had The Jazz June, and there were times that honestly we wanted to skate more than play shows.

There was a short time early in the days of our full lineup that I wanted the band to be more committed to practice and playing out more frequently, but that actually started to take the fun out of it. We had only one brief band argument early on and it was because I was being a dick. After that I just accepted it. Looking back, this “whatever” attitude likely alienated some people who were into us, but from a selfish perspective it’s also probably what made it so memorable.

It was stress-free. We probably would have had an absolute blast on a nationwide tour, but then again that could have been too “serious” and too much commitment for what Atari was. 

(Brett): Even though it took forever to come out, I think people were stoked on the We’ll Be Fighting 7-inch. I really like the way everything came out on that one. I think people were waiting for a follow up to "Times Together" from the Growing Stronger comp but I don’t know if we delivered it in the most timely fashion. Actually, I know we didn’t.

When Kutztown was in session it was easier to get together for practice and coordinate shows since we were all in the same small town. Once summer break came it was almost like, “Ok guys, I guess I’ll see you in three months.” That aspect paired with Andrew and Bryan being in The Jazz June and actually actively touring made committing to Atari shows more difficult. I don’t remember ever being bummed about it though. For me, summer just meant skating every single day after work. I mean, who wants to be at band practice when you could be skating?

(Andrew): I remember kids starting to stage dive and sing along to the songs at a certain point. We also started to get offers for gigs outside of the Lehigh Valley and would turn up to support bigger bands with lots of kids in the crowd. It was really fucking cool. 

What were some of the highlights from Atari shows during that period? Were you “big” locally? I also remember there being a problem with white power morons in certain parts of Pennsylvania. Did the band ever have to deal with that?

(Brett): Hagerstown, Toronto and early Posi-Numbers Fests stand out to me. We just got really good responses at those shows and it wasn’t just our friends going off and singing along. We had absolutely no idea what to expect in Canada. There was crazy energy when we were just setting up and there was just this feeling of “Oh shit, this is gonna be good.”

Buffalo was a rad show. We played a basement show in the middle of nowhere in Sunbury, PA. I think there was a Jazz June connection where the kid was a fan of the JJ and asked both bands to play or it was the hometown of one of the bands The Jazz June used to play with Mid Carson July. Anyway, maybe my memory has embellished it over time but I remember that show just being like a party with kids going ballistic in a basement. It’s no surprise the fun shows are the ones you remember. 

I think we had a pretty decent local following. Both the Lehigh Valley and Kutztown had a lot of great bands and really supportive scenes. There would be show/parties and KU with three bands from three totally different genres playing and it would be well attended with no issues. Everyone was just into the scene or into seeing bands play.

When Double Decker Records opened up it sort of ushered in a new life to the Lehigh Valley. Jamie started putting on shows and putting out some records. He had an awesome venue called the Sweat Shop in an old industrial building in East Allentown. That was a great place to see shows. I think we only played there twice, once on Halloween and once when the live set was recorded, but both were great shows. 

As far as WP skins, I think Jon has a memorable story that involves some after a set we played in Kutztown but we never had any incidents with them. I think they were pretty much all in jail or grew out of it by the time Atari was playing. The whole WP scene was way more prevalent when I was in high school. 

(Jon): From behind the kit, it’s always hard to tell what’s going on out on the stage or floor or whatever. I’m in my own little world, so playing in front of 10 people with their arms folded or hundreds jumping all over Brett were barely discernible. I was playing like a lunatic with some great friends so all the shows were fun. 

There are so many anecdotes from shows dealing with something other than the actual playing of the music though (except for that time Brett inexplicably jumped on my kit during a song, knocking half the kit off the stage).

A classic happened in Syracuse when Brett, Nate and I left the venue in pursuit of candy and lost track of time. When we got back we were set to play next and the clock was ticking, so Brian (Brett’s brother) decided to take it upon himself to start setting up my kit. When I got to it, half of it was upside down or backwards or just wrong. It took twice as long to undo and redo it the correct way. He gets an A for effort though. Maybe you had to be there.

As far as skinheads, I only remember them at one show at the Kutztown Grange. After we played I went into the bathroom and four skinheads followed me in. I was like “shit,” and then they ask, “are you the drummer in Atari?”, and I was really like, “shit!” This was pre-cellphone so I couldn’t call for reinforcements. I said, “yeah,” and he looks at me, pauses and says, “great drumming.” I’m pretty sure they weren’t the elite warriors of their crew, but I was quite relieved.

(Bryan): Two of the most memorable shows for me were in Hagerstown, MD and Toronto, Canada. The crowd sang along to every song, moshed it up hard, and was totally into us like nothing we experienced before. Really memorable shows for me. Having been in the JJ we had fun, energetic shows, but nothing like the experiences from these two shows. It was nuts!  

(Nate): Hagerstown MD stands out because it was soon after the Growing Stronger comp came out and the first time that we got a genuine crowd reaction to something other than a cover song. Toronto was awesome, kids started diving during the soundcheck. The first couple times we played the Positive Numbers Fest were rad, and the reunion show in 2004 was amazing.

Some of my favorites were shows at The Sweatshop in Allentown. It was minutes from where several of us lived, in an old warehouse, with a great stage and a lot of friends there. In the years since I’ve gotten the biggest kick out of hearing people say we were an influence on their band or that we meant something to them. I saw a comment from someone saying that he would not have graduated high school if it wasn’t for our first 7-inch, and that feels fucking awesome. 

Regarding skinheads and WP, we fortunately did not have to deal with it. That was a major problem in the Lehigh Valley scene around 1990-1992, when shows at that time were often tense and sometimes violent. Much of that was all gone by the time Atari started playing, thankfully.  

(Bryan): Racist skinheads are shit heads. I dealt with their stupidity at Lehigh Valley punk rock shows growing up. Stupid.

(Chris "Pank" Pollard, roadie, manager): We liked to tell people we were big in Japan.

(Andrew): I remember when I was student teaching in the LV and there were Klan rallies in small PA towns, but I don’t remember them being at our shows. I know that some of the guys went to see the first Misfits’ reunion shows in Philly and it was racist bonehead central, apparently. 

The material on 1999’s Too Tired to Drive Home EP found Atari keeping close to the sound of the earlier releases, but the songwriting was more focused, maybe a bit more melodic. 

(Jon): I was excited to introduce more melodies. There is a place on that record that required a cymbal hit that I neglected that i’m certain still haunts Nate to this day, but there was pizza waiting. I remember saying, “It’s not like we’re Oasis” a lot in the studio. 

(Nate): Actually, if forced to name any regrets about Atari, it would be that some of the songs on that 7-inch were too long. Brett’s lyrics and vocals are great, and I think the songs are catchy, but they may have been too melodic and the ones I wrote probably should have been half as long as they ended up.

As far as where we were when recording this EP, it’s hard to say. I think I was listening to Turning Point’s unreleased tracks from their WNYU live set. Early on, Brett and I used to joke that we wanted Atari to follow the trajectory of Turning Point from beginning to end, so I guess you could say the second 7-inch was our “Behind this Wall” period [laughs]. But really, most of us had graduated from KU by that point, and Atari was just something we were still into on the side and a way to hang out even if we didn’t play shows very often. 

(Bryan): We recorded this at Why Me? with Joe Deluca. Lots of NJ hardcore history at that place. The Jazz June recorded our first album there as well. 

(Brett): I remember one review of that record saying something like “Too many octaves” [laughs]. I love those songs but looking back I think "So Much More" should have just been a drum solo track. I don’t want to say that EP was at a “weird” time with the band but at the same time it sort of was.

We certainly couldn’t put ourselves out there as a total straight edge band anymore. Andrew and Bryan were the only ones still in Kutztown for their senior year. The rest of us were living in Philly and working 9-5 jobs. So right there the dynamic was different than when we were all in school together. I’m sure I wanted to write lyrics that were a bit deeper than the demo. It’s not like it was a negative experience or anything. It was just different.

We were stoked to be recording at Why Me? where all the Turning Point stuff was done. I remember we took a CD copy of It's Always Darkest...Before the Dawn in and basically said “Make it sound like this.” Joe DeLuca said he couldn’t believe how many bands came in and said the same thing. Everything we ever did was recorded and mixed in one or two days tops. I played absolutely zero parts in mixing any songs. I’d just be saying, “Yup, sounds good to me.” for every single song.

(Andrew): I inherited a big record collection at some point during college and that was when I really started studying why Chain of Strength was such a uniquely awesome hardcore band. Also, Minor Threat has the best riffs of any hardcore band. No matter what type of jazzy, electronic, metal or indie shit I was into at the time those two bands plus GB never fail to excite me, listen after listen. 

Atari appeared on the Rebirth of Hardcore compilation in 1999 alongside bands like Ten Yard Fight, Rain on the Parade, and In My Eyes. That was released on Ray Cappo’s Supersoul Recordings in the States. Was there ever talk about joining up with that label, or any other ones, during that time? 

(Pank): Ray called Brett and I when we were living at 169 West Main Street in KU and he left a voicemail on our answering machine stating that he loved the Atari comp song better than anything he had done fo “Better Than a Thousand. I still have that tape with his message on it. 

(Bryan): Pank you need to publish that message from Ray to the interwebs for the kids. 

(Brett): I don’t recall any talk of putting anything else out on Supersoul. I don’t think any other labels ever contacted us back then either. Ray did call Chris and I at our house in Kutztown and left a message on the answering machine and that made me feel like we reached our peak as a band haha. If our friends Dave and Jim hadn’t started Broken Man I don’t know if there ever would’ve been a second 7-inch. 

(Andrew): Ray really liked the band and got in touch but I think he passed on the songs we sent him.

The Jazz June was formed by several members of Atari, so was that the impetus for the band breaking up, or was there something else at play? 

(Jon): Atari had run its course. I was playing in a soul band in NYC by that time. A few years later I joined Snakes & Music with Andrew (Atari and Jazz June) and Dan (Jazz June). We’re all still friends.

(Bryan): I was playing bass in Atari before joining The Jazz June as the third guitarist. We were always brotherly bands and great friends. Neither band broke up because of the other one. When The Jazz June went on summer and winter tours we definitely held Atari back from playing shows or touring. 

(Nate): I agree with Bryan; Atari ended because we weren’t really into doing it anymore, not anything other than that. There is a funny anecdote about the start of The Jazz June. Ronny (ROTP) and Dan (Disregard, Mandela Strikeforce, The Jazz June) hosted a show at their house in Kutztown in the fall of 1996. We played first but the band supposed to play after us wasn’t there yet.

To fill the time, a band no one had heard of jumped in to play a few songs, and seemingly out of nowhere Andrew appeared as the singer and guitarist. This ended up being The Jazz June’s first show. Andrew hadn’t told us he was starting another band because he thought we’d be pissed. 

(Brett): No, that didn’t cause us to break up or any weird inner band friction. That was just the reality of things back then. Our friends were in another band with more of our friends. It was as simple as that. I could see how other people might think we were already broken up just because we weren’t playing many shows anymore but we were still a band. Jazz June was definitely “going for it” more than Atari was. No one would deny that. Atari just ran its course. 

(Andrew): The Jazz June did take up a lot more time for us during most of Atari’s existence, probably to the annoyance of the Atari members, but who said we broke up? I would fly from London for an Atari gig tomorrow! 

Looking back at your time in Atari, was there something you would have done differently if given the chance, or are you at peace with how everything ended?

(Jon): As far as I’m concerned, it was perfect. We’re all still good friends and are still reminiscing about those times together.

(Nate): In the live set on the discography, the sound guy yells at the crowd for diving and running into his equipment on the stage. People have actually asked if that was me yelling, and it caused me to lose sleep thinking there were kids actually entertaining the idea that I would do something like that.

Kidding aside, apart from little things I should have done like turning the gain on my guitar amp down a bit or some clothing choices I’d like to do over, I don’t think there is anything I wished we would have done differently. I love all of these guys, and the times we had on trips, at shows, at practice, or hanging out with our circle of friends are some of the most hilarious and ridiculous experiences I’ve ever had. I think if we had tried harder it would not have been as fun as it was. 

(Brett): I knew our set at the Sweat Shop was being recorded for a live set so I tried to be hyper aware of what I was saying the whole time. I constantly had the mic in my face trying to avoid any dead air and it just ended up recording all this heavy breathing from me trying to catch my breath between songs. Other than that, I just would have made much more cohesive font choices and spell checked the "Times Together" layout on the Growing Stronger comp. Everything else was perfect. I love all those guys.

(Bryan): No regrets, we are all friends to this day which means so much to all of us. I’m ready for some reunion shows, but it’s going to be impossible to convince Nate. And, if we had done a US tour back in the day, someone probably would have ended up in jail along the way for doing some kinda crazy funny hijinx.  

(Andrew): Not a single god damn second. We could have been more serious and tried to do more with the band, but that would have inevitably put pressure on the friendships and fun of the band. Music/hardcore/Atari is about friendship and art and it never feels right when you try to do things that don’t happen organically. 

Atari @ their 2004 reunion show. (Photo: Brian Froustet)

What’s your all-time favorite Pennsylvania hardcore band and record?

(Bryan): I’m thinking the other Emmaus, PA dudes are going to say Flagman. For me, I’m going more modern-era with Title Fight, if that is even considered hardcore. Floral Green with that Will Yip sound is a banger, you gotta love the Lifetime influence on their early records.  

(Pank): Flagman for sure! As well as Rancor Flip the Switch! Brett and I went to Emmaus High School with the A.J. from Flagman and the dudes from Rancor, who were part of our inner circle. So many good bands from PA: Turmoil, Weston, Ink & Dagger, Kid Dynamite, and Rain on the Parade.

(Bryan): I’m with Pank on that list. Turmoil was always fun. Weston was the first punk band I really followed and Ink & Dagger shows were always nuts. 

Atari @ their 2004 reunion show. (Photo: Brian Froustet)

(Nate): The Blindside demo. 

(Brett): The Pinstripe demo.

(Jon): The Dickhead D and the Romper Stompers demo or anything by Lifetime once Scott G joined. He’s from Pennsylvania; i’m counting it.

(Andrew): I am too much of a proud New Jersian to admit that I like anything from Pennsyltucky. (Jokes)


Ten Years Strong: A Complete Discography is streaming across most digital music outlets.

Atari on social media: Instagram


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