It’s not uncommon for 20-somethings to see their favorite band members going off and starting new bands nowadays. I mean they all can’t be New Found Glory and stick with the same crew forever, but alas, when one band ends, another is formed. Atreyu announced their hiatus earlier this year, but that didn’t mean it was the end for drummer and amazing vocalist Brandon Saller. Stepping out from behind his kit, Brandon went on to be The Black Cloud Collective and with that he toured with his best buds in Good Charlotte, but over time, The Black Cloud Collective became more than a side project for Brandon, it became a real band effort and the name is now Hell Or Highwater.
A new name and a debut album slated to hit shelves and internet on August 9th, Hell Or Highwater are looking towards the future and what a busy one it is. Right after their debut, Begin Again is available for the world; they’ll hit the road with the more rockin’ version of Warped Tour, the Uproar Festival. And that’s not it; Brandon can also be heard in August on The Muppets album. So read on for more on Muppets, Atreyu’s future and an American Idol…Yes, an American Idol.
Kendra: You’re probably going to get asked about this a lot, so I just want to ask right off the bat. There’s been a lot of bands doing album shows, do you think Atreyu would ever take a break from the break and play one?
Brandon: I don’t think so. For one my focus is with HoH right now. Second,I feel like we’ve never been an obvious band. I feel like coming out of hiatus for a best of set is cliche. If we did something like that it would be unexpected and on our own terms.
Kendra: You had no connection to The Black Cloud Collective, was that always the case? Like did you know you’d eventually change the name down the road to Hell Or Highwater?
Brandon: I didn’t always know. The BCC was the name I came up with before I found the band. It was ME. It didn’t represent US. This band turned into such a group effort. Every member is crucial to the sound, the live show, and the chemistry. That being said, the name HAD to change to something that was represented the 5 of us.
Kendra: After so many years with the same guys, was it hard to get used to writing with new people?
Brandon: I thought it would be. I was, however, pleasantly surprised to put it lightly. It seems as if we were meant to write and play together; like lost musical souls that finally found each other.
Kendra: Speaking of your band mates, how did you come to be with Neal and Kyle? Did you see them with David Cook and say, hey, I need those guys?
Brandon: They actually tried out. They heard about the band from various friends. They both where my choices and just so happen to have a history.
Kendra: Staying on the topic of forming Hell Or Highwater…You’re so well known for your skills on the drums, was it weird to step out from behind them and hand those reigns to someone else?
Brandon: At first I thought it would be. I’m fortunate enough to have found Kyle Peek and now Kyle Rosa (who will be handling forthcoming drum duties) who somehow are two of the most solid drummers I’ve seen. I’m lucky that they both fell in my lap.
Kendra: Moving on to the sound of Hell Or Highwater’s debut Begin Again, the obvious rock is present, but where on the album can we here the doo-wop and pop influences?
Brandon: I like to pull more risky or out there influence and apply them in a discrete way. Almost a nod or hint to a certain time period. Using things like subtle pop song structure or doo-wop 50’s style vocal touches or even Americana country guitar tones or progressions. I feel these touches really give HoH a fresh, exciting sound that’s all our own. I also really love taking a classic approach to modern rock songs. We listen to everything from Johnny Cash to Amon Amarth to Tom Petty…you name it, so I think you can hear that in the music.
Kendra: So you have these genre influences, but what about life? What are some things you pull from in your day to day routine that goes into your writing?
Brandon: On Begin Again, there’s a looming theme of “wanting more” that peaks its head throughout the record. Whether it’s in life, love or success. Just making it the best it can be. I pull those feelings from my own life and will show the world through this album.
Kendra: Like your time on the road with Good Charlotte this past spring? But you’re hitting the road later this summer as part of the Uproar Festival. How do you plan on standing out among the lineup to make show goers remember their time with Hell Or Highwater?
Brandon: Uproar is a slightly heavier bill but I feel like bands like Seether and Three Days Grace will bridge the rock & roll gap. I also know from experience, that A7X fans are very open minded and diverse in their musical taste. And at the end of the day, honest, heart pumping rock and roll translates to anyone who’s listening. We’re gonna give the Uproar crowd a great time.
Kendra: You’ve got a pretty busy August, debut album, Uproar, and The Muppets album which you and Billy Martin have a song on. What was your reaction when you heard they wanted you to be a part of the album?
Brandon: It was really great. We actually recorded over a year and half ago. I was offered the opportunity to do a song. Billy is not only one of my best friends but he’s an incredible musician. We always wanted to work together and he’s a lifelong Muppets fan so it was a no brainer to collaborate. We went in the studio and brought the Muppets to life, cranked it to 11 and went for it. Were so siked to be a part of it!
Kendra: I found it kind of strange not that The Muppets was branching out and getting actual bands to do the songs and not Disney kids, but it’s being sold at Starbucks? Did you ever think you’d be sold where primarily Josh Groban is sold?
Brandon: I definitely didn’t but I love that! It’s just such great exposure. It’s gonna be funny seeing my name on the counter when I get my morning cup.
Kendra: Lastly, being Golden Mixtape and you also hailing from the Golden Coast, if I asked you to make me a mixtape of the Top 5 songs by California bands, what would you send me?
Originally published on July 7, 2011