“20 Questions” with Kristopher Roe of The Ataris

July 13, 2012

Kris Roe is a self professed “nerdy hillbilly” and he is AWESOME.

I have been an Ataris fan for years, but I must sadly admit that after leaving my friends in Texas and moving to California in 2007 I lost touch with the band. Back home in my small southern Texas town I had a small group of  friends who I shared musical interest with and I have yet to really find that since moving to the west coast. I DID however find a new friend in Long Beach who mentioned that The Ataris were playing  a local show. Being the geek I am, I wore my Ataris shirt that I bought 12 years ago. Sure I know that it’s not “cool” to wear the shirt of the band you are going to see, but I didn’t care. I managed to buy the last tickets to the sold out show and showed up wearing that shirt with pride.

It was a nostalgic evening, almost like a time machine filled with good memories.   I am very excited to share this interview with you! This is definitely in my (enter my High Fidelity reference) “TOP 5” interviews.

[Mike Herrera of MXPX, Myself and Kris at Warped Tour 6-21-12)



I could keep rambling on and on but I know you really want to read this interview….so here ya go! ;)


Name: Kristopher Roe

Hometown: Anderson, Indiana

Current Location: Tempe, Arizona

Website(s): theataris.bandcamp.com





1. When did you first fall in love with music?

I remember loving music ever since I was two or three years old. My father had a wonderful record collection so I was lucky enough to discover plenty of incredible artists through him… Pink Floyd, David Bowie, The Who, The Stones, The Beatles… etc.

As a kid growing up in the late 70’s, Kiss was literally everywhere you turned your head. They were these almost unreal, larger than life characters. It was 1979, I had Kiss posters on my walls, All I would ever do is sit in my room and listen to my records, I had my little guitar that I would constantly smash, in my rock n’ roll imitation of Ace Frehley. I didn’t understand that those bands had huge scores of guitars, so my dad would have to continuously re-glue mine back together.



2.  What inspires you to make music?

Heartbreak, love, art, beauty, sadness, a good book, traveling, hearing a piece of music or seeing some work of art that moves you so deeply that you just want to quit everything you are doing in life. That frustration alone is sometimes enough of a muse to write an entire record from.


3. What are the Top 5 Albums in your life right now?

Wilco – The Whole Love

Radiohead – The King Of Limbs

anything by The Replacements

The National – High Violet

Black Sabbath – Masters of Reality


4. Who has been your favorite band to tour with?

Having the opportunity to take both Cursive and ALL out on tour with us was really flattering.  Those are both artists that I greatly respect and admire as songwriters. However my recent dates on this year’s 2012 Warped tour were honestly some of the most unexpected good times I have ever had in my entire life.

I was out there with Title Fight, Into It Over It, Antony Raneri, Vinnie Carauna (or however the fuck you spell both of their names.) ;)

I was on a bus with a group of 20 other unique individuals. Some artists from the Acoustic Basement stage I was performing on, Brian Marquis who ran the stage, Many crew and production people from the Warped tour and DJ Wick-It The Instigator who did the infamous acclaimed mashup of the Black Keys album “Brothers”. So as you can see, it was a very eclectic bunch. if you know me personally, you will know that when I walked into this situation, it completely scared the hell out of me! I am an extremely neurotic, OCD, bi-polar, awkward individual with tons of social anxiety. Going into it I was pretty freaked out… and in the end I met 20 of the most incredible beautiful and talented people I have ever known. We all got along swimmingly and I would go as far as to say that we all came out of the experience with some sort of Breakfast Club-esque impact on each-other’s lives.


5. Which Ataris song would you call your favorite?

“The Graveyard of The Atlantic” or our recently re-recorded version of the song “Fast Times at Dropout High” which will be on our forthcoming album… Both of which I feel really showcase the deep, descriptive, vivid imagery that a good story should contain, they are strong narrative driven songs which I feel as a writer is what I am about. Telling the deepest, harshest truths… the most brutally honest parts of my life.


6. Your solo album is fantastic! What inspired you to do an album on your own away from your band?

All of the songs I write for The Ataris usually begin as me and one guitar. I feel that if a song can stand on it’s own in that environment then that is truly the test of a strong piece of music. Look at Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Hank Williams, Elliott Smith… All of those artists make you feel the pain of a huge powerful arrangement with one guitar or piano. To me there is nothing more inspiring than going out on the road, just me and my guitar. Sitting on a train or in my car, alone, watching the landscapes pass by outside my window. Then being able to have several hundred kids pile into some intimate space later that night and sing along with something that you created. That to me is a feeling that I will never take for granted.


7. You are also quite the photographer. Do you take a lot of your photos on the road, or is photography another part of your life away from music?

Thank you. I started taking photographs in 1997 just prior to the release of our “Blue Skies, Broken Hearts…” album. I had made a mental list of images in my head that I wanted to include in the album artwork to give an additional visual part of the stories within the context of the songs. I had a friend whom I admired his photography. I asked him to take the photographs I had in mind for the album. In the end, he turned out to be a complete flake, so I stole my roommate’s camera and went out and took all the photographs myself. In the end, I feel it doesn’t matter how schooled you are, or what kind of equipment you use, it is all about the heart that goes into it… just like with songwriting, or painting or anything that comes from within… I feel that no one is better capable of conveying the image we see inside our mind’s eye than oneself. Ultimately with photography, my photographs are really only as good as the subject itself. I feel I am very lucky to get to see a lot of interesting things because I travel so frequently, not to say that one can’t stumble upon things that are visually moving in your own backyard… For me personally I like to photograph what is old… forgotten…. the sad, broken down beauty of the world. Growing up in middle America, surrounded by abandoned, decaying factories and strip malls chewing upon farmland, those sort of things I suppose are engrained in your soul from day one.

8. If you could be in any other band, past or present, which band would you choose and why?

Hmm… that is a hard question. There are so many choices and all would be for completely different reasons. Would you want to join The Velvet Underground and get to hang out with Warhol and Basquiat??? or would you want to maybe join The Beatles and possibly take a chance at saving Lennon from the shot that took him from the world all too soon. Personally I am completely happy with the fate that I have been handed so far.


9. Who have you seen that you would consider “the best live show, ever!”?

I feel that I have been extremely lucky to witness some incredible moments, some bit of chaos or magic that indeed shaped my life in some small way forever… Ramones, Fugazi, Radiohead, Weezer performing “Pinkerton” from start to finish, My Bloody Valentine, Mogwai… those are just the first few that come to mind. I have special fond memories about them all, whether it was the show where I serendipitously met my first girlfriend while lost, en route, waiting in traffic… or my father taking me to my first concert at 12 years old… or seeing bands chaotically fall apart onstage before my very eyes. They all carry a special place in my heart.


10. What would be your advice for anyone out there trying to make it in the music world?

The best art comes from within our souls. There is no right or wrong, there is only sincere and insincere. Create music for yourself and for no one else. Create music that is honest and full of heart. The best music is full of beautiful mistakes. Listen with your ears, your heart… and not with your eyes. The journey… the climb are far more rewarding than the actual destination itself.

I am the last person you should take any advice from.


(begin randomness)


11. Do you and your band mates play pranks while on tour? If so what is the best so far?

Yes. Way too many to mention. These stories are way funnier if I am telling them in person. They would take up way too much space here and would require more run-on sentences than even I can get away with. Come find me at one of our shows and I will ramble your ear off about anything you would like to know.


12. If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would play the part as YOU?

Hopefully not Gary Buesy. Although he did play Buddy Holly really well.


13. If you could have any super power, what power would you choose? What would you do with that power?

I would love to be able to time travel or be invisible.

I am a conspiracy theorist at heart so I would travel back in time and try to debunk some of the biggest conspiracies in our history… the Kennedy assassination, UFO’s… etc. That would be pretty awesome. :)


14. What is one thing you never leave home without?

My iphone, my Macbook and my iPod. I single handedly keep Apple in business… :) Although ironically one of our songs was in the very first iTunes commercial so Steve Jobs at one time helped me get out of living in my van and on friend’s couches and into my first apartment. ;)


15. What is your favorite Food/Drink combo?

I swear by my Yelp app on the road. We try to plan our tours around little local dives and independent restaurants. I am a fan of really good BBQ. Texas having some of the best in the world. Although hands down my favorite meal is sushi. Any and all types of fish. As long as the restaurant has a large selection and everything is fresh, flown in daily and prepared artfully and creatively.

I will never be caught dead without a Coke Zero in my hand. It is my one major vice.


16. What was the last movie you saw in the theater? How was it?

I honestly can’t recall the last movie I saw in the theatre… I do watch a ton of movies though… The Artist was one of the last movies I watched that really moved me on so many levels. What a beautiful film.

A few other movies I enjoy very much off the top of my head…

Buffalo 66, Punch Drunk Love, High Fidelity, Lost in Translation, Any Wes Anderson or Cohen Brothers film.… The most moving, touching art for me is usually both beautiful and tragic.


17. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time, for fun?

I take photographs, read, write, drive around with absolutely no destination, look at the stars, spend time with family, friends, sit in my living room and temporarily forget the outside world.


18. Do you have a guilty pleasure? If so, what would that be?

See part of #15. Coke Zero. It is my cigarettes. I am drinking one right now and it is 5:44 in the morning.


19. If you were the headlines of a tabloid magazine, what would it say about you?

Weird, eclectic, neurotic nerdy hillbilly runs away with Carrie Mulligan, Marc Jacobs and Taylor Swift and discovers that having “Sister Wives” really isn’t that bad after all.


20. What makes you come alive?

This is a great question.

The times in my life that I have felt truly alive, is to be out on the road, with absolutely no destination, just the world at my feet and endless time. If I could live one moment… one feeling for the rest of my life that would be it.


Thank you.

Thank YOU Kris for being a part of “20 Questions.”  And thank you for reminding me of all the music I had lost touch with and fall in love with all those songs again. I am excited to see what the future has in store for you and The Ataris. I truly believe that the best is yet to come.

To all the readers: Go check out the new Acoustic EP: ‘Hang Your Head In Hope.’ It’s amazing. Trust me. The Ataris will be out on tour again in a few months. Go support the talented nerd also known as Kristopher Roe.




Christie Gee


UPDATE!!!! 10/25/2012

The Ataris have released some new songs! Be sure and check those out at


  • Matt Crooke July 17, 2012 at 3:56 am

    Always on top of your game! <3