Motionless in White
An industrial city situated in Northeastern Pennsylvania, you could say Scranton quietly prides itself on a tried-and-true Rust Belt blue-collar work ethic.
For their fourth full-length album and first for Roadrunner Records Graveyard Shift, Motionless In White—Chris Motionless [Vocals], Ricky Horror [Guitar], Ryan Sitkowski [Guitar], Ghost [Bass], and Vinny Mauro [Drums]—dug into the roots of their hometown’s pervasive attitude.
“We’re a band that came out of the small town blue-collar spirit,” affirms Chris. “We put ten years into growing this and working hard to do what we love the most. We look forward to putting in another ten. Both the area we come from and the fan base brought us to this point. Graveyard Shift is all about that work ethic. It’s been instilled in us. Early on, we realized if you give the time and effort to chase a dream, it’s possible to achieve it by the sheer amount of drive and passion you have.”
Since 2006, that ethos has fueled Motionless In White’s rise to the upper echelon of modern rock. Albums such as 2010’s Creatures and Infamous in 2012 would galvanize a rabid fan base around the quintet. During 2014, Reincarnate reached new heights, bowing at #9 on the Billboard Top 200 and claiming #1 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums Chart. The title track and lead single turned into a Top 20 Active Rock smash and notched 13.2 million YouTube views and 9.8 million Spotify streams. Simultaneously, they have shared stages alongside everyone from Slipknot, Korn, and Breaking Benjamin to A Day To Remember and Marilyn Manson in addition to making arresting festival appearances at Warped Tour, Aftershock, Rock On The Range, Rock Allegiance, and beyond.
In 2016, they entered a Los Angeles studio with producer and longtime collaborator Drew Fulk [Emmure, Crown The Empire] to record what would become Graveyard Shift.
“It was all about writing bigger, better, and more refined songs,” exclaims the frontman. “On Reincarnate, we felt like we had discovered our true identity. This record wasn’t so much centered on experimentation as it was on refinement. In the past, I feel like I always placed the vocals second to music. This time, there was a focus on trying to make sure the vocals had their big moments. That was a major key in really making Graveyard Shift separate from all of the other albums. I haven’t really been able to look back at anything I would’ve done differently or something I didn’t feel like I put my whole heart into here. I just feel incredibly confident about everything on the record.”
Motionless In White introduced this latest body of work with the galloping gut punch of “570”—the area code of Scranton and something of an homage to home. In less than three months, it amassed 3.1 million Spotify streams and amplified anticipation for the full-length’s impending arrival.
“Last summer, I had the opportunity to meet with a lot of fans on Warped Tour and have some very intense, personal, and deep discussions,” recalls Chris. “I walked away from these meetings feeling energized. Whether the conversations were dark or uplifting, I was ready to approach anything in my way with how I felt afterwards. Our current single, ‘LOUD,’ is a direct result of that energy. I wanted to encourage people to feel the same way. It’s definitely one of the more powerful and inspirational messages on the album.”
Throughout its 12 tracks, Graveyard Shift weaves together various personal vignettes. From embracing one’s dark side on “Necessary Evil” [feat. Jonathan Davis] to the hypnotic and humorous ode to Danny Elfman’s influential body of work, “Not My Type (Dead As Fuck 2),” the record remains unpredictable at every turn. “Eternally Yours” signals a first for the group.
“It’s our first true love song,” Chris goes on. “There was a very poetic and romantic approach. That’s something, as a lyricist, I have been trying to explore more of within myself over the past few albums. It’s a special song for all of us.”
Scranton plays a subtle role in the overarching narrative itself. Chris can recall finding early inspiration in the city’s once fertile music scene, which slowly dissipated over the years. At the same time, he and his bandmates have transported that energy worldwide with Graveyard Shift.
“I like to think we’re taking our favorite traits of this area on the road and showing the rest of the world what Scranton created out of all that great camaraderie, those friendships, and the memories,” he says. “We all come from the same spot. It’s something I think many people all over the world can identify with. We’re not content to just sit still and let life happen. We want to show you can take the initiative, go out there, and make a difference for yourself. That rings throughout all of the songs and speaks to the true meaning of Graveyard Shift.”
Ultimately, Motionless In White have the power to electrify a new love for rock music in the process.
“We’re quite a simple band in terms of our intent,” he leaves off. “Turn off your head, detach from reality, listen to the music, and enjoy the songs. That’s what we’re encouraging. We want to give people something to latch on to away from life’s bullshit. I hope they walk away feeling their love for music was either restored or upheld.”
Coming out of Southern California during the rap-metal explosion around the turn of the century, Atreyu crafted a sound much closer to Agnostic Front or Hatebreed. Their warped, detuned guitars were matched by pounding drums and acidic vocals, which gave the material a distinct metalcore edge. Originally operating under the moniker Retribution, the band eventually changed their name to Atreyu, after a character from the Michael Ende-penned fantasy book The Neverending Story, and released their debut album, Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses, in 2002 via Victory Records. They continued to refine their punitive, but melodic post-hardcore sound on career best offerings like Lead Sails Paper Anchor (2007) and Congregation of the Damned (2009), before going on hiatus in 2011. They reconvened four years later and released their sixth studio effort, Long Live, with In Our Wake following in 2018.
The quintet was formed in Orange County by Brandon Saller (drums/vocals), Dan Jacobs (guitar), Chris Thomson (bass), Travis Miguel (guitar), and Alex Varkatzas (vocals). Atreyu released various demos, including the seven-song EP Visions, in the late ’90s before commercially debuting with the Fractures in the Facade of Your Porcelain Beauty EP on Tribunal in late 2001; the full-length Suicide Notes and Butterfly Kisses appeared the next year on Victory. Touring almost nonstop in support of the record, the group faced lineup changes as bassist Marc McKnight replaced Thomson before the recording of their follow-up. Atreyu’s second full-length, The Curse, surfaced in June 2004 and went on to sell over 300,000 copies; it was re-released with an accompanying DVD a year later. The band hit the road hard, playing 2004’s Ozzfest and 2005’s Warped Tour, in addition to headlining their own successful world tour. They contributed a track to 2006’s soundtrack to Underworld: Evolution and were near the top of the billing for the year’s Taste of Chaos tour, alongside the Deftones and Thrice. Their next effort, A Death Grip on Yesterday, was issued in late March 2006 and hit number nine on the Billboard charts. Following a summer spent headlining the second stage at the year’s Ozzfest, Atreyu jumped into the major-label waters over at Hollywood Records, leaving an early-2007 best-of collection as their Victory farewell. Their Hollywood debut, Lead Sails Paper Anchor, followed later in the year. In 2008 the album was re-released with bonus materials, including a concert film. Atreyu didn’t waste any time, and in late 2009 they released their fifth studio album, the critically acclaimed Congregation of the Damned. The album would be their last for some time, as the band went on hiatus the following year to focus on family matters and various other musical pursuits. They reconvened in 2015 with the Destroy/Spinefarm Records-issued Long Live, which featured 12 new hard-hitting tracks, including the blistering title cut and first single. In September 2018, the band issued a trio of singles ahead of the release of their eighth studio long player, In Our Wake, which arrived later that October.