I Dream of Vinyl

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“Dash” – an interview with Air Traffic Controller

With over 300 thousand monthly listeners on Spotify alone, Air Traffic Controller have just released their fifth studio album “Dash”. Full of hooks to reel you in, the 14 tracks are a wonderful blend of indie-folk-pop that are heartfelt, luscious, and authentic. Writing during the pandemic, the band faced several delays and hardships, but they continued to collaborate, remotely at times, to bring the next chapter of Air Traffic Controller to the world. 

The one constant in the history of ATC is singer-songwriter Dave Munro who started writing songs while serving in the US Navy. We chatted with Dave about the new record and what the band have been up to.

Hi Dave! How’s everything going right now?
We just released a record and that’s a great feeling.  Everything’s going awesome, thank you

What classic album cover is your current mood?  
Whitney Houston – Whitney.  She’s in her white tank top huge smile, clearly wants to dance with somebody.

Your excellent fifth album Dash is out now. When did you write and record it?  
2018-2022, there were several phases along the way. We took our time, and in hindsight, it’s a damn good thing we did.

It’s your first record in five years. What has the band been up to during that time?
This band has never just stepped away from making music. As soon as we finished touring our EP (Echo Papa), we began writing and demoing together. I credit my bandmate Adam Salameh for his persistence. As a new dad, I probably would have loved a break, but he was adamant that we keep the engine warm, and yes, we’ve kept it warm all these years! I made time and spent a lot of nights writing with him and this ridiculously awesome Korg Triton keyboard he picked up on Craigslist. We brought these songs to our friend/ATC alum Seth Kasper and kept improving on them, and in 2019, the full band headed up to a farmhouse in the middle of nowhere Maine (Great North Sound) to record ourselves. Someday we should release those demos, cause I think we captured something truly special up there. Finally we brought those to producer Dan Cardinal in Boston and officially began making the album here. We went through all those phases and were finally doing it for real, we were about halfway done when the pandemic hit. That’s when I finally got to take a break! Kidding. We still got creative and finished one song by recording my vocal in my garage while bandmate Steve Scott was in the driveway recording me on a MacBook. Social distance was in full swing in 2020! No regrets on the delays, we came up with some gems during lockdown that would not have been on this record, or any. Eventually we made it back in studio in 2021 and crossed the finish line in 2022.

If you could only listen to one record, what would it be?
That is a cruel question! I could list at least 20 albums I love that much, but Tom Petty’s Wildflowers is probably at the top.

How do you think the band has changed since your debut album (2009’s “The One”)?
The change IS the band.  Our debut, The One, was the first record of 4 studio releases made with producer Bleu. At that time I was playing with my brother Richie on drums and our circle of friends, but the band has evolved with every album. In fact, there are no 2 ATC albums made by the exact same lineup. That’s what makes each album so unique and special to me.  How many get to have professionally recorded memories with people we bonded with?

Who did you listen to when you were growing up and how did they influence the band’s sound?
I remember being a kid in the back of Mom’s station wagon, I could name all those 80’s bands on top 40 radio, they were typical, but influential (Fleetwood Mac, Prince, Phil Collins, everyone that sang on We Are The World!). I started buying albums in the 90s grunge era, which I appreciated but I was mostly after 90s music that didn’t quite fit into that category. Tom Petty, REM, and Counting Crows were putting out incredible records at that time that are still faves of mine. Cake, Ben Folds, and Guster are bands I’ve always admired for doing their own thing and not taking themselves seriously all the time.

You’re playing the Underwater Sunshine Festival in NYC on Nov 18th. Any other tour plans for the album?
We’re hoping for alot of road-tripping around the country in 2023, but the plans are not yet solidified.  We released this record just before the holiday season to give our fans time to soak it in and sing it all back to us when we finally get out there.

What would go on your signature pizza and what would it be called?
“Tropical Buffalo” – Buffalo Chicken and pineapple

What do you have planned for 2023?
I love this band and how well we work together, it’s just always a good time! I’m excited to already be working on new music with them, making as many music videos as we can, cause that’s fun to do, and finally playing this record out!

While serving in the US Navy as an air traffic controller, singer/songwriter Dave Munro sent home demos of his songs. This was the first chapter of Air Traffic Controller. Over the next decade, Dave created timeless and classic indie-folk-pop songs that are heartfelt, luscious, and authentic. From the Boston scene, the band released four critically acclaimed albums and toured continuously with a band that is now led by drummer Adam Salameh, bassist Joe Campbell, guitarist Bobby Borenstein, vocalist/keytarist Emi McSwain, and multi-instrumentalist Steve Scott.  

Air Traffic Controller has received support from all over the world. Vanyaland called them an evolution forward with “crafty alt-pop, an expansion of sound and depth, catchy hooks.” One Stop Record Shop in the UK describes them as “equal parts fascinating and brilliant” with a touch of CHVRCHES, a hint of Pulp and a smattering of Death Cab For Cutie. 

You can find out more about the band and get all the latest news by following them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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