If you ask Brandon Saller about his influences, it’s hardly surprising that Dave Grohl will be at the top of the list. Like Grohl—the only person in history to have replaced himself at number one on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart when the Foo Fighters knocked Nirvana out of the top spot—Saller is known for his versatility, putting in over a decade as drummer and co-vocalist for OC metalcore outfit Atreyu.
Just like Grohl, though, Saller’s imagination was much too expansive to be confined to one style, hence his inevitable solo project formed early last year. A far cry from the aural assault of his day job, the side project (which came to be known as the Black Cloud Collective, for whose studio efforts Saller plays every instrument) took Atreyu fans by surprise. Luckily, that surprise was a pleasant one.
“I never set out to make music for Atreyu fans, because it is [very] different, but I think it’s been an overwhelmingly positive response thus far with people liking it,” says Saller. “Before it had a name, when I was just doing my solo songs, it was so different from Atreyu, I didn’t expect [them] to be into it, really, but I think that a lot of our listeners are very open-minded when it comes to music so it’s gotten a really great response so far. I think these songs are a little bit more rooted in rock and roll and kind of have more of an energy to them.”
Between Atreyu and the BCC, Saller’s got his plate full, but he’s got it handled. That’s it, right? Well, anyone that has heard tracks like “Becoming the Bull” and “The Crimson” know that for someone in the band, it’s not quite in their style to do things lightly.
So hey, how about toys, too?
In a 2008 interview, Saller mentioned working on a line of toys with his brother-in-law. The plush toys, tentatively dubbed Scary Cakes, would feature cupcakes stylized like classic monsters (artwork featured pastries resembling Dracula, Frankenstein’s monster and others). Unfortunately, these creepy cakes probably won’t see the inside of your local Toys ‘R Us anytime soon, but someone as busy as Saller can hardly be blamed. He’s not giving up just yet, though.
“It’s still kind of an idea we’re throwing around, it’s just . . . it’s a really hard thing to take a specific person’s art and make it come across in a perfect way,” says Saller. “We’ve [talked to] a couple of different companies throughout the years and nothing was quite what we wanted. It’s funny, the closest real prototype that we ever got was one that my mom made . . . We’ll revisit the photos and all the pictures, going through things on our computers every three, four, five months or so. All of those things are still very relevant to us and still kind of have a little bit of a spark to them, so the ideas are still there, it’s just finding the right people and finding the time to do it.”
Brandon Saller may not be a hometown boy in the strictest sense, but being an Orange County native, he’s close enough; IE fans can catch him at Stinger’s Bar and Nightclub in San Bernardino on Saturday. His contemporaries might be tackling grandiose concept albums, but for the Black Cloud Collective, Saller’s keeping it simple.
“Obviously there’s love songs, there’s songs about being away from home, there’s songs about trials and tribulations, I guess,” he says. “I write what I know about. There’s nothing that’s really overconceptual or anything like that, it’s really just personal experience, you know? It’s just what I live in my life.”
The Black Cloud Collective at Stinger’s Bar and Nightclub, 194 W. Club Center Dr., San Bernardino, (909) 872-0308; www.stingersbarandnightclub.com, www.myspace.com/theblackcloudcollective. Sat, Jan. 8, 7PM. $15 door, $10 advance.