Tuesday, February 25

Mixed-genre band Atomic Walrus to release first EP ‘Slug Life’

Funk-rock fusion band Atomic Walrus will release its first EP "Slug Life" on Saturday. The band is composed of UCLA alumnus and drummer Nivedan Nayak (top), USC alumnus and guitarist Max Cohen (left) and vocalist Joe Kellman (right). (Aubrey Yeo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

When the band members of Atomic Walrus first sat down to pick out a band name, they wanted to encapsulate their style. The band took two names and blended them, mixing the song “Atomic Dog” by the P-Funk and the Beatles’ “I Am The Walrus.” The band’s resulting name, Atomic Walrus, embodies the band’s blended style of funk and rock.

Atomic Walrus refuses to remain within one musical genre, but instead prefers to cross boundaries of rock, funk and hip-hop, said hip-hop singer Joe Kellman. Its goal is to create an interesting and memorable live performance, which it includes in its newly released music video.

On Saturday, Atomic Walrus will release its first EP, called “Slug Life.” The EP is indicative of the band’s development and growth, said guitarist Max Cohen, a USC alumnus.

Nivedan Nayak, a UCLA alumnus and drummer of Atomic Walrus, first met Cohen while attending alumni band The Ten Thousand’s concert at the UCLA Co-Op housing complex last September. The two hit it off musically in a jam session due to their similar taste in music, and then later asked Kellman to join the group.

The band began practicing together a few times a week and performed at various venues near UCLA, such as the Treehouse apartment complex and other bars around Santa Monica.

“We were not sure how serious it was going to be, but after seeing peoples’ positive responses (toward the performances), we wanted to be more professional,” Cohen said.

Atomic Walrus has since taken steps forward to becoming more professional and has grown throughout the process, Cohen said. The band members have moved into an apartment in Los Angeles together to work on improving their music and marketing themselves.

The band has not just grown stylistically but has also learned about the business side of music, Cohen said.

“We have become way more responsible and serious, and have learned to operate and come to compromises without letting a single piece of (the band) dominate,” Cohen said.

Kellman said Atomic Walrus draws its musical inspiration from the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Sublime, but also prefers to take all the best aspects of the band members’ favorite bands with raw energy. The band members said they strive to create something that is a fun experience for everyone but still has an engaging depth that results from the mix of various styles.

“Our whole idea is that we are unlimited … We don’t like to limit ourselves and take elements of everything,” Kellman said. “We don’t take ourselves too seriously in our songs, and we make fun of ourselves on stage.”

Recently, Atomic Walrus released a music video, which incorporates its live practice as a studio video, Nayak said.

“The music video is a window into what our practice is like and who we are,” Nayak said. “We want to get across who we are and reveal our personality … We don’t want to be separate from the audience.”

Saturday, Atomic Walrus will release “Slug Life,” an EP which the band worked on for the last five months, Cohen said. The band recorded it in the living room of another band called Butt Montana for free, using Butt Montana’s equipment and then put in various overdubs and lyrics.

The songs on the EP vary between rap, reggae hip-hop and funky hip-hop, Nayak said. Atomic Walrus’ main goal was for the EP to sound like a live performance.

“(The EP) may be raw and not the most professional thing, but at the heart there is passion for music and passion for everyone having fun,” Kellman said. “At the center there is an honest expression of who we are and what we want to be in the world, and that’s what we hope people take away as we continue developing our sound.”

Cohen said he hopes the music on the EP affects others the way that music moves him and fills him with emotion.

“There are some mistakes – just minor flaws – but the EP captures our live energy,” Cohen said. “If there is anything on a record, I would want it to capture that (energy).”

Following the release of the EP, the band will perform live in Santa Monica. It will be their first live concert in weeks, as Atomic Walrus has been focusing its energy on the EP, Nayak said.

“In the L.A. music scene, lots of bands take themselves overly seriously and forget that music is about having fun and unadulterated raw expression … we tried to fill that gap,” Cohen said.

The members of Atomic Walrus have different goals as they continue to move the group’s music in a professional direction, Kellman said. While Kellman said he hopes to one day travel and tour, all of the band members are playing music because it is their passion.

“We don’t have hopes and dreams of being rock stars,” Kellman said. “Music has gotten us all through the good and the bad, and playing for people is the greatest rush ever.”

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