“We've had our share of a raw deal, but at the same time we've had a lot of really cool things happen throughout this little adventure of rock,” comments vocalist Dryden Mitchell.
Mitchell, along with drummer Mike Cosgrove, guitarist Terry Corso and bassist Tye Zamora, received critical praise for their first effort, 1999's Greatest Hits. But, it wasn't until its cover of Michael Jackson's “Smooth Criminial” was released on ANThology (2001) that the band became a fixture on radio and MTV.
While on tour in Europe in support of ANThology, the group survived a deadly bus crash resulting in the death of the bus driver and multiple injuries for the band – most notably Mitchell. “It was something that I wouldn't wish upon even my worst enemy, but I'm glad I went through it. Writing about it seems boring to me though. The drama in my life always involves another party, so talking about a bus crash seems kind of egotistical,” he remarks.
The foursome bounced back on stage less than a year later and delivered TruANT, in 2003. It was during the tour for this CD that Corso decided to part ways, and Joe Hill joined. Corso and Hill began their musical careers together in the same band, so it seemed to be an ideal transition. Mitchell says, “Joe really paid attention to those other records to just make it seem as easy a process to just flow into another record and not have it sound like we're some different band.”
When Ant Farm began to write its next album, it encountered yet more hurdles. Dreamworks the band's record label folded, so the new disc was left in limbo until the group was scooped up by Universal. Then, Zamora left to go back to college, and the band enlisted longtime friend, Alex Barreto on bass.
The members chose to go into the studio and work with a familiar face on Up in the Attic, Jim Wirt, who had produced Greatest Hits. “We've just always admired him – he's a musician and a lot of producers can't sing or play an instrument. When someone gives you advice or tells you how to change your song, I appreciate it more when they actually know what they're talking about hands on, and he's one of those guys.The group's past is not only incorporated into Attic through Wirt, but also on the CD's cover art that was done by Mitchell's wife. He recalls, “We talked about putting stuff you'd find in an attic that pertain to songs from past albums on the cover. We were like put a pink teakettle on there 'cause we have an old song called ‘Pink Tea' and a Rubik's Cube because I say that in a song. That was fun for us, and the true, die-hard fans will get a kick out it.”
Ant Farm's fans will also get a kick out of BUSted. Not only does the DVD feature concert footage, but a tour diary that Cosgrove refers to as “Boys Gone Wild.”
Mitchell explains, “It's a lot of my nudity and me being pretty homosexual. I've seen other DVDs with bands that are like, ‘check us out with chicks' and I think it's so fake and stupid. I just thought it seems so hilarious for me to do the opposite, ‘look at me with all my boys!' There's 100 scenes in there that most people would not want people to see and I just don't really care. Either way I'm not trying to guard it or be like, ‘hey, look how crazy I am.' This is what was happening.”
The frank honesty that Mitchell displays on the DVD also leaks into the lyrics he puts forth on Attic.
“I just nerded out on the music and started turning old diary entries into rhyming bits … It's cool to have these moments that were conversations with myself that were never intended or meant to be thrown into a record. I just think other people have to be writing the same kind of thoughts down. So, I just thought I'd bring it to the songs.”
When asked what items might possibly be in his own attic Mitchell says, “I have old diaries and memorabilia from past relationships – a couple of shoeboxes full of old photos and stuff that I feel dumb just tossing out because it's an important part of my past.”
This philosophy of holding onto important things from the past, both the good and bad, definitely holds true for the band in general. The men of Alien Ant Farm have cleared out the cobwebs from their attic and are ready to embrace whatever the future might throw at them.
Up in the Attic and BUSted are currently available. For more information, visit www.alienantfarm.com.