Why do I like Atom and His Package? one may ask. Most others would probably ask, Who is Atom and His Package anyways? Well Atom is a dude from Philadelphia, and His Package is a special little machine that helps him make some kickin’ tunes. The reason that I like Atom and His Package is because the kid makes me laugh in a world of punk rock and politics that I tend to take way too seriously. A little background on the band: Atom uses sequencers and guitars to make songs that deal with gay metal-heads, the metric system, the problems of public education, religion, and growing up. He’s got a decent following of fans, and an even better following of people who cannot stand him. His web page is also hilarious, filled with news, fan mail, and the ever-popular hate mail.
I’d love to wax poetic about Atom’s influence on modern music, modern art, and modern life, but for some reason, I think he’d kick my ass. Instead, I’ll let the man speak for himself, as he did during our virtual conversation, over virtual hot dogs, at a virtual Phillies-Dodgers game. [Ed. note: Only Atom fans will like this interview. There is far too much butt-kissing and lyric-dropping jokes on the part of me for most of you to actually learn anything. Talk to Atom yourself if you have real questions.]
Hey there Doug.
A little role playing: you walk into a bar and see a fly honey, so you walk up and say, “Hi, I’m Atom, and this is the package, and we make music together.” She says, “What kind of music?” You say…
I would say, “Burp burp burp burp. Rub dub. Synthesized ca ca punk, sorta, with lyrics that some think are funny. I hate lots of stuff.”
What’s it like being a Phillies fan this year? You are a Phillies fan, right?
I am surprised with their success and their new turf. I got a werewolf mask on Randy Wolf [a Phillies pitcher] Night. It ruled and continues to rule.
I saw your show at the Black Cat in DC in the spring of 2000, and about eight people showed up. Is this a common thing for your shows?
It varies. Sometimes there are lots of people and sometimes there are very few.
How do you take that sort of response?
Sometimes little shows are fun if the people are fun, and sometimes they suck. Sometimes big shows suck if people are boring.
It did seem like everyone there knew all the words, so I’d have to say you’ve got loyal fans. Any comments on that?
Thank you loyal followers. Burp.
What’s your favorite show you’ve done?
Playing in an apartment in Koln, Germany was really neat.
What’s the process like for producing a song of yours? [Ed. note: I was totally serious when I asked this question…I really wanted to know how the package works!]
I turn on the Songulater X-29000 and it prints out the sheet music of the song, and then I just sing it.
Long term goals for your music?
I plan on superceding the Beatles as the most important band in rock.
I tell people that you’re funny, but not Weird Al funny, and I like to point out the song “Adult Living,” and I wonder, what’s the draw of doing humorous stuff when you handle the serious topics as well?
I dunno. I write songs that I like and that come out of my brain. Some are funny. Some are serious. I have strong opinions about lots of stuff, so that often comes through.
Where were you December 25th, 1987?
I was watching a movie with my friend Chris, before movies were cool to see on Christmas. I was also loving the fact that I’m not Christian.
Tell me about Philadelphia. What’s going on in that town, as far as culture, the kids, the “scene,” if you will?
Lots of interesting folks being productive and doing lots of neat things and having fun. Sometimes this means dressing up as vikings and as cops and running into each other.
Will Atom or the Package be appearing as guests on any other artist’s album? Should we expect a Package solo album in the future?
I played a bunch of crap on the upcoming AMFM record on Polyvinyl Records. No package solo record. It is shit without me.
Do you get tired of Package jokes?
Yes. But it’s my fault, isn’t it? [Ed. note: Yes. It is.]
Do you even know that you’re pretty talented for a white boy?
I think I’m okay smart. Lots more smarter folks but shitloads more stupid folks.
Tell me about the new album. What’s different, what’s the same?
More guitar, better songs. Stand on their own rather than just be funny.
Do you bother to get the rights to the songs you interject, for example, AC/DC in “She’s In the Bathroom?” Do you even have to get rights for that, pay royalties and such?
(laughter) I assume my crap is way way, way, way under the big guys’ radars.
Is underground music worth paying attention to?
Some of it is; most of it, like most things, isn’t.
Why is it that some of us still care about independent musicians?
I love lots of stuff about punk rock. People, rather than companies, creating neat stuff is exciting and worth supporting I think.
Where does Atom and His Package fit in all of that?
I’m a fellow making music, that I like. I can’t necessarily endorse that for everyone, but I suppose if you like what I do, you can support it.