“It’s intimidating to be vulnerable but one thing I’ve learned is you can’t hold back.”
While some bands are comfortable to stay independent, for others, the opportunity to be supported by a label matters. For Jay Martinez, vocalist for San Antonio pop-punks Across The Atlantic, joining the rapidly rising Sharptone Records (We Came As Romans, Miss May I, Holding Absence) meant he had to give it all when it came to writing the band’s second full-length, ‘Works of Progress’.
“For the first time, my agenda wasn’t to make music with the intentions of getting signed, my agenda was just to write something I could be proud of and take comfort in 5 years, 10 years from now,” Jay tells Already Heard. “I wanted to know that I had left everything out there for better or worse and spoke my peace with no regrets and looking back I wouldn’t have had it any other way.”
On the surface ‘Works of Progress’ is your run-of-the-mill heavy pop-punk record. Nevertheless, at its core is a lyrical outpouring from Martinez, one of reflection and relief. Formed five years ago, Across The Atlantic have experienced limited success within their local scene with Martinez balancing life in the band with college. With his life entering a crossroads, Jay became frustrated with life as a struggling musician. “All of the friends I graduated High School with were now buying houses, starting families, establishing careers and there I was just pinching pennies trying to fund an album. It put me in a dark place where I questioned if pursuing music over the past five years had been selfish. For the first time in my life, I thought I had truly failed,” says Martinez.
Ultimately the vocalist lyrically gambled on ‘Works of Progress’, delivering an unapologetic set of songs. “For a long time I contemplated about what to write about, but if this was to be my curtain call I thought there was no other way to do it but then to address every significant moment, emotion or lesson I had endured throughout my 24 years of life. Good and bad, skeletons and all” explains Jay. “It’s a scary thing, opening yourself up like that publicly. It’s intimidating to be vulnerable but one thing I’ve learned is you can’t hold back.”
Throughout ‘Works of Progress’, ATA show confidence in abundance. For example, ‘Play For Keeps’ demonstrates their motivation to succeed and ’24 Hours’ sees them shaking off any expectations. While ‘Sundress Funeral’ was inspired by victims of domestic abuse. “I hope the message transcended the music to speak to people on a personal level to help break this horrible cycle of domestic abuse,” states Jay when asked about the response to the song. “We wanted to do the message of the song justice and it’s such a huge sigh of relief to feel like we accomplished that.”
From speaking to Jay, you get sense ‘Works of Progress’ was crafted with admirable selfishness, if there’s such a mindset. “We made an album for us. We made songs that we wanted to hear. Point blank.” While it may feel like it’s their first full-length outing, 2015 saw them independently release ‘Holding on to What We Know’, a dense pop-punk record that comfortably saw the band being compared to A Day To Remember, Four Year Strong etc. Coincidently enough, ATA have a long relationship with Andrew Wade, whose past credits include ADTR, Neck Deep and The Ghost Inside. With that relationship along with the band’s collective and personal organic growth, Martinez suggests the band that recorded ‘Works of Progress’ is very different to the one that made their debut outing.
“I think we all just became a lot more comfortable in our own shoes. A lot of the first albums jitters had subsided and I really feel like we’ve collectively matured so much from the last release. We’re constantly learning and pushing to get better and consider things differently. Not only this but our working relationship with our producer Andrew Wade was just at an all-time great place. He’s able to just tap into our vision and go and take our songs and make them a thousand times better with complete freedom.”
Having achieved the goal of releasing an album on a label, Across The Atlantic are planning to literally do just that in the coming weeks as they join label mates Alazka and Imminence for a run of UK and European shows. “It’s nice to finally earn our namesake,” jokes Martinez who continues by stating, “when you talk about milestones and things we joked about in the garage five years ago, playing shows overseas is a huge one. This tour was a priority for us after putting out an album. I think we’ve always been a band that has celebrated our diversity and I’ve always truly believed that music is universal, so it’s nice to have people backing us that feel the same. We wanted to share our story with everyone, no matter where when or how music just moves you and that’s what makes this thing work.”
Like on record, Martinez promises to “leave everything out there” on the forthcoming trip. “There is nothing in the world like the connection you get when performing, the energy is something that I never get tired of and I can’t say how thankful I am for,” he says.
Undoubtedly, Across The Atlantic joining up with Sharptone Records is opening doors for the band, taking their music to a bigger audience yet Martinez’s is still shocked by the band’s quick turn in fortune. “I’ll be real with you and say honestly I can’t help but still feel this is all a dream and we’re running on borrowed time. Just 6 months ago, I thought I was destined for a life quite different than this. I now wake up every morning feeling ecstatic. I don’t ever wanna lose that feeling and I don’t think I will.”,/p>
Whether or not ‘Works of Progress’ is the last release Jay and Across The Atlantic deliver it to be is yet to be determined. However, the band’s confidence is growing as life in ATA is seemingly thriving as Jay closes by saying, “we’re excited and humbled to be here but we’re not content or satisfied. There’s still more, there always is and that’s the beauty of life and the message of inspiration we hope the album sends.”
‘Works of Progress’ by Across The Atlantic is out now on Sharptone Records.
Words by Sêan Reid (@SeanReid86)