The Rise

The Fall

Bridging the chasm between cerebral post-rock and bittersweet pop, the Atomic Square writes music that is introspective, but also universal; brooding as well as uplifting. The latest album from the bicoastal four-piece, On the Horizon, marries the cinematic guitar explorations of Explosions in the Sky to the alluring radio-ready anthems of Clarity-era Jimmy Eat World, resulting in songs that are just as moving experienced alone on headphones, as they are heard screaming along with a concert crowd.

- Read full band bio here

Atomic Square is:
Ete AhPing: Vocals, Guitar
Tom Ryan: Guitar
Dan Dell: Bass
Pat Degan: Drums

We record/mix/master all our music at:
Gradwell House Recording Studio

Haddon Heights, NJ

...and you should too!

About the Atomic Square

Bridging divides is second nature to adventurous pop-rock four-piece Atomic Square.

For its third full-length, On the Horizon, the band overcame geographical boundaries to make a record from three separate states. Employment led singer-guitarist Ete AhPing to Utah in the middle of production; likewise, bassist Dan Dell relocated to New York for his job. Lead guitarist Tom Ryan and drummer Pat Degan remained in South Jersey, where The Atomic Square formed in 2008, assembling the pieces and turning e-mailed WAV files into songs at Haddon Heights’ Gradwell House Recording.

The resulting record is a thrilling, enthralling jet stream of optimism amid uncertainty. “We all know what we had, and when you love something like that, you can’t give up on it,” Ryan says. “You’ve got to work for it. Ete kept saying that this is a test. It’s not supposed to be easy – if it was easy, everybody would be doing it.”

The Atomic Square has never favored the easy path. The band as it is today emerged from two parallel musical pursuits – Ryan’s experimental, post-rock guitar instrumentals on early releases like the Rise EP, and AhPing’s bright and introspective pop-rock in the group Audizen. Both acts performed extensively around the Delaware Valley scene, until they landed on a bill together at Johnny Brenda’s in Philadelphia. Or, as the group is fond of saying, “when Ete showed up.”

“That’s literally what happened, he showed up onstage,” laughs Dell. “We were playing a song, I turned around, and there’s this guy singing. I shook his hand after, was like ‘hey man, nice to meet you, we just performed together.’”

As AhPing tells it, he checked out the Atomic Square ‘s music when he found out they were sharing a bill, loved what he heard, but couldn’t believe there were no vocals – especially on the slow-builder “St. Aloysius.”

“I love instrumental music, but I felt like this song was not an instrumental song,” he says. “It could and should have words to it. So I recorded them, and sent it to Tom.”

The brazen move paid off – Ryan was blown away, invited AhPing onstage during the show, and then brought him in as a full-scale member to collaborate on The Atomic Square’s 2010 release, After It’s All Said and Done, a bridging of the divide between thrilling, Explosions In The Sky-esque experimentation and direct, exuberant Jimmy Eat World pop rock. The band sees it as a balancing of personal songwriting styles.

“My approach is just very natural,” AhPing explains. “I love writing hooks and melodies. I like coming up with idea. But I hate finishing songs, I don’t like developing the details.”

“And I’m obsessive about details,” Ryan chimes in. “But what I might have in mind for a song is one thing, and then Ete comes back and totally blows it out of the water.”

“What he did with ‘St. Aloysius,’ that’s consistent with all the songs,” says Degan. “Once he gets his vocals on it, you’re like, ‘I would have never seen it go in that direction, but I love it.’”

The album proved regionally successful, garnering support from Philly media outlets like Radio 104.5 WRFF, 88.5 WXPN, 93.3 WMMR and internet radio station Y-Not Radio. But with On the Horizon, The Atomic Square tops even the best moments of its last outing, from the thundering production by Steve Poponi to the AhPing’s impassioned, inspiring vocals and soaring harmonies. It’s their rising to the challenge of making an album while separated, of pursuing separate lives while still chasing their common goal – and doing so that in a way that will resonate with listeners everywhere.

“If you look into the lyrics, there’s a lot about experiencing where you are now – the struggle and uncertainly,” says AhPing.

It’s something you hear in the desperate “Level Three” – “The walls are caving in, your heart begins again. What is the answer?”

“There’s a lot of sadness in the album,” says AhPing. “But there’s also a lot of looking forward – that’s the hope.”

Like the high-spirited refrain in “Take Me”: “I feel light again, I feel light and energy, I never want it to end.”
“It’s like you’re lost, but pointed in the direction of where you want to be,” sums up Degan. “That’s what all of us in the past year have gone through in our personal lives. Everything has been so chaotic trying to figure out the next step. The album totally symbolizes that – a lost feeling, but you know what you want and you’re going for it.”

With On The Horizon, The Atomic Square will cross this latest bridge in its path: the one that leads to a place where geography no longer separates the musicians from their goals, and growing audiences are uplifted and inspired by this music that knows no boundaries.

- written by John Vettesse • XPN2 DJ


© 2011 the Atomic Square