Air Traffic Controller make their way to Bad Axe, MI

BMS talks with ATC & Bad Axe about their relationship and the Hatchet Festival

, Contributing Writer

Outside of New England, rising Boston rockers Air Traffic Controller have found a soaring fan base in a small town in Michigan. On Saturday, the band will finally get to perform live for these fans when they headline the Hatchet Festival in Bad Axe. But how did this Boston group get big in small town in the Wolverine state? Well, that’s where is gets interesting.

Included on Air Traffic Controller’s debut album, The One, is an infectious track called “Bad Axe, MI”, a song inspired by band from and named after the Michigan town of roughly 3,400, who now call Nashville home and once made a name in the Boston music scene too. On Saturday, the two will collide in where else but Bad Axe, Michigan.

In order to keep it all straight and find out more about these colliding worlds, we caught up with Air Traffic Controller’s Dave Munro and Bad Axe’s Geoff Ferris to talk about their relationship, the festival, and what’s coming up next for both bands.

According to Dave Munro, the first time he encounter Bad Axe was at an open mic in Malden, where the band was “rocking”.

“The spirit of this band influenced me enough to actually write the song (Bad Axe, MI),” he says. “They were great, and not taking themselves too seriously. It was very refreshing.”

As for Geoff Ferris of Bad Axe, he didn’t take the compliment lightly. The musician vividly recalls the experience, at Bad Axe’s farewell show at Copperfield’s, where Munro and his still unnamed band first performed the song about the group.

“To this day, it was one of the most flattering experiences I have ever felt… now I know how it feels to have a song written about me,” he says. “I’ve written many songs about others, but never had one written about me. I just stood there next to my drummer in awe… it was a great experience and a great night of music.”

For ATC, being picked for the Hatchet Festival is exciting; a “distant little town had embraced the song and our band.” But for Bad Axe, returning to the city that bears its name is a homecoming of sorts. The group, which Ferris calls the “most talented group of musicians I assembled since the original band,” hopes to “bring as many people from the community together to have fun.”

As for whether or not attendees will get to see the two groups together on stage, Munro says “there’s a very good chance,” while Ferris remains vague but positive.

“It’s a surprise,” says Ferris. “But if I were you I’d all you bookie and place a bet on it.”

Both groups are looking to record new material over the next few months, through Air Traffic Controller’s plans are more concrete. To record their sophomore album, the band turned to the website Kickstarter to host a fundraising campaign. The website allows fans to donate funds for the band’s recording process and receive a variety of incentives in return, such as CDs, t-shirts and performances. After just 12 hours, fans helped Air Traffic Controller meet their initial monetary goal, which doubled by the end of the 30 days. This allowed the group to begin the recording process, which will take place over several sessions in a house with their producer Bleu. The sound, according to Munro, is “more raw and organic” this time around.

“I think the theme of the first album was sort of ‘something is about to happen,’ and now we are more ‘right in the thick of it all,’ whatever it may be,” says Munro. “I’m hoping new listeners will be drawn to this record, and ATC’s current fanbase will connect with the band all over again.”

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