Interview – Dave Munro of Air Traffic Controller


Well, June is almost over and the heat of July is warming up close ahead. Luckily, for many a city dweller, they will find comfort in the music to come. Air Traffic Controller (ATC), hailing from Boston, MA, is a perfect example. They unveiled their latest release, ‘Echo Papa’, last week that is pure summer bliss for the season. Bandleader Dave Munro, who while serving in the US Navy as an air traffic controller, sent home demos written during deployment, which later led to the formation of the ATC sound. The man happily shared how they explored more of their musical prowess in this new collection of songs.

Musical engagement for Mr. Munro helps fortify the musician’s focus in the craft. “For me, it’s always been about the feedback we get from our listeners. It’s motivating when someone tells me they feel a personal connection with a song. I don’t need people to hear my story, I want them to be reminded of their own.”

Despite the constant alterations of bandmates, the collaborative spirit has finally hit its stride. “We’ve had a few lineup changes over the years, but our current band has been on the road together and working together over the past few years. It was rewarding to be able to go into the studio and collaborate with a band that has that kind of connection. We worked on and wrote the songs on ‘Echo Papa’ together and it makes playing them live that much more special.”

Dream showcases are still eagerly awaiting in Dave’s mind. “This may sound crazy, even to our hometown fans, but I’ve always wanted to play the Hatch Memorial Shell in Boston. It’s where I watched the Boston Pops Concerts when I was a kid. I also saw Green Day play a few songs there in front of millions of people before the show was shut down. I don’t think we’d ever get to play there, but a boy can dream.”

Death is never easy, even when music is used as a tool to ease grief. “My most difficult performance was at a funeral. I was asked to play a favorite song of a family member who passed away. The lyrics to my long distance relationship song, Test 1, 2 took on a whole new meaning to everyone. It was tough, but worth it.”

With a solid place already in the music world, Mr. Munro saw the benefits of it all. “Streaming music has exposed our music to a wider audience and we are thrilled to live in a time where music has become so accessible, portable, and relatively cheap for listeners. The number one answer from anyone we ask how they discovered ATC is Spotify.”  

Ambitious athletics keep the band in check and they are loving the results. “We’re really into ping pong, and it’s getting pretty competitive within the band. The guys have been watching tutorials on YouTube to improve their game. We have plans to get a table for our rehearsal space and really explore how far we can go with this.”  

Musically, the creative determination never dwindles. “We always feel like we want to add more, but when you arrive at a point when the song is ‘done’, we’ve learned to let it be. On this new record in particular, we made a conscious effort to do less and let the songs breathe. While it may be a more breathable record, it’s still ATC, so there is A LOT going on. Sometimes we can’t help ourselves. This record explores lead guitar, trumpet, and percussion heavily but we are not strangers to experimentation. It has become expected I think.”

One contemporary stood out in Dave’s mind for a prime source of peer admiration. “I was most recently inspired by an artist who put out a solo record, Matthew Logan Vasquez. He’s the singer from the band Delta Spirit. His new record is called, ‘Does What He Wants’ and that’s exactly what I found inspiring, he clearly did whatever he felt like, and it paid off. It’s a powerful album, full of great stories and homage to his influences. He’s also a new dad which I found personally inspiring since I now have a one year old daughter. This is a much harder game when you have a family. I have a lot of respect for him balancing his career with fatherhood. He has a song called Fatherhood, of course!”

Time never slows down for the crew. “We just drove 16 hours, rolling into NYC now, staying with Adrian’s girlfriend while we play our Manhattan show and shoot a music video in Brooklyn. We’ve stayed at a fair amount of motels, but we have been very lucky to stay with friends and family along this tour. I don’t know how we could do this without that kind of support. We will continue to create. This new record was our most collaborative to date, and I look forward to writing more with each other. I think everyone investing themselves in this music has made us tighter as musicians and as friends. We are used to entering the studio with songs to work on. It would be a nice change of pace to finish writing and demoing all the songs before we even think about scheduling studio time. We talk about the next project a lot, we know nothing about it, except that it’s going to be 100% fun to make.”

Jam on.