In September 2020, Atreyu and vocalist Alex Varkatzas parted ways. Atreyu stated at the time that Varkatzas "is sailing off on a ship of his own, and will part ways with Atreyu," while Varkatzas stated "the band and I are parting ways." Atreyu has since moved on with Brandon Saller moving from drums to vocals, while Varkatzas has stated his own new band called Dead Icarus.
Now in an interview with Blabbermouth, Varkatzas opened up about his split with the band he fronted for over two decades. Varkatzas said he was out of Atreyu long before anyone knew he was, and that the months after the split were some of the hardest in his life.
"It's been a crazy experience. I want to clarify," said Varkatzas. "The words 'I left Atreyu.' I never made that statement. We legally agreed upon and posted terminology, and as far as I know, the band and I have parted ways. It's so weird. All these people are hitting me up, like, 'I'm so happy you decided to leave and be with your family. I support that!' I'm like, 'Man. I never remember saying that or instigating that.'
"People will do what people will do. I'm all about the future and learning from the past rather than harping on it and living there. Very abruptly, you could say we parted ways and everything changed for me. If I'm being totally emotionally honest, I lost my life, sort of. Aside from my family, I found myself without a job and any friends, or the majority of my friends were gone. The pandemic and lockdown had started.
"It was not announced, but I was out of the band in April 2020 at the peak of everything, which is when the shoe dropped behind the scenes. It was super-challenging. My wife was also six months pregnant with our third and final kid. We were told we were not able to have any more children. I'm not a religious person, but I would say that if somebody was putting some big tests in front of me to see what I was made of and what I was going to do, and I failed at first. I failed pretty horribly at first. I had to hit bottom.
"I'm all about other people's mental health, but I don't want to talk too much about mine other than to let people know we share the same things in the same ways. I fell into a pretty bad depression. I worked out my entire adult life pretty vigorously. I maintained a certain mindset and attitude. I stopped working out and started drinking. Not like a drunk, but regularly drinking, which is something I hadn't done in years. I let myself feel sorry about myself and the situation.
"I looked around. I'm a role model for my kids. I have three children: Nine, seven and three. It's like, what am I doing? What example am I setting? Even though I don't have to work every day and do stuff, I'm lucky to have other hobbies and interests that make a little money, like painting and art. I don't want my kids to perceive that this is normal. I wanted them to see the hard-working, go-getter of a person. I hit bottom. I realized that I wanted to go up. I wanted to get out of that hole."
If you've been missing the heavier side of Varkatzas lately, you really should jam Dead Icarus. "'So I Set Myself on Fire' is about finding inspiration in darkness," said Varkatzas of his latest single. "It's about letting your inspiration consume you so fully that it changes you into something else — a driven, unstoppable force of nature."
Dead Icarus is currently signed to MNRK Heavy and will release their debut album in 2024.