The Atomics

by Sid Feddema

A conversation with the surf-pop family band fronted by superstar model Lucky Blue for our Cadence Issue

I’ve driven through a downpour to meet The Atomics, a surf-rock band comprised of model siblings with a particularly sunny disposition. The twanging guitar and driving drums would be at home at any ’60s beach party. Despite growing up in Utah, The Atomics look as though they’ve lived at the beach their whole lives. Bass player Pyper America tells me their father, who gave them each an instrument one fateful Christmas and taught them how to play, “would always play in surf rock bands.” Guitarist Daisy Clementine admits that this “definitely drew us to living in California.”

Coming from a long tradition of suspiciously genuine family bands, The Atomics are sunny people, even during stormier times in their lives. As I dry off and we settle into some couches, vocalist Queen Starlie tells me, “I always want to make people feel really, really, really loved, like they’re the most important person. I think that’s a really cool thing and hopefully I do it sometimes.”

In many ways, The Atomics seem like a comforting throwback, from both a retro surf-rock sound to the charming yet antiquated notion of a family band. Indeed, they are almost like some sort of a millennial Osmond family, though perhaps even better looking, with less bell bottoms and orders of magnitude more selfies. The aesthetics might be different, but at their core the Smith family is clearly close-knit. Unusually so perhaps, when considered beside archetypal stage families like The Jackson Five, they’re even “super close” with their parents, Queen Starlie says. Seconding, Lucky Blue adds, “They’re rad.” He perceives that, “We’re all just pushing each other to do bigger and better things.”

Lucky Blue, drummer and Elle Style Award’s 2016 Male Model of The Year, mentions potential plans for “world domination.” And tongue-in-cheek or otherwise, they don’t seem too far-fetched given the stratospheric social media profile of each member. Eighteen-year-old Lucky alone already has almost three million Instagram followers, the keenest of whom call themselves ‘Lucky Charms.’

Turning to the parallel theme of the issue, Queen Starlie acknowledges that despite having to break off an engagement, heartbreak is “So beautiful. I think that heartbreak just teaches you so much and you learn so much about yourself and I feel like it really helps you be a better person. I would take even just one hour of feeling super loved for a year of heartbreak.”

After the family reacts to that proclamation, Daisy Clementine ventures that “I definitely think that if you feel some sort of deep heartbreak it can actually help you feel true love better.” Lucky Blue rubs the back of his neck thoughtfully. “There’s so much negative bull crap going on,” he adds. “I just want to make people feel good, to send a positive message to them.”

When asked about their future, Pyper America says she wants to “evolve and experiment” as an artist. The Atomics newest song – “Voulez Vous” – is rooted in their beloved surf-rock sound but carries with it the edge of experimentation, and of not wanting to be trapped into just one musical box. According to Daisy Clementine, “We don’t want to limit ourselves to any specific genres or have any specific labels because as you grow up as a person your taste in music changes all the time.” Lucky Blue “really respects bands who come out with different albums and each album sounds different from all of them, so I would want to do that.”

The group’s ascension into stardom continues. This year, they played in the desert sun at Coachella and starred in H&M’s new festival-ready collection, H&M Loves Coachella. The Atomics are a band that are heating up. They might well go thermonuclear.

Written by Gregory McLellan
Photographed by Brad Elterman
Styled by Sean Knight
Hair: Dimitris Giannetos for Opus Beauty using Number 4 High Performance Hair Care
Makeup: Natasha Severino for Opus Beauty
Groomer: David Cox for Art-Dept. 

Issue 154

The Cadence Issue

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