Song Premiere | Air Traffic Controller, ”20”

Boston’s Air Traffic Controller has created a place all its own in the indie pop world. Serving in the US Navy as an air traffic controller, singer/songwriter Dave Munro sent home demos written during deployment.  In the decade that followed, Dave built a legacy for crafting heartfelt, luscious, and genuine indie-folk-pop songs that are timeless and classic.

Today ATC has released the lead single from their upcoming album Dash, “20.”  Flourishing in the rich textures and cool instruments, Munro and company offer up to listeners a piece of work showcasing their growth.

Munro says about “20”: “While we didn’t have much of a choice, we were excited to experiment with new ways of creating because some members had moved away. Our drummer, Adam, walked into our rehearsal space with a giant Korg Triton keyboard one night. His piano skills were well known, but this would be his first time playing keys for ATC. Suddenly, he had this great little melody based on this repeating chord progression. I changed my original lyric from “out of body” to “I was 20”, and began reflecting on my past life as a young air traffic controller.

As a 20-year-old air traffic controller, I moved from the barracks to an apartment with two friends. Extending my horizons outside the Navy base changed my life. I could finally live out my late adolescence by just putting on a uniform and going to work like everyone else. My career in aviation was taking off, I was writing my first songs, and I was singing about “big things gonna happen to me”. 

In the midst of the writing session, Adam added “kind of funny, I’d rather dream out there in the middle of the street”. At the time, I didn’t understand his line, but now, I think most people would agree that it’s the best damn line. When you’re 20, you feel confident, you can do anything you want. However, when I look back on my 20-year-old self, I realize how naive and vulnerable I was, knowing little about the world, yet taking risks, swinging for the fences, dreaming “in the middle of the street”, and that’s what you should do at 20.

 Adam created our first multitrack demo for “20” using the sequencer on his Korg Triton, but because there was no way to save it, he had to recreate it every time. Using headphones and an iPhone held up to the headphones, the demo was recorded without any recording equipment. We know it was asinine. There has been a lot of progress since Adam engineered that ridiculous demo. 

Dimension Studios in Boston provided the team with a real studio so the team could work on the song together. A sax legend from Morphine, Dana Colley, was invited to play whatever he wanted and he blew us away. Dana layers his different saxes in the breakdown leading to this Morphine-like ending. For the mixing phase, we decided to have the whole band leave so it’s just a bunch of Danas. As soon as I heard this song, I knew it was going to connect with people, especially those over 20!”

ATC  took their time writing and demoing Dash, and the listeners have not left their side.  Recording throughout the pandemic they met several delays and hardships, but the band continued collaborating, remotely at times, to bring the next chapter of ATC to its debut. The goal was not to match up with past ATC albums, or to meet some expectations, in fact, ATC’s formulas were often set aside in an effort to search from within each member.  However, if you have loved anything by ATC, the stories, charm, nostalgia, hooks, and Dash will pull you in from the opening line “It was chapter one”, and take you on a beautiful ride.