Atheena: Everything to Gain and Nothing to Lose

Chicago’s DIY scene has it all: tight-knit community, diverse individuals, safe spaces, and of course, amazing bands — and Atheena is one of the latest to be added to the city’s already impressive roster. Since they first started in November 2021, musicians Oscar Aviles-Romo, Joshua Beardsley, and Dom Malgioglio have begun to establish themselves by playing two to three shows a month. “I think we’ve been accepted pretty fast with open arms,” expressed frontman Dom. “At every show, there’s a really nice energy to the crowds that we play to and there’s so much love, so I’m enjoying myself a lot.”

Atheena originally started off under another name with a different bassist, but quickly rebranded and became a two-piece with Dom as the lead guitarist/singer and Oscar on drums. “At the time, it worked better when it was just the two of us because it was easier for us to handle and the music we wrote was mostly just simple loudness,” Dom admitted. “But then we started writing other stuff and decided we should probably get a new drummer.”

This worked out perfectly for Oscar, as he had always felt better suited for bass. Just three hours had gone by after Atheena posted an announcement that they were looking for a new drummer before Josh responded to their Instagram story. Ever since then, Atheena has been a trio.

The trio describes their sound as good ol’ loud rock, without wanting to commit to one certain genre. From my experiences attending a couple of their performances, I can attest to Atheena truly embodying what one thinks of when you hear the term “rock and roll.” Their tumultuous and hard-edged sound combined with their high-spirited stage presence makes for an unbelievable experience when witnessing them live.

The band is currently set to tour the midwest alongside associated acts Backroom and Pure Intention following the release of their EP, which the band anticipates will be out roughly around the start of July. You can also catch them at Hev Fest, an all-day local Chicago heavy music showcase on June 25th at Pilsen DIY in Chicago. 

Read more about Atheena’s upcoming EP, their inspiration, and how the three are adjusting to the scene below!

Photo by Nati Madrigal
Do you have a story or a theme behind your new work? 

Oscar: “95.5” is about not letting mean people get to you and drag you down for what you want to do and “MAF” is about not letting money or fame get to your head.

Dom: “Come Undone” is just about a toxic relationship. So we have three songs that all have different messages. Listen to them when they come out. Interpret them how you want. As long as you get something from it, then my job is done.

Atheena is relatively new to the Chicago DIY scene. How are you adjusting to it? Are you having fun? 

Josh: I feel like this has opened up a lot more opportunities. Since January, I’ve been going to double the number of shows and meeting double the amount of people. Before, I would go to shows and not talk to anyone unless I knew someone in the bands, and then I’d leave. But now I remember people, and people remember me. It’s all about making those connections and it does help to feel very accepted which is nice, especially because I used to go to shows and I feel like I was the youngest person there. Now that I’ve been talking to people and reaching out to people, it’s a lot less weird; more normalized. It definitely makes things a lot less uncomfortable and I feel a lot better about doing what I’m doing. 

Oscar: I’ve felt pretty accepted, and it’s always cool meeting people and experiencing random encounters where people say, “Yo, I really love your music. What you guys are doing is so cool,” and you never see them again. We made an impact on a stranger and opened up their ears a bit for a few minutes, and that’s all we can hope to do.

Have any specific artists or experiences influenced your sound? 

Oscar: Definitely Dinosaur Jr. I love their tone and I like how sloppy they are. Lyrically, The Cure has had an impact, as well as julie and Glare. I think they’re innovating the game right now because they put out their own unique sound. That’s what I’m reaching for, my own sound.

Dom:  Lately, I’ve been listening to a lot more of Local H’s newer stuff and reverting back to what I used to listen to, like Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin as well as The White Stripes, who all are reflected in my music and playing.

Josh: I used to be a jazz drummer — which I kind of hated — but that really influenced how I play. I’m obviously not playing in a jazz style anymore, but I like to do a lot of interesting things like play triplets. I love one of the biggest jazz techniques, which is starting fills on the tom,s so I feel like my playing style has changed a lot to where I’m no longer doing that explicitly, but I’m trying to still kind of keep that in there. I’ve been listening to a lot of things like that – stuff like Bitch’s Brew [by Miles Davis] and things that incorporate that jazzier style while still being very diverse and not just playing jazz and swing.

Is there anything you’re working on besides your new EP?

Dom: At the moment no, but we’re still writing new stuff. We’re in the works with new songs and after the EP, we’ll see what happens.

Josh: We’re not afraid to try new things and go new places sonically.

Do you have any advice for any other bands that are wanting to also break out into the scene or just get the ball rolling?

Oscar: Practice and just go for it.

Josh: Put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to just test the limits. That’s kind of what I was doing — I was nervous as shit at first, but now I have no problem with playing. If you don’t force yourself to do things that you might not be 100% comfortable doing, it’s okay, but it’s super important that you just at least try. In a lot of situations, you have everything to gain, and honestly, nothing to lose.

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