Wednesday 7 March 2012

Attack Attack! // Interview & Live Review

Attack Attack! have had their fair share of line up changes but have put that behind them and are already storming 2012. Their third album "This Means War" entered the US Billboard 200 at a very impressive 11 and the Ohio quartet are back in the UK to play a string of headline dates. 

Est.1987 caught up with drummer Andrew Wetzel ahead of their Leeds Cockpit show to talk all things touring, soap opera and album number four!

You’ve just come over to the UK- played one date so far, Bristol; how did it go and are you looking forward to the tour?
It was really good. I mean, we’re still kind of tired and a little jet-lagged, but otherwise it was a fantastic show and the crowd was amazing. And we’re definitely looking forward to the rest of the shows.

Attack Attack! on stage
What do you enjoy most about playing in the UK?
Just playing to people that either have never seen us before or never had the opportunity to see us before and just travelling. We’re all about being in different countries and it’s a lot of fun. But, mostly, just meeting people that otherwise we would never be able to meet.

How would you sum up your live show?
I mean, our show is definitely extremely energetic and a lot of times, things get broken! It’s always wild and everything we do is over the top and we’re really into it, so it’s definitely loud, heavy and energetic!

The story behind your latest album “This Means War” is about a solder in World War II – what made you write about that?
Really we took the story of WWII and the epic-ness of that conflict and war, and put our own spin on it and created this new reality. But, basically, our story is about four soldiers that go off to fight a war for their country and they come back to find that their government is vastly different as compared to when they left. Everybody hates the soldiers because these guys are fighting for this corrupt, horrific machine. And so, the whole record is written about the struggles of not only dealing with the effects of being at war, but also coming home and having everyone hate you and reject you and not having that support system to deal with that. Really, the whole thing is a metaphor for whats it’s been like for us in our musical career; of going off thinking we’re fighting the good fight, but at the end of the day we get labelled as just guys in a band in the music industry. When really we’ve been through a lot of things that make us real people and give us a lot of meaning as individuals; but, people look past all that.

This Means War
I guess writing a concept album such as this demands that you guys take a risk- did you enjoy the challenge of it?
We knew when we started writing the record that we wanted to do a concept album and make it heavy, but we weren’t sure how much we were going to commit to that. Then, once we started writing a couple of songs we realised that we really liked the direction and fully committed to it, knowing full well that there’s the possibility that the coin may land on the other side and it could be the end of our career. So, yeah, we took on that challenge and really wanted to put it all on the line to try and get a message across to everybody.

A lot of people would argue that you aren’t the Attack Attack! every one remembers from when you first started. What is your take on that?
I have to agree and disagree. I agree, because they’re right; we aren’t the same band we used to be. But, at the same time I don’t think any band should be the same band that they used to be. You should always be growing and learning and trying new things and trying to do or pursue whatever makes you happy. If people want to grumble about us not playing dance beats any more then that’s fine; but we’re going to continue to progress and write music that we’re super passionate about, instead of just forcing something because we made some money from it.

Front man Caleb Shomo
You guys are releasing a DVD documentary of I guess your journey as a band, why have you decided to do that at this point?
We have been trying to shoot a DVD since 2009, but every time we would get close to finishing it some life changing event would happen, or someone would leave the band; so we’ve just been stockpiling all this footage. But now we’ve got to the point where the four of us in the band now are definitely going to be staying in it. Now’s the time that we should put out this epic saga, soap opera that’s been our career! We’re working on editing it; we have thousands of hours of footage! We’re about half way done with it.

What have you got planned for the coming year?
SO much planned this year! Right after this run in the UK we’re off for two days, then go to South America. Then we come back and have a week off, and then all through April and May we’re in North America and Canada with Escape The Fate doing a co-headline tour! So, that tour’s going to be massive and I’m really excited for that. The rest of our plans for the year, I can’t really announce them yet, but we’re pretty much going to be on the road solid till October.

I heard you’ve already written another album?
Yeah, we’ll see what happens. We’re taking June off to circle back and go back to all that music we wrote. We actually finished “This Means War” in October and three days after that we flew to LA to write and record with John Feldman and we wrote like twenty-two more songs! Ten are tracked right now and after that we went on tour. So in June we will go back over these songs and see what happens. It kind  of depends on what happens there. We’re going to follow up this record with something as soon as possible. We write all the time! Like there are about ten or twelve different bands that we have created with each other and our friends and made demos. We write music all the time, it’s all we do; there’s one called Beartooth that Caleb and a couple of the other guys have and it’s super hardcore stuff that we could never release as Attack Attack!

And here's what happened when Attack Attack! took to the stage...

Sunday night at The Cockpit and things certainly aren’t winding down before Monday morning “back to work” alarm as far as Attack Attack! are concerned. As the four piece take to the stage, not long after flying in from Ohio, they are certainly set to deliver on their promise of a “definitely loud, heavy and energetic!” show. Showcasing a multitude of newer tracks from the band’s third and most recent album, and throwing some older classics in for good measure, the show was tight, well rounded and fulfilling.

Bassist John Holgado
As neat and packaged as that may appear, Attack Attack! are a band that are passionate, impulsive and certainly anything but packaged. As they burst into opener “The Revolution” the entire front half of the venue erupts. Front-man Caleb Shomo lunges into the crowd and they lunge right back at him.
As the ‘breakdown’ section in album track “The Family” kicks in and the instruments subside Caleb chants; “You can cut the tongue from my mouth, so I'll never speak again. Do what you want to stop me”. This endorses the band’s work ethic that has brought them their continued success; they are resilient and come back time and time again, not afraid to take a risk and choose the harder path.

Caleb and fans on stage
As Attack Attack! announce they’ll take things back to their first record and break into “Stick Stickly” the pit explodes and engulfs the breadth of the room. The entire performance is constantly moving and draws in the crowd. Attack Attack! may have pulled back their electronica influences as newer singles “The Motivation” and “The Wretched” followed by “The Hopeless” prove. However, they have a direct flow to them within the setlist here tonight and, although heavier and more guitar driven, display the band’s consistency in writing heavy, rhythmic, anthmic tunes.

As shouts for “one more song” force the band back on stage “Smokahontas” concludes the set, much to crowd’s pleasure as a stage invasion ensues.  With a promising year ahead and their next record already written, Attack Attack! have proved that they like to take on a challenge and more to the point, can succeed!