Sat 15th April 2006
Emerging from Manchester in late 2004 Atavist have been inflicting 'khold void doom' on people's ears all over the country and making a name for themselves on the underground ever since. With the recent release of their new S/T album on INVADA records I interviewed founding member and guitarist Chris Naughton as well as vocalist Toby Bradshaw on a cold January night outside Kro Bar in Manchester. Although they play a style of doom so bitter and pessimistic it could cause you to shit out your own soul, both musicians were chatty and fairly up-beat.
Where did you record the album?
(Chris) We recorded the album at this place called The Soundroom in Newcastle originally. We did that around December 2004. We'd just played a few dates with SUNN 0))) we were up in Newcastle anyway from this gig the night before, with some friends of ours from Newcastle called Mazuraan. They recommended the place, it was pretty cheap and we didn't have that much money. It was maybe a hundred quid to record the album. We recorded in November/December 2004 and then did another session in June 2005. We used the same equipment to maintain a consistency in the sound. Then we hooked up with INVADA who put the album out. They've got really good studio facilities, they guy who runs it, Jeff Barrow, he runs INVADA with this other guy called Paul Horley. They've got so many contacts and this state of the art studio, obviously being on INVADA we could use it whenever we wanted. We went there with Stuart Matthews, he's an engineer, he really knew what he was doing - I think he's done some really decent records before, if my memory serves me I think he did Massive Attack.
(Toby) Not really applicable for our sound!
(Chris) Yeah but they're just talented people who are good at what they do.
(Toby) We just took a load of Atavist material and were like 'this is what we want it to sound like'
(Chris)We did that but, they had a go at doing it without us being there, you know when someone sort of like tampers with your shit - they don't quite get it right you know? There was things that I knew weren't there on the guitar. There was stuff that Shane was doing on the bass that wasn't coming through so we had to go through and do it again.
We did that maybe three or four months ago, then a friend of Paul's who kind of does this production company with him, they put on gigs in Bristol called 'Denim and Leather', this guy Reg actually owns this dance label called NRK. They've got a really nice mastering suite and we finished the record off down there. We took it down for a day, well not even that maybe 2-3 hours? It was amazing we took down Warhorse's 'As Heaven Turns To Ash' and said basically 'make it heavier than this!' We mixed it to be heavier than the Warhorse album so hopefully it shows through in the finished thing. That's pretty much what happened with the record.
So it was an overall good experience?
(Shane) Very painless considering.
(Chris) Especially on my part because I think I have the final critical ear on the whole think so I was travelling back and forth to Bristol doing various sessions in the studio so I think it was a little bit more painful for me than the other guys but I think they trusted me to make sure it was a good job and that.
The main thing was the fact that we recorded it pretty much live in one go, we didn't track all the separate instruments or anything like that so there was a lot less to cock it up. It saved a lot of time and the songs were pretty much one take wonders.
Did you have any other labels in consideration?
(Chris) Yeah we did actually, quite a few.
(Toby) We sent out a lot of the early promo stuff. Hydra Head were fishing around for a while, Meteor City, which is like this Stoner Rock label, they were eager.
(Toby) There was some other interest from a label called Codebreaker, they're a subsidiary of Earache.
(Chris) But we've got connections to Southern Lord so we gave them priority but we're not holding our breath or anything.
(Toby) I'm still pushing it for sending it to Parasitic who did the vinyl for Unearthly Trance and Thraldom, even if we got a limited vinyl run over in the States it'd be great because the guy really knows what he's doing, so that'd be really nice, we'll see how it goes.
What inspired you to form the band in the first place?
(Toby) Well forming the band was for free drugs!!
(Chris) Nah forming the band was 100% my idea, I was coming off the back of an old band whose members had moved away, I had these songs ideas. It took me about 8-9 months to put together Atavist. I knew Toby anyway, First I met Shane in Manchester, I actually randomly met him at a Khanate show a few months before I Nottingham, then we met in Manchester through a mutual friend. Then we started hanging out and playing music, then we started writing stuff, what we started writing became 31:38, the first track on the album. Then we got an e-mail randomly from Jamie, who's now the ex-drummer. He had been in this other band but they had a few problems so he was looking for another band. He was from fairly nearby, over in Wakefield, which is only 45 minutes drive away just over the Pennines. He asked if we needed a drummer and being big doom fans having the ex-drummer of Burning Witch and Thor's Hammer offer his services was like a dream come true. He gave us such a leg up in the first instance. Then a couple of months down we were an instrumental band with a massive song and I was like 'it's too long for it to be instrumental'. I knew Toby had been the singer of a band before he was always going to be involved in someway but never a permanent vocalist or anything.
(Toby) You were going to demo some tracks and I was just going to come on and help out and then you were like 'look, do you want to do it properly'. To be honest after playing in a couple of other bands before and didn't have that much intention of being in another band but I was like 'okay then' and went down to some practices, things really took off then.
(Chris) That was maybe August 2004 we got Toby in the lineup. It was like 12 weeks until SUNN 0))) were touring and we got offered a gig with them, but before then we ended up playing with 5ive in Lancaster, that was our first show. And for a first gig we absolutely had it right on. That was it then.
(Toby) It was a piss take for a first gig.
(Chris) There was two bands with a higher reputation than us and to be honest I think we really gave them a run for their money.
(Toby) It was weird I mean Shane had never played live before, we'd played together in some small boy punk outfit and I'd done some gigs with my old band. Basically Jamie was an old hat at it. We had barely played together but we were like 'let's just go out and do it'. There was a good turn out maybe a hundred plus, a lot of my mates were there because that's where I was from but we basically had it off. No fuck-ups or anything it was really sweet. We had practiced the song so much it was almost like second nature.
Why play such pessimistic music?
(Chris) The answer to that is the fact that the human race is in fact a cancer and should be purged from the earth basically it's because the human race is a disease.
You've achieved quite a bit in a short space of time, are you a really hard working band?
(Toby) Well to be honest, a lot of it is because of the contacts really. I mean - just Jamie being in the band, you stick that on a poster 'Ex Burning Witch' and rabid hordes of doom fans are going to be clambering to get in. Add to that as well Jamie played with Steve O'Malley and Greg Anderson, who runs Southern Lord, you've got the whole buddy element there which is ace. Also I work for Southern Lord , so when they are coming over to play with SUNN O))) they are like 'do you want to play, do you want to get on the shows as well?'. Jamie got to hang out with his mates I got to hang out with Greg who I work for and we got to play on the bill. So to be honest the main reason we've done so fucking well one of is though contacts really.
(Chris) I mean just recently like two or three months ago Steve's other band Khanate came over and they gave us three dates on the tour. Basically that was the biggest crowd we've ever played to, The Garage in London it was unbelievable crowd for us I'd say conservatively there were about 500 people there. It was just unbelievable for us because we played sold out shows every night. So we've never been involved in like local gigs and stuff.
(Toby) We've bypassed all of that, we've got ourselves known to promoters through doing these gigs. Its not like we're fighting through a local scene to get out of the town or anything like that, there aren't many major cities in the UK we haven't played, there's only like Leeds and maybe Nottingham.
(Chris) The main ones; Bristol, Birmingham, London, Manchester - we've played on good bills where people have come to see us.
(Toby) Our name is known to promoters now which is great, we're getting offered gigs, straight through now, we're not starting off being like the pub band on a bill because we're local. We've bypassed all that and personally I can't thank Greg and Steve and the other people that have helped us get to that level enough because we haven't got this thing where we've spent three years gigging locally and so on, which is just amazing really.
(Chris) I think as well I'm quite a personable person, I always tend to like try and talk to people at shows anyone who wants to speak to me I'm really happy to speak to them
(Toby) I'm not.
(Chris) That's why I end up doing all the interviews and you just - are the singer
I talk to anyone I've met so many people, the guy who's doing our PR now, I met Tony Sylvester - he was in The Dukes Of Nothing and he's doing that project with Stephen O'Malley and stuff. He's a really nice guy and I met him just through going to shows and him seeing us and through mutual friends.
(Toby) This is a quote 'he is possibly one of the coolest people in the world' he's fucking sound. Absolutely sound.
(Chris) He's never been anything but cool with us. He does all the big stuff I think he just did Turbonegro's new album and like-everyone's heard of them
(Toby) He does a lot of the PR for British Southern Lord and stuff like that
(Chris) So we're hoping he's going to do a good job for us. There's been so many people who are just overtly keen to help us when they shouldn't really have been, they treat us with a lot more respect than I would have expected so early on.
(Toby) I think it goes back to the thing with Greg and Steve because with them being basically the fucking patriarchs of the entire new doom scene and it kind of seems like maybe we've got the seal of approval of them because we've been on the bills so people are like 'oh right they're not just a bunch of new kids' we've not had to break down any barriers with people we've just kind of been able to go straight in. We've not been idiots with anyone we've always been really appreciative. We don't do ourselves any disservices by acting like wankers.
(Chris) Well if anyone hasn't been cool with us, I always tend to be like the voice of the band during organising . One example actually this guy was putting a gig on in Cambridge with Esoteric and maybe Moss and he was messing us around totally and being a real dick. Then all of a sudden he rang me at 3am one morning and I didn't want to piss anyone off but I was like 'I'm not happy with this I'd rather Atavist just bow out than be involved with this' I kept it fairly friendly. I think the best thing is just to be nice to people, there's no point in such a small scene in trying to piss people off or get all like 'we are better than thee'
(Toby) You can't afford to - you don't know where you're going to be or who is going to help you out in the future, we are still a new band you can't afford to start pissing people off when you're at this level now. Somewhere down the line you don't know what situation people are going to be in or what they can do - its just not worth it really. We've had a few disagreements with bands about us saying we didn't like them or whatever. We may say we don't like the music but we've never said 'such and such is a dickhead', we can say 'such and such band, we don't like them' but we'll play on a bill with them.
(Chris) We've had a few problems with some bands but we sorted them out
(Toby) Like you said we got on some really good bills early on and the bands that have been doing like 3 years pulling their weight
(Chris) I think there was a bit of animosity because some bands see you on a bill and think they should have been on it. I think it's the paying your dues thing.
(Toby) We haven't paid our dues - really (laughter)
(Chris) Well its only a small scene we're not going to play like stadiums
(Toby) Yet (laughter) Jon Bon Jovi was on the phone to me last night
(Chris) What did he want to lick your pants?
(Toby) He wanted to lick my balls!
Well that's going in! Do you think you are a regressive or a progressive band?
(Toby) Oh God! A progressive caveman
(Chris) Basically someone once called us 'Prog Doom' which really offended me, I guess if you don't think that prog rock ever existed-
(Toby) There's nowt wrong with prog rock
(Chris) Shut up.
(Toby) There's nothing wrong with prog rock!
(Chris) Please stop taping. (laughter) Because of the style especially the first song, people described us as that when we demoed the first song, because it is a 30 minute song it kind of ebbs and flows and comes and goes all over the place people thought it was progressive.
(Toby) People seem to thing like 'oh yeah you've got an album that has three songs and its an hour' but it wasn't intentional, if we all write a fucking three minute blast of a song and we all agree we like it then we'll do it. It's not a conscious thing to write long songs.
(Chris) The thing with Atavist is there is some of the mentality to how I feel Boris are, in the way that they never seem to be limited by style, you take their album 'Slug' for example I think that could sum up how I feel we write in Atavist. Rather than have like a slow song or a fast song or whatever we make it as one and have it come and go a little bit. I think that is quite an interesting format so maybe we are progressive in that sense but we're not doing anything stylistically that I don't think anyone's done before. I mean there are heavy bands that sound like us you know?
(Toby) We don't just sit there and go 'right ok - next song needs to be exactly 31.4 minutes long and its going to have this section' we come up with a riff and if everyone likes it then we start building on it.
(Chris) If not then we do tend to vito stuff , like the second song on the album '20:11', originally the first half of it was the same as it is on the album but the latter half of it, I had this kind of big epic section that everyone really hated so we completely trimmed that out.
(Toby) Under 'epic' see 'shit' (laughter)
(Chris) It wasn't shit at all it just really didn't work within the context of the song. I think I'd been listing to 'Slug' by Boris a bit too much and there is this really epic riff in that and I just wanted that kind of thing in it but it just really didn't work for us because we aren't that. That really showed us that we are Atavist and we aren't anybody else. So we came up with this whole discordant section that really seemed to work a lot better and have a better feeling to the song
(Toby) The thing is we are blatantly the sum of our influences and stuff but I personally don't think that's a bad thing, I really like Isis I like SUNN O))) I like Eyehategod and whatever, if some band comes along and it combines all three of them, and its good - fucking winner! Do you take three bands into the shower? No I just take one! (laughter)
(Chris) You don't take anything into the shower except fucking KY jelly (laughter) and your mother (laughter)
I'd say more progressive than regressive though
(Toby) Progressive musically but regressive mentally I think
(Chris)Regressive vocally (laugher)
Do you find the doom genre at all restrictive?
(Chris) I think doom is a really emerging- of late doom is kind of an emerging experimental scene, there's a lot of interesting things going on in doom. I think that's what I was quite attracted to because this is what interested me instead of like a 5 minute metal song with a big 'Waah' solo
(Toby)Yeah how can you say a scene is restrictive when at one end of it you've got like Moss or Khanate and at the other end of it you've got like St. Vitus or Hidden Hand I mean they all come under 'doom'
(Chris) There's sort of like fuzzy areas, some doom is kind of stonery and some is more extreme - some borders on noise even
(Toby)It's a very big umbrella for a lot of different styles I mean that goes back to what we were saying before about how if we like it then it goes. '31:38' has got sections where you can put a pin in it and go 'right that's a stoner rock riff'-
(Chris) But if you talk about the song as a whole then it's a doom song
(Toby)Yeah that's the whole thing about doom to me is that it isn't restrictive I think its more of a feeling behind it - I think there's a lot of stuff you could argue technically could be pulled into the doom umbrella
(Chris) Or take it out from it.
(Toby) Yeah - bands that you can put into or you wouldn't traditionally think of as a doom band but you apply the same values as say like Khanate have got you could apply to Godspeed You! Black Emperor or something like that that isn't a traditional doom band. Some of the drone stuff like SUNN 0))) and Earth that maybe kind of more are doom and then there's other people doing drone who could be considered indie, Christ even like Tibetan monk chanting its still using drones and everything like that - people in doom can appreciate that so does that get pulled into doom as well?
(Chris) Its like SUNN 0))) who are blatantly considered to be doom you go into a record shop and find them in the indie section
(Toby) SUNN 0))) get reviewed by Wire magazine, well god knows how many like little weird
(Chris) They are an extreme band
(Toby)Its even in NME the latest album I think
(Chris) Their new album - arg - the whole art crowd seem to like it which is fair enough and good for them but its not 'art'
(Toby)..we think we're in the doom scene so other people aren't allowed to like it, its brilliant though its good. I don't think a band like us are going to break out of the doom scene to a wider audience. But maybe we might cross into the more traditional metal crowd because some of it is more up-tempo
(Chris) I wouldn't feel arsed playing on a metal bill but then again -
(Toby)They're not going to windmill to us are they?
(Chris) But I do think a lot of people who like metal and heavier stuff like doom as well, even though it might not be metal or whatever I don't think its restrictive in that sense that people would go 'we can't play on the bills with you' I think its still got the sort of feeling from a metal band as well.
(Toby)I would be horrified if the people that are walking past here that are obviously going to see Hawthorne Heights and Bullet For My Valentine turned up at our gigs I would be fucking mortified.
(Chris) I hate people that try too hard.
(Toby)Yeah - trying too hard pisses me off
Trying too hard?
(Chris)Just, that's another thing I love about the doom scene the fact that you know - you could line up fucking 20 metal heads and you couldn't tell which one was into doom none of this fucking stupid haircut business
(Toby) None of this ' I need to ear these things because I'm in the scene'
(Chris) There's no like 'doom uniform', all these emo kids with their pants hanging round their arse and skinny jeans and fucking converse trainers and floppy hair and eye makeup and stuff like that its just like 'come on now kids'
(Toby) I love that fact that we turn up at a gig and sound check and go on looking exactly the same as we did when we walked into the venue. There's none of this 'we've got to make sure everything is just right and all' there's no fucking image there's no nothing.
(Chris) Toby does his hair (laughter)
(Toby)I don't do my hair! But do you know what I mean? There is no image I think that's one of the best things about it.
(Chris) It's great, I mean one of the promo shots we've got in this new magazine Shane's wearing a business suite! (laughter)
(Toby)He came straight from work! In the photo shoot there's Jamie looking like the gnarled old fucking metaller.
(Chris) With this big Celtic Frost leather jacket with a massive goatee beard, me and Toby both looking the same in this Khanate t-shirt (laughter) and then Shane in a business suite! There is just no image
(Toby)Apart from maybe beards
(Chris) No Shane doesn't have a beard!
I know we briefly covered this before but you were saying a song could be 3 minutes but the songs are long, why do you favour long songs?
(Toby)For me you can fucking show off your guitar playing skills for half an hour on stage.
(Chris) I don't think that's it at all, I think what it is is like with doom - you're trying to experiment with it and your taking like one standard instrument and trying to do something different with it , giving your riffs time to breathe giving space between things and letting things decay naturally. I think there is a lot stylistically to do with it.
(Toby) From someone who doesn't write the songs or like the music as such, I think the one thing about doom that is so important is that it has got emotions from behind it, like this fucked up completely nihilistic attitude or whether its something more positive like Place Of Skulls who are deeply Christian - that's all really positive even though its still doom music. With a long song you can take people who are listening to it on almost like, a journey . With '31:38' its really abrasive and heavy and then it drops out to like really mellowy bits - that's the kind of cool thing about it - you try and do that in a 3 minute song is pretty fucking tricky, its cool to be able to take someone and ride with it and at the same time it's a bit of a buzz to be able to keep someone interested and engaged in a 30 minute song. Everyone that's not really into doom you say like 'oh yeah we've got 30 minute songs' , they're like aghast at it. You put them in front of us live and play a song for 30 minutes I guarantee you they won't even clock they've been stood there for 30 minutes - because it goes off and comes back and drifts around and there's so many different sections to it, its just fun I guess - and it keeps me on my toes.
(Chris) I just like it because it gives you a chance to do something outside of what you consider to be the normal song format.
(Toby)Yeah we haven't got any song that's like 'verse chorus verse chorus'
(Chris) No not at all. The other thing is with Atavist as well is that the longer songs it gives us a chance to express ourselves as writers I think, for me and Shane especially because we never try and repeat riffs, obviously we play them for like 10 times or whatever but then 5 minutes later in the song we won't repeat it again. Well 90% of the time we don't do that. Basically it just gives us a chance to go in different directions and go to other levels.
(Toby)I think everyone likes a big fuck off riff so the more big fuck off riffs - so the more of them you put in a song - you know? It's a winner
Cool. What are some of your lyrical themes?
(Chris) (laugher) Pain and torture!
(Toby)Yeah basically that, just general despondency at everything, self depreciation
(Chris) There's a brilliant line in one of the songs where Toby just says 'My blood. My Life. My Choice.' It could be personally it could be directed at somebody in particular.
(Toby) There is none and there will never be any lyrics ever printed in anything. There's the odd line in the album sleeve. But I know what each song is about and I know the basic structure for the lyrics and stuff like that. But at every show it will be slightly different. It isn't like verse chorus verse chorus you know? If I'm having a particularly bad bad day then they're going to be more aggressive - they will change and stuff but each song has a set subject matter so from that end they are about something but they do change.
(Chris) We don't print the lyrics on purpose, because of Toby doesn't want to and I'm not a big fan of it and because they change because of his mood and the setting but also I think if you print the lyrics - it almost gives it away. For me we're only really trying to convey a negative emotion.
(Toby)There's no song titles and no lyrics
(Chris) Purely because we don't want to give the game away
(Toby)If we called the second track on the album 'the torture and rape of Emily..whatever' then everyone is going to be like 'so that's what that song's about' whereas you do anything like that and someone can listen to it and they don't fucking know what its about. They might get their own vibe from it.
(Chris) I think people relate to it other than lyrically, I think in other types of music especially in the metal genre or whatever they tend to be like 'oh I hate myself and I want to die' or whatever so people can relate to them in that way but I think it makes people pay more attention and connect to it on another level.
(Toby)And add to that as well I don't want some fucking person coming up to me going 'oh yeah 'I carved rape myself in my arm' or whatever I don't want someone coming up to me going 'I know what you're on about in that' or 'I kind of totally get that' because you don't get it that's what I'm shouting about, that's my fucking thing I'm not doing this for some form of fucking acceptance so I don't want someone to be able to not kind of quote shit at me but kind of claim that they've got some idea of what I'm talking about.
(Chris) None of the other three members of the band never ever try to infringe on Toby's vocal freedom because as much as we may be able to relate to some of the things he's talking about the lyrics are his duty , its his feelings that are being conveyed through our music. The music is very much like my feelings of hate or depression but the lyrics are very personal to Toby - we never printed them because they are personal to him, they might be about things he's gone through and things he's feeling that he might not want to tell people about. The music is for us to try and create and emotion for other people to relate to.
(Toby)Well that's the thing. The overriding reason for this band in a lot of ways is release. Like most bands say, it is a release its just complete venting of spleen. The best feeling in the world is like you know feeling shitty for a couple of days and knowing you've got a band practice after that. You get in the band practice have a few beers and just go off for four hours.
(Chris) The funniest thing about the first time Toby ever played with us was basically I don't know if he had a lot of stuff going on or just wanted to impress us but he popped all the blood vessels in both of his eyes because he was just screaming his heart out. That for us just sort of conveyed the right thing (laughter)
(Toby)Total disregard for personal safety!
(Chris) When we looked at him, he didn't care what we thought of him, he didn't care about what we thought he was screaming about he just did and that's when we were like 'yeah this is the guy for the job'. I was just pure unadulterated aggression and passion in his vocals. And you could see that in the physical repercussions of what happened to him. Two black eyes from no physical contact other than from screwing his face up and popping them all.
I don't need to ask why the harsh vocals then?
(Chris) It fits the style.
(Toby)It fits the style and going back to what we were saying before about it, its right for the music.
(Chris) It conveys emotion doesn't it?
(Toby)I don't think there would ever be a need for what one would consider 'singing' in a traditional sense on an Atavist tune because I don't think it would work with it, there may be bits with like spoken word.
(Chris) Singing doesn't work also because the instruments deal with the melody as such and the vocals are there to add like and extra instrument as appose to a different melody line or whatever, it's a harshness that you can't get from an instrument.
(Toby)Also at the end of the day you can't 'sing' aggressively or in an emotion that is fitting to what we are doing apart form maybe crying like you are in My Dying Bride or something and getting your hankey out. It just doesn't work like that. This isn't some fucking great big theory that I've got you just look back at earlier bands of the time like early Napalm Death starting with the guttural vocal style and early death metal bands.
(Chris) he only people who can get away with singing and being cool and heavy is Black Sabbath.
(Toby)Yeah that is it. Or no maybe like Solitude Eternus or like Wino, Wino sings that guy has got the most amazing voice
(Chris) They're kind of like bordering on stoner so it's a different vibe.
Ok I'll just finish with what are your plans for 2006?
(Chris) Initially get the new drummer up to speed.
What happened with Jamie?
(Chris) His long term girlfriend got really ill and had to go back to America.
(Toby)So he did the dutiful thing.
(Chris) He didn't really know what was going on, she went over there for maybe a year and I guess one thing led to another and he missed her and wanted to go and be with her so like so he went over to the States. We didn't part on particularly bad terms, we appreciated we're not the biggest band in the world and everyone has got their own agendas and he wanted to go and be with his girlfriend and get married and he's a bit older like 10 years older so that's what he wanted to do. We got this new guy Callum.
(Toby)He was playing a band called As The Tide Consumes from Lancaster where I was from.
They were a pretty good doom band in their own right.
(Toby)They started around the same time as us.
(Chris) They claimed to be fairly influenced by what we were doing which was nice.
Which was really nice for us to be able to offer the position of our drummer to their drummer.
(Toby)He's really young 18-19, coming up to nearly ten years younger than me! But, he's a solid drummer he's good, really good, he's picking shit up so quickly. They have cited us as an influence so to be able to turn round to them and say we need a drummer do you want to do it its quite nice in a way to give something back.
(Chris) Because we have the label nw and are able to put records out its nice to be able to offer someone who's kind of respected you, not necessarily that you'd know about it but its really nice to be able to go 'do you want to aid us in our quest?' (laughter) ]
(Toby)He's a sound guy and he's going to be a really good addition to the band.
(Chris) Going back to the question of 2006 other than integrating Calum into the band we've got a 20 minute track that we've written for a split LP with this band called Gonga who are also on the same label. Then we've got maybe two thirds of the new record written so we will have to practice that with the new drummer
(Toby)Do some bloody gigs!
(Chris) Do some gigs obviously put the two new records out
(Toby)Be in bed by 10!
(Chris) Obviously Toby will be in bed by ten. We can mention that; Toby is a waster who takes too many drugs so all the cool aftershow parties I have round my house with the bands we are playing with I get to and Toby gets to go home because he peaks too early - like in his love life. (laughter)
(Toby)Nah I never peak in that!
(Chris) But yeah the plans for 2006 - more gigs more records
(Toby)Maybe a couple of odd releases, maybe like this split on INVADA and then maybe see if we can do a split with someone else
(Chris) We've also been thinking of maybe doing a noisy/drony record, which either may turn up as a second cd on the second album or a tribes of Neurot to Neurosis type deal
(Toby)Just some ideas that we want to try out really and some of the stuff we've been talking about and you know the initial idea was that the next album is going to be two cds - like one with more riffy - a similar kind of style to the first one and then the second cd will be more organicy kind of drone and field recording, just a bit more weirder stuff. We're going to do some preliminary demoing of it and see how it turns out and if it holds up on its own maybe do it under a different name. Also with Shane and Chris there's no reluctance to try something new, if we want to go off and record some stuff..
(Chris) For example - one of the new songs which Toby hasn't actually heard has got an acoustic section in it - which may or may not work but we'll try it and see how it turns out but it's a different tangent to stuff we've done before so we'll see how it turns out
(Toby)That's the best thing about this fucking band, the fact that we can just do whatever we want and by the grace of god or... whoever people seem to be picking up on it and digging it which is just insane really
(Chris) One thing I'd like to add is like the way that we set our gear up and stuff is that we use minimal effects, we only have one effects pedal each - we try and do everything though song writing and craftsmanship rather than having effects though everything , I think we try to be more 'organic' or 'pure' than some other bands who maybe use tons of effects to get the same sort of emotions
(Toby)It never ever fails to amuse us when we're playing on bills - like literally when we set up its literally 'plug the cabs in, plug the heads in , guitar effects- one effects pedal - volume - quick tune up - that's it, we could be on and set up in five minutes
(Chris) Basically right - Esoteric - good friends of ours, excellent band, we played with them a couple of times, we played with them last at the Underworld in Camden they set up for two hours and played for 45 minutes
(Chris) But you can't take anything away from the guys cos they sound massive - its just sort of put it in context to how we are - we come on stage plug our amps and pedals in and we're ready to go
(Toby)And we still sound massive! But that's the kind of band Esoteric are you know I think they love all that stuff
(Chris) I think we have a purity of our own, we just try and let our fingers do the talking as opposed to just the effects maybe
(Toby)Its just power! Basically , being able to create that kind of level of volume and the power behind it, in like a really simple set up.And it works - you just can't argue with the power of the rap
(Chris) Well take Moss for example or Agent of the Morai, there's a band from Leeds called Agent Of The Morai, or Moss from Southampton - and Moss have like a guitarist and a drummer and a singer - they've got a big sound 'they are as - if not more nihilistic than we are and you can't take anything away from them because like we're quite similar but they're got a different take on it. And take Agent of the Morai who area totally different band - who are kind of Stonery Iron Monkey
(Toby)Very kind of all things Wino
(Chris) Very Iron Monkey influenced
(Chris) Stonery heavy - they've got a guitarist a drummer and a singer - its just the way they work their equipment that gives them the sound and like and I think they equipment is a big part of what we do so I'd say if anyone else was think about doing doom think about your equipment before anything else
(Toby)Yeah you can't do doom with a weak set up - its all the power - that's the key to it basically its making the
(Chris) The turning point for Atavist was when I bought a SUNN amplifier
(Toby)That was it, just instantly the volume was there and the depth and everything like that and it was just fantastic,
(Chris) Cheap shitty gear from the 70's that is just so hard wearing you could drop it off the empire stare building and it would be fine at the bottom
(Toby)it sounds like a fucking bomb going off - I believe the exact phrase is 'heavier than a concrete cunt'
(Chris) I reckon that pretty much sums up Atavist - in two hours!!
Extracts of this interview originally appeared in the fanzine 'Rock-A-Rolla Magazine' Issue 2.