In the tiny little metal world that is my life, Attan have recently become a very big deal. From the moment that I first heard their début EP ‘From Nothing’ I’ve been smitten. Here we have a band that almost perfectly blends savage, violent hardcore with dense, apocalyptic sludge. Frankly, I can’t get enough and I am more than eager to see what they do next.
Anyway, I took the opportunity to catch up with Fritz-Ragnvald Rimala Pettersen, (bass/vocals), to find out a bit more about this enigmatic new band and what they have in store for the future.
First off – I love From Nothing – such a great release!
Good to hear and thank you for doing this interview.
For those who are unfamiliar with your band – introduce yourself!
We’re are a bunch of friends that got to know each other mainly through playing in bands, going to gigs and all that stuff. Some of us go back all the way to childhood and others first met in a bar a few years ago. All of us are from tiny Norwegian towns/villages, most of them located above the Arctic Circle. This something that has had a profound effect on our personalities, and something that still plays tricks on us and the people around us every day. The ice cold and desperate aggression in ATTAN is, in many ways, a product of that.
Give us a bit of background to Attan
ATTAN started in early 2014. We had been talking and trying out some stuff before that, but it finally came together in the beginning that year. All of us have been in different bands for years, so with ATTAN we wanted to focus on the stuff that really matters. We wanted to put together a group of people that enjoyed each other’s company and share the creative process. This will always be the main focus of this collective of ours. Being in a band there are so many distractions from the things that really matter, so we wanted to make sure that the camaraderie and creativity where the main thing. Everything else is secondary.
What are your influences?
Inspiration can be found all over; art, philosophy, science, literature, religion, politics, movies, videogames, beer, booze, loners, liars, traitors and thieves. Musically, there is also a lot of different stuff going on. The five of us all have a lot of different things we listen to, some of it we have in common and some if it we don’t. It’s a good thing cause there is always one in the group that has something new for the others to check out. When we’re on the road the stereo will be playing everything from Neurosis to Death Grips, Tom Waits to Leviathan, Arabrot to Kate Bush and Depeche Mode.
What are you listening to at the moment that you would like to recommend?
Public Image ltd – Religion I and II has been coming back to me for the last six months. It’s powerful stuff and sadly, just like any given love song, the theme of the tracks are forever relevant. Plebeian Grandstand – False Highs, True Lows is really exciting, and devastatingly relentless. With the new record Bottomless Pit, Death Grips have finally come out of what ever it was that they where in and released a beast. That blast beat opening, oh yes! Also check out our friends in SIBIIR, they only have two tracks out so far, but they are heading for the studio real soon to start work on the first full length. Should be a slayer!
How do you feel that you fit into the wider metal scene?
This is something that doesn’t concern us at all. I hope we fit where creativity is first and rules and boundaries are last. Luckily, there seem to be a few like-minded people out there. Like Shelsmusic, the label that picked us up and released our EP. Great folks with a great philosophy as a foundation for what they do.
Give us a bit of background to ‘From Nothing’ – any particular concepts or ideas you want to discuss?
We recorded the EP ourselves in a barn a few miles outside of Oslo. When we went in to record it we didn’t really know what wanted to do with the finished product. We knew however that we wanted it to be more than four or five random tracks thrown together. We wanted every song to have its place in a narrative, so to speak. Not necessarily in the lyrics, but more of a musical narrative with a definite beginning, middle and end. When writing we held back on entering the studio until we had that last song in place and it felt like we had accomplished what we set out to do. Then we sent it to a few record labels. Shelsmusic jumped on it and released it digitally and on vinyl. I’m really pleased with how it ended up, but at the same time I know how much more we have brewing in this band. The EP holds its own, but it will be heavily outdone by what is to come.
Talk us through the different songs on this EP – what do they mean to you?
F: This is where it gets a little tricky. I don’t want to give away too much. Your interpretation is just as good as mine. We originally wanted to include the lyrics in the vinyl release, but that fell through. So if anyone reading this wants lyrics, just get in touch and we’ll send them to you.
Tell us about the album artwork
American artist Seana Reilly did the artwork. Her work is just amazing and we’re really proud that we got to use her art for the record. She does a lot of abstract paintings where, from what I can understand, she has some sort of chemical process with graphite and other stuff going on. It is fascinating and the artwork is really powerful. When I first stumbled across her work online it had a profound effect on me. I highly recommend checking out her website: http://sreilly.com/
How do you go about writing your songs?
It’s a collective effort; one of us will either record a rough sketch at home and send it to the others, or bring an idea to rehearsal. After that we work on it as a group, trading ideas back and forth. This process will then go on for days, weeks or months, until we’re satisfied. Remi (vocals) and myself do lyrics, mostly on our own, but there is always some sort of collaboration before the lyrics are done.
How did the recording process go?
We did it over three sessions, by ourselves. It was exciting since it was the first proper recording for ATTAN. Hearing the songs take shape and realizing that the music was even more intense than we had pictured was sort of a shock. The studio/barn we recorded in had its limitations though, so for the next one we want to do a lot of things different. Christian Vibe did the mix and really lifted the material to another level. He has great ears and a good understanding of this type of music, so it was great working with him.
What’s your favourite song on the release and why?
That’s hard to answer; it keeps shifting between the tracks. The way the record flows, and the narrative aspect of the record work really well though. As a guy that likes to listen to albums in full, I have to say that I’m really happy about that.
What does the future hold for ATTAN?
We’re pretty deep into writing for the next release, at the moment it looks like it will be our début full length. We’re also working on a few live dates for the fall, so hopefully we’ll see both the first ATTAN dates abroad and recording before the year is over. Other than that there is a music video in the works, but we don’t really know when that’s going to happen.