Exclusive Interview: Atarka talk writing and recording “The Mountain”!
You’ve had the singles, the preview interview, the review and a post review exclusive interview with Birmingham Melodic Death Metal quintet Atarka courtesy of Garry at SaN PR so now, as is tradition, we bring you an interview about the writing and recording of “The Mountain“. It’s the sophomore record from the band with four fresh cuts and a guest appearance that everyone has been talking about so without further delay…
How did your previous experiences writing and recording help to smooth the path of the new record? “It was a blessing and a curse, Adam and Dan had carved out a musical concept for a full album before the other 3 of us had even joined and in many ways we just submitted to that creative vision and played in their sandbox which produced an album we’re all really proud of. But when it came to this EP it had a different vibe. Now all 5 of us were getting in on the ground level and it can be stupidly difficult to reach a consensus on a particular structure or feel of a track when that happens. We had moments of frustration which we didn’t get in the ‘Sleeping Giant’ sessions, but it’s all part of the process. Getting in the studio is a big help too, our EP was recorded and mixed by Dan Willett (www.danwillettaudio.com) and we always take his advice on things, he has a real ear for what a track needs and doesn’t need. He was invaluable in the studio and helped us shape the songs into their final forms”
How does the writing process of a new track start? Melody, riff or rhythm first? How does it evolve from there before you consider it the finished article? “It can be anything. Whatever gets you the most excited. We’ve had riffs, chord structures, even a vague concept inside our heads and all of these have evolved into some of our best tracks. For example, Adam wrote the basis for ‘Barbarian’ in midi using an app on his phone while commuting home from work on the bus. Then it’s about bringing the bare bones ideas to the rest of us to flesh out the idea and Alex and Dan are usually the ones who make all the little detailing of riff composition and layering of even more ideas over the top of the base. Phil started to do some midi programming of his ideas for the tracks on this EP which he’ll then perfect in our rehearsal space and we feel this has really blown the rest of us away with what he came up with for the rhythm on these songs. Jamie likes everything to be final before he starts work on the vocals. For example, it’s frustrating to have to change the phrasing of a line because a riff got changed. But this isn’t an issue at all; we just know to leave vocals until last”
In an earlier interview with us you mentioned working on new material with new guitarist Haydn Edwards. How much are you looking forward to sharing that with the masses and letting him show what he can do in the recording studio? “We’ve heard a lot of different things from Haydn over the years playing on our local scene. There’s so many styles he can do really well and it’s going to be interesting to see where chapter 3 of Atarka goes. We have a few riffs floating around which we’re planning on solidifying into fully fledged songs. But there’s no rush this time, after ‘Sleeping Giant’ we wanted to get more new tracks written and recorded as soon as possible because of the 2020 lockdowns. But now we have space to breathe, do some shows, find what the sound is going to evolve into next in a more natural way than it did previously”
This time out you had Björn “Speed” Strid of Melodic Death Metal masters Soilwork making a guest vocal appearance on “Barbarian” but if you had the opportunity to work with a guest in the studio next time around, who would you like to work with and why? “We’ve actually had a few conversations about this, even with no plans to do so, and a common name that crops up is Matt Heafy. All of us have Trivium in our playlists and seeing the work Matt does with other musicians outside of that makes you wonder what you’d end up creating with a talent like his. A close second would be Vessel from Sleep Token, three of us love Sleep Token and two of us don’t really get it… yet. But that would also lead to some really interesting songs!”
For us gear nerds out there, can you tell us what you’re using gear wise (pedals, strings, drums etc) to get your sound? “Haydn is currently playing through a Pod HD500x, Alex is using a Line 6 Helix LT, splitting a signal with IR’s to front of house and Adam is using a Helix HX Stomp. We made the switch from cabs and heads for live shows as it makes travelling long distances that little bit easier. It saves us carrying heavy cabs and heads across the country. We love using these for making our own custom patches for different songs and it’s going to be fun playing around with them the next time we have a serious song writing session.
Haydn uses a PRS Paul Allender signature SE, an Epiphone Matt Heafy signature Les Paul and also a few Dean Razorbacks he likes to use. Alex plays a PRS SE Tremonti Stealth live and Adam used to use Yamaha bass guitars but since an issue with his current model he’s been using a Fender Squire Jaguar bass.
Phil uses a Mapex Saturn v kit with Zildjian cymbals, Black panther snare, Evans heads and Dw 9000 pedal.
As for Jay his most valuable piece of gear is his custom Black Country built vocal chords but he swears by Shure and Sennheiser hardware”
What difference would it make to you as a band if you could land an endorsement from a gear manufacturer? “I guess apart from bragging rights it’s a good cost saver and every penny we save on gear could be put into recording, new runs of merch and getting us to shows further afield. It would be super beneficial for everyone involved, especially if it was a company that’s renowned for making multiple instruments. That being said if anyone wants to endorse us then give us a shout! We’ve always wondered what a signature Atarka amp, guitar or drum kit would look like”