Songs for the Dead

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A few years ago North Carolina’s Daylight Dies were the darling of the US death doom scene, picking up the mantle of the likes of Morgion and invoking the Finnish greats like Rapture and such. But 4 only albums in 10 years saw the band sort of fall from the genre’s pinnacle. But you know a band has left a positive legacy when a band starts to mimic you and your sound to a tee. And that’s what fellow North Carolinians Atten Ash have done.

Or more specifically James Greene, the founder, guitarist, bassist and drummer for Atten Ash. Not only has he recreated the immediately  identifiable somber flocked death metal sound played by Daylight Dies, but also even recruited Daylight Dies member Barre Gambling to play guitars. How is that for an homage? And the band recently signed with Canada’s rising Hypnotic Dirge Records, a perfect home for such a sound, and the label recently released the band’s 2012 self released debut, The Hourglass. I caught up with Mr. Greene to delve deeper into he and Atten Ash…

Tell me the history and forming of Atten Ash and how the project came about- what the heck is an Atten Ash?

First, I’d like to say thanks for the interest in the band.  It’s great to hear that the music is seeing the light of day.  And to your point, the band was not really a band back in 2011, even.  Rather, I had some material that I’d been working on for several years by myself – just ideas, really.  I was working with both Archie and Barre at the time and I’d bring in my latest mixes or riffs for their input.  We had all played music together before, so it was kind of a natural progression for us.  With regards to the name, that was a leftover from my time as a solo musician, if you will.  I just kept the name.  Nash is a family name and interestingly, I stumbled upon its etymology accidentally.  It means something along the lines of “near the ash” trees.  I thought it sounded unique, and it was vague enough so as not to mislead people.

Was getting Daylight Dies member Barre Gambling a goal of yours of did it just come about? Did he hear the project and want in after he heard the band?

It wasn’t a goal, it just happened, really.  Of course, it’s flattering when a respected musician wants in on your project.  With Barre’s help and experience, we were able to complete the bulk of the arranging/writing in a remarkably short period of time.  

Daylight Dies is an obvious reference- did you set  out to pay homage to those guys coming from North Carolina and all? have you got any feedack from Daylight dies- other than Barre?

I didn’t intend for the album to sound like Daylight Dies, but with Barre’s touch, it’s definitely there. It sounds like a lot of music in the genre – mid tempo with longer chord phrases.  That’s what I aim for anyways.  It keeps things interesting.  As far as feedback from the other band members, I have not heard any. They’re so spread out around the country now.

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What other influences are there in your sound- i hear some Finnish doom like Rapture.

Yeah, I hear Rapture , too.  Swallow The Sun, October Tide, Saturnus – to name a few big ones.  I love melodic, passionate, and heavy music – some tasteful technical nuance is great, too.  I’m not gifted or creative enough to be able to include the latter.  Some reviewers have described us as having a 1990’s sound.  I never thought about it before, but I do see why they would think that.  We’re old enough to find ourselves boxed into a decade.  I feared that when I was younger, or at least imagined I would.  When you see 45 year old guy dressed like a 1985 metalhead, you begin to wonder if he’s in touch with reality – frozen in time. 

The material on the album is three years old- how different is Atten Ash now from then and what can we expect on any upcoming material? Ie the split with Lycanthia.

Like all bands, we hope we’re maturing.  The new material, so far, is Atten Ash sounding – if that makes sense.  Life has been terribly busy for all of us for the  past year or so.  I’m a new father and it’s not easy to spend marathon weekends writing.  Actually, it’s impossible.  I’m also building a studio of sorts, so that I can work and not disturb the family.  Of course, that’s taken time away from writing now too.  Then there’s the day job…

What is planned after the split?

We keep writing, really.  I think we’re all ready to collaborate again.

Will the line up stay the same for forthcoming releases?

Right now, the lineup will be the same, but we’re considering an addition.  As far as live performances go, we’d have to have another guitarist.  We’ve got a pretty promising guitarist with whom we’d like to work with.  We’ll see how it goes.

How was it working with Hypnotic Dirge records? They seem to be an up and coming label and certainly have a niche fitting Atten Ash’s style rather well…

Hypnotic Dirge is great!  Nick is awesome to work with and he’s been a real asset for us.  You know, the music industry is not what it was 20, even 10 years ago.  Nick has a real grasp and understanding of the way a label is supposed to work.  

Is the deal with Hypnotic dirge just for the hourglass?

I think we’d probably like to stay with HD for future releases. 

Were any changes made from the 2012 self release version of The Hourglass?

No.  As much as we’d like to have had it mastered somewhere, it just wasn’t worth it.  I did all of it in my house.  We would have had a much better sounding album if we’d been to a studio, but at that time, we didn’t know what would come of it.  Changing anything wouldn’t have made a real difference.

What goes into writing morose, doomy music- do you have to be in a certain frame of mind?

I guess you have to be a “doomy” kind of person.  It sounds kind of funny to say that, and everyone can feel that way sometimes, but I think it’s true.  Like a lot of people, I’ve spent a lot of my life in between states of sadness and anger, for whatever reason.  Music does, and should, compliment one’s life.  Morose music doesn’t rub salt in emotional wounds, it justifies it, almost.  I don’t know.  I do listen to other genre’s or subgenres (of metal,mostly) That’s just my take on it.

Are you involved in any other projects at all?

At the moment, no.  I did play drums on a couple of projects with Barre and his wife, LiLi.  “Drakkara” was a trashy band, while “Waning Sun” was a dark, acoustic  release.  It was fun to do those projects as those two work well together.

http://www.facebook.com/attenashband

http://www.hypnoticdirgerecords.com/

Comments

  1. Commented by: Jerry

    It wasn’t mastered and recorded in a house?? Sounds great to me!


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