Saturday, 30 July 2011

On a label crammed full of metalcore, death metal and post-hardcore rowdies, it’s a bizarre site to read through a press release drawing on language such as ‘ambience’, ‘atmosphere’, and ‘fragile grace’. Despite the statements subtlety, it leapt out with much greater force, than something leathered in the usual ‘demolition’ ‘chaos’ and ‘rage’ – but more important than simply standing out, it was honest. At The Soundawn’s second release, Shifting, lived by its written definitions; it was l’atmosphère, a red herring, and ultimately a breath of fresh air.

Lifeforce looked to be taking a gamble with ATS. After all, the label had brought through the likes of Heaven Shall Burn, Caliban, and Trivium - not the kind of acts associated with grace and delicacy. Yet, it was the simple process of dovetailing several contacts, and then mailing out a record or two which got them onto Lifeforce Records radar. Guitarist Andrea, begins.

“The story is pretty simple. Right after we recorded our first album, we sent a CD to Drew Juergens, who was in charge at Lifeforce USA at that time. He digged it and sent it to Stefan Luedicke, who was and still is running Lifeforce EU. Stefan loved our tunes, and they offered us a deal”

All looked well. At The Soundawn release Shifting to widespread critical acclaim and then embark on a live show roundabout climaxing in a European tour. Only, the bands blog suggested otherwise. It implied that the reality of being an underground act specifically based in Italy was something of an uphill battle.

“Playing underground heavy music in Italy means a struggle. A struggle against your everyday life, a struggle against your job, against promoters and venues; sometimes against other bands and even we could turn on each other.”

The lack of transformation began to take its toll, when they took into consideration the work which they put into promoting the act, not just in their home town, but across Europe. Staying connected with their following, At The Soundawn kept correspondence with fans through open and sincere blog posts, even letting us into problems in their personal touring routines. This wasn’t about marketing, witty professionalism, or plotted naivety (nor was it a skittish way of trying to flog an extra CD or two). This was a human reflection of how life as an underground act unfolded.

“Before I even thought about running a blog for ATS, I used to spend some time reading other bands blogs. I read about great concerts, great tours, great record deals, great endorsements, great everything, and I was kinda excited. I thought ‘Wow! This or that band is doing such great things!’ This then on reflection, made me pretty mad at myself, and my bandmates. How the hell are we the only ones, who have to fight with our boss to get free days to tour? Why the hell did we travel for 2000 km to play a gig in a filthy club with no P.A. and no crowd, while other bands are playing in great clubs with hundreds of people attending their shows? Why do we have to fight so hard, while everything appears so easy for these other bands?”

“90% of those bands were just lying. Not in a bad way, but they were obscuring the worst part of the job, focusing on the positive side of it and adding a little bit of spice to it, like avoiding saying that there were ten people attending the show and instead they just talked about the great lights the show had - social networking is great at doing this! Another 5% delivered a balanced and true report of their activity but gave a really boring picture, no great success nor great defeats, just a pretty plain life in underground music. And the other 5%... well, those are the lucky ones who really made it, so horns up!”

“The point is, I realized that the very fight ATS has been living through, is the fire which keeps us alive. It’s that struggle that pushes us to do more. It’s the pleasure and unpleasure to have a small but enthusiastic crowd at our shows which gives us the strength to follow our path, to write more music, to write better music, to discuss with my bandmates about a riff, to struggle with my boss to get holidays to tour in, to waste all my money on pedals and gear, and finally, to keep on running the show… And if this is the real point of playing in a band, why don’t I tell it? Why would I keep it in the background? Why am I not sharing our whole experience? I think that every single band out there is facing our same problems. Simply they don’t share it with their fans. We do.”

Andrea’s genuine acceptance brought home the stark reality of being lassoed in the underground – especially when on the surface many make it look gullibly rosy.

Realising that the band had been able to lug their problems around with them, I asked if they had eclipsed any difficulties. Had they found resolutions? “Yes, there have been resolutions – but we’re still living in it”. He also admitted “We’re writing new music and somehow it has changed – but it’s too early to understand how our experience has affected it.”

An undisputed positive was their European tour, which garnered a buzz wherever they choose to play. Explaining the nooks and crannies of the tour, as well as Italian misconceptions, Andrea was both upbeat and modest.

“As far as I can recollect, we had such a great response everywhere. The real matter while touring, as I told you before, is: “How many people will be in the crowd tonight?” We’re not a popular band yet, plus we are Italian and usually Italian bands are not really well received by the audience”

“You know, when you think about Italian music you picture the sea, the sunset, a couple kissing on the beach, some classic guitar notes and a sorrowful vocal fading in. The thing is… how can I blame anyone? That is a big part of Italian music!”

“Anyway, sometimes concerts are pretty bad, usually they’re fine and once in a while they are really great - like the opening show of our last tour, when we played at Progresja in Warszaw, in front of three hundred plus and Shifting sold out in half an hour.”

When I asked about a new album, Andrea was privy to detail, not passing on any information other than that there was something already in the pipeline. He also mentioned a possible tour before the new album launched, hinting at a few shows within the UK.

It was difficult not to feel enchanted by Andrea’s transparency. Here he was, letting us into the core of what the band and himself had experienced, refusing to accept that what they had achieved was enough, even throughout the bands relatively short lifespan. As is often the case, bravery follows honesty, and At The Soundawn carry this in abundance.

“Thank you so much. Keep in touch guys - come to read and discuss our blog here:


Article found at Metal Mayhem UK

Posted by Posted by Andy at 12:32 am
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