It’s been exactly two years since the release of Atterkop’s debut album “Liber Abaci”! A cracking release! As one reviewer noted, it’s “an album as hard-hitting in its beliefs as much as it is in its vibrant and genre-crossing Punk-Rock sound, Liber Abaci is chaotic, intense and quite beautiful in its focused, tenacious and unrelenting rage.” Well put!
Here’s an interview we did with the band shortly after the album’s release.
Without further ado, and just in time for their record release show, here’s an interview with Atterkop! Very happy to be one of the labels assisting in the release of their first full length! On this side of the pond you can get a copy of of the album from Rebel Time Records …
Reviews have started rolling in, with The Punk Archive saying, in part, that the album is a “consistent, eleven strong, full-length debut of quality ska-punk, at times littered with a darker, heavier, more thrash-orientated edge than what is normally expected. It pays off massively, with the dubbier sections showcasing the band’s musical sensitivity and the punkier sections detailing the group’s more personal side. Whilst still a fair way off from smashing the system, it’ll at least be likely to be monopolising people’s speakers long after its release.”
Music for social change, not profit!
What (or who) the heck is an ‘Atterkop’?? Other than the fact that you are from Bristol, England and have regular hang-outs with our pals in Spanner, we really don’t know a whole lot about you lot. How about an introduction?
Okay, so ‘Atterkop’ consists of Chris (vocals), Ian (Guitar), Luke (Drums) and Alex (Bass). We first started playing together in the late winter of 2012. Three of us were in a very short lived, but thoroughly enjoyable punk band called Private Gain, which disbanded due to our beloved bass player Geoff having to move back to New Zealand, so myself (chris), Luke and Alex wanted to continue playing together but fancied something different and aimed to start a political dub/reggae band… it was something none of us had ever really done before and figured it would be worth a punt! So I called my friend Ian who played in an instrumental reggae band ‘One Shot’, and asked him if he wanted to come to a practice and well, within one practice it was established that we weren’t going to be leaving punk behind any time soon! We kept the band under wraps for 6-7months until we had a full 30 minutes worth of music. Then come the end of spring 2013, I spoke to a few friends of ours who booked gigs around the country and made it known that we had a new band. Then before we knew it we had a 4 consecutive gigs booked.. but NO name… enter ‘Atterkop’. It was a band name that I had at the back of my mind for a few years and thought that perhaps this was the perfect time to finally get it used. The word, (actually spelt Attercop) is typically Old English and translates to “poison head”, and was often used to refer to ill natured persons or feared beings. Also, for anyone familiar with the hobbit, Attercop is the name that a certain Bilbo Baggins gave to the spiders…
The name was put forward and well nothing else was really brought to the table, so we changed the “c” to a “k” so we could gain ‘punk points’ and that was the name. It stuck and we continue to ride it out, even though no one really seems to know what it means 🙂
Atterkop has been describe as “a hefty dose of political dub soaked punk coupled with riff heavy beat downs and frantic ska.” and “aggressive, politically-charged and laced with intricate ska sections.” Accurate?
I guess that’s a fair description of the bands ‘sound’ certainly in the beginning we focused more on fusing ska and hardcore together. Where as over time, we have begun to explore many more genres and musical ideas. I guess the Atterkop mantra is to write music that’s fun to play and challenging to play. All of our songs, lyrically are lined with a strong anarchist sentiment – There is never any lack of inspiration. For example the soon to be released LP tackles issues surrounding mental health awareness, expectations of gender roles, European refugee crisis, deforestation and direct antifascist action, if you want to go into those a little more we can, all you got to do it ask ;), but ultimately we will use the 30 minute set we have armed with microphones and amplifiers to bring up issues and topics that we feel are important to consider and for other individuals to think about and discuss.
You’ve got a new album out and it’s called “Liber Abaci.” Honestly, I keep calling it “Liberace, but I’m pretty sure the album isn’t a tribute to ‘Mr. Showmanship.’ What’s behind the title? What’s behind the album?
Okay, so I am going to try and sum the idea behind the title has quickly and as promptly as possible…
“Liber Abaci” pronounced “LEE-BER AH-BA-KEYE” is an ancient book of numerals written by Fibonacci and directly translated reads as “The book of calculation” or “Book of the abacus” it was the first book to truly explain the hindu-arabic number system and addressed the applications to both commercial trades men/women and mathematicians. It could be argued that this book acted as the keystone for how global economies and businesses operate – by providing the mathematical basis for trade between East and West.
Its also worth mentioning that the album artwork (drawn by our good friend Ian Gibson) is also a nod to the Fibonacci Sequence as it depicts the Nautilus, a prime example of a mathematical equation operating in universal law. This highlights how advances in knowledge can open our understanding of the world around us but can also be used to control it
So, I guess the theme for the whole record was nature and numbers. Looking at how humans interact with one another, interact with other species and how we treat our surroundings. As well as trying to execute various time signatures…
This entire album was recorded by Ian (guitar), its a great feeling knowing that the whole record was written and recorded by ourselves, we had the privilege of working with a handful of cracking musicians who feature on the album, Duncan from Bristol reggae band One Shot played the keys, Alex Gordon and Matt Dowse of Citizen Fish featured on the trumpet and trombone and our good friend Matt Martin (Made Of Ale Studios/Pumpkin Record) was drafted in for mastering duties and as a result the record sounds perfect (to us anyway). It is also safe to assume that the record labels and distros that helped us release this record also thought that it was worth a punt, we are really chuffed to release the record on such a wide variety of labels, i will give you a little run down as to who is involved…
Riotska Records – This is the record label that i co-run with my wife Claire.
Pumpkin Records – Long time friends of ours, based in Bristol/Manchester UK
Prejudice Me Records – Two of the best people in DIY Punk, 100% of their money made goes to grass roots radical causes.
Ronce Records – busy French Punk label.
Forwst Records – Brand new German label/distro based in Hamburg
Rebel Time Records – Obviously you are great, and we love everything you put out and stand for.
Kibou Records – UK hardcore label ran by our friend James who plays in The Domestics
Uncomfortable Beach Party – UK punk label/promoter ran by our friends in the punk band Casual Nausea.
Abracadaboum – cracking distro based in France.
Let’s talk about a couple of the songs … “Every Boy, Every Girl” … you mentioned that this song is about : “the rigid definitions of gender and how we have our identities sculpted for us through means of advertising and tradition.” Please, expand!
So the concept for the song “Every Boy, Every Girl” is something that had been floating around in my mind for a while. I have always found it incredibly infuriating how we as individuals are expected to conform to the gender binary. We are somewhat forced to subscribe to the Male or Female category and throughout history the association with
either one of these gender roles brings particular stereotypes. It is these stereotypes that we wanted to attack and deconstruct with this song. Mainstream media plays a huge role in attempting to dictate and force their ideas and perceptions of how each specific gender category should behave, dress, interact and dream. People have the right to be who they want to be and if you feel that the connotations and guidelines of Female or Male labels are weak then that’s okay. It is okay if these labels do not fully describe you. It is okay to break away from that. But in the same breath If you are able to subscribe to the binary then that too is okay, we are just trying to highlight that whether you are happy with it or not, there are rigid stereotypes and expectations of gender roles within society and that is what we have an issue with. As I said previously, you can be whatever you want to be.
“If We Stop, We Die: “a tune which looks at a number of topics, mainly contempt for the state, police force and how we should try and work together and all strive for the greater good. ” Please, elucidate…
The song “If We Stop, We Die” is a ‘hats off’ to every single person who has committed themselves to a form of left wing radical activism. On countless occasions I have been left in awe of simply how much particular individuals and groups are able to achieve when they set their minds to it. The song touches on the freedom of expression and the fact that just because you have the right to freedom of speech, that does not make It okay to subscribe to inherently racist ideals and agendas. Our current and previous governments alongside mainstream media have worked hard in conjuring fear among the masses and directing hatred towards those who fall under their demonized categories of “Immigrant”, “Foreigner” and “Benefit claimant” and as a result, dividing and segregating the country. Consequently a rise in far right fascist ideologies and movements make themselves known. The chorus of the song…
“the backlash is building, it will come soon. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should! The true foundation of our liberty, is it exercise our right to defy. Eradicate elements of ignorance and free society from violence”
…serves as a piece of advice to all those that choose to swallow the complete nonsense that is constantly put in front of us. Legislation is put in place to try and keep people from speaking up and acting out against forms of oppression. The illusion that if you “put your mind to it” and “get a proper job” you will be able to smash through the glass ceiling and live a debt free existence, with no worries or woes. Existence is an upward struggle and it’s a much harder struggle when we face it on our own. It’s imperative to maintain healthy relationships with those in your community and if we all come to together and fight in whatever way we can for the greater good then we may be able to secure the comfort and security which we all desire…. And that’s what the whole song is about in essence. It’s the longest tune on the record clocking in at 5minutes and it is one that just about refers to everything. But to conclude, “if we stop, we die” is about not giving in to fascist mentalities and ideologies, refusing to respect those that protect those ideas, and trying to build a better future – together.
You just released a really really cool video for the song Picket Fences … how’d that come about and what’s it all about?
Our tune “Picket Fence” was written back in 2014 when the housing estate that I live on in Bristol was targeted by the National Front (A far right movement that pedals hate and racism) They had armed them selves with spray paint and painted a vile slogan of racial hatred along the main road, that runs along one of the main bus route. Needless to say the graffiti was removed promptly. You see, Bristol is a wonderfully diverse city and that is what makes it such a special place to live, it is a melting pot of culture and this behaviour will not be tolerated. The chorus “Your days are numbered. We will defeat you. We are antifascist, through and through” rings true with lots of people that listen to us and watch us at is in solidarity with all those that have been and continue to be directly affected by fascist behaviours and intimidation techniques. Further more it is an ode to every single individual that actively stands against the threat of oppression from the far right. Whether you partake in direct action, designing artwork, singing about antifascism, fly post, give out leaflets, run info stalls, organise benefits and fundraising events or wear the t-shirts – whatever it may be all the little things we do as individuals add up and contribute towards the greater good. So bearing that in mind we wanted to capture that in a 3 minute music video. So we asked Ian ‘Sean’ Gibson – Family member, good friend and exceptionally talented illustrator to help us out (its worth mentioning that he also drew the artwork for the album). We gave him a loose idea of what we wanted. I believe some of the buzz words were – “Bristol, Antifascist action, cartoon violence, community, happy endings”. He nailed the task perfectly and the result was a wonderful video that carries a solid message that is family friendly 😉
The record release show is happening on October 1st in Bristol. Opening bands are Spanner and Little Fists. How’d these two outfits get drafted for this show? And, how’s things in Bristol these days??
That’s right our record release is on the 1st October 2016 in Bristol, UK. The two bands we have asked to join us for the celebrations are Spanner, also from Bristol and secondly Little Fists from London, UK. First of all, Spanner, who I know you lot over at Rebel Time Records are familiar with, are for us one of the most humble and modest punk bands around. They are a prime example of everything a punk band should be. Their politics come before anything else and their music really is a tool for instigating social change. Not only are their politics on point, but they are also eager, keen and supportive towards us as a band. To play a record release gig in Bristol and not have them play wouldnt have felt right. They are top people and good friends of ours and if you aren’t familiar with them you need to head over to their website www.spannerintheworks.net and get to know them! As for little fists, we have only ever seen them play once at a house gig in London. Their music was technical, lyrically their politics were on point and they were nice people to boot. They have never played Bristol before and we thought we would invite them to our city. Which, despite being relatively small (population of 450,000) is a great hub of (sub)culture and alternative thinking, and its home to the wonderful Kebele social centre!
Obligatory final question. What’s up next for the band?
Next up for the band, we are currently working on album number 2 and are more than half way through writing it, But other than that, it is to simply carry on as we are, whilst trying to play more gigs/tours and festivals over UK/Europe and it would be brilliant to head out your way (Canada/USA) sometime soon, but in amongst all that, its important for us to continue to hold a solid political message within our music, use our music to fundraise for grass roots causes and to write tunes that initiate conversation. So long as all the a above is happening and we are having fun whilst it’s happening – we are happy!