According to Attention System‘s bio, they, “manage to fuse electronics, post-punk and ’80s synth pop creating a sound that is fluid and marketable, familiar yet different, sinister yet playful. They’ve been compared to The Faint, The Presets and Does It Offend You.”
Yeah – they do that. I just label their music as slightly dark synth-pop/electronic in the vein of the Killers. But some of the guys in Attention System look like they might rob you in a dark alley and ironically I don’t get that impression from the Killers. So maybe these bands should trade names.
Either way, Attention System is releasing a cd called Wait For My Signal and I had the opportunity to sit down with their bassist Chris Edmonds and discuss the new record.
Let me throw some of the hard-hitting and gritty questions first. When and where did Attention System form?
CE: Attention System came together here in Atlanta around August of 2008. We all knew each other from playing shows together with our previous bands. For numerous reasons those bands had fallen by the waist side and all of these loose elements were kind of floating around town. I had a feeling something good was going to come out of that. I’m pretty happy with the results so far, I feel lucky to be a part of it.
What musical projects have you and your bandmates participated in prior to Attention System?
CE: Too many to count to be honest. None of us are originally from Atlanta, so I’ll just limit it to the bands we’ve worked with once we arrived here. Slow Motion Crash, Creve Coeur, Leechmilk, Siberia My Sweet, The Sexual Sideffects, The Villains (Athens), Liquid Image, Nigredo, etc.
You were a founding member of the stoner metal band Leechmilk and now you’re in a synth-pop/electronic group. What caused the sudden change of heart?
CE: Well, that didn’t happen all of sudden. Leechmilk disbanded in 2001, I had started playing sludge metal stuff in New Orleans around 91 or so. That was ten years in that genre. It meant a lot to me and I was there in the beginning of it. When I lost Leechmilk I kind of lost myself for a while. I didn’t pick up my instrument for three years. I was completely disgusted and had “retired” in my own mind. I couldn’t even go to shows. I hated to go see other bands get off because I knew what it would do to me. I just ran away from everything.
Eventually I started going out to see bands that were in different genres. I could at least cope with that, it didn’t freak me out at all. After a while I just decided it was time to get back in. I had to do something different to keep my interest level high. It’s not easy being in an original band…if you aren’t excited about what you’re doing you will not put up with the hardships for long. Doing something different was essential for me.
Attention System is releasing a new record called “Wait for My Signal.” Can you tell me about the songwriting process behind some of the songs off the record?
CE: This record represents our first year working together so the process itself evolved over that time. The earlier songs were part of the learning curve, blending the electronic elements of our sound with the more organic, traditional, rock instrumentation and it took time to develop. It took a few songs before we started to notice a template that worked for us. To be honest, I feel like that evolution is still in process. Sometimes I think we are just now reaching our terrible two’s and this record reflects our infancy in many ways.
For us it’s pretty rare for someone to walk in with a finished product. Normally a member will bring in an idea and present it to the rest of us – if you get that big eyed look from everyone around the room then we know we’ve got a good starting point.
What are your favorite songs on “Wait For My Signal?”
CE: I’m kind of fond of the ones with the bass cranked way up in the mix!! HA (laughs)! No, let’s see, I can’t help, but like the ones that I’ve seen crowds get off on first hand. Maybe they’re the stronger tracks and that could explain it. I just know that Siren’s City gets a reaction every time. In every city, every crowd without fail, the same goes for Miss Machine. The energy that we get from the crowd for certain songs can change everything. That’s why we play live. We could sit in the bedroom and please ourselves (laughs - did I just say that!) or we can get on stage and see what the public has to say about it. Everything that made it onto this record has passed that test, I doubt that we would ever put anything out that didn’t
Considering the current music business climate, more and more artists are going digital with everything. Why did you decide to release a cd at the local level?
CE: Two reasons , one was a business based decision and the other was more personal. We’re not in any position to limit ourselves at this point. We need to use every medium available to get our music into peoples’ hands. We’re still working hard to get our name out there. A large percentage of press that’s available to us at this point is “review” oriented. Most media outlets that would review our record would prefer a physical copy. It also makes a better impression than sending them a digital record. The physical copy also gives us something to sell on the road. It helps with gas money and if we pair the record with a t-shirt for a price break, we can move more of everything.
The more personal part of it is similar to the reason people carved things into stone tablets for thousands of years. Music comes from the ether, it’s created in your mind, the digital world just can’t satisfy that unexplained urge to introduce your work into the real world. If you spend a year creating work that’s important to you, the thought of never holding it in your hand can be unbearable! Plus, we decided our van was too clean for any respectable rock band. We needed more stuff all over the floor (laughs)!
Many readers may not be aware of this, but you have a long history of working behind the scenes within the music business. Where do you predict the industry will move over the next five to ten years? Do you feel that the era of giant superstars is in its last and dying stages?
CE: That’s a tough one man…things are pretty bleak right now. In the next five to ten years, I predict that the main vehicle for music consumers will be an app. It just seems logical to me. More people are embracing the technology each day, soon there should be a large enough market share for it to be a viable option. It appears to have the ability to make everyone happy. If a band releases a record via app they have more control over the purchase amount and the content as a whole. The fan gets something a little more satisfying than a few songs for a few bucks. They get a constantly updated “link” to the band, artwork, news, blogs, tour dates, special releases, you name it. They have you in their pocket for good.
When I was 14, I would have flipped out to have a Metallica app in my backpack! I think that’s worth $10 – $15 as opposed to $0.99 per song downloads.
So what killed the music business, was it the crappy bands on myspace, the rampant downloading, or all the fat, greedy puppetmasters who control the Big Three – or is that simple?
CE: The music business as a whole is having problems because of downloading. I don’t care who denies it. It’s right there in the numbers – when these companies are having trouble making profit the first place they make cuts is to anything in the “risk” category. That mainly means NEW unproven artists. Offering a new artist a record deal is similar to an investment, when times get tight the investment funds dry up in a hurry. Without new artists things tend to get boring pretty fast!
That’s where things are for the time being. It’s a never-ending loop of rehashed, reworked, repackaged derivative versions of things we’ve seen before. You have to admit it’s getting pretty lame when rock music gets its ass handed to it by the out of control oversexed rebels in the world of golf (laughs)!
If you were starting a band right now in 2010, would you do anything differently?
CE: Not a single thing.
For more about Attention System,
. The band’s cd release party will be at the Drunken Unicorn on April 17. Get a free copy of Wait For My Signal
with the purchase of a ticket.
*Gavin, Chris would like to thank you and Surrounded by Light for helping to coordinate the show. Also Mario Panebianco took one of the photos.