Grindcore trio The Atrocity Exhibit are a MK/Northampton act who have recently released their first “proper” full length album, Extinction Solution. The band – James Caygill [vocals/guitar], Olly Edwin [bass/vocals] and Matt [drums/vocals] – have been ploughing their unique furrow for many a year and now have a refined piece of work to shout about. New Boots gets the skinny on everything from Caygill.
How did you guys get together?
The band kinda started around late 2005 with myself and Lee (ex-guitarist) just jamming out some ideas, just mashing everything we liked together. It was a lot less cohesive then, but now it’s been more reformed into our own style. Just a bunch of people who wanted to make some noise. Our first gig was six months later and a shambles really, a pretty standard story for most bands I’m sure. We’ve been through a lot of changes over the years and the current line-up has been going about nine months.
How would you describe your sound?
Grindcore mixed with crust punk. Blastbeats and d-beats, and occasional awkward angular riffs in silly timings. We try and write interesting energetic songs, but also avoid conventional song structures.
Who do you feel are your main influences?
Motorhead, Black Sabbath, Soilent Green, Acid Bath, Melvins, Hard To Swallow, Iron Monkey, Napalm Death, Extreme Noise Terror, 80’s punk.
How has the band progressed since 2006? Is it a case of sticking to your core values throughout that time despite all the natural changes bands go through?
I think we quickly became a lot more focused musically, when we started all the songs felt completely different but now it’s more part of a ‘sound’. Every line-up change has had a bit of an influence on shaping it though. As for values we’ve always been sticking to a rigid DIY ethic. We try and do as much as possible ourselves rather than paying someone else to make the effort; it’s harder work but a lot more rewarding and personal. When we do work with other people then it’s usually involving our mates. The UK DIY scene is small but pretty healthy and self-sustaining, everyone helps each other with organising gigs, recording, artwork, printing, etc.
You’re a fan of the EP, but this is your first studio album. Is it hard to decide in what format to release your songs?
It’s actually our first proper full length! We did a live tape (a split with Atomck) for a European tour back in 2011 but I think we only actually made 30 copies of that, and it was a live recording anyway. All the copies sold out on tour but then we got quite a bit of attention from it being distributed online by Randall from Agoraphobic Nosebleed, on his Grindcore Karaoke Bandcamp page. Most of the time the EPs were a result of us trying to release things fairly quickly, we’ve played a lot of gigs and between live shows and changing line-ups it was good to try and keep new music out there. It also makes it more affordable for smaller bands, especially when its working together with split releases.
In terms of format vinyl has always been the preferable option for our scene, or maybe cassette. CDs always sell much slower. Having a Bandcamp page is essential, but otherwise I never really pay much mind to the digital end of things.
Tell us everything about Extinction Solution.
We recorded it with Boulty up at Stuck On A Name Studios in Nottingham. SOAN is a fantastic place and a real sweet spot for the DIY scene, covering practice rooms, live shows and recording. Every town needs somewhere like this, but sadly they’re incredibly rare these days. It was probably the easiest recording I’ve ever been involved with, we just set everything up as we would at practice and smashed out 19 songs together. All the music was basically done in about 90 minutes. Vocals were recorded after a quick breather, and by the time we were finished I think Boulty pretty much had it all mixed. We’d played those songs live a lot so I think almost everything was done first take: we’d just listen to it and have another go if it wasn’t fast enough.
Releasing it took slightly longer. We worked with nine DIY labels from around the UK, Europe and America, it involved a lot of juggling and many many emails back and forth, but it was worth it in the end. The labels are Woooaargh (Germany), Give Praise (USA), Let The Bastards Grind (UK), Rip-Roaring Shitstorm (UK), FHED (UK), Aktiver Ausstand In Plastik (Germany), Praise Saitan (Austria), Visions Of Warning (Northern Ireland), and Existential Dread (UK). Released on LP (pink or black vinyl), cassette, and CD, as well as digitally in the usual places. Spotify and that are a bit crap though so I’d rather you just stole it and sent us a quid.
The illustration for the front cover was by my good friend and old housemate Amy Edwards, she’s a brilliant artist and works in a tattoo studio in Birmingham – one of the best portrait artists I’ve seen. We collaborated a bit on the front cover: she did the hard work of the original black and white ink drawing, and I basically coloured it in. W did a similar thing for our self-titled EP a few years before.
Lyrically most of the songs cover a range of ways that human beings seem addicted to aspects of apathy and self-destruction. Things are crumbling and systems are failing people everywhere, but it’s easier for everyone to pretend it’s going to be okay. It’s fairly nihilistic, but it just seems to get more relevant each year.
What are your live shows like?
A load of sweaty screeching feedback and noise! No messing about. We’ll bang out 20 songs back to back in 20 minutes and get out of the way.
Are you part of a wider scene in Northants/Bucks, playing with like-minded bands? Any favourite bands/venues to play with?
It’s pretty much non-existent around here really in terms of similar bands – there was the great Let It Die from Kettering, but they sadly retired a few months ago. Matt also plays in Casket Feeder from over Milton Keynes way, and I have another band Hot Cops with our old drummer Danny. There are definitely like-minded bands with a solid DIY ethic here though. One that immediately springs to mind is 72%, who’ve always been consistently excellent and interesting. I used to really like Operatives as well, with their Frank Zappa playing the Melvins mix up. Iron Grave are great too on the slow heavy end of things. There’s a local metal scene but we’ve never really been a part of that. In terms of venues, The Lab is the main DIY venue these days and I always enjoy it there. The UFO Cafe is a good spot too, but I think they’ve been limited with sound levels recently.
The UK grind scene is pretty strong at the moment, there’s a bunch of really wicked bands around and each one has their own sound. I’m sure I’ll miss out a few but well worth checking out are; Gets Worse, Afternoon Gentlemen, Human Cull, Atomck, Nothing Clean, Evisorax, Boak, Groak, Endless Swarm, Wheelchair x4, Famine, Gout, Ona Snop, Negative Thought Process.
What has been your favourite moment of 2018?
Finally releasing the album! There was a hell of a lot of work involved behind the scenes in getting that out there so it was a great relief when it happened.
Last album you bought/streamed?
I think the last album I bought was DaDhelo by Chepang, which is banging! Recently I’ve mostly just been listening to a lot of Tom Waits, Hawkwind, Melvins and early Queen. That probably applies most of the time to be honest.
What is your burning desire to do in the future? What plans do you have for 2019?
We’d been a bit quiet for a while this year whilst releasing the album and getting the new line-up ready for shows. So I’m keen to get back on it in 2019 and hopefully head back to Europe and Ireland for some gigs, and I’d love to play Obscene Extreme Festival in Czech Republic as that’s always been a goal since we started. We’ve already been confirmed for Dreadfest in Leeds in March, and Chimpyfest in London for September.
Otherwise we’re finishing off a load of brand new songs for the next recording session. It’s been a slow process but we’ve got about 20 new songs almost there. So that’s hopefully a new album, and we’ve been talking about doing a split with Human Cull for a while.
Extinction Solution is out now