Atomçk: Band Of The Day

By on 15 July 2014

Atomck

Ladies and gentlemen, allows us to introduce Atomçk. If you’ve been keeping an ear to the UK’s fertile grind underground, you probably already know and love this band, but for those of you who haven’t discovered the joys of their lurid, surreal take on the genre yet, here’s a quick primer…

Since forming back in 2006, the band have evolved from their early noise-grind beginnings into one of Britain’s most inventive and exhilarating contemporary grind acts. It was kind of inevitable, really, as these guys have been bristling with ideas since day one – even as far back as their self-recorded 2007 debut ‘The Mote In God’s Eye’, guitarist Luke Oram’s love of prog rock and propensity for great big fuck-off riffs shone through, elevating the record above your average drum machine fuelled bedroom recording.

After a series of self-released EPs and demos, the band’s awesome 2011 EP ‘Yes To Alien Victory’ (which features a drawing of David Cameron’s face melting away to reveal the sinister, interstellar overlord beneath, naturally) was picked up on by Agoraphobic Nosebleed’s Jay Randall, who released it via his own Grindcore Karaoke label and referred to them as “the UK’s answer to Discordance Axis”. Although the band themselves are far too self-deprecating to admit it, he wasn’t far off the mark there; the trio’s intricate, light speed assault is certainly reminiscent of Jon Chang and co, as are vocalist Linus’ guttural barks and inhumanly shrill screeches, but thankfully, Atomçk aren’t just another one of those bands who try in vain to recreate ‘The Inalienable Dreamless’ ad infinitum.

Just wrap your ears around their magnum opus, 2012’s ‘Never Work’ for proof – opening with a stonking great stoner rock riff that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Acid King record, the mini LP then explodes in a hallucinatory, technicolour burst of grind carnage. There are shades of Brutal Truth’s whacked-out, gonzo grind shenanigans in there, as well as Sore Throat’s fondness for blurring songs together into a frantic mess of sound. Basically, if you’re in any way interested in grindcore, this stuff is the shit and you should go and listen to it right this very second…

OK, done? Good, now let’s move on. The band have just finished working on a brand new EP, ‘Whitewashed’, which is due to be released very soon via Wooaaargh! Records, so we decided this would be a fine time to catch up with Luke and find out more…

WORDS: Kez Whelan

WHO ARE THEY: Atomçk
WHERE ARE THEY FROM: South Wales/Bristol
FOR FANS OF: Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Discordance Axis, Brutal Truth
LATEST RELEASE: ‘Whitewashed’ (WOOAAARGH Records, 2014)
WEBSITE: Official Site, Facebook & Bandcamp

Could you tell us briefly how you all met and formed Atomçk?
Luke (Oram, guitar): “Linus and I formed Atomçk when we both lived in Newport (South Wales). We met via our involvement with various harsh noise/experimental/whatever bands that were doing the Newport gigging holy trinity of Tjs, Le Pub and Meze Lounge in the early 2000s. It was all very just-graduated and we are frequently amazed we are somehow still going. Karl joined the band a few years ago when our previous drummer Marzena departed, by which point we had all moved to Bristol.”

Did you have a specific sound in mind when you formed the band, or did that grow and evolve as you played together?
Luke: “The main idea was to sound as abrasive and unpleasant as possible, and play fast songs. Obviously that changes in various ways over the years in an organic fashion, but I like to think it’s still the basic premise.”

What kind of stuff are you and the rest of the band into? Who would you cite as influences?
Luke: “We all like and dislike a great deal of music. Often the same music which makes agreeing upon a new song difficult. Some of the main influences that originally gave us the idea of doing this stuff – lots of noisy Japanese grind from ages ago. CSSO, Gore Beyond Necropsy, Bathtub Shitter. Those bands were really weird and interesting and had a lot of cross over with straight-up noise that we also liked. Obviously the genre classics – Sore Throat, Napalm Death etc – are in there as well, as is anything that sounds good and has integrity. We all really like The Melvins, for example. Personally I like Captain Beefheart and King Crimson a lot. People, eh?”

How does your writing process normally work out? Will you meet up with song ideas pretty much fully formed beforehand, or do you tend to jam stuff out a bit more?
Luke: “I usually write guitar stuff and bring that to practice. From there we tend to move stuff about and change things or add additional electronics, whatever we think makes it good really. Overall it’s lead by bringing in riffs, but those riffs are often just a bunch of disharmonious racket anyway.”

What can you tell us about your forthcoming EP, ’Whitewashed’?
Luke: “We recorded this quite a while ago so I’m glad it’s finally getting released. Most of the songs are about things in UK politics that we think are bad, or reactions to stuff we have seen in the underground scene around us. Basically we tried to remember half our lives ago and write some sixth-form protest music.”

As well as your work with Atomçk, you’re also a pretty prolific illustrator, and have provided artwork for several releases now. How did you get into this line of work, and what would you cite as the biggest influences for your art?
Luke: “It’s pretty much just what I’ve always done to some degree, even before I got into playing music or anything like that. So many great artists have influenced what I try to do, I find it hard to single any out specifically… I guess I am most enthusiastic about ’80s science fiction book covers and also a great deal of classical painting. I take from those what I can.”

oram

What would you say are the main similarities and differences between making a piece of visual art and writing grindcore?
Luke: “Both require a good deal of background understanding if you want to avoid making stereotypical rehashes of what has gone before. Visual art has more objective “rules”- things won’t look right if they are out of perspective for one immediate example – whereas music is much more about individuated expression. Both can lead to narrow-minded self importance hahah.”

The UK grind scene seems to be in rude health right now, are there any bands lurking under the woodwork you want to give a shout out to that we may have missed?
Luke: “Oh, I’m pretty sure you have covered them all on the way down the barrel that lead to this, but instead of just naming my friend’s bands I’ll pick some that I feel deserve some attention: Sufferinfuck, Fetus Christ, The Day Man Lost. Also I wish Joe Pesci would reform.”

What’s been your best moment as a band? And on the flipside, what’s been the worst thing to happen to you in music?
Luke: “Tough question. Quite a while ago we played OEF which was a definite highlight, and is something of a milestone. Creatively speaking the last time we recorded, for me, felt like we were getting something right for once. There isn’t so much of a single worst event, more a grey continuum of vague disappointment. Or if you were hoping for something humorous then I’ll cite the time I was wandering around a venue in the Czech Republic, trying to hide the large bottle of road-urine I had been lumped with disposing of.”

What does the future have in store for Atomçk?
Luke: “We have two EPs in the can and waiting to come out (‘Whitewashed’ being the first) and we are over halfway through writing a new full album. At the same time we are attempting to fight through the weapons-grade indifference to organise a European tour this Autumn. It’s been a long-term goal to somehow tour Japan as well, however unobtainable that may be.”

About Kez Whelan

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