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Attack! Vipers!

October 9th, 2007 · post by Fred Goodsell · Make a comment

Interview by George Skafidas –

Blending the most authentic American hardcore sounds to produce the most passionate and arresting British ones, Attack!Vipers! have done so much in such a little time. Since their formation in February, the four Brits have played a bunch of ace live shows throughout the UK , supported the Suicide File in London and released their first 7” on Rat Patrol Records. Entitled “Four Short Hymns to the Patron Saint of Bare Knuckle Boxing”, their first release is an explosive amalgamation of dirty melody and unflinching hardcore fury not dissimilar to the Planes Mistaken for Stars and Transistor Transistor sound. On the 22nd of June the four gentlemen came to London to support Racebannon. That evening saw us outside the gig chatting about everything from football and punk rock to ethics and the Portsmouth music scene. Enjoy.

LH: Who are the Vipers and who are they attacking?
Joe: I’m Joe. I sing and I am attacking myself. Lyrically, I guess it’s kind of a blend of socio-political comment and self-hatred.

Tom: I’m Tom and I am attacking myself with the bass.

Mark: I’m Mark and I am attacking the kind of preconceived idea that you have to be up for a record deal to have a band.

Ben: I am Ben and I play guitar. Basically, I write music that appeals to me. I like it to have a certain amount of nastiness, music that’s understandable but just noisy or spazzy. I guess I try to put music parts together in an interesting but dirty way.

LH: Is Attack!Vipers! a punk band?
Joe: If people heard us, they wouldn’t necessarily say, “Hey, they’re a punk band”. I think we have a punk mentality. We follow the DIY aspect of punk rock which is a very important thing to us. Punk bands don’t sound anything like us. I think of us as a hardcore band and that, obviously, came from punk rock.

LH: Is punk rock a sound, a message, a mentality, a community?
Mark: I’ve always thought of punk rock as being more about how you feel, about how you act and what you have in your mind. Having a haircut is not punk rock. It’s about ethics and values.

Joe: It’s kind of ironic because punk has become the complete opposite of itself. It was about not going with the convention and doing what you feel is right. Now, punk is a market, it’s a haircut, it’s a studded belt, it’s a shitty slogan on the back of a car.

Tom: People say, “Oh, you’re in a band. What kind of band are you like?” and you say “I guess we’re a punk band” and they say “Oh, like the Sex Pistols?” and you say, “No, but…” and they say “What would you liken yourselves to, the Darkness?” and you say, “No, but…” and it goes on! It’s just people’s perception about it, people who don’t see it the way we do. It’s hard to communicate this. You can’t say we are a hardcore band that sounds like this and that because they won’t have a clue what you are talking about.

Joe: My girlfriend came home yesterday and she had a pretty nice cross bone belt-buckle. I was quite envious actually. She got it from Accesorize. They have capitalized on this whole kind of emo, semi-hardcore image to make money and as soon it’s dead and buried the happier are we.

LH: You’ve been together for a couple of months but you have already played so many shows and you have more shows lined up for you. How do you explain that? Is it a PR thing?
Joe: Yes and no in some ways. This is our ninth or tenth show I think since March. I am quite a good people person and I have a lot of contacts through old bands and I guess I’ve chased some of those up. I guess it’s a combination of knowing people but also, I guess, people are into what we are doing. Otherwise, they wouldn’t want to put us on. I think what comes across the most, is the fact that we give a fuck about what we do and we put every inch of ourselves into it.

LH: Where is the band based? Where do you come from?
Ben: Portsmouth . I’d say we are a Portsmouth band.

LH: Is there a scene there?
Ben: There used to be a really good scene but not anymore. I think it’s pretty indicative that we haven’t actually played there yet. So, that tells you what you need to know.

Joe: The same people are there but, I think, a lot of them stopped caring. Without sounding like an arrogant prick, we, in our various other bands, got out, toured the country, Mark’s band toured America, we just got out. A lot of those bands stayed in Portsmouth and I think it sucked the life out of them. Most of the bands are trad-indie, wannabe-big, you know, nothing to do with what we are about.

LH: What is it that you are about?
Tom: I’ll tell you. It’s basically four people who are so appalled at the way music is going in Portsmouth. It’s all a bit too nice. Literally, there is no, “Aargh, fuck! These guys are insane”  aspect to any of the music. I mean some of the bands are okay. I love some of the bands but there’s no bands that are actually gonna come at you and rip your throat out. There are all these haircut bands trying to sell a million copies. They realize that they’ve only sold ten copies but all their friends from college still go to their shows. When they get a bit too old to go to shows, they will be like, “well, we’re not coming to see you, we saw you like 12 times last year”.

Ben: I always feel better about my life if I play a gig. Obviously, we work daytime jobs. Especially when you spend all day working and you have to deal with all the bullshit that goes along with it. I can come out of work, drive two hours to London and play really loudly and shout a bit, I feel happier. I feel like it was worth it. Today, it has been a good day because I’m here and I played a show.

Mark: To me being in this band, more than any other band I’ve been in, has been good because we are serious about what we are doing. It’s not like, “Let’s get serious” and have meetings and strategy talks. A lot of bands do that, they talk about what record company is gonna want of them, what people wanna see, is this a commercial track. Fuck all that! We don’t do that. If you wanna write a song that’s a minute long but you enjoy playing it, great. If you wanna write a song that is ten minutes long, the same, great. I just don’t think it is important really anything else except the fact you are just in there enjoying it in the rehearsal space. If you can’t enjoy it there, how can you do it in front of people.

Joe: I totally agree with what Mark said about the practice space. It’s not like a forced feeling but I remember the first practice we had. I was literally punching myself in the face. No, seriously, this is the kind of music I want to play. First, you wanna hear that shit and then you wanna play that shit. But to me, our band is breaking down conventions of what is acceptable. You know, our music collection is comprised of a lot of hardcore punk but there is also a lot of country, blues, jazz, all kinds of crazy shit. You know I can go home and listen to Miles Davis and then go out and go crazy. Our music is a big middle-finger to the people that think they’re gonna go somewhere because their manager or some fucking burnout roadie some five years ago said that they should do x, y and z to be famous. I love the fact that we are getting good shows and we are playing the Barfly in London after a couple of months of being together. There are bands that will never achieve that after years just because they’re fuckheads. It’s true man, they are so geared towards the industry.

LH: How far are you willing to go as a band? Are you willing to record and tour outside of the UK?
Joe: Yeah. We’ve all played before in other bands for years. This is just a continuation really. Nothing will make us as happy as touring Europe and having the opportunity to go to America. It’s not that we are gonna strive for that but if the opportunity came up we’d take it. Recording isn’t so much an issue for us because Mark works at a studio. And we’ll drive for six hours after work to play a show, then drive back home three or four in the morning, then go to work next day. It’s our life you know. We’ll do anything.

Mark: I don’t think that as a band we are against achievement or anything. Some people feel that way. They just don’t wanna go any further than being a little band. It’s like if tomorrow someone came to our show, who runs a pretty decent label that had ethical values, that had worldwide distribution and said, “Can you guys do a record for us?” personally, I think we would all be up for it. It’s not a matter of not wanting success or anything like that. It’s just that you want it on your own terms.

LH: Can you think of an ideal label that you would like to work with?
Joe: I’d say probably No Idea. I love that label. I love everything they’ve put out, their ethics and how they do things.

Mark: Hydrahead definitely. They’ve got good ethics. They’ve got good bands.

LH: When you refer to ethics, what do you mean? What’s so special about these labels that attracts you to them?
Mark: To me ethics comes down to putting music out for pure reasons. Labels that put out records because they say, “We like this band”, not because they’ve got a massive following and they are really big now and they are gonna capitalize on that and position them in the market or anything. These are cynical reasons. No one says that record labels should lose money consistently. Obviously they hope that they are gonna do well but ultimately they have to like the bands they are putting out. I think that’s important. You can usually tell as well.

Joe: To be honest, I will sound like a fool now but, ethics are probably less important to me now than they were a year ago because, when I look at No Idea, they probably have distribution by companies that are off-shoots of big companies. But when I look at the bigger picture I think I’ve got a Sony Playstation, I rent movies made by Warner Bros, I fucking hate bands that stand up and preach politics but don’t look at the bigger picture. I wouldn’t want our music to be released by a major label because that would be making more money for them. I don’t think we would ever be put in that position anyway. I think it’s a kind of bit of give and take for people to label themselves a political band blah blah blah. We won’t do this, we won’t do that. It’s a bit narrow minded because they help, they are funding the companies in other ways.

Tom: We would all love to earn our wage by doing this. It’ll be amazing but…

Ben: I would feel really uncomfortable earning money from playing music. I play music to get away from working. If I had to be in a band to earn a living, if I had to get up every day and go “I’m gonna write a song today”, what if I’m not feeling like writing a song today…

Tom: I was trying to get at that. No one that I know actually makes money by being in a band. Everyone, even American bands, No Idea bands, they still all do jobs because they wanna support the fact that they are bands.

Joe: If you look at a band like Strike Anywhere, they tour most of the year. They sacrifice a family and a home life which some of us crave, you know. They are getting paid something ridiculous like five dollars a day. Obviously they are getting fed at shows and stuff but to do something like that, for a band to go that way would be great you know, living a very meager existence but you are seeing the world, amazing.

LH: How difficult it is to play your style of music nowadays in the UK ?
Ben: Some of our songs are pretty fast and it hurts my fingers!

Tom: We kind of blend in with different bands. We’ve got fast songs. We’ve got a couple of slow songs. So, we can get away with playing with lots of different bands.

LH: Any new bands that you like?
Ben: Hit the Beach. My brother’s band. They’re based in Cornwall . They will go on tour at the end of July. Burning Coalition which is my brother’s other band. They sound like Fat Wreck circa 1996.

Joe: I’ve been listening to a lot of Earth recently which blows my mind. I received a promo by a band called End of the Year. They are on Revelation and they sound like Rites of Spring.

Tom: I’ve been listening to a lot of Modest Mouse. They are a very interesting band. They’ve gone from one extreme to another. Death is not Glamorous, they are very good.

Mark: This Will Destroy You, good stuff. Older bands like Converge and things like that.

LH: What do you hate most in this country? The first thing that comes to your mind.
Joe: Racist bigots.

Tom: Cars and traffic

Mark: Weather.

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