Last week, electro-metal outfit Attack Attack! announced that their current tour would be their final trek across America. For the last, eight years and three full-lengths, the Ohio-based quartet were a lightning rod for rapturous fan-love and unbridled contempt from haters. In April, the band released a new track online, “No Defeat,” which was an intriguing mix of ’80s FM-rock swagger (thanks to new vocalist Phil Druyor) and the electronic flourishes they built their career on. But instead of carrying on, the band have decided to call it a day.
Well, not entirely: Drummer Andrew Wetzel and guitarist Andrew Whiting weren’t entirely forthcoming about life after AA! While the name Attack Attack! will belong to history, some, perhaps all of the current band members will be continuing under a different name. Jason Pettigrew spoke with the two Andrews about the past, the end and the future, prior to their gig in Denver this week.
Every blogger kid and uninspired freelance writer always starts a band interview with, “So how’s the tour going?” Like any band is going to say something like, “It sucks. We’re losing our shirt and no one cares.” But since this is Attack Attack!’s final swing, it’s a pretty good question to begin with.
ANDREW WETZEL: I wish I could tell you something special about it. But really, it feels like playing your own funeral every night. [Laughs.] The crowd that shows up may or may not care that you’re dead. It’s pretty hilarious, actually. It’s been a real funny time.
ANDREW WHITING: A little bit of both, actually.
What’s the response been from fans?
WHITING: So far, every show has been good for the people who have been there. I guess we’ve worn out our welcome in this scene.
WETZEL: [Laughs.]The kids that are coming out are just super-super-diehard fans. They’ve been listening [to us] since Whiting and I were playing in other bands together before we even made Attack! We’ve been meeting most of them; it’s real personal, and people really do care.
The timing for calling it a day is rather unusual. “No Defeat” was a significant departure from your original rave-core beginnings. You had fulfilled your obligations to Rise and chose not to re-sign. You went through all these hoops to keep the band active—adding bassist Tyler Sapp and singer Phil Druyor. Now you’ve decided to pack it in. Seems awfully strange to reinvent yourself and go, “Ehhhh… maybe not.”
WETZEL: I definitely hear what you’re saying. But at the same time, think about everything you just said. It’s such an uphill battle for Attack Attack!—it always is. We’d prefer not to do that anymore. We’d rather start over fresh and do something else where there isn’t any color on the canvas, so to speak. We can start fresh without having to deal with the Austin [Carlile] fans, the Johnny [Franck] fans and the Caleb [Shomo] fans—all the bullshit we’ve come into being the band that we’ve been. It’s good to start something else.
I remember seeing you at Warped in front of massive crowds and people were going nuts. Then again, I’m not on your bus or in your practice space, so I don’t know if there’s a different dynamic happening within your band. On the surface, you were reinventing yourselves with the last album, This Means War, and it was near and dear to a lot of people.
WHITING: You got to go back to Wetzel’s original point of how the kids that are coming out to these shows are diehards. But you of all people know the importance of media and how an outlook on a certain band [colors things].
Do fans take advantage of bands’ alleged permanence, like they’re perennial flowers? Like, “Yeah, I downloaded the record. I might go see them, or I’ll wait until next year.”
WETZEL: I think that happens to a lot of bands all the time. That’s one of the reasons why we just want to start over and call it quits on Attack Attack! There’s a really weird perception of who and what our band is. And at this point in time, nobody really knows. And Whiting and I aren’t interested in fighting an uphill battle—we’d rather start fresh. We’re not 17 and 18 anymore; we’re not interested in rewriting our previous records. Our tastes have changed significantly enough that for us to keep using the name Attack Attack! as a way to keep fans or whatever, it totally doesn’t make a difference. I don’t care; I’ll find a way to pay my mortgage. We want to start a band we’re going to be passionate about again like we were when we started.
Is the name saddled to a particular aesthetic as well as a fan mindset? Were you seeing a change in the tide? You had members quit; your former lead singer’s band Of Mice & Men are gaining traction. Be they competitors or close friends, do these kind of things affect morale?
WETZEL: When you hear the name “Attack Attack!,” people are going to have a pre-conceived notion of what that is. I don’t want to be part of that anymore. We’ve been doing the scene-band thing for six or seven years now. It was cool, it was an amazing experience. But I’m older now, I’m not into it, and it doesn’t seem like a whole lot of people are.
Were there any other tracks beside “No Defeat” that you had completed? Is there a master tape for a lost AA record on a shelf somewhere?
WETZEL: There are more songs than “No Defeat.” [Pauses.] But that’s all I can divulge at this point in time.
WETZEL: [Pauses.] It doesn’t matter, actually: We wrote a record and it wasn’t necessarily for Attack Attack! We hadn’t really made up our minds with what we were going to do. We went into the studio and wrote whatever the hell we wanted. We [arrived] at something that not only isn’t Attack Attack! in any way, shape or form, it’s something we’re really, really pumped on. There are 14 tracks in addition to “No Defeat” that we’re sitting on.