At The Soundawn: A Musical Shifting

One of the most unique extreme metal bands to come out of the European metal scene, At The Soundawn is a challenging, yet ultimately rewarding musical experience. Based out of Italy, the band is ready to take the world by storm with their brand new release Shifting, now available on Lifeforce Records. Fans of Isis and Dillinger Escape Plan should really take to the wondrous symphony of sound the band explores throughout the recording. Here is a recent interview we conducted with one of the Soundawn guys…

Introduce yourself, tell me what you do in At The Soundawn, and how long the band has been together.
Hi, this is Andrea and I play the guitar. We started playing together many years ago, but the band At The Soundawn was born only in 2005, when we started writing our own music.

Where is the band based out of and what is your local music scene like there?
The band is based in Modena, in the centre-north of Italy, but only three of them live there. I live in Bologna and our singer lives in Florence, so rehearsing is quite awkward! Modena’s local scene is quite crowded but unfortunately most of the acts are tribute bands or anyway they don’t play original music. Nowadays it seems like people are no more interested in creating or listening to new music. Pretty sad, uh?

Is there any story or concept behind the CD title Shifting?
Well, the album is not properly a concept, but all the songs are related to each other. Shifting refers to the condition we all live in. It’s like a collective state of mind in which we all are moving, sharing, comparing to others. Especially in these last times, Italy is progressively turning into a melting pot. Unfortunately, instead of considering this as a precious source of culture and creativity, most of the people think about it in a negative way. We just tried to turn this trend upside down and focus on the positive side of it, especially considering the gathering of (or the struggle between) Western and Eastern culture.

With your music being so radically different than everything else on the label, now did you wind up signing to Lifeforce Records?
Well, at first we got in touch with Drew, who runs Translation Loss Records and also used to be the head of Lifeforce Records America. He is into this kind of music and he really liked our stuff, as he wrote us back in 2006. Anyway, since that first touch, it took almost another year and half to get the deal offering. In the meanwhile, we kept on writing new stuff and we toured a bit around Europe. I think he saw we were working quite hard and that’s why he was finally convinced in proposing our name to Stefan Luedicke. He also dug our stuff and agreed on adding us to his roster.

Describe your music to an elderly relative who seems to be just puzzled by it all…
Nice question. I use to say that we play rock music, mainly based on dynamics and emotions. It means that it can shift from very soft and smooth parts to heavy distortions and yelling. Anyway it’s plenty of melody and you can sing to almost any part of it.

How does Shifting compare to your work on the previous album Red Square?
First of all, Shifting can be considered as our real first album, since Red Square was kind of a trial. We entered the studio just to test ourselves, to see what we could do and finally we end up with a totally unexpected multi-record deal. So we didn’t really know what we were doing. This time, instead, we were a hundred percent conscious of what we were doing, we had total control on every single part of the album and I’m pretty sure you can hear that in the way the instruments fit together. This is something you cannot hear in Red Square instead, because there is not! So finally that’s why we consider the two efforts in two very different ways: like a demo and an album. Anyway I would say that there’s still a common ground where they both lie and that is our way of approaching and partly writing music:- again dynamics and emotions.

Where do you get the ideas for your lyrics? Please cite two songs on the new CD and what the lyrics are about?
The ideas come from the album theme we discussed before. There are two songs I’m really loving. The first is Caofedian. The title comes from a Chinese project for the “perfect city” and it’s the story of a man building the highest tower ever. He’s slowly raising up in the sky but the higher he gets, the less oxygen he can breathe in. So finally he blacks out and falls from the tower. We follow him in his fall, while he’s repeating “So far, so good. So far, so good. So far, so good”. The other song is Hades and it’s about the myth of Hades and Persephone. It’s a song discussing women condition referring to the Ancient Greek culture, that is the cradle of Western culture. It couples with Mudra: In Acceptance And Regret that is about the same theme but in Eastern and especially Indian culture.

Introduce the new vocalist Luca and what bands he’s been in prior to At The Soundawn. And what did you do to Mirco?
Ladies and gentlemen, from Florence, the cradle of Renaissance, on the vocals… Luca De Stefano! About Mirco, we knocked him out, blindfolded and tied up. We put him in the back of the van, drove to the river and threw him in. No way, just kidding! He simply has a job that is very demanding (he’s travelling most of the time) and he couldn’t carry the band duties anymore. So he simply had to give up. We parted in a very friendly way and we’re still close friends. I was forgetting… before joining ATS, Luca used to sing with many different acts in his hometown, playing from pop to metal to electronic. I guess that’s why he can use a really wide range of vocal timbers.

What could one expect from a live At The Soundawn show?
First of all, you can expect for much more dynamics. You know in a live situation you can really move from nearly imperceptible notes to huge walls of sound. Moreover, we have a trumpet that is something you cannot often hear in a metal-hardcore context and that sounds amazing, at least to my ears. Finally, you can really get all the feelings we put into playing.

Has your band ever played here in the States or do you plan to do so in the future?
No we didn’t play there yet but we would love to. Unfortunately it would be pretty damn expensive at the moment and we should probably focus on widely touring Europe first. Anyway you can be sure that as soon as it will be affordable, we’ll hit the US too!

What’s the most unusual thing someone has ever said or written about At The Soundawn?
In one of the first reviews we ever had – so it was about Red Square – a journalist said that the guitars were out of tune. Obviously he had never heard dissonant chords.

Which member of At The Soundawn is most likely to have Rhapsody Of Fire on their IPOD? What about Britney Spears?
That’s easy. Each and every one of us! Hit us baby one more time!

If you could tour in support of any band, who would it be and why?
I would like to tour with Katatonia because I’m mad about them. I think they keep getting better and better with every year passing by, just like a good bottle of Barolo.

Any final words of wisdom?
Usual stuff, come and listen to our music here: myspace.com/atthesoundawn. Become our fan here: facebook.com/atthesoundawn. And spread your love everywhere! Last but not least, thanks for the interview. Stay tuned!

(Interview by Kenneth Morton)

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