Melodic metal thrashers Atropas is ready for the future. After making a name for themselves with the release of their debut full-length album "Azrael" they have gone on to write and record for their sophomore full-length "Episodes of Solitude" via Wormhole Death and Aural Music. Frontman vocalist/guitarist Mahmoud Kattan discusses this new release with the band having plans on releasing newer music, touring, releasing new merchandise and so much more!
1. Please tell us about the history of your band and its members.
Mahmoud: It’s a bit complicated, but here goes: The whole idea of making music came about, when Phil Tudor (our former guitarist) and myself started playing guitar together. We were around 17 years old, I had only been playing for a year or so, but we had tons of fun and decided to start looking for a drummer and bassist. We found our first drummer, Manuel Kaiser, and bassist, Maxim Ritzi (who, by the way, edited our video for Take Me Home and is still friends with us) and we started writing songs together and we gained some experience. We never played a show in this line up, it didn’t work out for one reason or another.
Drummer Gabriel Moser and now bassist and backup vocalist Kevin Steiger joined us. We played our very first show, I was 19 years old now, with this line up. That didn’t quite work out either, so Gabe decided to leave the band on amicable terms. Sandro Chiaramonte, our drummer since, joined us and learned our set list in something like a week and a half. This worked out nicely for a while, until Phil decided to leave the band this past January to follow different endeavors. Our new guitarist joined us shortly after, Dave Colombo, and that’s about it.
2. What’s the origin of the band’s name?
Mahmoud: That name origins in Greek mythology. It’s the name of one of the moirai, or the three fates. She’s the oldest goddess of fate and destiny and we found her name to be catchy and different. Her actual name is Atropos, we changed that to Atropas for distinction.
3. Tell us about your thought on your local music scene? Are there any new and upcoming bands that you are into?
Mahmoud: The metal scene here is alive and well, but very unorganized in my opinion. There’s very few professional promoters, and even those can’t do this for a living. We are lucky that we happen to be friends with two great promoters (Thank you Jana Mühlethaler and thank you Fabian Umiker). It seems the scene is getting bigger and bigger, which is great. There’s a lot love and respect within the scene. Of course there’s some exceptions, but that’s always gonna be the case. Nothing to worry about at all.
Yeah there’s some awesome metal bands out there! There’s Mycelia (who happen to be our friends and band mates, they are playing our release show together with us), there’s our friends in Save Your Last Breath. There’s a lot of good stuff coming up, and that’s just of the top of my head.
4. How would you categorize the style of the band?
Mahmoud: Our main influences are bands from all over the place and pretty much every era of metal. There’s Pantera, Metallica, Slayer from the more old-school side of things, there’s Machine Head and Trivium with the modern approach, Killswitch Engage, Parkway Drive and August Burns Red with the metalcore vibes, Periphery, Dream Theater and Tesseract with prog influences. So I guess somewhere in between all of those genres is where our style lies. I just call it modern or melodic metal.
5. What can you say about your new album "Episodes of Solitude" and why should people buy it?
Mahmoud: When writing the music for this record, I wanted to write what I wished more bands would do in today’s music. Just honest, raw and to the point metal. The three songs we’ve released so far are very different from each other, and there’s no song quite like the other on this record, but there is a very distinct atmosphere on the record that ties everything together, especially when you listen to it front to back in the order we intended it to be heard. If you like diversity, you will enjoy this album and you should buy it as soon as it’s out. Or just listen and decide for yourself.
6. Who did you use to produce your record?
Mahmoud: We recorded everything at Mathlab Recording Studios in Italy. Jonny Mazzeo and Lorenzo Guddemi took care of us. Jonny is even the one who put us in touch with Carlo from Wormhole Death (Thank you, Jonny!).
7. Tell us about your experience in the studio recording the new record? Was the band comfortable in the studio?
Mahmoud: Man, that was a steep learning curve, biggest learning experience I’ve ever had, music wise. I don’t think anything can really prepare you for a studio, you just have to experience it for yourself, it’s just such a different environment. I’ve never been as challenged and frustrated as when I was recording there, but that’s my own fault, I just didn’t know what was really asked of me. Nonetheless, Jonny and Lorenzo did great jobs getting the best performances out of each and every one of us. It was difficult, but we expected it to be and now that we have the results of that, we couldn’t be happier. We’ve learned a lot and only have these guys to thank for that.
8. Do you remember the very first time you heard the final mix of the new record and what you were thinking?
Mahmoud: I do, yes. Jonny sent us the mix for the song Molotov first. I was blown away by the drum and bass tones, that was just on point. Until now I still believe he managed to capture one of the best bass tones I have ever heard in metal, period. I know, very subjective, but that bass tone is just the juiciest. Kevin always had great tone, but what works live doesn’t always work the same in the studio. We changed it up there and it ended up sounding killer. I wasn’t surprised about the guitar tones, because we had mostly already settled that while capturing the sound, no major changes there at all. Not to say that it doesn’t sound great, it does, but that didn’t surprise me. He did a killer job! If you need anyone to mix your stuff, he’s the guy.
9. How important do you rate the lyrical side of your albums?
Mahmoud: Very important. Not everyone in the metal scene cares about the lyrics, a lot of people are just about the riffs and breakdowns, but to me they can make or break a song, which is why some bands are just unlistenable to me. I remember when I had shivers down my spine for minutes straight on after hearing “Sad but true” by Metallica for the first time. That song took me on a fucking trip, and that’s what I aspire to do. Take the listener on a trip, if they are willing to read my lyrics. I put a ton of effort into making them the way they are now. If you aren’t the kind of person that cares about lyrics, that’s cool, too. I hope you at least enjoy our melodies!
10. Does the entire band contribute to the writing process?
Mahmoud: On this record, very little. I wrote pretty much everything on this record, but they do give me feedback when they want something changed or when they dislike something. I might write everything, but they are my shit filter for sure. I try not to write shitty songs, but that happens from time to time and I need them to tell me when that is the case. I trust them a lot when it comes to that, and I hope they can find the time to contribute more. They were all very busy the past two years, so I took care of the songwriting, but I think that’s gonna change in the future.
11. Who or what inspired you to become a musician, what is your musical background?
Mahmoud: The first band I actively followed was Hoobastank. They released their album The Reason in 2004 and that’s when I started getting into rock. I still enjoy hard rock and alternative rock/metal a lot, and that’s where it all began for me. I started to listen to Metallica and after that I got into bands like Trivium, Avenged Sevenfold, All That Remains, and Bullet For My Valentine. My two older cousins in Jordan at that point had started to play guitar and when I was there during one summer, they told me they were teaching themselves over the internet. They taught me my first chords and sent me on my way with justinguitar.com. So I guess it’s their fault that I started this whole thing. Thanks Rasheed and Ahmad, you guys rule!
12. How do you feel the band has evolved musically and personally over the last year?
Mahmoud: On the first record we had a lot more old school vibes and less melody, which is cool, but the standout tracks on that record were definitely the more melodic songs. We wanted to take those songs and build upon those ideas. More melody, more harmony, more complex rhythms, different song structures. We all work on our craft the best we can and I think this is starting to show. We will keep evolving, I will never write the same record twice. None of my favorite bands do and there’s definitely reasoning behind that. If we want to be the best Atropas possible, we have to keep evolving. So, expect more from us, albeit different.
13. What are your current tour plans, if any?
Mahmoud: We are planning a bunch of different tours. A Switzerland tour is in the works as well as a short run in the UK. After that, we hope to touch base with our friends in eastern Europe.
14. Describe your live performance for those who have never seen you live?
Mahmoud: Our mindset is that every band that plays after us has to regret playing because we tore it up. Every band has to think that way. Everyone in this industry is a hard worker and if you don’t go on stage, why should the audience care? We go on stage and try to blow minds. We are high energy, very engaging and love what we do. If you like that in a band, come out and see us and we’ll make sure your time is well spent with us.
15. What does the next year hold for you and your band?
Mahmoud: Touring, playing shows, maybe one more video, definitely more touring, more merchandise and working on our music. Matter of fact, I’ve already started working on new stuff.
16. Where can our readers find your band on the internet?
Mahmoud: Our homepage: www.atropas.com and of course on Facebook. We also have an Instagram account that we update regularly, unlike Twitter. We’re very lazy with Twitter because very few people in Switzerland actually use it.
17. How has Social Networking (Facebook,Twitter, etc.) impacted your band?
Mahmoud: No social media, no Atropas, as far as I’m concerned. We are not at a point where we can afford an actual marketing company to take care of us, and anyone complaining about Facebook making bands pay for more exposure has no idea what an actual marketing campaign costs. We are getting free marketing, reach thousands of people with nothing but a click and some people still have the audacity and entitlement to complain about having to pay a little bit to reach more people. I’m just happy that we have those tools at our disposal. They are very powerful and they are helping us to get on track.
18. What is it you’d like a listener to remember the most when hearing your music for the first time?
Mahmoud: For me as a writer, I’d love to have them remember the songs. We are not a technical band by today’s standard, we just try to write catchy, fun and high energy, intense songs. If people can connect with that and maybe even connect with my lyrics, I’d be the happiest dude you could meet, for sure. We put a lot of effort into making this what it is today and we are definitely feeling the appreciation for that, so thank you everyone for already remembering us! And thank you for taking the time to interview me!