What happened between Atlas Losing Grip and its front man Rodrigo? Why did he quit the band right before the release of the new album, Currents? What about the future of Atlas Losing Grip? So many questions left unanswered after the sad news of their divorce. This long killer interview we had with Gustav Burn (guitar) will help you figure out the whole thing. At least from his point of view.
The first question is quite predictable but, considering the last news concerning the band, is also mandatory. What happened with Rodrigo? As always in similar cases, your Facebook statement was very common, too much for our taste. Could you tell me something more about what went wrong?
It is a long story, but to put it short, what I feel is that his enthusiasm was always shadowed by a dark mind and a negative perspective. The other four of us have always done all the unpaid work in the band and we could hold it together only for so long. He has two kids, and is 41 years old, so I understand that being away from home and not earning any money is out of the question. Then he has also “already done” the thing of which we still dream of (but earning a lot more money). I will spare all the juicy parts for our autobiography, or if you get me drunk somewhere, somehow.
In the same statement you announced that Rodrigo was quitting the band and that you already had a new singer, Niklas Olsson. That probably means that the discrepancy with Rodrigo was going on for quite a while, that is, for enough time to find a replacement. When did you realize that Rodrigo was undertaking a path that was different from the rest of the band? How was the last period with him (last concerts, last details of the new album, etc.), knowing that he already had a foot outside Atlas Losing Grip?
That is actually not exactly how it happened. To be honest, there have been times during the last couple of years when some of us has felt that, «no, I can’t take this anymore», but somehow, since the four of us started the band to begin with, we have always been sticking together and supporting each other. The whole recording process with this new album was probably the worst period of my life because of many things.
Rodrigo had a hard time finishing lyrics, and when we were discussing in what studio we should record he made sure we knew that he only had lyrics to four of the songs, whereas we had already almost finished all of the music. Then when were offered to record in Hannover, Germany, «but that was too far from home» he said, because he wanted to be able to come and spend time in the studio, so we ended up doing it in Malmö, by ourselves (I engineered and recorded almost the entire album, even though after our last album I told myself I would never do it again), and what happened was: during the three and more weeks that I was in the studio every day (because he wanted us to record close to home) he shows up two times fifteen minutes.
Stuff like that, and you know when you’ve started to find things like these in a person, suddenly they are everywhere. And especially now after we have parted ways, to me things are crystal clear. I actually really don’t mean to talk down on the guy, I have no interest in that at all, then of course it is a little bit disturbing that people have no clue about how things have really been, and maybe that’s why I speak more openly about it here when you asked than we did in the official statement. People seem to think that he is a skate punk angel. He is a total musical genius, I so wish he would cherish his gift and his relationships to people more.
When we are at it I need to make one more thing clear. We have always written the music and actual songs for Atlas Losing Grip, I would say all in all, we wrote 97% of the music on all the recordings on which he was a part of. He always just wrote the song melodies and lyrics. (Stone off my chest, hahaha).
Then we were discussing tour dates for the release of the album, and through this whole process the only thing me and the rest of the guys have been waiting for is to finally get to go out and play live, because that’s why we started this band in the first place, to play live in front of people who go fucking nuts!
We couldn’t agree, Rodrigo had gotten a straight job to support his kids (which I totally understand) I just think that it became so clear. Maybe you shouldn’t be in a band if you are 41 and have two kids. Or maybe you shouldn’t be in a band that yet cannot pay your bills.
Fortunately we found Niklas and he was totally game with our needs and wishes, and we tried him out, and that same week we just made a videoclip showing him off and it was all set. Big thing though…
Niklas Ollson was completely unknown for us until now. Could you tell me anything about him?
He is actually in another smaller band called Trophies. They play more hardcore-ish (to me kind of 2000s little bit of power violence-hardcore). We have a lot of mutual friends, and him and Stefan started hanging out just a couple of months ago when Stefan moved to Malmö, from Lund. That’s it I guess, from there it went.
Rodrigo has gone back to his historical band, Satanic Surfers. How have you received this news? Is Satanic Surfers and Atlas Losing Grip on a same stage something possible or is it pure utopia?
It didn’t really come as a shock. I’m certain he was plotting for this as early as last summer, and I told him back then. I understand that it is hard to be away from home with one band knowing that if it was another band, I would make a lot more money, and at the point he is in life it makes total sense.
Before we parted with Rodrigo, there was actually a Canadian festival wanting to book both bands, and that was the first time he actually openly considered re-uniting his old band. We encouraged it.
We are not jealous or anything, I mean, we grew up listening to the band so we thought it would be fun. Then of course when he was suddenly out of the band it probably made the decision easier.
These are just my thoughts and no “truths” of course. I don’t mind playing with them at all, we are all friends and all! That would be fun.
Vocals on Currents, the new album, are by Rodrigo but vocals on tour will be by Niklas. Sincerely this line-up’s change couldn’t have happened in a worse moment! How would you describe fans’ response to this news until now?
The fans have been great as they always are, reading all the comments and feeling all the love and excitement means the world to us. Seriously when we dropped the news (we had a time set for the post to go online) I felt really bad, it felt as if everything was falling apart and that we had totally lost control over our own fate, something that I have put my entire life into the last 10 years. Luckily everyone took the news really well, and those that follow Rodrigo can still do so! Win win win! hahaha
And what about you, how is the atmosphere in the band?
The atmosphere now is great. We feel like we have so much to give and that we can execute all our ideas and it is a nice feeling. Like you said, all of this couldn’t have happened in a worse moment – but I think it could. Say in the middle of our first tour or just one year from now while we are recording a new album. To be honest I’m kind of starting to think that we did it exactly in the right moment. Or for us it wasn’t a day too early. There is never a right time really, but there are definitely moments that could be worse.
Currents is a pretty darker record than State of Unrest. Less hardcore, more metal. Let’s say more Metallica, less Bad Religion. Moreover it lasts almost 70 minutes, something quite unusual for a hardcore/punk band. Is this the sound that you were looking for, the one you feel comfortable with or you were just trying something different in order to avoid recording another State of Unrest?
First of all hardcore is an adjective. No but I get your point, and I don’t disagree.
When we started writing songs for the album we said that we won’t scratch any ideas or riffs just because they might sound different, but we finish every song that we start on. This way we would avoid being afraid of what people “might think” and we were very clear towards ourselves that we wouldn’t let the expectations from the fans dictate how we should sound.
Off course every band in the world except for Bad Religion would think it’s boring to have the new album sound the same as the last one, but it was not like we tried hard to do something different, not at all. I would say that the reason why it sounds different is because we were touring like hell. I think we played almost 200 shows on the last album, and you know we’ve had great success and with that comes great confidence. (We are no big rockstars or dickheads). I know that it’s the least humble things to say, but we are actually really nice guys if you come and have chat with us. The reason I sound so self confident is because I believe so much in what we do, and it’s important, and the only tips I ever give any younger bands is to think highly of themselves, but not letting it get to them.
Anyway, we have really grown as a band since the last album, and we believe in what we do, and we think that if we believe in what we do, so will the fans. We do everything ourselves, there are no strings attached, we haven’t had a producer hired from a record company come in tell us what is good and not, and I think that this honesty from our side is translated through the music to the fans. We love our fans.
What’s the meaning of the cover art of the new record? And why this title?
We don’t like to tell people what our songs are about and such. It’s important for ones own mind to find it’s own meanings.
However there is kind of a semi concept with the whole album. A lot of references and metaphors with watery stuff. Hence the title and cover.
Even if your music is defined as skate-punk, as long as I know nobody in the band is a skateboarding aficionado nor an inveterate punk. Your roots are more metal than punk. Would it be right to say that you’re some metal heads digging in punk music?
Yes and no. It is true that none of us really skate. Max used to until he literally broke his ass landing on his board – standing up doing a heelflip. We all come from different kind of musical backgrounds, but also from the same punk and hardcore scene. I would say we are all punks listening to a lot of different styles of music, but the one thing we have a common love for is early Metallica, Iron Maiden, Thin Lizzy and that bag.
I started to get to know Stefan from a youth center when I was 12 and he was 19. Back then I was a newly baptized metal head. We were playing Iron Maiden songs in the practice space, only him and me. He had me playing the rhythm guitars so he could do all the solos, haha. I’ve always loved heavy metal, then I was totally into hardcore punk for a couple of years and digging that (still do). What I’m trying to say is that we all come from the same local punk rock scene. Stefan loves a lot of crusty punk and Julian loves a lot of The Ataris and Electronic music and Max is into stoner and sludge, but we all have the same love for the old heavy metal stuff.
That is no news, the only difference is our confidence and skill and we daring to write songs that we love to play.
Is Atlas Losing Grip the main and only project for all of you or does any of you play also in other bands?
Atlas Losing Grip is definitely everybody’s main project. Niklas is in a band called Trophies (hardcore). I have a sleeping side project called Nerve (hardcore), and Niklas and Julian has a band called Seguwita together with Andy from Satanic Surfers and Ulf from Anchor. Stefan has some Death Metal projects.
You know, we are a bunch of creative minds and those minds need to be patted and stilled and satisfied, hahahaha.
At least for now you’re not contractually bound to any label, right? Is that a matter of choice or necessity?
We like to do it with different smaller labels because then you know you are working with people who are working hard for what they believe in, just like we are. Of course it’s easy for us to say because no bigger label has not yet approached us, of course because we don’t attract the width of people that they want to have spending money. We are not the band that will be fooled into a big record company trap with a crappy deal. For us it’s about getting our music out to the fans so we can go and play live, and who ever does it best is welcome to work with us. There are of course big record companies that are not necessarily evil, but I like to play with clichés.
At the end of January will start a tour focused mainly on Central Europe – Germany. Do you have plans to extend it to other countries? Is USA a possibility or is it only a dream for the moment?
We do, we have this 20 day tour coming up like you are saying, and plans that will be presented to us from our booking agent, we will try to be in as many places as we possibly can in 2015 – including the US.
Will 2015 be all dedicated to the promotion of Currents or do you already have plans for something interesting that you want to share with our readers?
We will mainly tour on the album, but I can share that we are exploding with ideas and have already started to write for our next album – that we promise won’t be delayed like this one.
Have you written a letter to Santa? What have you asked him for Atlas Losing Grip?
For a good year with lots of great shows and exciting stuff! And some more sun for Scandinavia.