Greetings from the Concert Closet once again fellow progheads! As I brace for the end of July--slow down summer!!--my never ending search for all things prog has taken the Concert Closet back to Sweden for an in-depth interview with Philippe Longchamps, frontman for Atlas Volt. The band's latest album, "Memento Mori," was released in May and is spectacular. Some may remember my initial review of Atlas Volt in January, when I unearthed a true prog gem, "Eventualities." Atlas Volt is a band that redefines dedication to the craft and artistry that is progressive rock. Join me as as I delve behind the curtain for a closer look and a deeper listen...
Philippe Longchamps: To make a long story short, in 2011 I started recording new demos and by pure coincidence saw a billboard ad at Malmo City Library. Adam (Hansen-Chambers) was offering music production courses. With a personal goal being the release of a high quality self-produced record, I called to find out if Adam could help; he is a skilled engineer and musician with experience in music production. After advising me to record and mix the songs I was currently working on, Adam began adding arrangements of his own to my songs. We decided to share ideas and work together on new material; I started writing lyrics for Adam's compositions and he continued writing arrangements. Our original design was an "open collective" type band, but we decided to play all the instruments on debut EP, "Eventualities" ourselves. This led to the realization we actually were versatile enough to do everything on our own...thus became Atlas Volt.
PL: Yes--it's a great challenge that is about to become greater still...Adam is considering a move to Australia! However; we already proved the "long distance band thing" is possible by exchanging audio files between Sweden and the UK. We can be successful if we put the effort in, but the distance does slow everything down. While recording "Memento Mori" we invited a few musicians to collaborate on some songs and speed up the process. Realistically, we should do the same on future projects as well. Adam and I are open to the idea since the original plan was an indie/prog collective. Our sound is so eclectic and crossover we see this as an opportunity for Atlas Volt to explore new musical boundaries.
CCA: You call Memento Mori a concept album dealing with the secular humanist worldview. My initial listen paints a deeper picture dealing with faith, organized religion. new-age fundamentalism, and the struggle against the powers that "hold all the cards." Am I on the right track and/or can you elaborate?
PL: Spot on; you really get the big picture and the essence of Memento Mori's narrative! I wanted to write thought provoking lyrics that left no one feeling indifferent. Adam and I decided to dedicate the album to all the innocent victims of faith-based fundamentalism throughout history. Every song on the album deals with that theme; we explore the various promises of afterlife and salvation offered by the most mainstream thought systems in the world. We chose every word carefully because there are many different faith-based fundamentalisms and most can be harmful if their doctrines are followed blindly. Memento Mori's lyrics suggest blind faith isn't necessarily rooted in fundamentalist, new-age, or religious doctrines. Nowadays, some forms of fundamentalism are based on economic and socio-political ideologies. For example; many people put faith in the "invisible hand" of the market economy as though it were some omnipotent and omniscient supernatural force! It is strange to see people blindly follow Dow Jones and NASDAQ the same way others put faith in the Vatican or some holy book. Similarly, some people hold profound convictions concerning things like their country's Constitution or their favorite news channel. Believing in the sanctity of these things leads to all sorts of strange moral condemnations, prejudices, and injustices (especially against women) around the world. We introduced that theme on our debut EP in the song "Taken by the Tide." The struggle against these powers cannot start until we realize these are all man-made concepts--nothing but love is truly sacred! In other words, Memento Mori is an attempt to deflate what most people (wrongly) consider to be metaphysical absolutes with a healthy dose of skepticism. The arts have a role to play in the empowerment of the individual against the numerous enslaving imaginary powers we have created throughout history. Memento Mori is an artistic attempt to raise awareness about these topics while using a secular humanistic approach.
PL: Absolutely, our personal experiences definitely shaped this album. The lyrics to Memento Mori are the culmination of a long period of introspection. The process made me realize how my personal perception of reality has been conditioned by selfish elements of religious doctrines I believed when I was younger. The lyrics are an inner dialogue between an "old-self" preaching the value of faith and morality and a "new-self" defending the ethical values that emerged from the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution. I agree that Memento Mori tries to tear down the walls our species built on assumptions, prejudices, and stereotypes. I believe secularism does not discriminate--it respects everyone and doesn't claim to have a monopoly on truth. In contrast, most faith-based dogmas claim to hold the truth while (very often) the moral absolutes they promote are unethical and harmful. History has shown that a sense of righteous entitlement accompanying blind faith has done the world much more harm than good. I also believe the various forms of religious and ideological fundamentalism prevent societies from evolving as fast as they should.
CCA: Does "Memento Mori" pick up where "Eventualities" left off?
PL: Yes; our eclectic sound has become our trademark and--more importantly--there is a lyrical sense of continuity. One main difference is the cause we chose to embrace with Eventualities. We gave 10% of the profits generated from CD sales to cancer research. Our goal as a band is to make meaning of everything we do by supporting worthwhile causes. We have not decided yet on a cause for Memento Mori. Musically the songs from both albums are extremely diverse in terms of style, but our fans say all the songs sound as though they are part of the same record. These sharp contrasts exist in most concept albums and we do not want to be limited to a single music genre...we love to explore new sounds and styles. Atlas Volt will not be stifled by boundaries as defined by the record industry; we are and will continue to be musical nomads.
PL: Exactly! This is my main source of inspiration. My lyrics reflect my concerns--more importantly, they convey a message of hope. Parenthood transforms everyone who experiences it. For me parenthood triggered a sense of urgency. I felt the need to make a humble artistic contribution to the world before it was too late. Time flies; as a parent even more so. Becoming a father inspired me to write new songs. "Shine Your Own Light" from Eventualities is a perfect example; I intended it as an inspiration for my children and it will eventually become part of my heritage to them. The simple message the song conveys is the essential self-empowering "recipe" to become a free-thinker. I hope my children and generations after will have the opportunity to break free of the "mental cages" mankind has erected in the past. Individually we often feel powerless to make change. However; everyone has the power to sow seeds of hope while removing the roots of irrationality and intolerance. Everything Adam I have accomplished thus far is in that spirit...and regardless of how successful Atlas Volt becomes our songs will outlive us, and hopefully our music will positively affect some peoples' trajectories. So, yes, we hope the message Atlas Volt conveys will be a modest legacy to the world.
CCA: Despite the dark overtones of Memento Mori, there are injections of light and hope. Optimism, or a refusal to let the bad guys win?
PL: Absolutely. While the predominantly dark overtones of the album remind us of the inevitable, the empowering philosophical discourse emanating from the lyrics simultaneously reminds us that humans ultimately have the wherewithal to make the planet a better place for everyone. The message is also to enjoy life, seek knowledge, live in peace and harmony, value skepticism, and defend freedom of speech.
CCA: Back to the music in general and Atlas Volt in particular; are concept albums a direction the band will continue in?
PL: Honestly, I hope so! I've always loved concept albums; the type you need to listen to from beginning to end. Sitting in a comfortable chair armed with the lyric booklet and headphones on...listening to a new album start-to-finish. Not a fan of shuffle or random play--prog music needs to be put in the context of a broader narrative. Prog rock artists put a lot of thought and effort into building a structure for their albums, and to be frank I don't know if future Atlas Volt albums will be concept albums. Currently I write the lyrics to our songs in my second language--English. To a certain extent it makes song writing about specific topics a challenge at times. Being born and raised in Quebec, French is my mother tongue and I speak Swedish daily since moving to Sweden in 2002. In the future I would love to write in those languages (or Spanish), but that increases the difficulty of making the lyrics fit a concept album. If we release a multi-lingual record it will probably be an experimental EP.
PL: Indeed, our songs often go in different directions because of the distance issue. Living in different countries also makes it very difficult to meet for rehearsal. One of the surprising obstacles is communication via email, Skype, or Messenger. It is very easy to misinterpret and/or misunderstand the other's vision being so far apart...it really is a tough process! At times we disagree on minor details, especially in the final stages of production during the mixing/mastering of the songs. It can take weeks to reach agreement on small things that perhaps go unnoticed to the untrained ear...I am sure every band deals with that. Our unique circumstances have enabled us to develop a collaborative method that is more democratic. Even with our similar tastes, we pay great attention to and place significant importance on the details when co-producing a piece. We have learned the value of compromise. I do not envy bands with five, six, seven, members--or more--going through the same process. Another challenge we face is promoting our music. Being 100% independent and self-financed, it is very difficult to make current fans and potential fans aware of our products through social media. We have had disagreements on a marketing strategy, promotions, and developing Atlas Volt as a brand. Again, we have learned to make compromises. It can be extremely challenging for DIY bands like ours to capture any amount of market share because record labels spend considerably more money promoting their artists. But I should not complain when considering the limited amount of money Adam and I have invested making our first two albums.
CCA: There are several musical contributors to Memento Mori...did this add to the stress level of putting the album together?
PL: In my opinion it reduced the stress. The guest musicians who contributed to Memento Mori did an amazing job--and helped speed up the process! I would not be surprised if we collaborated with them on future records. I also hope other talented musicians would be willing to contribute to future Atlas Volt songs. David Elias is one of the most creative and free spirited saxophone players I know; he would be a great addition to a future album. That is not to say I am not grateful to the musicians who contributed to Memento Mori; Jörgen Birch-Jensen, Johnny Åman, Mark Base, Yoed Nir, and Chris Larsen. Their personal touches helped make the album as eclectic as Adam and I hoped it would be. The song "We Created a Monster" features Israeli cellist Yoed Nir and Finnish upright bassist Johnny Åman. Their input was the perfect enhancement to Adam's atmospheric electric guitar and my classic guitar.
PL: Thank you! While Adam and I both needed a short break after the release of Memento Mori, I believe the best of Atlas Volt is yet to come. It is impossible to know what the future holds, but I am determined to develop Atlas Volt as a brand...and more importantly write more thought provoking songs in a wide variety of crossover genres.
CCA: With the success you have achieved thus far, any chance you will be able to quit your day jobs?
PL: I can't speak for Adam but I am very happy with my day job. Atlas Volt is my hobby and even if I take it very seriously, at this point in my life I would not consider leaving my family for months at a time to go on tour. I love song writing--but my goal is simply to make my songs available to those who enjoy them. I have no delusions of fame, I just want to share my passion with as many people as possible. If our songs touch someone's life I am extremely happy--that is enough. Fame is not what's important. Working as a teacher with teenagers is the greatest job in the world! They are a great source of inspiration, keep me young at heart, and I feed on their inexhaustible energy.
CCA: If you could perform live with anyone living or dead, who would you choose to be on stage with?
PL: There are so many great artists I would love to perform with, but if I had to put together a "dream team," they would be David Gilmour, Robert Fripp, John Paul Jones, Rick Wakeman, Tony Banks, and Neil Peart. I would also include Maynard James Keenan to recreate the vocal harmonies and overdubs. Since we are fantasizing, Steven Wilson would be my co-producer to support us in Abbey Road Studios. The ultimate would be to attend a songwriting workshop led by John Lennon.
CCA: Any truth to the rumor album #3 is in the beginning stages of life?
PL: Yes; we already have a working title. There are a few songs that did not make it onto "Eventualities" or "Memento Mori" that I would like to revisit. Adam and I are also working on new material. One of my dreams is to record a long 1970's style prog epic that lasts over twenty minutes--but that is still in the embryonic stage. You can keep up with Atlas Volt and all the latest information and find out what's cooking via Twitter @AtlasVolt and/or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/pages/Atlas-Volt/210643092403559?fref=ts
CCA: Please don't forget to visit Atlas Volt's websites to purchase some really deep, introspective prog...but you will need your own black light... http://www.atlasvolt.com/ and http://atlasvolt.bandcamp.com/
Interview with ATLAS VOLT
by Svetonio Monopod from ProgArchives.com (published: April 27th 2015)
Here is my interview with this “unconventional” prog duo formed by Adam Hansen-Chambers and Philippe Longchamps.
Philippe: I live in the Malmö/Lund metropolitan area in Sweden since 2002, but I’m originally from Sherbrooke, Québec in Canada.
Adam: Right now I live in London, but I used to live in Sweden too. That’s where we met in 2011!
Philippe: Yes, we started our music project in Sweden, but when Adam moved back to England before the release of our debut EP, we decided to continue working together while using a system of audio file exchange to complete our songs. We meet occasionally in London or Malmö for recording sessions and we produce our songs by sending each other overdubbed tracks via the Internet. Basically, that’s how we work.
Svetonio: Tell us how Atlas Volt has started and when did you decide to work together?
Philippe: I was determined to start recording music on my own, and once I was able afford to buy the equipment I needed, I started to look for someone to give me a recording and mixing crash course in Logic Pro. I was familiar with other DAWs like Cubase and Cakewalk, but I knew it would be smart to get some help and tips to speed up the learning process. Then by pure coincidence, I saw Adam’s add on the billboard at Malmö City Library. He was still living in Sweden at that time. He was offering courses in music production with Pro Tools and Logic Pro. I called him; we had a few beers in a pub one afternoon, had an amazing chat and started to show each other some demos we were working on. Needless to say we both felt that we clicked on the musical and philosophical level. Adam suggested that the best way for me to learn how to use Logic Pro was to start recording and mixing the songs I was already working on. Then Adam started to write new arrangements for these songs, while I was writing lyrics for some of his compositions. Progressively, we started to collaborate on new material, exchanging audio tracks and ideas, and that was the beginning of Atlas Volt.
Philippe: I’m still amazed by the fact that these five first Atlas Volt’s songs have managed to help us build this modest but incredibly dedicated fan base. To be among the bestsellers on Bandcamp.com for a few weeks was also incredible, but to have one of our songs reaching #1 on the popular radio show ‘P3-Star’ on Sweden’s National Radio Station, while spending 5 weeks in the ‘Unsigned Artists Top 10 chart’, was truly amazing. We are so grateful for the support we received! This EP has five different themes and each song has a distinctive sound. The song “Taken by the Tide” deals with the convergence of the media, “Mother Nature’s Infanticide” deals with the environment, while “History is Written in Blood”, “Shine your Own Light” and “Find Myself Lost” have themes that obviously speak for themselves. Let’s say that as a DIY virtual band, we reached more than our goals… We also managed to make meaning of what we were doing by supporting a good cause. We gave 10% of the profit generated from all the CDs we sold to research on cancer.
Adam: I think it’s hard to define Atlas Volt’s sound as any one specific sub-genre, because we shift around a lot from track to track… We don’t aim to be any particular style!
Philippe: Yes I agree! It’s not so important for us to know how people will “label” our style. In theory, each song could belong to a different category! However, if I must define it, I would say that Atlas Volt is an eclectic prog band, because we love to trespass the boundaries of what constitute the classic definition of prog rock. Some people defined our debut EP as crossover prog, others have called the song “Find Myself Lost” a neo-prog epic, but I have no problem with that because, in my opinion, both sub-genres are often overlapping. However, some of our songs contain the narrative elements of prog rock, but people might classify them in the indie rock, grunge, post-metal or alternative category.
Philippe: It’s an honour for us to have you guys at Progarchives be the first to hear our new material!
Svetonio: The album was very ambitiously conceived and well executed. How would you define your new record in a few words?
Adam: It’s a liberating and rocky journey into skepticism.
Philippe: To paraphrase the title of one of the songs on the album, I hope that “Memento Mori” will become “Atlas Volt’s legacy to the world”.
Svetonio: The lyrics of your new album “Memento Mori” are great. How did you get the inspiration for the lyrics?
Philippe: My intention was to write thought-provoking lyrics reflecting upon the secular humanist worldview, and turn them into some kind of narrative filled with parallelism and self-reflective elements. The inspiration for this darker theme comes from the painful self-examination that accompanies what some people like to refer to as my ‘mid-life crisis’. I have to admit that soon after having kids, the meaning of my life changed drastically. I felt like I started to see ‘the big picture’ of my existence and understood how my individual apprehension of reality had been conditioned by the selfish elements of the spiritual doctrines I used to believe in and follow in the past. In other words, “Memento Mori” is some kind of retrospective introspection into my own religious upbringing. Furthermore, Adam and I were raised in Catholic confessional schools and we both understand their limitations in comparison to the secular ones. The lyrics are often presented as an inner dialogue between an “old-self” preaching the value of faith and morality, and a “new-self” defending the ethical values that emerged from the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution. With this musical narrative, we hope to offer our modest artistic contribution to what we consider one of the most important debates of our times. We wanted “Memento Mori” to be seen as a concept album that questions the fundamentalist dogmas of religions and New Age cults, while examining their promises of an afterlife and restrictions on personal freedom. Our goal is to leave no one indifferent! If some of our songs can generate discussions, reflections or debate, we will feel that we’ve accomplished our artistic mission.
Adam: We both listen to such a variety of music that we naturally write music in styles that we are inspired by. Therefore, this isn’t something we do deliberately, we just write music that we like to hear. It’s dead simple for us. We’re not trying to claim to be any one style.
Svetonio: How was it to work on a concept album?
Adam: It felt pretty natural to me, as most of the records I listen to are concept albums.
Philippe: For me, it’s been the most challenging creative process I ever experienced. Not only because of the distance separating us, but also because of the painful self-examination required to explore such a dark theme. Furthermore, I write all the lyrics of our songs in my second language (English). This makes song writing quite challenging sometimes, because French is my mother tongue, and on top of that I use Swedish on a daily basis since I moved to Sweden in 2002. But as a whole, the concept album also reflects our shared state of mind. We are both profoundly affected by the waves of violence sweeping around the world and by all the Human Rights abuses committed in the name of some kind of “higher God-given moral standards” or “superior socio-political ideologies”. That’s why Adam and I decided to dedicate this new album to all the innocent victims of faith-based fundamentalism throughout history.
Adam: I simply came across an illustration called ‘Defeat’ on a Facebook page called “The Art of Andrzej Kuziola” and I shared the link with Philippe.
Philippe: It’s true and I loved it! I contacted this great Polish artist, living in Scotland less than 5 minutes after seeing the illustration Adam sent me! I knew he was the one we needed! I wanted to find someone who would be able to recreate the sketches I made in a more professional way. The quality of our artwork is one of the things I’m very proud of. Andrzej Kuziola has been working with us from the beginning and his illustrations have become an integral part of Atlas Volt. We are lucky to collaborate with such a talented and hard-working illustrator! Please visit his amazing website: www.kuziola.com
Adam: I wrote and recorded the music whilst I was living in Sweden. It was probably largely influenced by the dark Swedish winter and seasonal depression that ensued… It just came out of me, without a defined work frame but more out of a melancholic frame of mind. I always layer guitars to create a vibe that resonates my mood.
Philippe: When I first heard the demo version of Adam’s composition, I could hear the melody of the missing vocal part right away! Adam already had “Memento Mori” as a working title, so from that, I started to write pages and pages of ideas on that theme. That was the moment the “vision” started to take shape! Interestingly, most of the lyrics I came up with for that song became songs of their own. The idea of making this song the centrepiece of a concept album slowly emerged. Adam wasn’t keen on the idea at first, but I’m glad I insisted! The lyrics that didn’t make the cut for Adam’s composition became ‘canvases’ for at least 9 of my compositions on the new album. Of course sometimes, they became part of verses, choruses or bridges, but because of the fact that these lyrics were related to the same theme, it felt natural to continue to develop the songs I was working on around that theme.
Adam: All sorts and too many to list: Tool, Cloudkicker, Oceansize, Karnivool, TesaracT, Dillinger Escape Plan, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Sigur Rós, Muse, A Perfect Circle, Mono, Earth, Mogwai, Pink Floyd, Yes, Black Sabbath, Queen, just to name a few. It would go on and on…
Philippe: Since my childhood I have a ‘Holy Trinity’ of bands at the top of my list: Pink Floyd, The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. But when I met Adam in 2011, my main influences were extremely wide-ranging. I have had different phases in my life. At one point in the early 90’s, I was really into world music and indo prog, then I discovered progressive trance music in the late 90’s, but I always came back to my favourite classic prog rock albums by: King Crimson, Rush, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Yes, Mike Oldfield, The Alan Parsons Project, Jethro Tull and the early ones from Genesis. Being from Québec, I also love many French speaking artists and bands like: Harmonium, Les Colocs, Beau Dommage, Claude Dubois, Daniel Bélanger, and other artist from that part of Canada like: The Tea Party, Leonard Cohen, Arcade Fire, Patrick Watson, UZEB, Grim Skunk and Voivod. I also embraced the grunge era, and became a huge fan of Alice in Chains, especially because of their beautiful vocal harmonies. When I moved to Sweden, I became fan of the band Kent that sings in Swedish. I also love Ozric Tentacles, The Pineapple Thief, Billy Cobham and Porcupine Tree. However, I have to admit that there are too many artists in different genres that I find inspirational, but if I had to pick only three bands among those that inspired me the most since the mid-90’s, I would have to say: Radiohead, Tool and Dead Can Dance.
Svetonio: What is your view on prog culture of today?
Philippe: I think it’s becoming more and more inclusive. It’s unusual, but as new prog sub-genres are emerging, the prog culture doesn’t break down into more subcultures, like in hip-hop or techno music for example. It seems to me that the prog-heads have become more open-minded and versatile in their music tastes.
Svetonio: Your songs are very melodic. What about melody in the present day's prog rock? – Don’t you think that the contemporary prog bands are moving away from melody?
Philippe: That’s strange; in my opinion some of my favourite prog artists of today are actually going back towards more melodic hooks and anthem-like structures. Last week for example, I went to Steven Wilson’s concert in Malmö and I found myself humming the melodies of his ''Hand. Cannot. Erase Tour” for hours after the concert ended. These are melodies of such compelling beauty, that they get stuck in your head, even if they don’t necessarily have the “catchiness” of the repetitive and predictable pop melodies we hear on commercial radio. Furthermore, some of the newest Crossover prog melodies, like the ones written by Steven Wilson, are so flawless that it feels like I have known them forever, the first time I hear them. The same feeling I had when I discovered The Beatles while listening to my uncle’s record collection as a young kid.
Adam: I think repetition and challenging rhythms are at the forefront of some of the new prog that I’m into. I still think there’s a great deal of melody going on, but sometimes you have to work for it and spend a lot of time with the music to be able to digest the complexity of melodies. Bands like TesseracT are a good example. They are masters of complex rhythms and the epic vocals bring in the melody that the listener latches on to, and it gets stuck in your head all day long. I am all about melody at the end of the day. Oceansize (RIP) and Karnivool are great examples of prog bands who use a great deal of melody and make songs into very memorable tunes.
Adam: A very simple set-up. We record straight into interfaces connected to our laptops. We mix right out of the box, using Logic Pro and a wide range of cool plug-ins. The various instruments we use are recorded using close mic techniques. I also do the mastering directly in my laptop while using good monitors. That’s it!
Philippe: Yeah, that’s it! We haven’t spent any time in a studio to record, produce, mix or master our music. Everything is homemade! I record all my vocals in a walk-in closet at home, because the acoustic is fantastic there! For my classic and acoustic guitars, I always let Adam set up the microphones. After all, he’s a trained sound engineer and I still have a lot to learn from him about recording techniques. Previously on our debut EP, I only used my Indian sitar for arrangements, but this time I used it as a lead instrument to record an interlude called “Purusartha”. I also use an awesome Swedish-made digital drum, 2Box Drumit 5, with different soundbanks and I use a standard MIDI keyboard with a selection of amazing synth, piano and mellotron emulators.
Adam: Mother Nature’s Infanticide and Memento Mori.
Philippe: On “Eventualities” my favourite is probably “Find Myself Lost” because of the epic song structure and the importance of the events that inspired me the lyrics. I also keep a special place in my heart for “Shine Your Own Light” because I wrote this song as an artistic heritage, with a simple self-empowering message, to my children. It also has a vibe that reminds me of the more easy-listening prog and pop music I was listening to when I was a kid (Alan Parsons Project, Duran Duran and Marillion). On “Memento Mori” it’s hard to say, I love them all! They all serve a purpose in the greater narrative. But if I had to choose 3 very different ones today, I would say, “What’s Your Legacy to the World”, “True Freedom” and the long prog epic “Wrong”.
Philippe: I think it’s amazing that more and more excellent DIY musicians are being discovered nowadays. For example, Adam introduced me to “Cloudkicker” (a.k.a Ben Sharp) a few years ago and I have become one of his greatest fans. He’s just like us, a regular guy with a regular day-job who makes music for the love of music! At first, I downloaded his music for free, but I enjoyed it so much that I started to feel guilty about the fact that I got this amazing music without paying for it. Then, I decided to send him money through his PayPal account because I enjoyed those downloads so much! I even bought merchandise like t-shirts on his Bandcamp page to support him. One more thing about Bandcamp, this site is the only real “fair-trade” platform for musicians on the Internet. That’s the only place where DIY artist like us are properly treated!
Svetonio: Here is the link to Atlas Volt’s Bandcamp music store:
With “Memento Mori” Atlas Volt returns with a vision-defining album that thoroughly establishes their wide-ranging style and eclectic sound. This new release features 17 original tracks including some long progressive songs, short interludes, riff-oriented alternative rock songs and a few instrumental tunes. “Memento Mori” is a concept album reflecting upon the secular humanist worldview. It questions the fundamentalist dogmas of religions and New Age cults, while examining their promises of an afterlife and restrictions on personal freedom. Moreover, “Memento Mori” is a narrative based on a retrospective introspection into the band members’ own religious upbringing. The lyrics are often presented as an inner dialogue between an “old-self” preaching the value of faith and morality, and a “new-self” defending the ethical values that emerged from the Enlightenment and the Scientific Revolution. After being profoundly affected by the waves of violence sweeping around the world in recent years, Adam Hansen-Chambers and Philippe Longchamps decided to dedicate this new album to all the innocent victims of faith-based fundamentalism throughout history.
What's Your Legacy to the World?
Weapons of Mass Redemption
In the Realm of the Living
The Greatest Hoax
We Created a Monster
A Tribute to Carl Sagan
Living a Lie
Dreamweaver of the Dreamscape
We Will Never Live Again
Adam: No, with the distance between us it’s not really possible.
Philippe: Yeah, and I can hardly imagine how it would be possible for Adam and I to perform our songs live without session musician to support us! People also need to understand that Adam and I would never be able to sustain losing money on a tour. After all, we are 100% independent; we don’t have a record deal, we self-finance and self-produce everything we do. We have no manager; no marketing team, no booking agent and we both have day-jobs! So to be honest, Atlas Volt is only our hobby! Furthermore, the fact that we are a virtual band with 2 multi-instrumentalists living in different countries makes it very difficult to meet for rehearsal. I think we will stick to writing, recording, producing, mixing and mastering our songs at the moment and see what the future might hold for us. We love to have complete artistic freedom and we think it’s the only way to go for Atlas Volt.
Philippe: Thanks Svetonio! I hope you are right, because Sweden has always been a music superpower, not only for prog rock! It’s amazing that since the 70’s, Sweden is the third largest exporter of music in the world after the USA and the UK. Not bad for a country of 9 million people! I have to admit that this beautiful country has been a major source of inspiration for me. It is the most secular country in the world and the Swedes have opened my eyes on a lot of things. I am becoming more and more Swedish, and it reflects itself in the lyrics I wrote for the new album.
Svetonio: What is your favourite album of the last decade?
Adam: I’d have to say Karnivool - Asymmetry. Those guys blow my mind! Incredible musicians!
Philippe: That’s a very difficult question! There are too many!!! If I must pick one only, I would say Steven Wilson - The Raven That Refused to Sing (And Other Stories).
Svetonio: What’s coming up next for Atlas Volt?
Adam: To be honest, we don’t know.
Philippe: Yeah, we put so much effort into “Memento Mori” we will see how it goes before making any plans. We might record a video or two, but we also encourage our fans to make fan art videos. Just go ahead! Make cool videos, animations or photomontages and send them over to us and we will post them on our YouTube channel. We welcome our fans to become part of Atlas Volt. Any kind of Fan Art is welcome! For those of you who are interested to know the latest updates on our music project, the best way to get fresh updates is to “like” Atlas Volt on Facebook or follow us on Google+ or Twitter.
Svetonio: I will do that and I hope our readers will do the same! I will put the links for those who would like to know what you guys are up to in the future.
Svetonio: Atlas Volt, thank you for the interview!
Adam: Back at yeh!
Philippe: Thanks to you and your readers, Cheers!