Chris Alfieri of Vattnet Opens Up About the Band's New Sound: "We Just Wanted to Make a Record we Always Wanted to Hear"
Vattnet have always found themselves as the odd band out, so it only makes sense that their origin story is a bit unconventional. Formed in 2010 under their former name of Vattnet Viskar, the now trio rode the line between American black metal and a more experimental sound - a sound that they'd find themselves chasing after only a few years down the road. Following the release of their 2015 album, Settler and the relentless touring that followed, the band parted ways with one of their founding members and guitarist/vocalist Nick Thornbury and subsequently dropped the "Viskar" from their name.
Flash forward two years, and Vattnet are picking up speed once more after reverting back to square one and reworking their sound. Their new self-titled album (out now) is a perfect reintroduction to the band for those who have been following them since the beginning and a fresh start for those who are just now paying attention. With a fresh new sound and a strong drive, anything is possible for Vattnet.
Interview by Shannon Shumaker
Can you tell us a little bit about Vattnet for any readers who might not be familiar?
Vattnet is a musical project that aims to never repeat itself. It is an ever evolving emotional release for the three of us.
Vattnet has been through quite a few changes since you released your album, Settler in 2015. Was there ever a moment where you thought the band might end or you might move on and pursue something different entirely?
Yes. After a tour in March of 2016, founding member and singer Nick Thornbury informed us he could not go on with the band. Because we were in the process of signing with New Damage Records when this happened, we were faced with a decision. Do we go on and continue this journey, or call it a day and move on to something else. Ultimately the three of us decided to stay the course. We had always discussed changing the sound of the band, even when Nick was with us, so that decision was not something we stressed over. Internally we knew before Settler that the next album would be drastically different.
Many bands, when changing their sound drastically between albums, will still stick with their original name. What made the name change necessary for you guys?
It just made sense to us to cut the name in half since we lost half of the original duo (myself and nick). Many people referred to us as just Vattnet before so it wasn't that big of a stretch for us, but i understand how some people might find it to be a shocker. It's hard when your vision of your own band is drastically different than what the perceptions are by those outside your circle. I never considered us "black metal" due to our major chord progressions, lack of satanic imagery, and not really feeling like we fit in with that scene, but we did take advantage of that stigma at one point in our musical careers. Ultimately, this band is ours and we will do whatever we feel is right with it. We do hope you come along for the ride.
Your new self-titled album sort of serves as the perfect reintroduction to your music. Was there anything that you wanted to accomplish with these songs that you haven’t done in the past?
In many discussions with Casey, him and I decided we just wanted to make a record we always wanted to hear. Our feeling going into it was basically to make something we could listen to forever, even if no one else liked it. It's the ultimate selfish move on our part, but at some point we got bored with tremolo picking and blast beats and had to stretch some creative muscles.
How do you feel you’ve grown with the writing and recording of the album?
We've grown an incredible amount. Taking on this obstacle of creating a new sound, writing songs without any rules or preconceived notions, and doing it without a full band was a huge ordeal. We learned to have patience with these songs, and to have patience with each other.
Were there any big obstacles you came across when working on the album? Was this new sound ever challenging for you?
Musically it was both challenging and relieving to write these songs. While we stressed about song structure and trying to write the best melodies we could, we also felt a great sense of relief knowing we could do whatever we wanted to finally. I also have to say New Damage was incredibly patient with us and never once tried to get us to do anything but what we wanted to.
Personally this was the hardest year of my life. After a severe mental breakdown and a few trips to the emergency room, I was diagnosed with a rare movement disorder which affects the right side of my body including my right hand. For a while i couldn't play guitar for more than a minute or two without losing control over my hand. Ultimately thanks to some neurologists and the evil pharmaceutical industry, im about 70% there now. That sense of loss and desperation that hits you when someone or something attempts to take away your livelihood definitely made it to the record.
Lyrically, were there any stories you wanted to tell with these songs?
This record is much more introspective than our last efforts. It deals with deaths of friends and family, desperation, alienation, not being comfortable in your own skin, loss, love, hate, and everything that comes in between.
What would you like fans, whether they’re new or old, to take away from your new album?
We want people to respect it for what it is. We didn't sell out, or try and change genres to fit in with some trend, we just got bored playing what we had been playing. If you want more old Vattnet, just listen to the other 3 records again because this is a whole new band.
With the album out this month, do you have any other big plans coming up?
We have four shows booked in 2017 and will be back in 2018 with our old constantly touring ways.
Thank you for taking the time to chat with us! Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Take care of each other, this world we're living in is getting crazier by the day.