Last year, Atomzero made their debut on the AnalogueTrash record label, re-releasing their well received album Symbiosis (European Special Edition) for the European and UK audience. However, with the loss of one of their bandmates and the step in of fresh blood, I chatted with Peter and his new partner in crime in regards to the future of Atomzero.
Last year, your album "Symbiosis" got re-released via Analoguetrash records once you signed to them. Why did you make the decision to have Symbiosis released again? Personal choice, fan demand, etc?
Peter - "It was actually the choice of the label. Their interest in us was based on 'Symbiosis' and wanted to re-release it for the UK and European market, but also differentiate it from our self-released version. This also meant that 'Symbiosis' occupied my mind a little longer as a musical piece by virtue of choosing which bonus tracks to add and how that will affect the album flow, dealing with the artwork and layout again and selecting tracks for the remix artists. It was a very rewarding experience though, particularly hearing what the remix artists did with our music."
And why was it that you chose Analoguetrash as your new label home? What appealed to you about them? How has working with the label been?
Peter - "AnalogueTrash wasn’t the first label to approach us, however they were the first with a proposal that didn’t sound like they were offering us a debt and a headache. After the previous experience our eagerness to sign was certainly diminished but I was quite taken aback how sensible AnalogueTrash’s terms were, how sincere the label was in their email exchanges and how they wanted to make it work for us. They’re genuine fans of electronic music who go out of their way to support artists and have been very easy to work with. Being with them certainly feels like being part of a family and getting to know the other artists on the label has been a pure joy. I consider myself very lucky to have wondered under their wing."
In bigger news, however, Gord has left Atomzero. Was there any reason he left the project?
Peter - "Anyone who’s ever played in a band knows the trepidation of being in a band. It’s a marriage of being creative and having fun together, sharing some outstanding experiences, but also going through challenges and disagreements. And we’ve certainly had our share but I guess it culminated in lack of communication and how that was dealt with. Once he notified me of his decision to leave the band, I took into account everything that transpired, coupled with some personal matters and I just saw the sense in his departure. I’m sure we’ve both disappointed each other in different ways, but at the end of the day it was all handled in a civil fashion. No drama - no smashed keyboards or thrown mics. Just a 'Bro-vorce'. But it was definitely an end to an era and I’m only looking forward now. I do wish Gord all the best in his future as he’s insanely talented and am sure he’ll succeed with his own project."
Going forward, however, you'll be working with a new songwriting partner who'll handle the vocal duties. Who are they, and have they been involved in any other bands in the past?
Peter - "Yep. It’s just been announced that I’m now collaborating with Andrew Hunter on Atomzero. While initially it was just for vocal duties, it’s now escalated and we’re having lots of fun bouncing musical ideas back and forth and cooking up some new tracks. There’s no other person to tell you better than Andrew himself."
Andrew - "Hello! My main musical outlet has been Trench Run, which I call 'synthrock', since it tends to be a bit heavier and more guitar oriented than straight up synthpop but not quite as heavy as industrial. It's essentially been a solo project with me producing all the music in my studio; I do all the programming, vocals, guitar, synths, everything. In 2004 I put together a live band and we played shows around Toronto until 2008, then life got in the way and Trench Run became a studio 'band'. In 2010 I had an opportunity to compose a score for a film called 'Mr. Viral' which was written and directed by Alex Boothby. At that point any music I created was potentially for the film and Trench Run got put on the back burner. I worked on the film for almost two years and created a massive amount of music. It was the first time I made music for something rather than just for myself. Although Alex is not a musician it was a very collaborative process. The final score is something I'm quite proud of. We premiered the film at The Calgary Film Festival and eventually the film found distribution. After the score was finished I found myself with a huge amount of leftover material that didn't get into the movie. I began picking through the scraps and used the best bits as a starting points for the next Trench Run album, 'Truth Love Battle'. I worked on that for a year or two.
Then a few weird coincidences happened. I was in the process of putting the final touches on the album when I was asked to take part in a show being put on by a Toronto industrial band, Nanochrist. They were doing an all covers show, where each song would be sung by a different person, and Mike Bryant from Nanochrist, asked if I'd like to do a song. Nanochrist and Trench Run played our first shows together back in 2004, they're a really great band. I said sure, sounds like fun. So, we begin rehearsals at Mike's studio. I meet all the other guest singers, one of whom is Gord Clement who I learn is the singer for Atomzero, a band who I had only recently become aware of. And just as I learn that Gord is from Atomzero I learn that Gord is no longer with Atomzero. We chatted a bit about it during rehearsals. Gord was very diplomatic about his reasons for leaving the band. So, I knew there was an other half of Atomzero, but had no idea who he was. I'm sure Gord mentioned Peter by name, but it didn't sink in to my brain. Soon after the Nanochrist show I was contacted by a mutual friend of Peter and mine, saying that Peter, (who he had apparently introduced to me at a Skinny Puppy show last year or so), would like to chat with me about music or something. I remember being introduced to someone at that show but I could not remember who it was. I said sure. I looked Peter up on Facebook and realized that he was Peter from Atomzero. I realized that Peter might be asking about me being involved with Atomzero. The weird thing is that I assumed he heard of me through Gord or the Nanochrist show, but he had no idea about any of that! He just remembers chatting to me at the Skinny Puppy show last year. Apparently I said I was a drummer, and he was going to ask if I knew of any singers! Funny how things work out."
And, with that said, with a new partner at hand, how do you think the sound of the band will change in the future? Do you think it will sound similar, or be a complete overhaul?
Peter - "Without a doubt there will be a change in sound. To be honest I’ve always envisioned growth and change in Atomzero in the follow up to 'Symbiosis'. Or at least hoped it would be apparent. With Andrew there’s definitely a different cohesion in terms of sensibilities but it’s still electronic. Andrew’s voice is different too, so the character of the songs will inherently have a different vibe."
Andrew - "It's inevitable that my musical instincts will seep into the music. Like Peter said, he was looking for a vocalist but it's escalated. I sing, but primarily I'm a songwriter and music producer. By bringing me on board he's getting a lot more than he may have bargained for! If I had to predict, I'd say that the underlying sound of the music, Peter's electronic grooves and beats, which are influenced by bands such as Kraftwerk, Nitzer Ebb, Front 242, will remain fairly constant, but my love of rock and pop song structures, big hooks, and catchy lyrics will make Atomzero more accessible to a wider audience while still be interesting and challenging sonically."
Have you yet to start working on any new material? Or is that currently a work in progress?
Peter - "Yes Andrew works at a lightning pace and it’s very invigorating. Literally he came over one Sunday and by Tuesday I was getting vocals and arrangement of a song idea I just shared with him. And then more takes kept coming and coming. I’m having a hard time keeping up with him! But it’s good and we are working to completing several tracks first to release as a possible EP, to sort of gently introduce Andrew and just raise our hand that we’re still here and very much active. But there’s a whole library of tracks in the waiting to work on for the next full-length release and who knows what we’ll also come up with together?"
Do you think your audience will react positively or negatively to the announcement of a new man on board replacing Gord? Or no?
Peter - "That’s untested as of yet and we won’t know until our new music is released. Certainly there’s a challenge with introducing a new voice as that can be the identifiable character of the music/band. But at the same time I’m kind of considering all this as Atomzero 2.0. And I feel very lucky to have met Andrew by chance (at a Skinny Puppy concert) and have this opportunity to not only have a new voice for Atomzero but a collaborator on a style of music that is not that commonly produced in Canada."
And, aside from all that, has there been anything else that you've been working on as of late?
Be it something other than music regarding Atomzero, side projects, or anything else like that?
Peter - "Not all my output fits the Atomzero ‘mold’. In the gaps before work ever commenced on 'Symbiosis' I worked with a friend (Lance Pilon of The Grey Disorder) and Norm Jolin who has been the live guitarist for Atomzero live shows on a track. In fact 'Nature Without Sound' first showed its head with them but sounded drastically different. But it went only as far as one song and just recently Lance contributed vocals to another song. Eventually this will be released under the BLiXR name I’ve used thus far for some personal remix work. There may also be some instrumental tracks I may eventually release, but generally Atomzero takes precedence over everything else and that’s what I feel right now is the most important to work on."
Do you have any live shows planned, or anything like that in the making?
Peter - "At the moment we’re concentrating on recording. There’s certain logistics that we need to overcome before commencing doing live shows again. It’s definitely on the distant horizon."
Lastly, I would like to thank you for your time and wish you the best for your future.
Peter - "Thank you, you too!"
We will never be the state's poster child band, nor do we want to be, but after a decade of hard work we have a solid following and I am very grateful for that. It seems like every gig we play we make new fans who actually stick around and that is a rare thing anymore. We have reached across genres locally and have built ourselves a dedicated and very diverse crowd here.
Pittersplatter, Jan 07 2014
I've been writing for Brutal Resonance since November of 2012 and now serve as the editor-in-chief. I love the dark electronic underground and usually have too much to listen to at once but I love it. I am also an editor at Aggressive Deprivation, a digital/physical magazine since March of 2016. I support the scene as much as I can from my humble laptop.
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