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Wanton Attack's Niklas Holm: "We have nothing against modern recording techniques or Photoshop, we try to use both tastefully, but I’d say we’re aiming for a more timeless presentation overall…"

Interview with Micael Zetterberg & Niklas Holm from Wanton Attack
by Lior "Steinmetal" Stein at 15 October 2021, 5:40 PM

It starts with a piece of music, a whole lot of motivation, not really with a specific plan. The way bands are born is an interesting phenomenon, and of course it is the more the merrier for potential fans and die-hard Metalheads that wish to have more. Wanton Attack is a newly made band, currently a duo of Niklas Holm and Micael Zetterberg, both experienced musicians and songwriters. Together they band for the sake of old school Metal, and other influences that they share. With the released of their self-titled debut album, Steinmetal had to find out more about this duo, their music and how did it all begin

Hello Micael, it is great to have you for this interview for Metal Temple online Magazine, how are things on your end?

Micael: Thanks for having us featured in your magazine. Life goes on as usual; work, eat, sleep and play heavy metal music.

Even with you being involved in a variety of underground bands, it appeared to me that it was still important to have another act that is much closer to your heart. Does the formation of Wanton Attack share this assessment? What was actually the driving force that led you to form the band?

Micael: In some ways, yes. I’ve been involved in several bands and projects but Wanton Attack is one of those bands I started myself and I also write all the music and lyrics along with Niklas.  It’s easier to get your ideas across with only two people in the band. In that sense, one could say that the music is closer to myself.

Every band idea seems to start with a riff, which was the case with this band as well. I wrote some riffs about ten years ago, these riffs were left to mature until it was time to start Wanton Attack. I also got the painting (the album cover) from my friend Linda around that time, and I instantly knew it was a future album cover. Linda passed away a few years ago so the painting means a lot to me. My main idea from the beginning was to start a heavy metal band influenced by Master’s Hammer, but it turned out to be something else I think.

What can you tell about your partnership with Niklas Holm? How did you find yourselves venturing in the same direction right upon forming Wanton Attack?

Micael: Actually, Niklas is the cousin of Mikael Holm in Aggressive Mutilator so we have known each other for several years. I’ve also done some live shows with Niklas and his band Broken Cross. Niklas is one of few friends of mine who is also into old obscure metal and he is a great guitarist. So asking him to join the band was a no-brainer. We have very similar visions when it comes to this kind of music.

How would you describe the image of Wanton Attack? Now, I know that you are an old school Metal breather on this one, yet what does the band represent in your view?

Micael: We want to have that old touch in both the music and overall feeling of the band.

Niklas: I don’t think we have a specific image. We both love old heavy metal (and many other types of music) but I don’t think we fit into a certain scene. It’s not like we dress up for band photos or try to please a crowd. Other bands can do what they want, but to me, the music goes beyond current trends and categorizations and it should speak for itself.

I am usually not asking this question, yet ever since I saw the band’s name, I was intrigued to know. What does the Wanton state in the band’s name?

Micael: Wanton Attack roughly means ”merciless attack”.

Is Wanton Attack merely a studio project for you to get back to, or is this only the first step right before forging a full time band that would also perform live?

Micael: For now, it’s only me and Niklas, we would love to play live under the right circumstances. We do have some musicians in mind if that is happening.

Signing with the Greek label No Remorse Records was a terrific decision, as your self-titled debut album highly fits the image of old school Metal that the label put under its banner. In your view, how do you feel about this signing? What are the common goals that both sides set mutually for the record?

Micael: We contacted a few labels and No Remorse were the first to respond… I don’t think we could have found a better label so we are very pleased with the deal. They are professional and we love many of their releases. Our goal is to release archaic heavy metal upon the world.

Even though it shares a mix of themes, “Wanton Attack”, in its lyrical tendency, tread more with the occult in contrast to other narratives. What are the stories that you are trying to tell through the occult based themes?

Niklas: Some of the lyrics do indeed deal with the occult, although it’s not really a conscious decision on our part. We simply write lyrics about things we both find interesting. Existentialism, magic, mystery and the duality of man are among those things.

What form of problems are you stating through the record? What do you wish for people to understand, or to know?

Micael: We want to have lyrics that fit the music, how to interpret the lyrics is up to the listeners themselves. The music and lyrics together work like a time machine; you can visit the future or the past.

While listening, I also tried to connect the record, or at least some of it, to the pandemic going on. Perhaps only “Arrogant Humanity” perhaps has a share, yet it is only an instrumental. Is there that connection? If not, how about it as a means of escaping from it all for 30 min?

Micael: We wanted to create something that connected the music to the past (as well as the future), and not just heavy metal. We both grew up in the 80s watching movies and cartoons, that’s the connection. So it doesn’t have anything to do with the pandemic.

Slightly murky at times, but nonetheless, with an attitude, “Wanton Attack” is a picture frame of the 80s, the blend of British Metal along with the crowning achievements of early Black Metal magic of Mercyful Fate. How would you describe what form of traditional Metal did you try to pursue on the record?

Micael: One cannot deny that we are influenced by traditional bands, but I think we wanted to get some of that Eastern Europe 80s heavy metal feeling combined with the Swedish 80s heavy metal scene. There are plenty of influences to be heard in the music, as both Niklas and I enjoy many different types of metal music.

What makes it different in a way in contrast to the variety of old school albums coming out nowadays? Since the market is quite vast, even in today’s standards, it would be great to know

Niklas: Good question. Like you mentioned, the market is vast so it’s hard to say what makes our album different. One thing that I have noticed is that many current albums have artwork that is created 100% digitally, whereas we went in a more traditional direction (for instance, I drew the band logo by hand, then edited it digitally). I think this is true in terms of the production on our album as well, as it sounds ”old school” indeed. We have nothing against modern recording techniques or Photoshop, we try to use both tastefully, but I’d say we’re aiming for a more timeless presentation overall. Perhaps that makes us a bit different, I don’t know.

With your experience from other bands, how did “Wanton Attack” change your perception on how to approach a song, put together raw material into a composition?

Niklas: Since I’ve had many one-man projects over the years, it took some time for me to get used to working with somebody else. Once I understood Micael’s way of thinking, the songwriting process went fast and smooth.

Continuing the previous question, as a songwriter, how do you believe that working on the record, along with recording, developed your songwriting skills?

Niklas: In my previous bands/projects I rarely included tempo changes. I also play more tritone chords in this band and more unorthodox leads than I have in the past.

As a vocalist Micael, were you told that you have a lot in common with King Diamond, this is quite remarkable? Were, or are you, in a tribute for Mercyful Fate or something?

Micael: In my point of view I have nothing in common with the King. I’m just trying to do my best and this is the outcome. The King Diamond and Mercyful Fate connection has more to do with the press release of the album than the music itself I think.

The studio engineer, Patrick W. Engel, helped you guys obtain that crunchy sound of the 80s, which enables any old schooler to have a soothing time, far from modernity. What is your take about the sound? Does the end result match your expectations and vision?

Niklas: We recorded the album both at a local studio and in our rehearsal place. Engel mastered the album and he did a terrific job. Actually, all parties involved in the making of this album did a terrific job (a special shoutout to Kim, Magnus and Nadde). The end result matches my expectations, yes. Our vision was to create a timeless sound, and I think we succeeded in doing that.

A song that drove me wild right from the start was “Wanton Attack”, as if I could feel the attacking vibe of the track, charging with a form of 80s heaviness that even though simple to an extent, it served as the perfect hook. What is your appreciation of the track?

Niklas: The song is one of my favorite tracks off the album. I think you pointed out what we wanted to achieve; a catchy song, basic but effective, with a hard and vicious feeling.

Listening to “Arrogant Humanity” sent chills down my spine, as instantly I was thinking about “Escape From New York”, John Carpenter at his prime. Talk about a salute to the 80s, but this is something else. What was your inspiration to write this piece of music? Who played the keyboards?

Micael: I wrote the music and played the keyboards, but we did the arrangements together. Actually, the main melody in that song is very inspired by a very famous song performed by Vanilla Fudge. As said before, both Niklas and I grew up in the 80s watching movies and cartoons. Niklas is also very into Japanese animation as well.

What can you tell about the concept of this instrumental? Other than being 80s in its orientation, in your view, how did it fit the record?

Micael: We think it’s a great track to close the album with, and with Niklas’ guitar solo you get the connection between keyboards and heavy metal.

With time on your hands, what is your next step with Wanton Attack? Is there a second already on the drawing board?

Micael: Exactly, the plans for the next album are about to take form right now.

Guys, many thanks for your time for this interview. Also plenty of thanks for making me take that trip to a different time, taking pleasure in a different sensation. All the best

Micael: Thanks for asking interesting questions and featuring us!


 



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