Attika 7’s Rusty Coones talks about music and appearing in “Sons of Anarchy”

Rusty Coones is the guitarist and founding member of the band Attika 7. Media Mikes had a chance to talk with Rusty recently about the band’s formation and his upcoming appearance on season 5 of Sons of Anarchy.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us what made you want to form the band?
Rusty Coones: It was not planned at all. In 1999 I caught a Federal case for conspiracy to distribute a listed chemical. But before all of that I had played guitar since I was around the age of 9 and took lessons into my teens where I learned to read and write music. I had songs structures in my head and even though I wasn’t playing in bands I still loved music. When I went into prison I spent a lot of time in solitary confinement. When you’re inside you spend a lot of time getting in your own head. The first few years I was in there I read a lot of books and wrote a lot for my website I had a lot of follows worldwide and though it’s not currently active the site is still up. I was in the metropolitan detention center in Los Angeles about 2 years before I received my sentence. I was then sent to a prison Oregon. While there I was working out with weights 5 days a week. Right by where the weights were was a music room. If you signed up for that program you had to actively participate with a group. I would walk past that room everyday and I just became really inspired. I ended up going in and began playing with a band that was already there. They played mostly blues, rock. The first day I was there I asked if I could bring in a song I had written. They were very receptive to that. We got to go in that room twice a week and each time I would bring new songs. Most of the songs at that time had that blues, rock sound. A couple months later there was a riot in the yard resulting in a bunch of us being sent to other prisons. I ended up at a prison in Texas. When you’re shipped to a new place you have to spend a certain amount of time in confinement before you can go in to the yard. 3 days after being released in to the yard I was playing a concert in front of 1,800 inmates. It was all songs I had written. That material was all blues, rock. During this time I started experimenting with drop tunings. When you’re playing in that dropped key there are some real sweet spots on the fret board. I wrote 32 songs while I was there. I still have all of my notes. When I got out it was my goal to assemble the best band of musicians I could to start a band with. There have been a few different lineups of the band since I started. Evan Seinfeld and I joined up about a year ago when I was looking for a fill in singer. Evan became hooked on the songs and he and I started working together. We re-worked some songs and wrote new material which is what makes up “Blood of my Enemies”.

AL: What was your song writing process like being allowed only limited resources for short periods of time?
RC: 90% of the songs that I write the riffs and music are done first. From there is usually when I start on the lyrics. As soon as they let me out in to the yard I would go grab a little box guitar and start working on my riffs. Once I got them dialed in and they were in my head I would go back to my cell and write line by line the verses, choruses and such. Every song that I wrote was never given a title. The songs named themselves by the time they were done. The first few lines of a song are always the most difficult for me. Once I have those, stuff just starts flowing.

AL: I assume a lot of the material was written about the situations you were encountering each day?
RC: Some of the songs for instance “Serial Killer” was written in the words of a serial killer. I of course am not a serial killer. I was in my cell and went really deep in to my imagination so I could get to a dark enough place to allow me to write like that. It was kind of like when an actor gets in to character before performing a role. I was around a few people in prison that were possessed pretty heavy so it wasn’t too hard to come up with this type of material. Some of the other songs are about being on the inside and what you have to do to adapt.

AL: How have the recent lineup changes helped the band progress?
RC: The band is a little different now. Tony Campos is a great bassist as is Scott our new bassist. Scott has more of a Geezer Butler from Black Sabbath style where Tony is a serious metal player that is very precise. I think that with the way the songs are now Scott learned to play the songs the way Tony played them. Scott didn’t get to put a lot of his flavor in yet but, I can see this is going to be a lot of fun. Scott loves to run around and play riffs. I love that type of feeling. Scotts playing is bringing a really cool flavor to the band. We want this band to be timeless and we aren’t trying to be trendy. Evan is melodic in his approach which I think only adds to that timeless feel we are looking for. We are not trying to sound like anyone or anything else. Whether that’s good or not that’s the way things ended up. These songs were written in a vacuum. At the time I didn’t have any music to listen to. I just had to draw from what was in my head. I had all these little pieces floating around of things I liked. I developed my own style from that.

AL: Can you tell us anything about your upcoming appearance on “Sons of Anarchy?
RC: I have already shot 2 episodes and in the coming weeks I will be shooting some more. I am really excited to be a part of the show. I play a character by the name of Quinn who is the president of the Nomads motorcycle club. There have been talks of this character since season 1 but this will be the first time he comes out of the shadows. It’s going to be really interesting.

AL: How did you first get involved with the show?
RC: Kurt Sutter is a very smart guy. When he started the show he really immersed himself in the outlaw biker culture. He learned everything he could learn. When he was looking to learn he wanted to learn from the best so he came to us. (Coones is the founder of the Orange County Chapter of the Hells Angels.)Kurt’s research paid off and he has a lot of really good people around him. The show is a dramatic television show. There has to be some dramatic elements to keep people watching. If anyone tuning in is saying certain things are “bullshit” it’s TV! It’s supposed to be entertaining. You don’t turn on the television to watch actual everyday realism. Yes the show has some realistic elements but there’s entertainment factors combined into that. I am honored to be a part of the show.

AL: Were there any aspects of the shoots so far that have been difficult?
RC: This show has been the most professional production that I have ever been a part of. There are stunt people and fight choreographers that cross every t and dot every i. Everything is very organized. Things like the fighting and such were second nature. (Laughs)

AL: What other projects do you have in the works?
RC: Attika 7 is waiting for the last few things to be completed for our U.S tour. The band is also doing a West Coast tour that will be announced in the near future. I have some television things in works as well however I can’t really say anything just yet about that. Things should be quite interesting.


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Attika 7’s Evan Seinfeld talks about new album “Blood of My Enemies” and tour

Evan Seinfeld is the former lead singer/bassist of the legendary NY hardcore band Biohazard. Seinfeld left the group in 2011 and joined the hard rock/metal group Attika 7. The group released its first LP titled “Blood of My Enemies” in mid June of this year and Media Mikes had the chance recently to talk with Evan about the group and their new album.

Adam Lawton:  What was it that interested you in joining a new band?
Evan Seinfeld:  I am the kind person that thrives on change and new energy. I started Biohazard when I was still a teenager. We played 4,000 concerts over 25 years. I put a lot of energy and time into the last Biohazard album but in the end I have to do what’s best for me. I had to be able to grow as a musician and to be inspired. I always put my creativity first and money second. I could have just gone on doing the same thing and faded off in to the sunset. When I first heard the material my friend Rusty Coones had written while he was in prison it gave me chills. I live for those moments.  When I am singing these new songs it takes me back to being 17 again. This time around I know what I want to do and I don’t have to waste any time with things I am not interested in. We only have a certain amount of time on this planet and I plan to live mine to the very fullest.

AL:  How did you get involved with the band?
ES: I have lived by our guitarist Rusty Coones for some time now. I had first met him though Jesse James and after that we were always hanging out and riding motorcycles together. One day we were talking and he had told me that they had just let their singer go and that they had a gig coming up. Rusty asked me if I would fill in and I said sure. He sent me the tracks and even though we hadn’t played together before I liked the music. At that point I had never really listened to the lyrics but after really listening to them I became very inspired. Rusty had never thought I would be available and that I was just filling in for this one show. The music just spoke to me and I felt like this is what I should be doing.

AL: How would you describe your work on the new album?
ES: I feel really great about this record and am walking with pep in my step. A lot of the credit I have to give to our producer MudRock. I have worked with a lot of great producers in my career but MudRock really helped me to find my voice. I am now able to sing harder and with more range than I was ever able to in the past. He did something in the studio that just brought the best out of me. I really enjoyed the process. This album is both heavy and melodic while remaining crystal clear. We went in to the studio and played the album front to back live which was great. A lot of the material werecorded was already written prior to me coming in but there were some songs that still needed a little work. A majority of the material was written so perfectly that it didn’t need anything else. We however did write some songs from scratch. Rusty had wanted to put this band together for a long time and played with a bunch of different people. When he and I started we just clicked. We dove in to that material and just dissected it in order to get the best possible result from each song. I like working like that and I really like being in the band. I am honored to sing songs that are so deep.

AL: How would you categorize the sound of this album?
ES: Everyone one loves to relate sounds to other bands as it’s an easy way to do things. Attika 7 is clearly derived from classic metal. You can hear our influences in the songs. I think it will definitely appeal to people who like old school Pantera up to fans of Godsmack. When I listen to the album I can hear a lot of my own influences like Black Sabbath and Type O Negative mixed with some melodic hard rock. I hear every little thing in this album. There are moments when we really lock in as a band and we don’t sound like anyone or anything else. Those are the moments that I am most proud of. The inspiration for this record comes from a very dark place and in the end the message is one of hope and redemption. When all the shit goes down you find out who you are and who your friends are. To be able to look in the mirror and know who you are and what you are made of is a great thing.

AL: What are going to be the tour plans for this album?
ES: There is a lot of talk and buzz right now about what we may be doing however, nothing has been confirmed. This is a new band so people are going to wait to see just how good we are live before making any decisions. A lot of times people have expectations or thoughts about how this project sounds like something else that me or one of the other guys in the band have done before. It has been really important to us that this band have a very heavy and true live sound. We also wanted the band to be really tight and have since made line-up changes to help us get to that point. Everything is completely wide open right now. It’s been a humbling process to start over. It’s awesome in a way because it alleviates any pressure or expectations I have on myself where I maybe played a venue back in the 90’s to X amount of people and this time there are only this amount of people. I am stoked if 20 or 20,000 people show up. As long as they are in to the music that’s all I care about. I am really excited to go to some new places and turn new people on to our sound.

AL: Are you planning to do anymore acting?
ES: Rusty and I both have a bunch of reality television type stuff in the works. Some of the things will be together while other are going to be separate. In terms of acting that is something I love to do. The thing that I don’t enjoy is going to auditions. Those can be disappointing because I am very hungry and love doing what I am doing so you go to those things and you may end up not getting the part. You then see who was cast instead and know you could have done better or been more real. That was kind of the situation when I auditioned for “Sons of Anarchy”. I really wanted that part and knew I could sink my teeth into it but they ended up casting a few guys who don’t even ride. I would enjoy the challenge of acting again but there are a lot of people out there that watch television and think it’s real. They often forget that actors are playing a character. You can’t tell me Anthony Hopkins walks around as Hannibal Lector. That’s just crazy to think. If I was to do more I don’t think I would want another role that would make people think I am something that I am not.   

CD Review: Attika 7 “Blood of My Enemies”

Attika 7
“Blood of My Enemies”
Rocket Science
Producer: MudRock
Tracks: 13

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

“Blood of My Enemies” is the debut release from the hard rock/ metal group Attika 7. The group consists of former Biohazard singer/bassist Evan Seinfeld, former Static-X bassist Tony Campos and famed motorcycle build/guitarist Rusty Coones. Together with famed producer MudRock (Avenged Sevenfold, Godsmack) the group has created a sound/album that showcases the bands influences while at the same time creating something completely new.

The 13 tracks contained on “Blood of My Enemies” will pulverize your senses until they burst. Each song is beautifully crafted to give the listener the most bang for their buck. From the foreboding opening track “Crackerman” to the hook heavy “Devil’s Daughter” to the skull rattling title track “Blood of My Enemies “Attika 7 delivers. Seinfeld’s gruff and at times haunting vocal presence is a perfect match for bringing Coones lyrics (written while serving time in Federal Prison) to life. This album is as real as it gets and it only gets better each time you listen to it.

Attika 7’s “Blood of My Enemies” is a no bullshit, straight forward hard rock/metal album. Those expecting to find a reboot of any of the member’s former bands won’t find it here. Instead you get something that is brand new but with a broken in familiar feel

Track Listing:
1.)    CrackerMan
2.)    Serial Killer
3.)    All or Nothing
4.)    Devils Daughter
5.)    Greed and Power
6.)    LockDown
7.)    The Hard Cold Truth
8.)    No Redemption
9.)    Blood of My Enemies
10.)  Living in Oppression
11.)  Dying Slowly
12.)  HellBound
13.)  War