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Interviews Attacker

Interview with drummer Mike Sabatini

Interview conducted by Luxi Lahtinen

Date online: May 2, 2015

Live pictures by Jowita Kaminska

US Heavy Metal legends Attacker have kept the engine pumping since they started in 1983 and have released five full-length studio albums over that span. Attacker's most recent album, Giants of Canaan, was released by Italy's Metal On Metal Records in 2013 and received a good amount of flattering and positive comments from all around the world. Giants of Canaan was a success but Attacker decided to not rest on their laurels for too long. The band has been working on new stuff which has been coming together nicely according to drummer Mike Sabatini. Mike was also eager to tell to The Metal Crypt what else has been going on with Attacker via the following interview he did for us via email. Read on!

Luxi: How are you doing Mike? Did anything special happen yesterday or was it just one of those typical days in your life?

Mike: I am doing just fine, thank you for asking. Interesting you ask about yesterday; I was attacked by two lions, a bear and kicked by a donkey... just kidding, of course. It was just an ordinary day with not much exciting happening.

Luxi: Attacker recently played a show at the Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn, New York, with recently reunited Viking, Possessor and Iron Force. How did this show go for you guys?

Mike: The show went extremely well. It was our first official show since November of 2013 and also our first show with our new bass player, Brian Smith. It was a good crowd and all the bands did a great job. All in all, it was a very successful night.

Luxi: Has New York always been a favorable area for Attacker's live shows? What about elsewhere in the States? Are there other places you have received great responses from?

Mike: New York has always been good for us. We live very close so it is like our second home. Honestly, we have never had the opportunity to play many different places here at home. For one reason or another, we mostly stay in our general area. We have visited places like Chicago, Milwaukee, Pittsburgh, to name a few markets but it's harder now with our jobs. We usually have to fly to shows as driving the long distances would take up too much time.

Luxi: Attacker's latest studio album, Giants of Canaan, was released by Italy's label Metal On Metal Records in 2013 and the fans really seemed to appreciate it. Now that you have some distance from that record how pleased are you with it? Do you feel like you got the album you originally hoped for?

Mike: The Canaan record could not have come out better for us. We were all extremely pleased with it. Attacker had been out of commission for about four years and it was a perfect return album. I think the time off served us well and inspired us all to make the album what it was.

Luxi: Giants of Canaan was Attacker's first album for Metal On Metal Records. What made you choose Metal On Metal Records over any other deals that were offered to Attacker?

Mike: I have been friends with Jowita for several years and she had done some cover art for previous Attacker releases so already having a very good working relationship made it an easy choice for us.

I like the quality of the releases they put out and I also did not want to go with a label that signs too many old school bands just to have them. We did have other offers, but we felt more comfortable working with Jowita and Simone. We are all great friends, too.

Luxi: I have to believe that since Giants of Canaan came out in 2013 you have been working on some new Attacker songs. Could you shed some light on what kind of material we can expect? Will it have those trademark Attacker qualities we've come to expect like melody, power and intrigue?

Mike: We have been working on the new material this year and yes it will have all the Attacker trademarks you mentioned. We have three titles so far; "Choice of Weapons," "Garuda" and "We Rise." We have several more to finish before recording will commence but it is coming along very nicely.

Luxi: Every time a musician works on new material he or she usually tries to top the old material. How hard is it to top yourself as a musician and songwriter every time you are creating songs and albums? It's definitely not something that can be taken for granted, is it?

Mike: That is a very tough burden to have placed on you as a musician. Having gotten great responses to Canaan puts more pressure on us to make a better record but ultimately we can only write and use what we feel is the best material that we could come up with. I do believe we are on the right path so far and no, it definitely cannot be taken for granted!

Luxi: Can you tell us in your own words what it is that makes Attacker sound like Attacker? Do you believe you have a "trademark" Attacker sound?

Mike: Through the years we have had different writers come and go in the band but Pat Marinelli and I have been constants and I believe the both of us anchor the Attacker sound. The band's legacy of material also pushes those who write in the "Attacker" direction maybe without them even knowing it. It's hard to say exactly how it happens but it does and we are grateful for the sound we have achieved.

Luxi: Attacker has thousands of fans around the whole globe and I am sure they mean the world to you in regards of keeping the band alive, right? What are some of the best compliments that your fans have given you since Attacker was first formed?

Mike: We absolutely would not still be here without all the great fans we have met and become friends with. As for compliments, we have played many festivals and had many people tell us that we were their favorite performance of the fest and that means a whole lot to us because we work very hard at being the best that we can be. Just the fact that people say our music is part of their lives is the most amazing thing to us. We appreciate every single person that has supported us all these years.

Luxi: Have you ever been in a situation when some Attacker fan has made you blush with an over-friendly or overwhelming compliment?

Mike: Definitely. I have had people complimenting my drumming and style and say that they want to be as good of a drummer as me one day. That is a very flattering comment and I did indeed blush a bit! It really makes you feel good though and drives me to keep getting better and better.

Luxi: Giants of Canaan was recorded at Katalomi Studios in Jersey City, New Jersey. Do you think that you'll record your next album there as well? Are there any funny or amusing stories to be told about the actual recording of the album?

Mike: Katalomi is our own studio so yes, we will most certainly be recording there again! Nothing really funny but recording is always a great time as you watch your band mates giving it their all to make a great record.

Luxi: You have a new bass player in the band, a guy named Brian Smith, who replaced Jon Hanemann in 2014. How did you find Brian and what happened to Jon? Why did he decide to step out of the Attacker ranks? Did he leave on good terms?

Mike: Brian was recommended to us by a friend of his who, as luck would have it, shares a rehearsal studio with us. He mentioned Brian and I said "sure let's get him some songs to audition with." He did a great job and he's a full-fledged member now. Jon decided he wanted to do something different and that was it;, we parted ways. He recently moved out of New Jersey but we still keep in touch and get along just great.

Luxi: You have the Ragnarökkr Metal Apocalypse festival coming up in Chicago on May 2nd, 2015, and your slot is right before The Rods. How well do you know the guys in The Rods? Have you ever played with them before?

Mike: Yes, we are very excited for the festival; we can't wait to hit that stage. I have never met The Rods in person but that will change very shortly! This will be our first time playing with them and I am sure it will be awesome.

Luxi: Besides Attacker, the Ragnarökkr Metal Apocalypse festival seems be packed with a killer, old school line-up of legendary names like Q5, Liege Lord, Ostrogoth, Nuclear Assault and so on. Do you think the world needs more festivals like this? In Europe we have Keep It True festival in Germany, which is always good for the true Metal maniacs out there.

Mike: It is definitely a great line-up and yes the world and particularly the U.S. needs more of these festivals. Europe is the best place for great fests and I am sure that will continue to be the case so we will just have to visit more often!

Luxi: How important is playing shows for you personally, to go out and play in front of your supportive fans? Is it a "necessary evil" or the salt that give the meal that much more flavor?

Mike: Playing live for us, and probably most bands, is the big payoff for all the rehearsing, writing and recording we do. Being stuck in a room just rehearsing all the time would get boring very fast. The energy of a live performance cannot be beat and is a great feeling to experience.

Luxi: What are some of the biggest differences, from your point of view, between the Metal festivals that you have in the States nowadays and the ones that are arranged here in Europe? Do you feel like the festival organizers in your homeland still have a lot to learn from the Europeans as far as putting together a Metal festival?

Mike: I think the biggest problem is the crowd attendance. People here won't drive an hour to a show where in Europe fans will fly from all over to attend. We have to stop being lazy and waiting for the show to come close to us. I do believe the European organizers do a better job for the bands and fans. It is a learning process that can happen here if we can put some good, well-attended shows together.

Luxi: What about downloading music from the Internet; are you for or against it? Do you think compact discs may even cease to exist someday due to the changing music industry? Vinyl, on the other hand, still seems to have a market, especially here in Europe, even if record labels are putting them in smaller quantities. Some people say only a physical copy is real. Do you agree?

Mike: The Internet has been a blessing and a curse for music. On one hand, we have greater communication but on the other, downloading has hurt bands' ability to make money from their recordings. Money today is made from performances and selling merchandise. I do believe CDs will be gone one day and all music may wind up being downloaded. We will probably always have some sort of physical media for the people who still want it but the mainstream will go with whatever the music industry feeds them. I think owning a physical copy is the real deal.

Luxi: We are not here forever, that's just a fact of life. What kind of legacy do you hope to leave for the future generations of metalheads when Attacker is no more?

Mike: Just having people remember us will be all the legacy we can hope for. The Metal world has many great bands and any sort of remembrance will be legacy enough.

Luxi: Would you have any free advice to give young metalheads that are thinking of forming their own bands?

Mike: Number 1: Stay in school, you can do a band and get a good education as well just in case music does not give you all you want.

Number 2: Try to be as original as you can. The world does not need complete copies of what is already around.

Number 3: Promote the hell out of yourselves. It's up to you to get the word out there.

Luxi: If you made it this far Mike, then my sincere congratulations. Thank you for taking some time to answer my questions and keep up the great work with Attacker in the future. If you have any last words of wisdom and experience to finish this chat properly, by all means spit them out... ;o)

Mike: Thanks for the opportunity to speak to the Metal world and keep your eyes open because Attacker is back and gonna hit the Metal world hard with our next release!! \m/

Other information about Attacker on this site
Review: Battle At Helm's Deep
Review: The Second Coming
Review: Soul Taker
Review: The Unknown
Review: Sins of the World
Review: Armor of the Gods

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