Q&A: Attika 7
After leaving his former band Biohazard, Evan Seinfeld is back in the public eye with his new band Attika 7. At the age of 18, Evan got his first tattoo, a dedication emblem for his band Biohazard. Now at the age of 44, he will be getting his new band symbol for Attika 7, fellow members Rusty Coones and Tony Campos, tattooed on him. It is a symbol of his newfound voice, inspiration and new lease on life. Evan explores some of the founding principles that define Attika 7, with its heavy belief in rebellion and the unfair justice system. With the release of his newest LP, Blood of My Enemies, Seinfeld took some time out of his schedule to talk to Inked about his transition from band to band, his personal growth as an artist and the tattoos that have marked his body along the way.
Inked: So why do you guys call yourself a super group?
Seinfeld: We really don’t, but a lot of other people seem to think it. I mean it’s amazing how it comes back like that. I think that it’s just a goof term that people use when there is a band, and guys in the band have been in other bands. It seems like nowadays, the more internet and social media there is, the more everyone feels like they have a voice or a handle to call something. But between me having been in other bands and Tony Campos having been in bands that had success, people thought that that’s what we should be called, but really we just let the music speak for itself, you know?
Inked: How did Attika 7 form?
Seinfeld: It really started with Rusty who is the founder of the band. Rusty was in prison for a long time and although he played guitar before he went away he was really more of a rock and roller during his 7 year prison sentence. He kind of taught himself metal and he wrote a lot of music. We are both from the biker world and Jesse James actually introduced us to each other originally, so we knew each other before he went away. Rusty wrote a bunch of the lyrics while he was in solitary confinement; he spent 2 years in solitary confinement. Something so in you, that most people would never have to deal with. When he got out, he called me out of the blue and was just like “Hey man, we just kicked out our singer and I was just wondering if you would fill in and do a couple of songs and shows with us.” I said okay well send me the songs and send me the lyrics, I want to look at it. And he sent it to me and I was completely blown away, I was floored. The intensity and the anguish and the pain of the lyrics that he wrote in prison, it really touched me and inspired me and I wanted to be involved.
Inked: So you wanted something that was more worthwhile and you found it with Attika.
Seinfeld: I wanted something that I could sink my teeth into, you know, not to sound corny or anything but reading the desperate lyrics that Rusty wrote in prison, knowing how unfair the system is, it gave me that new rebellious fire that is kind of like the eye of the tiger if you wish. It really inspired me, and that is something that you can’t bottle.
Inked: Why are all the members of Attika 7 essential to the band?
Seinfeld: It’s funny because we will be making the announcement probably early next week that we have actually beefed up the lineup a little bit. So that’s really not the best question for today, but I guess the saying goes; you can’t make soup without the salt and pepper. Or as Sammi would say, without the Matzah Balls. I guess with Attika 7, the concept started with Rusty with his dark savvy greasy rifts and me adding in the dark melodies. I always really wanted to sing and I always felt like throughout all the music progress I did in my life, I was stuck in a box. And it’s partially my own fault, being in situations that were a little too structured or writing with other people who were afraid to step outside of the box and really go after certain melodies. A lot of people who are in the metal scene or like hard-core kind of shy away from hooks and melodies because they are afraid that it’s not going to sound hard or heavy or tough. I think when Rusty and I got together we came up with the secret sauce. When me and Rusty write songs, its really the most creative and natural situation that I have ever been in and I really don’t know how to explain it other than that we really are best of friends. We just both want it to sound like you know, some kind of pissed off biker voodoo.
Inked: How are you different with this album than you were with your previous band and your previous albums?
Seinfeld: That’s a really good question; it’s something that I talk about a lot with the other guys and with the people in my life. First of all, I’ve been in a band that had two singers and it kind of limited me to what I can do in a lot of ways. What was great about this was that I had complete freedom to just go for it and really experiment and explore. Rusty just gave me the reigns and said “Hey man, just do what you do. I love how you sing, I love how you scrap, I love how scream. Just do whatever you want to do, just do it.” We are now working in the studio with producer MUDROCK and I’ve worked with some great producers who made great records with me and better records with other people but I don’t know what he did with me. But with his knowledge and skill, he got me to sing in a way, I finally felt like old school young Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath. It was dreamy but also dark and heavy. And I always worried that it wouldn’t sound heavy if I was not pushing harder, but here I am not a kid anymore. A wily old veteran and I am finding a new placement in my voice. What’s fun is that singing is almost like a golf swing; when you get it right it feels effortless. I feel like this is the first album that I have ever made that has so much heart and so much integrity but can also really cross over to kind of mainstream rock and metal. I really hope it gets a chance to get merit off of the music alone.
Inked: So what’s your favorite song on the album?
Seinfeld: We shot a video for serial killer, and I love that song and that’s not the lead track. I wanted to go first with ‘Crackerman,’ but it has cursing in it and everyone was like no you guys should wait. Crackerman was actually featured on the TV show the Devils Ride on the Discovery Channel and it was really funny. They picked the one song that they had to keep editing and beeping. The song that we are leading with is Devil’s Daughter, which I really like; I think it’s so cool. It’s like really dark and creepy and haunting. I love when the sound of the song kind of goes with the melody, with the meaning of the song. The song is kind of metaphoric and it’s kind of about addiction, whatever your poison is. So the song kind of sounds like what it’s about. “I’m in love with the The Devil’s Daughter, I can taste her voodoo. Making love to the Devil’s Daughter, she’s no good for you.” There are a couple of songs that are on the record that are really important. There is a song called “No Redemption,” that’s really about the industrial prison complex. It talks about how there are 10 million people incarcerated in the world today and how more than 25% of them are in the United States alone, and we pride ourselves as the most civilized country in the world.
Inked: Now on to tattoos, how many do you have?
Seinfeld: I consider myself to have only one tattoo; my body is just a work in progress. I have no idea, but to me getting tattoos is a life process and I think that I should be done with all my skin by the time I die, should I not die an untimely death. I’m probably about 85% done. I still have a little work to do. I just did one side of my ribs and my arm pit, and the guy who is doing my tattoos right now is a guy named Fernie Andrade and he works at a shop called Ink Slingers, kind of in the hood. I really love the shop, because it’s just a bunch of guys who love the art of tattooing and are more about the tattooing and less about the recognition. It’s funny because now the whole world is paying attention, when these guys have been doing this for a really long time. I’m getting tattooed on Thursday and Fernie is doing a huge realistic Grim Reaper that’s got an Attika 7 medallion around his neck. And then he has got a bunch of skulls around his waistband. It’s really cool.
Inked: When did you get your first tattoo?
Seinfeld: I was about 18 and it was the first time that Biohazard had every played outside of New York City. We borrowed a truck and went to DC to play a show and we were playing a show with the Anti-Heroes. Our truck broke down and got stuck and we were just crashing on some guy’s floor. Our first Manager of the band, this guy Ritchie who was 6 ft. 11, called his girlfriend and asked her for money to fix the truck. He got the money to fix the truck and said “Come on we are all going to the tattoo shop.” He walked in and said, “How much to do 10 Biohazard tattoos on 10 guys.” And it was very irresponsible, that’s kind of how we were back in those days. And I was 18, it was my first tattoo and it was just a small biohazard tattoo but I remember it got an infection. I kept looking at it and was like man this is going to spread. I went after that to Mike Preffeto, known back then as Mike Angelo. And back in these days tattooing was illegal and it was underground and it was at Mikes parents house in his basement. I remember my first real tattoo was something that he had drawn up for me, it was a Phoenix that was battling a serpent. And he incorporated my biohazard tattoo into this big full shoulder arm tattoo. This is back in the 80′s and it was not really mainstream to get big tattoos, especially not black and grey tattoos. It was like people with black and grey tattoos were people who had either been to prison or people from the New York hard core seen. I just remember people being really scared of it. I got so insane with getting tattoo’s that I got sleeves within like two years. I remember getting into an elevator and people would get out of the elevator like ‘I don’t want to be alone with this guy’. And now it’s like every football player, every basketball player, every rapper, every wimpy pop singer – now I get into an elevator and grandma’s say to me, my grandson has tattoo’s just like you. It’s amazing how mainstream and how pop culture tattoos have become.
Inked: So what is your favorite tattoo. And are any of your tattoo’s sentimental or just artistic?
Seinfeld: All my tattoos are meaningful to me, some are more artistic and some are more symbolic, and some have more meaning than others obviously. I mean my favorite tattoo is really the one that Fernie did on me about two years ago; it’s a portrait of my wife on my ribs. He drew her with angel wings but she is also holding my gun. I think it’s great when you can express your love for somebody. A lot of my tattoos really express my dark side and my inner demons and my anger and my hatred. I’ve used a lot of my tattoos to kind of work out my mental anguish and my own issues within myself. I have a lot of devils and angels. I’ve never been a moderate person; I’ve always been a person who’s been extreme in one way or another. My tattoos show my personality. I got my oldest son’s name tattooed on my neck when he was born, Mark Mahoney put it on me, and those are the kind of tattoos that last forever. I got a lot of really amazing work done from Paul Booth, who is a great friend of mine and use to travel on the tour bus with me back in the day. Life is a journey you know, and you pick up some souvenirs on the way. For me, my tattoos kind of tell a story of all the places that I have been and all the things that I have done but I’m not finished. I kind of feel like with Attika 7, I’ve gotten a new lease on life. I’m restarting my journey and I’ve kind of re-inspired myself musically. And that’s not easy to do.
Inked: What’s your tattoo process?
Seinfeld: These days I’m really selective, I only have a little bit of skin left and it’s mostly planned out and I know what artists are going to tattoo me and where. I have a lot of friends who are tattoo artists who have actually never tattooed me because we were too busy just hanging out together. Like Mario Barth is one of my best friends and he has never tattooed me because we were just always having fun. So Mario is going to tattoo me… one of these days.. Depending on the artists, I like to give them a lot of freedom to do it how they see it. Like when I would get tattooed by Paul Booth I would be like “Hey man, this is the space that I am working with, and I want a big devil head on this side, and I want a falling angel on this side.” He will just draw it right on me. I never really want a tattoo that someone else is going to have, so I want tit to be unique and original. It’s funny because I have seen so many people who have just seen your tattoo in a magazine and they copy it. It’s happened hundred of times and I guess that you have to think that you have done something right. Like they say, imitation is the best form of flattery, so you gotta take it as it is.