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After a period of uncertainty without a vocalist at the helm, Victorian hardcore/metal act ABREACT are back making waves in the local heavy scene.
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With the release of their crushing new single Paper Planes introducing the band’s new frontman Josh Cahill, ABREACT are doing everything they can to keep up their momentum in these turbulent times. Speaking about the new single, guitarist Lee Chatterton explains that Paper Planes is a heavy song with a heavy meaning attached to it.
“This is the first song that we’ve done with our new singer Josh [Cahill],” he says. “I think it’s come out really good. As far as what it’s all about, as far as the lyrics are concerned, it’s a bit loose, but life doesn’t always go how you plan it to be, with your goals and dreams. Not everyone makes it to the end, in the way that they want to. So, it’s kinda, you know, stories get lost, people lose their minds, people die…just a broad touch on how fragile life is, I guess, and how easy it is to be lost and forgotten. Like paper and fire, you light paper on fire, it blows up pretty quickly and it’s gone just like that.”
ABREACT’s sound is rooted in a more classic metal/hardcore genre than many local bands in the heavy scene, but they’ve certainly found what works for them. This raw and aggressive sound is a winning formula for the band, and one that stems from some notable influences of Chatterton and his bandmates.
“Raised Fist was probably the biggest catapult in [the band’s sound]. I’d always been a fan of them, but our previous singer Simon [White] and I went and saw them live in 2009 or 10, they toured Australia on their Veil of Ignorance album, and yeah, just absolutely blew us away. We were changed for life that day pretty much. So, we definitely, from just that one show of theirs, we definitely took the stage show up a notch…I suppose classically, when we were growing up, there’s a lot of Deftones and Will Haven, and you know, bands like Every Time I Die, Terror, Converge, stuff like that.”
Though ABREACT have a solid grip on their sound, the addition of a new vocalist to any band can throw a spanner in the works. While the band had to change a couple of things in the lead up to vocalist John Cahill’s debut on Paper Planes, according to Chatterton, things went pretty smoothly from there.
“He’s very bouncy, very talkative, funny guy. So, we got along well straight away. His vocal style’s a bit lower, our previous two singers…were a bit more yell-y over the top, whereas he’s got a bit more of a metal-y, lower register. He can do it the other way, but he’s a bit more natural in that lower register. So, just took us a little while to figure things out.
“We knew it would work, it was just finding the sweet spot, I guess. And what he’s good at, what he’s used to doing and what we’re used to as well, what we’re used to hearing. But we’ve got the best of both worlds now, I think.”
Despite this slight adjustment to the band’s sound to fit around Cahill’s vocals, it sounds like his addition to the band hasn’t changed things to drastically for their planned second album.
“A lot of the material was already written,” Lee says. “Cause [Josh’s] got that lower register and can go a bit harder in that department, it did make us rethink some kind of break down parts, cause we knew that they were going to have more impact with his vocals and all that kind of stuff. So, leaving space occasionally for just vocal lines, whereas we hadn’t really done that in the past. So, I think we’ve evolved a little bit…I think it’s a little bit of maturity obviously, cause it’s been a long time since we’ve done something in the studio properly.”
With the current lockdown restrictions in Victoria still in place, it might be a long time still until they can get back into the studio. Though their second album is already in the works, Chatterton explains that the reality of COVID restrictions has put the completion of the record in a place of uncertainty.
“Well, it would probably be done if we weren’t in lockdown. The studio is about two hours from where we live on the outskirts of Melbourne, and it’s in stage four lockdown, so you’re not allowed to go in or out even for work. So, all the drums are done for the rest of it. That’s it,” he laughs.
I think we’ve evolved a little bit…I think it’s a little bit of maturity obviously, cause it’s been a long time since we’ve done something in the studio properly
[ Lee Chatterton ]
“So, yeah, everything’s written. I’m talking to our producer at the moment, trying to figure out what we’re gonna do. Cause there’s no clear roadmap for when we’re going to be able to go there at the moment, so, and I don’t want to just keep sitting around waiting and waiting in case things get extended or they’re going to take longer and we’ve gotten no closer to getting there.”
While finishing off album number two has been enough of a struggle for the band, they’ve also suffered from the drought of touring that most bands have experienced in the wake of this pandemic.
“That’s the very different thing for us. Cause that’s normally, we operate a bit old school like that, we always have. Like, we’d generally be out playing while something comes out, you know, even before almost. But this time it’s very different. And we can’t even rehearse it either at the moment where we are.
“But you know, all of us are very fortunate because the four of us still have jobs. We know people that are definitely doing it tough, who have lost jobs and things like that…So, I can’t really complain too much, but it would be nice to go and, release some tension, so to speak (laughs) because you know, it’s very, very cathartic to be able to do that kind of thing. And, you know, you get the shit off your liver so to speak, get everything off your chest, and you’ll leave it out on stage and it helps you be more calm and more reasonable during your day to day life. Cause you get to have that outlet; things don’t bother you as much.
“And it definitely helps with your peace of mind, and feeling good, and feeling happy to have that cathartic release. But yeah, it’s definitely pretty weird to not have that at the moment. And in Victoria, when that’ll be when we can have proper shows is a bit hard to figure out at the moment.”
Even though a full album might take longer than Lee and the band had planned, the release of Paper Planes sees ABREACT spreading a bit of much needed positivity into the world. All profits from the single are being donated to Pets of the Homeless Australia, a charity that helps people at risk of, or experiencing homelessness, by looking after their pets; a cause that he’s passionate about.
“I’ve always been completely against animal cruelty and things like that, and I eventually saw one too many documentaries about animal cruelty and the meat industry, and then, yeah. I just decided one day that I would become a vegetarian. So, it’s born a bit out of that.
“But also, homeless people obviously have a really tough time, and some of the only support and companionship they have is their pets, the ones that do have pets, and obviously for anyone going to the vet or getting any kind of care like that is massively expensive anyway, let alone if you’re on really tough times.
“You know, you basically don’t even have a house, how can you afford to get care for your pet? So, yeah, just something I felt pretty passionate about,” says Chatterton.
A heavy band with a heart of gold, it’s clear that ABREACT are doing what they love, and they do it well. Until they can get back into the studio and pump out another track, Chatterton hopes that fans and listeners can get something positive out of Paper Planes.
“I just hope they enjoy it, gives them a positive feeling. It leaves them feeling positive, and like they’ve got something out of it. Whether that’s to release some tension, or something out of the message of the song gives them some kind of peace of mind, or maybe helps them realize something, or move forward with something. I hope it leaves them feeling better for having heard it, not worse.”