Kyle Erickson — Guitar
Anders Erickson — Drums
Attica Riots’ name is an allusion to Kurt Vonnegut’s Hocus Pocus and references the four days of rioting and negotiations at New York’s Attica Correctional Facility. It nods to a pivotal point for prisoner and human rights in the ’70s. Seemingly in homage to the novel’s disjointed style, Attica Riots’ lyrics are rich with clever, tongue-in-cheek social commentary. They are sometimes dark, sometimes subtle, but always acute. Lead vocalist Bobby Desjarlais admits that the band is tackling “the human condition” and looking for that ever-elusive silver lining, saying, “I like to consider it optimistic cynicism, more of a realism than pessimism. We’re positive people, but also not naïve about what’s going on around us.”
The band’s identity is most palpable on the stage, which is their most natural habitat. That’s where Attica Riots come alive — commanding and charming the crowd with ease. “I want people to have fun when they’re at the show, but leave with something to think about,” says Desjarlais. Attica Riots are touring vets with an impressive resume, having garnered key looks and performances at festivals in their native region, such as Canadian Music Week, North by North East, Breakout West, and M for Montreal. They were also invited to headline Canada Day festivities in their home city, where the local symphony learned their songs and played with them in front of tens of thousands of people.
But 2016 is looking to be the year that Attica Riots – who are signed to Five Seven, which is part of Eleven Seven Music Group – make an indelible mark outside of Canada with their worldwide debut release, produced by Mark Needham (American Authors, Imagine Dragons, The Killers). Their time is now.
The band’s humble beginnings can be traced back to 2008 and a common denominator — the members were playing in separate bands in the same city; in this case Winnipeg. Brothers Anders and Kyle Erickson were previously in a band called Inward Eye that was signed to RCA, toured with The Who, and performed at the closing ceremonies of the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The earliest incarnation of Attica Riots found the band members jamming and wearing their influences on their sleeve, like most developing bands do. They were all about garage rock and classic English bands, like The Who, The Clash, and The Kinks. But they knew they wanted to develop a sound that was modern, current, and distinctly their own. They didn’t rush it, instead working diligently to craft a sound (and songs) that satisfied them.
At first, it was about fun and free booze while they were playing indie rock covers. Lead Guitarist Kyle Erickson noted, “We’d play Arcade Fire songs as a four-piece instead of however many people they have. We used atmosphere as effects, delay, and reverb to fill in the rest of the sound. He furthered, “Then, we were home for the summer and not touring, so we thought, ‘Let’s make extra money and play some originals we’ve been tossing around.'”
Of course, Attica Riots steadily evolved further away from covers in favor of original material. Their sweaty, soaring compositions are wholly visceral and are eager to and conscious about making a direct connection with the listener. As Kyle said, “We want fans to hear and understand our music on the first listen. We don’t want to go over their heads. We want the rhythm or the melody or the riff to pull them in. We want them to get hooked by those aspects and then they will stay for the lyrics.”
The band is armed with an arsenal of songs that are bolstered by elements of dance, punk, and sticky, straight up pop. These songs are destined to find homes on the radio airwaves and on playlists of discerning music fans who are suckers for a good, unshakable, and unforgettable hook.
The song “Misery” has a great vibe that is accessible and camps out in your cranium for hours. It spun off from an idea that began on a computer. Of the song, Kyle recalled, “It came about with me messing around on Garage Band on my laptop. I took the drum loop and played riffs over top. I recorded it six times before we settled on the right one.”
“No Hands” is a song that Kyle “brought to Bobby so he could bring it to life” with the kinetic energy of his lyrics. Meanwhile, “Love, Sunshine and Hysteria” is supremely catchy alt rock, with the current of an almost punk rock-like energy surging through it. Anders explained, “We built upon the simple acoustic chords and did not overthink it.” Clearly, the members of Attica Riots are always speaking the same musical language and know how to fashion the music they create in the ways they want.
The cut “I’m Not the Only One” has a sunny disposition and stimulates your “feel good senses” when you listen to it. Kyle recalls how that track fell into place, saying, “We were at a studio and Anders sat down at a piano and Bobby whipped in and sang the chorus line. We were running around, grabbing a cell phone to record it before we lost it.”
Desjarlais chimed in about this song, but it’s as though he’s really referencing the level on which he and his bandmates connect. He said, “We were messing around, and that’s how it goes. Things make sense when we are writing together. There is a baseline conversation that we don’t need to have. We start at a certain point. The basics are in the tool box.” Clearly, Attica Riots managed to capture the magic of that moment, which seems to be their stock in trade.
The members of Attica Riots are firmly on the same musical page. It’s why the songs that make up their debut release are so fluid and unforgettable. Get ready Attica Riots are about to take the alternative rock world by storm… one song at a time.
Love, Sunshine and Hysteria
…supremely catchy alt rock, with the current of an almost punk rock-like energy surging through it