Coincidentally, I had just discovered Attica about three months ago while watching Brick by Brick guitarist Mike Valente's episode of The New York Hardcore Chronicles, during which he casually mentions his old thrash band as the clip briefly displays an Attica promo photo. As if that wasn't enough to send me on a Google rampage, the band's logo was fuckin' slick—a sure sign of quality!—so I had to hear them ASAP, and was jamming a rare old track on YouTube in no time.
Therefore, I was both shocked and ecstatic when it was announced weeks later that Upstate Records would actually be issuing a never-released Attica EP from 1994 on CD (pre-order now as a standalone or bundle). I was already a fan of the label, but this is next-level in terms of directly aligning with my primary interests! I can already state with certainty that this will be one of my favorite releases of 2019, without question!
The six-song, 22-minute outing—titled Resurrected—consists of material that has remained largely unheard and collecting dust for 25 years; recorded in 1994 with the Pitched Black lineup: Mike Valente and Steve Moro (guitars), Pat "Rekes" McNulty (bass), Mike Margiotta (drums), and Scott Featherstone (vocals). It brings to mind the direction that Forbidden headed toward after Twisted Into Form (a.k.a. my all-time favorite thrash album), but better, because it's super beefy and the songwriting is far more badass and hard-hitting than most thrash metal of that time period.
Check out the opening track, "Redwire," below; followed by a quick chat with Attica guitarist Mike Valente on how this all came about...
I don't know what information—if any—will be included with the Resurrected CD packaging, but do you recall any details about these sessions in terms of where/with whom the tunes were tracked, etc.?
These songs were done very D.I.Y. style. It's hard to believe, but the songs were recorded in the singer's basement with an 8-track recorder. No effects or production were spent on this. This is exactly how it was "found."
Wow, 'cause the production on these six songs sounds fantastic, and the songwriting is much harder-hitting and higher-quality than what a lot of thrash bands were putting forth toward the mid-'90s. What was it that kept this EP from being released back in the day!?
This EP was recorded at the end of the lineup that we had at the time. There was some inner turmoil that was building up. We had a solid record deal on the table, but the A&R rep that we had was a volunteer fireman and got severely injured on the job. He was forced to retire, and we got lost in the mix. The building frustration between some band members and getting some music equipment stolen topped things off. Steve [Moro], the other guitarist, quit and tension between myself and the singer came to a head. We took some time off and reformed as a four-piece with a different singer for a couple of years, not getting any attention from the music industry.
Yourself and vocalist Scott Featherstone are the only people who ever had copies of these songs, and you only found your copy back in 2016. Do you recall the circumstances that led to your copy turning up?
I have thousands of CDs. Probably about 200 of them were unlabeled. I decided to sit and find out what was on each one for filing purposes and—BOOM!—I couldn't believe it. Since the singer and I didn't communicate anymore, I figured the songs were lost forever. I couldn't believe it.
You've stated that you ended up borrowing some of the riffs from these previously unreleased Attica tracks for use in Brick by Brick, which I find especially curious because "Alter Ego" ends with a passage built around a vocal refrain that shouts the phrase "Brick by brick!" Is that just a coincidence?
This was a total coincidence. I didn't even name Brick by Brick, my old drummer did, because he worked in construction at the time. Total fluke. That is the reason why I kept the lyrics, though. Altered a little bit, but the message was still there. This was a great album to steal riffs from. They of course were from my memory before I found this CD. If I had the CD, I probably would've just redone the songs in their entirety, exactly how they were, because I think they hold up to anything hard and heavy these days!
Apparently Mario from Upstate Records was actually an early member of Attica. How did you two come around to deciding to release these songs now, and what made this the right time for the material to finally get a chance to be heard?
I told Mario we had to release it because it was 25 years this year. Mario loved the tunes and thought it would be a great idea. Mario and I played together right after high school, and he was the first bass player for the lineup that started it all.
For a band that clearly didn't get the attention it truly deserved at the time, Attica was surprisingly prolific during its 10-year run, and all of the band's recordings seem to be quite rare. The Pitched Black EP sells for well over $100, for example. Is there any chance of seeing the rest of the Attica discography reissued at some point?
I don't think so. Simply because things got lost over the years. We were the first band to release a CD when they first came out in 1990. I have people hit me up all the time to get a copy. We have tapes that we did as well. There are so many songs that can't be found. I never kept anything except the CDs. The tapes that I had are all damaged or lost. I'm just happy to release this, because no one ever heard it until now—except for a close group of friends here and there.
Releasing this CD has at least made it possible to forgive and forget the issues we had, and at least grow as adults (for me, anyway). I don't think we will ever do a "reunion" simply because of time, but you never know. This recording, to me, was "IT" for us. It blows away anything else we did, in my opinion. I'm so happy for Upstate putting this out. It really means a lot. Thank you for having me!
Pre-order Resurrected—shipping around 9/6—as a standalone or bundle, and please join me in crossing your fingers that Mike will change his mind one day and allow some of those other Attica recordings to get back out in the wild!