Atomic Bride – Dead Air
“Atomic Bride play a knotty brand of post punk with tough male/female vocals. They merge aggression and tunefulness with raw-nerved skill.” -Dave Segal, The Stranger
“The music of Atomic Bride is at its heart explosive garage rock, with doses of heavy metal and psychedelic thrown in to spice things up.” -SSG Music
“The band’s indefinable style, with hints of the B-52s and garage punk bands like the Cramps, is refreshing; it’s a style that has arisen organically and been thoroughly vetted, and ultimately warrants them a fiercely loyal fanbase.” -I. Lee Myers.
Punk godfather Jon Langford loves to tell the story of first seeing the Rezillos in the streets of Leeds, where he was going to art school with other members of his band The Mekons. When he met them before opening for them, they seemed shockingly brilliant, glamorous, mad, sexy, linking the androgyny of depraved glitter rock with the apocalyptic swell of punk. But completely dapper in doing so as underground pop stars.
Atomic Bride inspires that intensity in their fans. A hormonal, angry-sex-music craving. “Yes!” the band rhapsodizes, “Aggression, fury and entertainment! And hormones! Hormones that rage because the music makes you feel like SUCH a badass. We like to play music that’s tough, but that turns people on too!”
Their second album Dead Air is for fans of rock music of a time when it was considered a revolution in itself, Atomic Bride evokes that LSD-coated apocalypse bopping Vietnam psycho beach party sugar-lipped hall of mirror end of time favorites in your mind already after just one spin. It’s a Robert Williams pop surrealist drag race to the strip bar at the edge of a Roger Corman carnival death-trap. It’s America in a blender set to “dangerous fun.”
Based in Seattle, Astra and co-lead vocalist and lead guitarist Chris Cool, Avtar on bass, Rachael on keys, and drummer Chris Coutsourdis are using their demonic Golem to release a soul-rattling recorded work of art as that shows how they have sensually dominated the secret world of real Seattle rock with their stage shows. Parts of the album were recorded at Bob Lang Studios, Clatter and Din, and Earwig. The rest were recorded at Atomic Bride’s home studio and completely produced by them. It sounds like the work of eager art-terrorists meticulously crafting a punk opera to shatter the nerves of the stodgy moral guards of the West
Topically, the band are upfront about wanting to inspire addiction in their fans. “Pop music is dangerous mind candy!” co-lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Astra says, “It gives me a sugar high and leaves me wanting more.” Collectively Atomic Bride embraces the hypnotic powers of pop and translates it into a confectionary meltdown. If they were to have a clubhouse on TV like The Monkees, there would probably be full length color posters of teen heart-throbs like David Cassidy, and Kristy McNichol. We’d show every movie by Dario Argento, a full room filled with pillows to trip out on, tons of records (of everyone from Boris to NWA to Weird War and all the vintage ones) and a Jacuzzi, and a fireman’s pole that takes you to the rehearsal space in the basement.
Chris Cool testifies with his razor-sharp vocals and punching lead guitar; he is the visionary mastermind of the band and fearlessly leads his battalion in the blood-gorged lunge at the sonic grail. He handles almost all the musical composition, production, programming, recording, and whip-cracking for Atomic Bride. This sensory bishop of blitzkrieg bop began began playing drums when he was eleven years old and started taking guitar lessons at thirteen to compose his own songs. Prior to Atomic Bride, Chris played in several performing bands in his hometown Coldwater, MI. He was the drummer for Rat Scum Cancer Fuck and then switched to guitar as the front man for bands Real Big Dick and The Pussy Kickers. In 2006, Chris moved to Seattle.
Chris’s partner in band and bond Astra came from musical parents. As a young teenager, she got an electric guitar from her dad so she could play to her favorite punk songs. In New York City she collaborated on her first acoustic project, Star Crossed Sisters. Then she moved to Paris, France, where she worked with visionary electro-noir producer Shoid. At the same time Astra formed and sang lead vocals for the lo-fi French band, The Asthmatics. Later, she moved to Denmark and recorded an album with Danish producer, Vic Purple, under the project name Shadowboxes. She also started an all-girl acoustic act, The Sugar Sirens, which had much success in Copenhagen and Berlin. Astra has recorded with scads of inventive producers from New York to Los Angeles and she go-go dances and assists in the Seattle garage soul band, Brother James and the Soulvation.
Stoking at their junked-up punk/metal/psyche roots, Chris and Astra’s songwriting has mutated-evolved since birth in 2006 into real players tapping even more from the garage-surf-psyche fetish aesthetic. Now their bold anthems flourish with the fine details and full on frenzy of family values at an LA-burning Manson beach party at the end of time. In 2012 they’ve created a musical work of pop art that expands their vision into Wagnerian levels of beauty and terror, and features John and Exene level vocal exchanges.
The other couple in the band Avtar and Rachael compliment the dynamics of the group by crafting alchemy and creating relational balance to their mission. Principle Gospel member Avtar grew up playing multiple instruments including keyboards, guitars, violins, clarinets, drums, and thought he would spend his life playing jazz saxophone. Tiring of the excruciating music theory classes, he tried his hand at the bass and never looked back. After earning a degree in Computer Science, Avtar left New Mexico and moved to Seattle in 2006 to find like-minded musicians, which turned into his fitting into forming of the elegantly explosive Atomic Bride.
Classically trained Rachael has been able to read music since the third grade. Originally hailing from Montana, Rachael moved to Seattle in 2005. As the final addition to Atomic Bride, she was the dapper cherry on top with drop dead cool and feral sweetness. Her contribution is vital in the ongoing musical exploration of the group, for she is the siren-like messenger of keys in all sounds creepy and cool. A learned fan of Bach and Mozart, she also has influences that comes from contemporaries like Lady Gaga and The Knife. Rachael has performed piano competitively and participated in swing choir before joining the band.
Every band relies on a great drummer, and Sergeant Chris Coutsouridis is the beating heart metronome of Atomic Bride. He came to Seattle in 2009 from Connecticut, and has played in both regular Army and National Guard bands. He has performed for the President and is currently on his second run with the band after recently returning from Iraq. Fully adept in jazz theory, his sniper-like precision and snappy taps heighten the shock and awe Atomic Bride can create in audiences and fans.
For all of its elaborate instrumentation, Dead Air features only the guesting of Astra’s pal Guru Shaun, a guest from Portland who added hypnotic vocal phrasing to her parts on the sophisticated psychodrama “It’s a Good Life.”
Dead Air (“Avtar came up with it — we love noise and all apocalyptic shit!”) features armageddon time anthems more ambitious than their parts, and the parts to their songs burn and swing: Words snarled and sweetly sung about entropy and empire failure, existential trials and transgressions; an STP-and-absinthe blur of well-played but utterly passionate bomp. If movies like Wizards, Mad Max, Django Kill, and The Hills Have Eyes needed new scoring, Atomic Bride would be the best to do the soundtracks for them.
The record features elaborately musical intros, outros, and between-song experiments that “come influenced in part the masterful interludes of 90s gangsta rap records,” because “We appreciate the concept of listening to an album from beginning to end. I like it when there is connectivity, even if the songs don’t directly relate to one another.” As for the specific topics that make up the epic Dead Air: “We write about stuff we think is cool; sci-fi, westerns, hit men, twilight zone episodes, the 70s, people going crazy, cult, and old movies and books!”
Underground and classically cool music aficionados will hear elements of Scratch Acid, the French pop sounds of France Gall, the Quaalude-laced duets of Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazelwood, and the trippy sonics of Eno flickering through DNA (“this guy really wants this hot chick and she’s not interested. He settles for some of her DNA”); Radio (“we’re tired of hearing about all this lame news on the radio. We just want them to play our record!”); It’s A Good Life (“This song is sung from the viewpoint of Anthony in the Twilight Zone Episode of the same name, It’s A Good Life.”); and Agent of Decapitation (“guys who walk around thinking they’re badasses and starting fights and shit are going to get their heads cut off by the Agent of Decapitation”).
The secret success of the band is in how close they are to each other every day, so that the songs they’re not “interrupted by a girlfriend calling every five minutes during practice, or no boyfriend wondering why I’m out so late. Because we’re two couples (and a drummer) we can kind of keep our social lives within the same compartment. Being around each other so often keeps us quite insular sometimes, to a point where as long as we like what we’re doing, the outside doesn’t seem to matter so much. Also, we demand A LOT from each other.”
From what they expect from each other, they give so much more to their fans. Their first record release (with Reverend Beat-Man on his last time in the States) was a most memorable moment for the band. Another was a Halloween megabash where they performed for over an hour in full costumes with no interruptions between songs. “The room was packed more at the end than when we started,” the band exclaims. They also played out to a full house at the Tractor opening for the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies (“none of us are crazy about that band, but we still played a killer show”).