By Marvin Dotiyal, Features Editor
It’s 2008. You’re contemplating your MySpace profile song at a sweaty Warped Tour set with your long-haired friends in their deep, black V-necks and the tightest jeans with just enough stretch to land the spin kicks. Metalcore was rapidly changing at the time, with more commercialized exposure and an influx of new bands turning heads as well as shaking them. New trends, sounds and showmanship were born among the genre, but a lot of them died with MySpace. Attack, Attack!’s legacy didn’t.
Widely known for their glittery synth breakdowns, heavily auto-tuned clean vocals and lyrics regarding the Christian faith, Attack, Attack!’s full-length debut, Someday Came Suddenly – love it or hate it – is a cultural cornerstone in the metalcore community. It summoned a wave of bands and a sub-genre that would later be defined as “electronicore” and created a humorous trend of squatting in a crab-like position while performing, namely, “crabcore.” In celebration of Someday Came Suddenly’s 10th anniversary, ex-Attack, Attack! drummer Andrew Wetzel reflects on the album and its impact on his youth.
“Someday Came Suddenly transformed every aspect of my life. I graduated high school and then only a few weeks later set off for Indiana to record my first full-length record,” Wetzel said. “I went from working at Subway to traveling the globe, performing songs I had written with my best friends.”
The crew initially started Attack, Attack! for fun, releasing a rough EP If Guns Were Outlawed, Can We Use Swords? Shortly after, the band signed to Rise Records, and it wasn’t long before things were going to blow up. “At that point, I don’t think any of us had any kind of prediction that would have been remotely close to what eventually came to pass,” Wetzel recalled. The band was “ecstatic” to sign to Rise and thought it was “incredibly thrilling” to see their efforts coalesce into success, according to Wetzel.
However, that was only the calm before the storm. The band re-recorded some songs off their EP and wrote new material, except this time with a producer. “The SCS writing/recording process was fairly frenetic for us. It was a very new experience for us to work on so many songs at once,” Wetzel said. Teaming up with renowned metalcore producer Joey Sturgis, Wetzel spent most of his time writing, arranging and tracking the foundations of the songs with guitarist Andrew Whiting.
“The two of us worked for days on end playing through each part together and recording the stuff we felt should make it onto the album,” Wetzel said. “That was not something I had done before, and it really set the stage for the other guys in the band to add their own sounds on top.”
The band took inspiration from a wide variety of artists, which resulted in a distinctive sound. Wetzel mentioned that the vocals were inspired by bands like Forever the Sickest Kids and Hellogoodbye who used excessive auto-tune. “The super processed, hard-tuned vocal sound was something we really liked and gave us the ability to mix in a lot of electronica-infused parts with our heavy metal and hardcore riffs.” Moreover, the band wasn’t afraid to integrate various elements as they “didn’t see any reason to constrain [their] sound to any genre” as it “felt natural for [them] to mix unlikely genres together into [their] sound.”
“Stick Stickly”, the biggest song on the album and a classic metalcore favorite, was “a pretty collaborative effort” and was re-recorded for Someday Came Suddenly. “If I remember correctly, Caleb and Johnny had been jamming together and started piecing together parts of ‘Stick Stickly’,” Wetzel said. “I came over for band practice, and we all jammed it together and switched around parts until it felt right. By the time we finished it, we felt that it was a really great song. It was different, especially considering what all was out at the time.”
Wetzel also mentioned that when the album was finished, there was a large debate on whether to release “Bro, Ashley’s Here” or “Stick Stickly” as the first single. “We felt both songs were really great, but in the end, ‘Stick Stickly’ won out.” And then came the music video — the first real manifestation of “crabcore.”
As teenagers still finishing up or fresh out of high school, it was a momentous and catalytic period for the band. According to Wetzel, “the entire process of signing to Rise, recording [their] album and setting off on [their] first tour all took place inside an approximate six-month window.” It was a completely new experience for everyone, especially at a young age, to drive across the country for 13 weeks straight without any parental supervision. “To stick a group of 14 to 19-year-olds in a van and trailer and set them loose on the entire United States was absolutely insane.”
A typical day during the Someday Came Suddenly era consisted of playing shows but mostly driving across the country at night. Wetzel recalled that he drove at least 30,000 miles on the first stretch of touring as a 19-year-old. “I had never driven with a trailer before in my life, and I was suddenly driving every single day, in every driving environment that exists in North America,” Wetzel said. “All with six of my friends in the back.”
After the success of Someday Came Suddenly, Attack, Attack! went through several lineup changes and stylistic shifts, released two more albums and eventually disbanded in 2013. Wetzel remained as the last original member of the band, seeing growth and changes from the beginning to the end. “Our band was just a huge microscope over those personal changes. The way we interacted, wrote, played and communicated changed so much as time progressed.”
It might be the ideal dream to achieve fame and success at a young age, but its drawbacks gradually and eventually led to the band’s breakup. “The band and the success surrounding it really made a mess of a lot of things that normal kids don’t have to deal with. Running a business and maintaining a brand is a lot of pressure for anyone, let alone people as young as we were,” Wetzel said. “The band eventually broke up because all of us had spent so much time trying to make the right decisions for our band that we forgot to take care of our own personal needs.”
At a first glance, it’s hard to take a group of teenage boys screaming and squatting on stage seriously, especially with songs titled “What Happens If I Can’t Check My MySpace When We Get There?” But for six music-loving kids from Westerville, Ohio, it was all for the sake of pure fun and creativity. “We were kids in a band, and that was it. We enjoyed what we did very much, and we pursued writing and recording for that reason alone.”
Today, ex-Attack, Attack! members have diverged paths and are working on their own musical projects: Wetzel in Nine Shrines, Whiting in Drudge, Caleb Shomo in Beartooth and Johnny Franck in three projects (Bilmuri, The March Ahead and Chayr) as well as running a recording studio as an audio engineer.
Nevertheless, the personal hardships, the creative challenges, the constant driving and popping the lowest “crabcore” squat was all a part of Someday Came Suddenly’s success and the growth of the band. Ten years have passed since, and it would be an extreme understatement to say that it was a crucial milestone for the band members.
“It’s hard to describe the impact that album had because it is so far-reaching and profound. I honestly have no idea what I would be doing had I not been a part of Attack, Attack!”