When Atterkop first entered the scene at the end of 2012, it felt like something really fresh. Not that there weren’t any other political punk bands in Bristol’s scene at the time, nor that their sound hadn’t been done before, but rather it was about their intelligent message and catchy, off beat tunes to get you drawn in.
When I first heard about this band, they’ve just released their debut Liber Abaci LP back in 2016. Their sound wasn’t reinventing the wheel or anything, but they were giving a fairly new twist on multiple genres that have been overly abused for such a long time now. We’re talking about hardcore punk with dub, reggae and ska influences.
In the United Kingdom, this sound was crafted and taken to an entirely new level in political consciousness and strong DIY ethics by bands like Radical Dance Faction, Culture Shock, Citizen Fish, Inner Terrestrials, Autonomads, or Spanner. All these bands are still closely-knit to what Atterkop is all about, and the Bristol band even featured Citizen Fish’s horn section on their first full-length. With all that said, Liber Abaci was an excellent body of work that managed to both place Atterkop among all the other dub-punk tropes in the UK and at the same time create their own signature sound to separate themselves from the pack.
The second Atterkop’s album Out Of The Cradle Endlessly Rocking came out in the beginning of 2019 and was sent to me by Manchester’s Prejudice Me DIY label. The album title is based on a poem of the same name written by Walt Whitman, and some themes of this poem come out in the record. Atterkop are individuals who put a lot of thought in the process. What I wasn’t expecting though, was that they were going to make such a drastic change into their sound as to steer away from the dub/ska influences and step into a heavier, darker, post-hardcore direction.
In their own words, they felt tired and didn’t want to play off beats anymore for fear of people mistaking them for being happy. Apparently, Out of the cradle makes it for an interesting composition with an excellent message (think of Propagandhi’s animal-friendly / pro-feminist / gay-positive / anti-fascist banter) to elevate your mindset about different things, and it can be equally suitable for your ups and downs.
Besides the sudden change in musical direction, my biggest takeaway from the record is the reflections they make on the power structures and informal hierarchies within our own community, the DIY punk scene. The song “I See You” was written by the Bristol-based intersectional feminist writer, poet and podcaster Bridget Hart to address white privilege, male privilege and machismo within the scene. Other guest appearances include Sam from Bolshy and Iain from Autonomads.
With their dynamic approach to punk and hardcore music, bands like Petrol Girls have already reached an audience beyond the DIY punk scene. Atterkop is also a band that has it all. Well-written faster hardcore punk parts, good melodic hooks and an underlying political anger expressed in smart lyricism. A good one from Atterkop.