Interview with ATTIKA Vocalist Robert Van War

By Mick Michaels

COSMICK VIEW: Hello! Welcome to The Cosmick View. Thank you for taking some time out of your day to chat with me, it is greatly appreciated.
Robert Van War: Thank you, and you are most welcome.

CV: Metal in America has gone through a number of changes since Attika first hit the scene in 1983. Because of such changes, how Metal is classified differs greatly; forcing the genre to splinter into a number of sub-genres.  Is Metal more than one classification or another?
RVW: I would concur with that description. I think Heavy Metal is the umbrella and the sub-genres fall below it.

CV: Being someone who is in the trenches, how would you describe Metal’s diversification in relation to what Metal is to you and what it encompasses for the fans?
RVW: I think it can best be described as Multi-generational. There are metal heads worldwide of all ages. I think the US is stuck in a quest in that with every new generation, it has to make the music even heavier. There truly is a sub-genre for every listener.
CV: In music, everyone works hard to be new and different with what they do and how they present it....often looking to reinvent the wheel.  Is it really necessary to do that for a band to have an impact? Is following a proven path really all that bad for a band?
RVW: I’ve never tried to reinvent the wheel. I believe in pursuing what is comfortable to you as an artist. I think at times you can hear when the music is purposely manipulated.  I believe when this happens it is less about emotion and approachability.

CV: Given the band's era, would "classic sounding" be an accurate way to describe Attika's sound and style, or would you say otherwise? Does the band take any offense by such labeling or is it something to embrace?
RVW: LOL... No I believe classic is appropriate. These days we will take anything. If we don’t agree with something we just let it roll off our shoulders.

CV: How does Attika define "integrity and authenticity" as it relates to the band's survival tactics and original style?
RVW: Great question. It’s difficult to balance. I think as an artist you need to show growth. Whether that is in the music or the lyrics, or the emotions we try to release. I think both authenticity and integrity are incorporated by remaining true to yourself.

CV: The band has signed with the Germany label Pure Steel Records.  What do you see as the biggest benefit to signing with a European record company?
RVW: We have always been more popular overseas. The support and opportunities made things come together quite easily. I think the ease of dealing with PSR and the reach they have to the world made it an easy choice
CV: Music never seems to die…it’s always new to someone.  Pure Steel has reissued your 1991 album, "When Heroes Fall."  How does it feel to have the band's music given a second wind with a new generation of international Metal fans? 
RVW: This is a great feeling. WE are hoping it becomes a springboard to new music and fans in the future.

CV: How did the idea of reissuing "When Heroes Fall" come about? Was it a surprise to you that the album still holds a strong interest to Metal fans?
RVW: Andreas Lorenz approached me about it. We both had wants and vision so we worked out a deal that both parties agreed to. I am surprised by the way it is holding up. A lot of these new reviews are from people who may not have even been born yet. LOL... Yes, we are elated.

CV: On the heels of the reissue, Attika is now in the works of writing and recording new material for the band's first album release, "Metal Lands," in almost 30 years.  How is the band approaching songwriting for the new millennial of Metal? What can fans expect…what are you expecting from the new album?
RVW: They can expect some familiarity because of my voice. We now have a new guitarist Bill Krajewski and bassist Glenn Anthony. They bring new ideas to the table. As I mentioned earlier, it is a business of integrating multi- generational listeners. So we are tackling many different fronts like a “ballad”. We also need to include a few barn burners for our original fan base. Lastly, we are looking at our first ever cover tune as well. So, music changes, time changes. It’s the artist job to follow it and remain grounded.

CV: What's it feel like for you to be writing with the band again? Is the Metal testosterone pumping at full it like old hat?
RVW: It is a blast! I’m more in control now. I’m helping Bill and Glenn make their songs the best. It’s better than old hat. It’s a challenge and a good time. I’m fortunate to have them on board

CV: Do you see a difference in the way you are approaching songwriting now in comparison as to how you did many years ago?

RVW: I don’t think so!! I still like to write about fictional stuff as well as political and Spiritual, etc… The biggest change is the way we all put in our two cents. Nothing is thrown out until it becomes evident it’s not working
CV: When is “Metal Lands” slated to release?
RVW: November 2019
CV: Last year the band performed at Greece's Up The Hammers Festival.  This year, Attika is scheduled to perform at the July Headbangers Open Air Festival in Germany. What's it like for the band to have such invitations extended to them? Is it validation that the music continues to have a voice and purpose after so many years?
RVW: It’s humbling to be included in great festivals like these. Attika never got the opportunity back in the day to enjoy these events. So, yes it is a validation of sorts and witness to the group coming full circle.

CV: Many performers cite the numerous contrasts between the Metal scenes in Europe versus the US. What's the biggest difference you have see between US fans and fans from Europe?
RVW: I believe the US fans are more led by the media and FM radio. I think Americans follow trends where Europe isn’t really affected by it. 
CV: Original music seems to be facing more and more challenges as tribute bands are increasingly on the rise in popularity.  In your opinion, what can an up and coming, original Metal band do to make an impact on an already over-saturated market?
RVW: It’s quite sad, that fans will flock to these doppelganger acts. I think new bands need to stay the course. I honestly wish I would have

CV: What advice would you give to a new band just starting out that would offer them insight into making their dreams come true?
RVW: I would recommend that they not worry about what their friends and family think and pursue their goals like a cheetah chasing a gazelle.

CV: What's next for Attika?
RVW: We have the “Metal Lands” release in November. We want to make the most of 2020

CV: Thank you again for spending some time talking and sharing with our readers. I wish you all the best and continued success.
RVW: Thank you again. Thank you for the interest and the intriguing questions.

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My name is Mick Michaels...I'm an artist, music fan, songwriter, producer, dreamer and guitarist for the traditional Heavy Metal band Corners of Sanctuary. Writing has always been a creative outlet for me; what I couldn't say in speech, I was able to do with the written word.  Writing has given me a voice and a way for me to create on a multitude of platforms including music and song, articles, independent screenplays, books and now, artist interviews. The Cosmick View is an opportunity to raise the bar and showcase artists in a positive and inspirational light. For me, it's another out-of-this-world adventure.

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