With the release of each EP over the passed couple of years, the UK’s Natterers have made quite the splash within the contemporary hardcore scene. 2018 is a very different year for the band though. The surf and 80’s hardcore-influenced band has totally outdone themselves with the release of their first full-length Head In Threatening Attitude , which was released on October 5, 2018 through Boss Tuneage Records. They took their sound to a whole different level. Fans of the Punknews Podcast may recall that core members Emma and Thomas made a brief appearance on episode 350 along with other notable punk musicians. But with the release of such an outstanding record, it is time for Natterers to get a proper interview. Contributing editor Ricky Frankel spoke with the band’s guitarist Thomas Witty about some of the songs on Head In Threatening Attitude, the band’s recent line up change, the punk icon that mastered the album, and more. Read or listen to their conversation below or on iTunes.
Photo Credit: Meg Manley
Natterers have their first full-length out and it's fantastic. Can you explain the title of the album? It's an interesting name. What's the story behind it?
Well, the thing about it is, without boring you too much -- the thing that happened was we found some pictures of Natterer’s bats. I don't if people [are] aware, but Natterer’s is a species of bats that we commonly get here in the UK. We were searching through images for Natterer’s bats just for artwork for the first cassette, for the demo. And what happened was we found an old Victorian image and it had a picture of two bat heads on it and one was a bat in normal attitude and the second one had its head in threatening attitude. What happened was [lead vocalist] Emma really liked the sound of that title so we just came full circle. Emma thought we would use it in some context and we ended up on the album that.
Cool! What does a bat look like when it's in threatening attitude like that?
Well, if you see the front cover of the LP, it's the bat on the right-hand side. I suppose by [the time this gets posted] the album will be up online. But yeah, it's the one on the right-hand side. You can see that it is a bit more aggressive.
The band went to France to record the album. Why did you decide to go to a whole different country to record it?
We were struggling to find somewhere that we liked the sounds of records that had come out of that studio. Without being disparaging to the studios in the UK, we were just struggling to get the sound that we would want from a record. I'm not sure if you're aware the band Youth Avoiders They're actually a band from Paris. Their new record that came out was recorded in France with Guillaume, which was at Swan Sound Studios and it just sounded amazing. I just thought, "Yeah, we've got to go there." We just got on the ferry, went over there, and recorded. It was great.
I noticed on the album that you decided to rerecord "Defiant (Again)." And for those you don't know, that song is on Natterers' first demo called Demo ’16 . Why did you decide to record that song for the album?
It's a strange one really because I didn't really want to go back and record another song, but as we'll get to some point, we had a bit of a line up change. It's always been one of my favorite songs to play live and it's just got a lot of energy and I thought, "Well, with a new rhythm section it sounds really cool." We just got it done again. I think it's a welcome addition to the album. Again, it's probably one of my favorite songs probably ever written, to be honest.
Yeah, it fits right in with the album as a whole so I would agree. And you guys did a good job on it.
Your guitar style is pretty distinct. You have all these surf-esque riffs with a West Coast hardcore influence and really powerful chord progressions, too. How did you develop this guitar style? Were there any punk guitarists that influenced you in that sense?
I think, to be honest -- it's just fairly obvious -- it's East Bay Ray. It's Rick Agnew from the first Adolescents stuff and probably Ron Emory from TSOL as well. I'd said Johnny Marr, too. I know you're not a Smiths fan.
It's that jangly [sound]. I like that intricate guitar work. I think that's what sets a lot of these bands apart from other stuff, especially in the early 80's stuff. I like to hear something different, not just power chords over and over. It's nice to have a riff and it's nice to hear something different going on.
Yeah, and I think that's what sets your band apart from most hardcore bands. It's more than just three or four chords and screaming. It works well. Like you mentioned, the band recently went through a pretty substantial lineup change. How did that affect the writing of Head In Threatening Attitude?
Massive! Massively it effected it -- I mean, before hand it was mostly a case of me bringing the songs and then other people just kind of playing along to them. There were little bits of input, but there was never massive input. When we got Rob and Dave in, it was a total change. I mean Dave has been in bands for twenty years. Rob has been playing in bands since 1986. It changed it massively. They brought in their own ideas and their different styles. There were still three or four songs to write for the record when they joined the band. They both brought new ideas. Rob brought a couple of songs, which are actually on the album. It's cool to have help with the songs and when you get someone else's style, which I think is always a good thing.
For sure! Now this was one of the coolest aspects of record -- and I did not expect this. Geza X, who produced for bands like the Dead Kennedys and Black Flag, he mastered the record. How did you even get in touch with him to master it? How else did he contribute to the album? Did he give you any sort of advice and feedback when he first heard it?
Well the first instance in which I knew that he was actually mastering records or even having anything to do with records still today was -- I don't know if you know the band Tarantula.
They are a really, really cool band. They put out a few records on Deranged. Their EP's were mastered by Geza. A friend got in contact with me and said, "You should definitely ask him to see if he'd be interested in your record." We got in contact with him. He said he'd be interested in doing it. And then when he heard, (laughs) he was was pretty complimentary. I don't want to blow smoke up my own ass. (laughs) Yeah, he was really complimentary and he did add a lot to it. It sounds big, but I still think that it sounds like a punk record. You know, it doesn't sound too clean cut.
Yeah, I think you guys hit that just right. This was interesting and you pointed this out to me in our Twitter DM's. Why end the record with a cover of "Theme Song" by Flyboys? Why did you choose to cover an instrumental? Musically, it fits pretty well with Natterers surf/hardcore sound.
Even before the other guys joined I always wanted to do a cover -- probably a surf cover. Think of JFA, Agent Orange. They've always had like surf instrumental on there so I thought that would be cool to do. But when Dave and Rob joined, they were a bit on edge about doing a cover of an instrumental. We kind of just thought that we'd play ["Theme Song"] and see how it goes. We ended up putting it into the set and it went from there. In terms of where it lands on the album, we didn't know if we wanted it to end side one or end side two. We [decided that it should] end side two. It's kind of like an ending to the album. And yeah, like you said, I think it does work pretty well.
Was Emma cool with [the band playing] an instrumental?
It's funny really because she's a bit bored of us playing it live now. She doesn't really know what to do with herself. Yeah, that will probably change.
We hear a lot about bands in London for the most part. I was wondering, what is the punk scene like in [your home town of] Yorkshire? And for those who don't know, where exactly is Yorkshire in England?
Yeah. I mean, like you said, you probably do hear about the London bands, I suppose with it being the capital. It's like anywhere, really. To be honest with you, I'm not familiar with a lot of bands in Yorkshire. When we recruited Rob and Dave, they're actually based even further north of England. Yorkshire is North England and Dave and Rob are actually from towards the Newcastle area. I don't know if that means anything to you. But yeah, they're actually based a lot further north so I don't know if you could call us a Yorkishire band anymore. But I suppose we've got to be based somewhere. I mean, punk in Yorkshire — I couldn't really say to be say to be honest. A lot of the gigs that we play, they do tend to be with out of town bands or even the touring American brands. It's not a massive scene at the moment, but there are a lot of gigs going on. Again, like you said, it just tends to be in London.
Thomas, thanks so much for doing this interview. I know it's somewhat late over there.
It's not too bad.
It's only like 4:30 PM here in LA. I don't want to keep you too much longer. Do you have anything else you would like to add? What does the future hold for Natterers?
Well, this week actually, we're going to Iceland. We're playing a couple of gigs in Reykjavik. And then after that we're going to France and we're actually going to record again, which should be cool. I think we're going to do a single.
Yeah, so we'll be doing a single. It will probably be out in the new year sometime and hopefully we'll be getting over to the US in March.
You can follow Ricky Frankel on Twitter @DesertBurst92