INTERVIEW: Tattermask Guitarist Josh Wright Talks Mad Sh*t, But Not About His Former Obraskai Bandmates

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South Carolina has its fair share of artists/bands. I personally believe that it could rival the numbers in Charlotte. Both states’ artists know that it is important to spread out so that more fans can hear their music. Rock Hill has The Money, which is the setting for hometown band Tattermask’s next show. However this is not your ordinary show. It is their efforts finally paying off as a CD release party and the possibility that this could be, not saying it is, but could be their final show for a while or forever. Being that I am more close to Josh Wright and Amanda Caines of Tattermask (who also is a wonderful editor on staff with us at Shutter 16), I took time to sit down with Josh and discuss the band, his mindset going into this show, and everything in between.
Shutter 16: Are any locations in NC just too much in traveling being you’re based in SC?
Josh: We did; we expanded up towards Raleigh and Greensboro in 2008. I worked at a car dealership at the time. I would go get a Tahoe or a Suburban and make sure I had a trailer hitch on it, renting a Uhaul. All of us would pile in and ride up there. Then of course when the economy went to shit, and I lost my job at the dealership, so we had to ride in a couple of separate vehicles in 2009 for a little bit. Sometimes we would try to consolidate into one vehicle but still you wound up having to take more than one cause all the equipment wouldn’t fit in it, or some person’s car wouldn’t tow the Uhaul properly, which is killer on gas. Now we have it all straightened out because we bought a band van for our trip to Chicago last year. That’s pretty much my main vehicle now (laughs). Getting somewhere has never really been a problem, just finding someone with reliable transportation to get to practice. That was more of an issue than shows.
Shutter 16: What was Chicago like? Did you get to explore since you were recording there for this CD?
Josh: We were in Chicago a little over 10 days. I use the term “Chicago” loosely because we were in a suburb of Chicago called Barrington, Ill., which is where the studio is located. The entire time [we were in the Chicago area] we went to downtown for three hours, just enough time to go get a deep dish pizza and go back (laughs).
Shutter 16: No time to see bands or anything because you were all business?
Josh: Yeah, we were in the studio 12 hours a day. As soon as we finished tracking, it would be time to go to bed. We would have to find a place to stay because we didn’t book a hotel or anything. The first night we stayed at one of Ryan’s [the drummer] friends’ house since he was from Chicago. We wound up staying most of the time on air mattresses in the tracking room of the studio. It’s pretty crazy to sleep on a blowup air mattress right in the middle of the all these amplifiers, then wake up, and record again.
Shutter 16: Did you make you miss being home or did you actually feel something about being in the room like: “Oh I’m here now, I’m recording in this very room I’m sleeping in.” Something you could consider a memory that you’ll keep forever?
Josh: It was an awesome experience, the only thing that really hurt about it was watching the funds draining out of our bank account (laughs). Every hour we were there and every hour we were taking, it costs more and more and more. It was pretty surreal up until we were on our way going to Chicago. I didn’t get homesick while I was there; I was pretty much saying to myself, “This is our CD; we are actually doing this.” Sleeping in the studio added to it, but it was a pretty cool experience.
Shutter 16: Do you feel that the album is exactly where you want it to be in terms of sound, presentation, and represent the name of Tattermask?
Josh: About 95%.
Shutter 16: Where is the other 5%?
Josh: The other 5% is a little heavier because we had Richy [the bassist] and Ryan [the drummer] playing with us. They are 100% death metal kids and I teeter on the hard rock side of that, while Amanda is sometimes even a little lighter than that. They wanted to go in there and have something to where Richy wanted Trivium bass lines the entire time, then Ryan was wanting everything to be double bass [drum]. Also, we triggered the kicks to make them more punchy, which I’m for, but I think its just a little too heavy for what we’re trying to do. You know, though, 95% isn’t bad. I think the CD came across very well, [it’s] something I’m proud of. As for representing the band, [as it is] now? I can’t say it can as much. What we’ve gone through, you know, the whole “After the Storm…” thing—which is what we’re naming the CD—then, yeah, it pretty much shows what we had to go through to get it out.

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Shutter 16: During the time that things happened, the “storm” happened, you joined a band called Obraskai out of Columbia, SC, just for a short time. What happened with that and would you want to talk about the experiences with that?
Josh: The guys in Obraskai are fucking great; they are fun to hang out with, great musicians, great songwriters. I felt lucky to go down there and play with them. I felt honored they were like “Hey, you should come down here and do this.” That’s why I jumped at the chance, because I was a big fan before. Even when their first singer was with them, I loved their stuff then, and played a few shows with them. When they got their new singer, I thought their stuff got even better. I really liked Obraskai and for me to be able to play with them for the short amount time as it was, I’m thankful for. I hated that things panned out the way they did, because it sucks having to drive 75 miles one way to practice. It’s a killer on the wallet when you have a van that gets 14 miles to the gallon. I parted with those guys on great terms, they understood where I was coming from because $300 a month in gas is a lot of money—I’m a starving musician. So they’re back to a four-piece now, I don’t know if they’re going to pursue another guitar player or not. I thought of them as exceptionally strong as a four-piece. I like to think I added more to it, because I was part of it, but they’re not missing anything with me not being there. I think they’ll do just as well without me being there and go just as far because they’re capable of going a lot of places.

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Shutter 16: The music video for “Bare” you got to do with Obraskai (click here to view video): what was the overall feeling about it and being on set? What you were doing step by step for the video?
Josh: My first show with Obraskai was when Gustavo Montana (of At Dusk Media) came up and approached us—he is a graduate from New York Film Academy. He had just moved to Columbia to spend time with his wife and he was looking for a project. Being in a smaller, regional/local band, you really don’t know what to expect when people come up and say this kind of stuff. People are like “I should take your pictures” and there’s a lot that separates the good photographers from the bad photographers so you don’t really know what they are. This guy came up and he was pretty insistent that he wanted to talk to us. So we were like lets see what he says. We all went out to eat and he threw out his idea and was saying we need this, and we need to find a place and pick a song. We all talked about it and he pretty much picked the song and since I wasn’t on it, we went to the studio before a week of shooting it. Rerecorded the song with an exception of a couple of vocal tracks. The next week we did two days of filming, started on Friday afternoon and then ended late the next morning. We got there and it took them forever to set up because of the lighting—to get that just right. Shot all the band stuff first and we’re in this old warehouse in Columbia.
Shutter 16: I’m pretty sure that was sticky, smelly, and dusty.
Josh: It was really dusty, but the ground was pretty much an inch thick of metal shards and metal dust. When we were all finished, we pulled our pants up and had dirty legs from walking around in that stuff. We had to play the song, kind of, lip-syncing I guess you would call it because we didn’t actually plug our instruments in. I had a cable to make it look like I was playing my guitar and I would turn my amp on so if you were to look you could see the lights, but there was nothing coming out of it. They pretty much played along with the CD, I think we had to do it 30 times is what we counted.
Shutter 16: Did that become stressful towards the end of the day?
Josh: Hate to say this, but by the time it came around we didn’t care, we would look at the camera and see who it was focusing it on. If we were not in the shot, we would just stop and stand there, and wait till the camera got situated back towards us again, then we would rock out. Standing there like “please let this be over” (laughs). It was very tedious and very stressful. It took them four hours to get the lights set up and get all the shots because every angle in the video is a different take.
Shutter 16: When you saw the actual end results, did you feel like you are “The Rocker” now?
Josh: No, I’m in the video for like 15 seconds (laughs). There was a little bit of an ego boost I will say. I thought it was really bad-ass to see a great, professional quality video and for me to be a part of it. I feel like I was thrown into a band, and, “Boom, let’s make a video!” I felt privileged to be there. Was I proud of it? Yeah I was pretty proud of it. I’m surprised I moved as much as I did and didn’t bust my ass on this metal dust stuff they had in there. I was happy with the way it turned out, but I wish more people would go look at it because it has a little over 2000 views and those guys deserve more than that. Gustavo busted his ass on it, and the band busted their ass in the studio on it and filming it. I could care less that I’m in it, but it’s for those guys—they really worked on it hard.
Shutter 16: Now we’re coming back around full circle and there’s a glimmer of light, that symbol for Tattermask is peering back into your mind. Now I want to do the CD release show.
Josh: The last show we had, the “farewell” show back in April, we really didn’t know what to expect. We knew that we were fed up with dealing with the bullshit that goes around of keeping a band together. We were, you know, three and a half years into it and were like, “Fuck this; we’re done!” and we expected to just scrap the CD—we didn’t expect to put it out. [We] spent thousands of dollars in the studio, and, “Look, we have a burnt CD.” We got the itch to start playing again and this is one thing Amanda and I agreed to do when Tattermask quit, she and I would continue to play together. Then when I joined Obraskai, it threw a wrench into those plans. While I was in Obraskai, though, our original drummer hit us up and wanted to play with us. That was the fire under our asses to get it going again. When we decided to bring the band back out, [we decided] we’re going to play this old stuff one more time. Here’s the CD, we appreciate it, we’re done with it. We’re starting on new material, square one, three or four songs of all-new stuff, with riffs for about five other ones. Trying to make it fresh and new again.
Shutter 16: When will people get to hear this new material?
Josh: People will get a glimpse at the CD Release Show. November 11 at The Money with Obraskai, The Jupiter Tide, A Light Divided, and us. The CD will be $5 and we’re ready to get it out there.
RSVP to Tattermask’s CD Release show:
More about Tattermask: http://www.tattermask.com
More on Obraskai: http://www.obraskai.com
Also appearing at the November 11 CD Release show:

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