Interview with Michael Fenris (Vocals/Guitar) AND Josh McClure (Drums) of Children of Atom and Pete’s Rock News and Views (http://petesrocknewsandviews.com)
PD: Tell us the brief history of yourself.
Children of Atom is a four piece Psy-Fi Rock / Stoner Doom band out of Spokane in eastern Washington state featuring Myles Weaver (Bass/Vocals), Shane Birdsill (Keys), Josh McClure (Drums), and Michael Fenris (Vocals/Guitar). We started as a 3 piece with no keys, releasing our first full length album in 2016, and have since evolved into the current quartet, releasing a self-produced EP in 2021 during the height of covid lockdowns and cancellations. We’re currently in the production stage on another LP projected for early 2023.
MF: My name is Michael, I play guitar and sing for the band Children of Atom. I’ve been playing guitar since I was about 11 years old.
JM: My name is Josh and I am the one to blame for the drumming in Children of Atom. I’ve been playing drums since I could sneak into the kitchen and ruin my mom’s pot and pans.
PD: Who are your musical and non-musical influences?
MF: Individually we all have a pretty wide array of influences from Marty Robbins to Sly Stone and that definitely seeps into our music. The band as a whole definitely draws most from classic rock and heavy metal like Zeppelin, Hendrix, the Doors, and Megadeth, as well as 90s and early 2000s psych, stoner, and desert rock like Monster Magnet, Clutch, and Queens of the Stone Age. I personally grew up singing Doors songs, but never really considered singing in a band until I had to because no one else was available for this project. On guitar I lean a lot on blues, funk, and jazz inspired stuff, but I started off with a lot of Megadeth. Dave Mustaine is an absolute riff monster.
JM: Jean Paul Gaster of Clutch and Brann Dailor of Mastodon are my current influences as a drummer. I love JPG’s groovy feel and his minimalist approach to the drum set and Brann’s technical proficiency and drive are a gift of divine intervention; Plus dude can sing and play at the same time he’s amazing.
MF: We get a lot of our inspiration from Sci-Fi books and movies. Comic books have inspired a few ideas, including the band name which is ripped from the X-Men. Awful trashy horror films, motorcycles, and retro psychedelia. What else could you ask for?
JM: My non-musical influences revolve around socio-political themes, the injustice in our justice systems and a general morbid curiosity over outlandish conspiracy theories.
PD: Who writes your songs, what are they about?
MF: I’ve written all the lyrics for everything we’ve released so far, although Myles contributed a few songs for our next release that we’re pretty stoked about. Most of our songs involve cosmic entities, space travel, societal collapse, that sort of thing. Our latest single Bloodlust Boogie was kind of a tribute to femme fatale revenge flicks like Coffy and Thriller: A Cruel Picture. I try not to get too caught up in writing about politics or relationships, writing from that first person perspective just isn’t particularly inspiring for me. I’m a story guy, non-fiction music isn’t really my thing.
PD: Tell us about this current video release
MF: We’re premiering a lyric video for our latest single Bloodlust Boogie on the Obelisk ( theobelisk.net ) Thursday December 15th. We wanted to share a bit of the story behind the song and a lyric video helps get the narrative across.
PD: What do you think about downloading music online?
MF: Everybody listens however works for them, I don’t personally see a problem with downloads, streaming, or whatever. I just think everybody should be fairly compensated. Downloadable music can be great for that, it cuts out a lot of overhead costs for distribution that smaller artists can’t afford. Now a band can sell music directly to fans and without sharing a cut with a bunch of suits that risk nothing if you fail but reap all the rewards when you succeed. Ideally if folks are gonna download or stream in the current paradigm, the best way they can support a band is to spend the money they would’ve spent on buying physical media on buying merch, but the most important think to me is just that you listen. At the end of the day we’re not a T-shirt brand, we play rock ’n’ roll.
JM: I definitely agree with Michael on this. The ability for Independent artists to have a platform to present their music to anyone with an internet connection is amazing and giving us full control over where, how and when we deliver our songs to our audiences is an opportunity that bands even a decade or so ago didn’t really have. Think about all the lost music from amazing artists that didn’t get discovered and had no where to put their songs. Of course though companies like Spotify are unfairly profiting off of these artists and shouldn’t be allowed to steal all of that money from the people who are driving listeners to their platform.
PD: What song do you wish you’d written and why?
JM: That’s a hard question because I don’t think I’d be able to enjoy a song the same way if I had written it. I wouldn’t be able to experience the song as a listener. Short answer Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley.
MF: I don’t know, I’m kinda with Josh on this, you never really get to enjoy your own music objectively, but I guess I’ve come to terms with the fact that you can’t do anything in rock ‘n’ roll that Tony Iommi hasn’t already done better, so I’m sure it’d have to be a Sabbath song. Probably Lord of This World.
PD: What are some of your pet peeves?
MF: Scratching my fingernail on the fretboard. Worst feeling in the world.
JM: People who take themselves too seriously.
PD: What is your proudest moment in music?
JM: I got to open for Red Fang.
MF: Yeah that was pretty awesome, they told me they liked my guitar tone. I guess, for me, it was probably recording music for the first time. It’s something I never really thought I would get the chance to do when I started playing guitar as a kid. The experience of spending hours in the studio and then having something tangible to show for it was something only signed artists could really experience back then.
PD: So what are you working on at the moment?
MF: We’ve been spending all our free time in the studio tracking our next album. We’re handling all the production ourselves so it adds a lot of work, but it gives us a lot of freedom to experiment and take our time. We’re planning for an early 2023 release.
PD: What music have you available online and where can we buy it from?
MF: We’ve got all our music and merch available on our Bandcamp ( childrenofatom.bandcamp.com ) If you do the streaming thing, we’re available on all those as well Spotify, Google, Apple, etc.
JM: Also check out our on-demand merch store! https://childrenofatom.bigcartel.com/
Children of Atom links:
Band/Artist location – Spokane, Washington
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Check our page for Children of Atom