Tuesday, December 24, 2019

interview: Austin Pattison, drummer for Ex Nihilo; former drummer for Opropos

interview: Austin Pattison, drummer for Ex Nihilo; former drummer for Opropos
Hey, Austin, how was 2019 and what music do you have planned for 2020?
2019 was a pretty solid year, musically. Despite dissolving the band near the tail end of the year, Opropos killed out a few good shows but even before then, things started to slow down and become stagnant for reasons I did not wish to continue trying to push through. Eli and I in Ex Nihilo became increasingly restless after releasing Ego Ex Nihil at the beginning of the year and just could not stop ourselves from bringing on more projects. For almost a year now, I have been working with a dear friend of Ex Nihilo – Josh Fitzner of Peanutbutterfly & Jellyfish Film Productions – on a music video for one of the tracks from Ego Ex Nihil. Eli even got shot into the video when he visited during the summer of 2019!
As for music already recorded… Yes! Ex Nihilo has just recently signed on with a label based out of the UK called Black Spark Records. Eli and I recorded two tracks this year titled ‘Total Waste ov Humanity’ and ‘Funeral Beneath the Cold Moon’ which will be released through BSR on cassette titled ‘Praeludium’ – Which will be two tracks on the upcoming album (Hoping to release BY 2021) titled ‘Enantiodromia’
In how many entities are you active?
As stated above – Opropos, who was set to become Visceral Descent, was dissolved. Whether or not the other lads will continue as VD is not anything I have info on.
Besides Ex Nihilo, Keanu F (vocalist from Opropos) and I are working on a two-piece project titled ‘Hewa’. It is a beautiful project Keanu approached me about mid-2019. It’s all songs about the oppression of his native Hawaiian people and the stuff Keanu is writing on guitar is wildly crushing and groovy at the same time!
Besides sitting in for Done to Death as their interim drummer, an idea for a DSBM band has started to fester inside my head but it is something I am going to take a good amount of time to bring to the surface. Not only because I want things arranged perfectly, but because I am also learning bass for it and hope to front a band for once instead of be behind everyone on the drums!
The Ex Nihilo album Ego Ex Nihil was released in 2019. Who are the members of Ex Nihilo and how did this project begin? Where were the different parts of the music recorded?
Ex Nihilo consists of Eli and I. Eli writes all the music and primarily all the lyrics. Eli records at home in North Carolina and emails me his ideas – I’ve hardly ever turned them down so he just slaps a click track over them and I download them to my phone and spend some time coming up with what I want to do on the drums. Two tracks from Ego Ex Nihil were recorded somewhat decently through an interface and using microphones, but my computer was going through some PSU problems and would shut down randomly in the middle of recording. It became frustrating, so I bought a decent field recorder and recorded the drums best I could through that. I would then line the drum tracks up to the demo click that Eli sent me, isolate just drums, then shoot them over. Eli mixes and masters everything back on his end. As for the two new tracks on ‘Praeludium’, Keanu F recorded my drums for me under the name of Dirt Eater Productions. Everything else was done as per usual on Eli’s end.
What is the future of Ex Nihilo?
As far as Eli and I are concerned – Ex Nihilo will continue on for as long as we live. We would absolutely love to take our music on the road some day. We were very inspired by Sacrament ov Impurity/Weary with how full of a sound they could reach as a two piece, and we feel determined to be able to do the same. I’m even in constant contact with Sam of Weary and he’s been a very big help and supporter on what Ex Nihilo has been doing this year!
What is going on with Opropos at this point?
Opropos is finished. Starting in 2017, Opropos was simply just Calvin Burns reaching back out to me years after a failed high school death metal band never came to be. He writes some pretty fucking crazy death metal widdly widdlys on the guitar, and I told him I was primarily just looking to play black metal. We combined our efforts and came up with some pretty cool stuff in my opinion, finding a good balance between black and death. Keanu was next to join in, one audition as the vocalist and we were both sold on him instantly. We went through a few bassists, Gadge Becraft being the first. Then, Liam Hughes joined and he brought some vile fuckin’ blackened riffs and for the first bit we all just piled our ideas together. I wrote some lyrics – ‘Fate ov the Faithful’ and ‘Opropos’. Keanu then took over on that part and changed the game, putting a lot more thought into the themes. For the most part, we started out just as any other edgy metal band – Satan and anarchy – But Keanu really started putting some deeper meaning into the words he wrote. In the end, we were pretty heavy into the death side of things, which I actually came to like because it pushed me to become a more solid and versatile drummer outside of the trve and slow blast beasts. Opropos lasted about two years, and I was the drummer the whole time!
Why did Opropos come to an end?
From my point of view, Opropos dissolved because of scheduling and priorities. I have always been a very ambitious person, always wanting to write music with serious people that had kindred dreams of creating a life with music. Things seemed to go well for a time, then it felt like just an immediate severance. We couldn’t keep a bassist, and then it felt Liam and Calvin were putting a lot more thought and effort into any new project that they could start up. Despite telling them that I would be at my drums every night of the week ready to go, it felt like Opropos was in the back of others’ minds. One day a message shot across the group chat saying we all need to take things more seriously and blah blah blah and I said aloud to myself upon reading it “Nope, fuck this. This is exactly what I’ve been complaining about and they’re acting like I haven’t been trying.”
What other instruments, besides drums, do you play? What instruments interests you, besides drums?
HA! Anything besides drums? Nope. But, as stated I am hoping to pick up bass for a new band I want to start. But no other instrument has really made sense to me besides drums. I played keyboard in the beginning of high school marching band, but even then I never learned how to read the music. I would have someone show me what keys to hit and learn by muscle memory.
I used to write some of the most insufferable electronic music in my free time by sampling stupid shit and titling them after the nicknames and inside jokes of my friends. The tracks have never, and will never, be released because they are such (purposely made) trash!
At what age did you begin playing drums? How were you introduced to the drums?
Now, you ask my mother and I apparently told her at a young age that I didn’t want to upset my father - a bassist/guitarist – but I wanted to play drums. However, it wasn’t until 7th grade just after turning 12 that my dad came to me and said “You need an elective class. Orchestra, choir, or band?”
I had already tried my hand at stringed instruments growing up and could never understand how to play them, and I had no interest in singing. So, just before school started, my father bought me my first snare drum, which was a vintage 1970s Ludwig… I regret selling. Now, 11 years later I am still at it! I had enthusiasm since the beginning, but kit drumming didn’t become the main focus of my percussive career until about 2012/2013. I didn’t actually play live for the first time until 2015, and even then it wasn’t an extreme metal band. It took a few years until I started playing the type of music that I wanted to.
Did you like any drummers in particular? What music did you like when you were a child; then in middle/high school? What kind of music was popular amongst high school kids back then?
It took up in to high school before I found my true musical identity. Growing up, my mother and father always listened to heavier music. My father showed me the ways of Rush, Queensryche, Iron Maiden, Black Sabbath, Dio – You know, the usual stuff!
My mom was always into heavier rock, but not a lot of it is anything that stuck. I distinctly remember my very first album I ever owned was American Idiot by Green Day. I listened to that album until I became absolutely sick of it.
Fast forward through the bullshit music phases of middle school and we land in high school. I always had a bad habit of finding one artist I really liked and listening to them and just them day after day, never branching out. Then, a friend I met online showed me Volbeat. At the time, their most recent album was ‘Beyond Hell/Above Heaven’ and on it was the song ‘Evelyn’ featuring Barney of Napalm Death doing guttural vocals. This song surprised me as it starts with a rather heavier death inspired riff and that first “OOOOH!” that is belched out had me wanting more instantly. From Volbeat, I went into the only other heavy band I remember hearing about growing up – Lamb of God. I listened to those two bands back to back for a few years, with some of my own discoveries trickling in. It wasn’t until my best friend’s cousin popped in Wolves in the Throne Room’s ‘Black Cascade’ album that I was introduced to black metal (elitists need not say a FUCKIN’ thing!). Then, my next exposure was when my sister visited home and put a blank CD in my computer after hearing I liked WITTR. Computer loads it up and that striking opening riff to Transilvanian Hunger started to play. At first, it didn’t make sense to me. I skipped through the album. It all sounded the same. I took it out, but kept it with my music for years. As time went by, I got more into different heavier and more abrasive black and death metal bands. Then, one day I popped Transilvanian Hunger back in and it hit me like a fuckin’ wave and it made immediate sense. I had found home within it.
As for the music, my friends and classmates listened to, it was 2010-2014. I could give a shit about their music. My friends hated what I got into but I never asked them to care. There were a few metalheads at my school, but they listened to extreme stuff that didn’t come to me for a few more years.
As for drummers I liked, of course Neil Peart from Rush was brought to my attention when my dad shared their music with me. But Chris Adler was my first definitive inspiration in drumming around the same time I was finding the crazy lads like Flo Mounier of Cryptopsy, Inferno of Behemoth, Fotis Benardo and Krimh of Septicflesh. Now, I still dig them all but I can’t stop myself from being constantly floored by the performances of Darkside on all the Mgla albums he has performed on. I feel I have began to emulate him in an unhealthy way.
In your own time, do you listen to a lot of music? Is there any genres or bands that you find fun to listen to nowadays?
I am always listening to music, as much as possible. When it comes to leaving the comfort of extreme metal, I like my shit weird and different. I got into some rap, but for the most part the way the beats resonated with me just never really kept me. I still go back to cringey bands like Mindless Self Indulgence because their music actually pops off and can be fun as fuck to sing along to when you’re in a weird mood. Other than that, some electronic stuff like Daft Punk, Pendulum, and Alex Clare will come on. I am also shamelessly into – what I assume is – the French equivalent to the Jonas Brothers. When in high school French class, I discovered the BB Brunes and if I don’t understand what the hell they’re saying and like what they play, I’ll always find time to listen!
What are some personal goals of yours for 2020? Some people plan to get a new job, become a world-famous puppeteer, take up the tuba, or finally begin training to be a professional cage fighter whose hands are legally considered “lethal weapons.” What are your 2020 life-changing goals?!
I keep telling myself, 2020 is the year of self-sustain. I will cook more for myself and become the absolute best me inside and out. I am already getting way back into working out. Running, lifting, and drumming every day if I can help it. No excuses!
I will spend my money more wisely. I will finally get out of this town for the first time in years and take a few well-deserved vacations.
I’ve never seen myself becoming rich, but I will be successful in the choices I make. Ex Nihilo WILL play live for the first time (and many more times than that), because Eli will be moving back the summer of 2020! We have an ambitious idea for a tour, as well. It will take time to plan out logistics, but even if it doesn’t work out we can just shoot down the west coast with another band for two weeks or so and spread our sound to whoever will listen.
I’m also going to finally buy a kayak and be out on the water as much as I can because that’s been something I’ve wanted to do forever. As much as I hate inner Bellingham these days, the natural areas around me never cease to amaze me. 2020 will be the perfect foundation for what my future holds with music. I do not hope it, I know it!

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