Attika 7 Sprouted From Guitarist Rusty Coones’ Jail Time
Attika 7, a brand new band featuring former Static-X bassist Tony Campos — who is also the touring bassist for Prong — began as a seed of an idea in the brain of guitarist Rusty Coones, a Hells Angel and custom motorcycle maker who began writing songs for the band’s debut while he was in prison. Additionally, Pennywise‘s Fletcher Dragge co-wrote songs with Attika 7. It’s clear that this project is as unconventional as it gets, from its inception through its execution.
The music is dark and doomy, as influenced by the sludge-caked riffs of Pantera as it is the industrial crunch of White Zombie, with a dose of whiskey-drenched vocals. “The first couple of years of being incarcerated in federal prison were probably the most dismal point of my life,” Coones told Noisecreep.
But he made lemonade out of some pretty sour lemons. “I was sentenced to eight years in prison for conspiracy to distribute ephedrine, of which I actually spent over five and a half years inside. I had a lot of time to kill and I read every book I came across the first couple of years. After I was transferred to Oregon, I got inspired to pick up the guitar again and start playing music.”
Thanks to a band program in the prison, Coones — who started playing guitar at the age of nine — was playing rock and blues with some of his fellow inmates. He said, “I was writing my own blues and rock songs and bringing them to the band.” But it didn’t last. A prison riot ensued, and he was transferred to a Texas prison to serve out the rest of his sentence, where he joined a new blues band.
“I started drop tuning my guitar into drop D and coming up these sick riffs that sounded so cool I couldn’t get into the blues anymore,” Coones said. “All my new material was drop tuned and heavy. I would sit in the prison yard and jam for hours on new riffs and write lyrics. It wasn’t long before I started a new band and played all my songs along with some covers, some of the lyrics were a reflection of life inside. Songs like ‘No Redemption’ and ‘Locked Down’ speak of prison life. The song ‘The Day is Comin” is a protest against government, as well as the song ‘Livin’ in Oppression.'”
Some good things came out of Coones’ incarceration and it was his musical creativity and productivity. He said, “This prison sentence was the most negative thing ever to happen to me, but if I didn’t go to prison, I wouldn’t have ever been inspired to play. The worse possible negative to happen to me in this life became the catalyst for my rebirth as a musician.”
Coones admits that he drifted from his guitar when he was in his teens, trading his instrument for dirt bikes. He got his first Harley-Davidson at 19 and he became fully immersed in the cycle lifestyle, a culture which he remains very enmeshed in today. He became a Hells Angel in 1995, and he was arrested on drug conspiracy charges in 1999.
Besides writing music, he was supported by his wife, KO, and had an army of friends and boosters while behind bars. “Soon after my release I started looking for bandmates to bring my music to the streets,” Coones said. “That was five and a half years ago. We have been honing our craft in rehearsal studios and playing gigs since.”
Campos, whom Coones describes as “machine-gun fast,” joined Attika 7 after completing his final tour with Static-X. While he also tours with Prong and Asesino, he likes to stay busy and get out of the house with other projects! “I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do next,” Campos told Noisecreep. “A few weeks later, I met the band’s manager at a show. He emailed me the material and I thought it was cool. The following week, I met the guys and we got along great. Soon after, we started jamming.”
There are not keyboards or programming in Attika 7 and there is only one guitarist, which is the main difference between this new project and his old one. Campos said, “Having only one guitar player that takes solos presents a new situation for me. I have to fill in parts where a rhythm guitar would normally be, so I’ll kick in some distortion and play some chords on certain parts.” He calls Attika 7 “straight up metal. It’s not industrial metal, death metal or some other kind of fill in the blank metal. It’s straightforward, no nonsense, ‘put your head down and go’ metal.”