LOS ANGELES -- When Alec Empire screams "Revolution!" in the song "Revolution Action" on Atari Teenage Riot's new album, 60 Second Wipe Out, he's dead serious.
Empire -- vocalist/programmer for the German techno-punk band and founder of the Berlin label Digital Hardcore Recordings -- said he deliberately refrained from using the term in the past, but now he's repeating it like a mantra, and he means it.
"We see ['revolution'] as part of evolution, as something that is totally necessary, especially now when capitalist society has failed everybody," Empire, 27, said. "But because it has failed doesn't mean we as human beings have failed."
"Revolution Action" (RealAudio excerpt) isn't the only track on 60 Second Wipe Out explicit in its call for social and political change. With such songs as "Western Decay," "Anarchy 999" and "By Any Means Necessary," the album screams confrontation from every angle as it offers ATR's trademark mix of techno innovation and punk aggression.
"We wanted to make a record that is on the one side more aggressive and more noisy than our other records, but on the other side really moving and motivating people for action," Empire said.
"The idea of Atari Teenage Riot is to create anarchist energy, to offend some people and make others feel euphoric and really alive."
Dressed all in black, the pale-faced Empire sat on the patio outside his hotel room at Hollywood's Roosevelt Hotel and squinted in the bright sunlight. He has a noticeable German accent and talked in a thoughtful manner, offering hints of a lighter side with an occasional smile or laugh.
Released May 11, 60 Second Wipe Out is ATR's third album, following 1995's Delete Yourself and their 1997 U.S. debut Burn, Berlin, Burn! Empire, vocalist Hanin Elias and MC Carl Crack have each released solo efforts.
Empire said some of the styles he explored on his 1998 solo album,
The Destroyer, carried over onto 60 Second Wipe Out,
as on the slow, turbulent buildup of "Western Decay" (RealAudio excerpt) as an example.
60 Second features several guest performances, including D-story and Freestyle from the New York hip-hop group the Arsonists, who appear on three songs -- "Anarchy 999," "Your Uniform (Does Not Impress Me)" and "No Success" (RealAudio excerpt). The latter number also features former Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna, while Dino Cazares of Fear Factory contributes guitar riffs on "Death of a President D.I.Y."
"[60 Second Wipe Out is] an album that really makes you think,"
wrote 22-year-old fan Dennis Hagerman, of Washington, D.C., in an e-mail.
"You feel restless when you listen to it, because it's so combative about
how f--ked up everything is. To me it says you've got to be a free
thinker and have your own opinions rather than just let yourself be brainwashed."
Other fans said the album's appeal is simpler than that. "I just like it
because it's heavy, heavy, weird stuff," Melina Salazar, of Seattle, wrote.
Atari Teenage Riot will launch a U.S. tour late this summer.