SceneStealers: Attack Formation
Halfway through an all-day recording session at ramshackle downtown studio Sweatbox, it's hard to tell who's in Attack Formation and who's just hanging out. Engineer Tim Kerr gives the hi sign, and a brisk cymbal shuffle gradually gives way to a pulsating Krautrock keyboard motif, as random trumpet bleats spar with a gnarly guitar lick that could have crawled up from Little Steven's Underground Garage.
Meanwhile, Ben Webster, despite being co-founder (since '99) and nominal nucleus of ATF's "collective rock," does little more than wave a drumstick in the air, as Ken Holland spends the entire take texting someone on his cellphone.
"I haven't played one instrument all day," says Webster, adding that it's incorrect to consider him any kind of conductor. "These dudes are way too talented to have a leader."
Comprising Attack Formation, at least today, are Webster, Holland, Bill Brown, Reagan Van Matre, Bill Jeffery, Nick Moulos, Moses Mayo, Rebecca Whitley, Omari, and Sweatbox owner Bryan Nelson. Instruments withheld by request, and because it's possible even the members can't keep track.
"It's all pretty happenstance," Webster admits. "Sometimes people don't even know each other."
Considering today's players also toil in Total Sound Group Direct Action Committee, Sub Oslo, Makeshift Shelter, Her Space Holiday, and Gorch Fock, to name a few, chops aren't an issue. Unless, of course, it's a total stranger. The next member, Webster says, "could be some weird guy that just wandered in for a song."
Attack Formation plays a free show with the Sword at the Whiskey Bar tonight (Thursday).