Aftermath and the power of good vs evil
Aftermath is active for a long time as you can read in one of the answers Kyriakos gave. Also read the review of "There Is Something Wrong" and understand what brought Manos to come up with the questions.
Hello Kyriakos! Congratulations for the release of the new Aftermath album "There Is Something Wrong"! The new album comes out a quarter of a century after your first album "Eyes Of Tomorrow". Did the band split up after the first album or remained in hibernation for all these years?
Manos thank you for the great review you wrote on the new record. To answer your question, we ended Aftermath in 1996, two years after our debut "Eyes Of Tomorrow" was released. But we had written most of that album between 1988 and 1990 and didn’t release it until 1994.
While Aftermath was not functional, I know you remained creative with Mother God Moviestar. Was this band a continuation of Aftermath? What else did you do in music during these 25 years?
Mother God Moviestar featured all the same members as Aftermath from the "Eyes Of Tomorrow" era, and we also added some female vocals on the record and Delta 9 the dj worked on it as well. So while the Aftermath guys all were part of MGMS and we recorded some tracks we were working on as Aftermath, I would say that it wasn’t a continuation because it was so different. But, I guess when you look at it, some can say it was a continuation. After MGMS broke up in 1998, Steve, Ray and Chris went on to live their lives outside of music completely. John and I formed a band called Stripping the Pistol in 2000. Joe Nunez from Soulfly played drums. I shared vocals with Kevin Cherello. That band got a huge major label buzz in 2001. We almost got signed to Columbia Records by Matt Pinfield of MTV fame. We rejected an offer from Roy Thomas Baker (the legendary Queen producer) to work together. We released a self-titled EP on Floga Records after we broke up. That band sounds nothing like Aftermath.
What motivated you to get back to the front with a new Aftermath album?
I never thought we would get back together until it actually happened. In 2010, we got an offer to release a box set of all our material including the demos from the Chinese label Area Death Productions. As we were working on that release called 25 Years Of Chaos, we did an interview to be part of the DVD. We talked about getting back together in the interview. But, we couldn’t track Steve down, so it didn’t happen.
In late 2014, we were asked to play Headbanger’s Open Air in Germany (2015). We were also reissuing Eyes of Tomorrow on Shadow Kingdom Records and releasing our demo Killing the Future on CD through Divebomb Records. So when the promoter of HOA asked us to play the fest, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get together and play for the first time in Europe and also promote the two releases. I wasn’t sure what the other guys would say about it. Ray and John were in. Chris said he wasn’t interested in playing music. The real question was whether or not Steve would want to do it. I always felt that since Ray, Steve and I were the three members founding members of Aftermath, that without any of us it isn’t Aftermath. We had not spoken to Steve in almost 20 years and I didn’t even know how to get ahold of him. Our manager, my brother, said he was going to book the fest and felt that it would all work out. He was right. I got a hold of Steve and he was actually excited about getting together to play the fest.
"There Is Something Wrong" is a concept album. Please tell us about the concept, the messages and feelings you needed to express and share with the audience this time.
When we decided to write a few new songs, the lyrics focused on the topics that form the concept. As we talked about writing an entire record, I knew that it needed to be a concept record. I have spent years research the topics that make up the concept. To summarize it in a short statement, the concept is simple and complex at the same time. The world we live in and the entire system that has been created by those with the real power were designed to keep the masses in control and ignorant. The world we live in is controlled by a group of people and institutions that have an agenda that has been kept from us for decades or even centuries. The elected officials are their puppets playing a role, they don’t have the real power. This record isn’t about politics, it is much bigger than that, it is about the power of good vs evil. It is about the lies they have fed us from birth. The system was created to control and enslave the masses. The shit we learn in school or in church isn’t the truth. The mass media is another of their tools to push their agenda. Think about it this way, this planet has never been without wars. Why is that? Why do humans constantly kill themselves for religion or money? It is all by design. Those questions led me to question everything and look for answers. What I found is the basis of the concept. The lyrics in the songs and the messages in the intro, interludes and outro provide insights into who really controls everything and what we need to do before it is too late.
Many people feel frustrated by governments betrayal. Politicians seem like puppets. Is there anything to do rather than sit back on TV after an 8-hour shift and accept our modern slave fate?
On the record I repeat the lyric “Know Your Enemy” and urge people to wake up and “question everything”. Those lyrics and the title are telling people it is time to question and learn the truth. The reality isn’t what you hear or read in the mass media. You know in the US the right and the left are distracted by the actor playing the role of president. Whether it was the right hating Obama or the left despising Trump, the truth is that it is all a distraction from the real agenda. The division these political labels created are intended to keep the masses uniformed and divided because if we ever wake up, then they lose control. People need to understand that while the system makes it hard for you to learn the truth and being a debt slave is a means of control, people need to find the time to read and learn the truth.
Are you the sole lyricist of Aftermath? What are the themes that motivate you to write? And should we expect another concept album in the future from Aftermath?
I write all the lyrics. The theme and issues that I have written about over all these years all come from the same place. Even as a young kid, I always questioned and challenged authority. It was hard for me to be told what to do. I never thought that someone should be able to tell me what to think or how to act even as a kid. As I got older I still felt that way. When we formed in 1985, I wrote lyrics about real life shit, the metal lyrics about dragons and dungeons never appealed to me. The hardcore bands wrote about anarchy and metal bands wrote about warlords. I wrote about politics and how fucked up the world was even at the beginning of the band. If you listen to the lyrics the one theme is always about questioning authority and challenging the system. I have always written lyrics to cause the listener to react to wake up. Not sure what the next Aftermath album will be, it may be a straight ahead 28-minute thrash record or a double album. That is what is great about being in this band, it is never the same thing from one release to the next.
The music and production of the album are quite modern. Did that happen because the band cannot play or refuses to play in the old style? Should fans expect the next album to have a more "back to the roots" sound?
We recorded and mixed this record with Chuck Macak, he did a great job of making the record sound modern, but not in the cookie cutter way. We had Ted Jensen the legend master it. Sonically it sounds amazing. My brother and I produced the record. When the record was being written and since it was a concept record, I wanted to blend our early crossover days with our technical progressive later-era style on this record. The lyrics and message of this record express a lot of anger and having it be purely a technical/progressive record like our debut would not work in my opinion. The concept needed the energy and anger of the crossover style from our early days. So the record blends both those styles, which is really different from most thrash records that focus on only one style. The other reason you hear the crossover songs like Smash Reset Control or Diethansia on the record is because I listened to our Killing the Future demo in 2015 and loved it. We recorded that demo in 1987 and I had not listened to it since we recorded it. I couldn’t believe how aggressive and fresh it was, so I wanted that element on the record.
Please let us know about the early days of Aftermath.
We formed on October 31, 1985 (Halloween in the states). In the beginning it was me, Steve and Ray. We didn’t have a bass player that night. We wanted to be the fastest band in the world when we formed. We looked like a crossover band, none of us had long hair and we added a skinhead on bass. So early Aftermath was a four-piece crossover thrash band. We played faster than anyone back then. In 1987, we recorded our demo Killing the Future, a five song pure speed and aggression recording. It was recorded as a four-piece. The same year we got rid of our bass player because he couldn’t handle the new material we wanted to write. John Lovette replaced Adam on bass even though John never played bass before. We thought he was the fastest bass player ever. He played bass like a guitar player would. As it turned out, he wanted to be in the band so bad he auditioned for bass even though he was a guitarist. We eventually found out he wasn’t a bass player. He switched to guitar and we became a two a five-piece band with double guitars. The music became slower, darker and heavier. We wrote technical/ progressive songs starting in 1987. That was the very beginning of the genre. Two years before that we were at the forefront of the crossover thrash genre and we gave that up. Looking at that now that was a huge change that felt natural from the band perspective, but as a fan it would be insane to change that drastically. The early days were a blast. Our rehearsals became legendary. The amount of alcohol and weed we consumed at a rehearsal was unreal.
What are the differences in the metal scene now and then?
When we formed thrash in general was really new. So being part of the formation of a genre and scene is special. Today, you have a million subgenres of metal, but it isn’t the same. Back then there was no social media, it was all paper zines and tape trading, which made it way different. Today, it is so much easier to be in a band and record a demo or record and get it out there. I don’t hang out like I did back then, so I am not sure how the scene is with the young bands today.
Are all Aftermath members (except for Chris Waldron on bass) together from the beginning of the band? What is your relationship with the rest members of the band?
When we got back together in 2015, it was all the original members minus Chris. We rehearsed with Adam our original bass player from 1985 for a few months getting ready for the Headbanger’s gig, but it didn’t work out with him. John had some personal issues as well and never made it to Germany. We decided to not replace John, but felt we wanted to be a four-piece. We added George Lagis on bass before we recorded the record. So today, it is the same four-piece line-up from 1985 with the only difference that George replaced Adam. It has never felt better.
Who is responsible for the album cover artwork and what does the symbol with circles on it stand for?
Dimitri Patelis did the cover. He also did the Eyes of Tomorrow cover. The mascot is called Zoidy and has appeared on both records. I designed the band logo and the symbol in the middle of Zoidy’s chest. The symbol is called “Sinboleye,” which I created and Dimitri made one change to. The anarchy symbol is connected to the peace sign and the Greek letter theta. It represents that anarchy doesn’t mean violence and disorder. Instead, it means a better system. One that is not controlled by the ones in control today. The other symbols in the background include the pyramid from the dollar bill and some of DaVinci’s drawings and other symbols.
Aftermath have played a crossover of prog/tech/thrash metal. Which bands and albums had a significant role in the shaping of your sound?
In the beginning Slayer, DRI, Suicidal, COC, Voivod were bands we were into. I don’t think any band was a direct influence for our sound. The later part of the band, we really created something completely on our own.
What music/bands do you enjoy listening to in your free time? Do you like any non-metal styles/bands? Would you recommend us any new artists/bands that attracted your attention?
When I listen to music today, it is usually from years ago. I listen to all kinds of music, but metal is my favorite style of music always was and will be. I was looking and hoping to discover a new band that gives me the feeling I had when I heard Van Halen or Slayer for the first time. I am still looking.
Some people try to gain an elitist metal status claiming they only listen to demos or first albums. Have you ever heard people saying they only like your material until the "Eyes Of Tomorrow" album and how do you feel about it?
The music snobs. I wonder if they just say that to try and act cool most of the time. I have met people that liked our crossover stuff and didn’t like "Eyes Of Tomorrow", they claim it was too technical for them. There have been fans that love Eyes and didn’t get into the early stuff.
How do Aftermath compose their music? During free jams, by jamming over a theme in the studio or do you prefer composing a whole song alone at home?
In the beginning Steve and I would sit together and write the song. Later when John joined the band we would work on the music at rehearsal. On this album it was a combination of both.
In terms of significance what comes first for Aftermath, the music or the lyrics? When you write a song do you write music or lyrics first?
With Steve, I would usually have the lyrics done and he would write the song around them. With John it varied from song to song.
Your vocals are by no means typical. I would describe your voice as an emotionally enriched instrument that you shape accordingly in every song. How have you worked with your voice/expression and which people/singers have influenced your style?
In the early days people couldn’t believe how fast my vocals were. I credit being Greek for the speed. Greeks generally speak really quickly. The phrasing and style of the vocals is a combination of things. I don’t think there is any singer that was a direct influence. But, if I need to pick anyone for the early stuff it would be Tom Araya.
Please let us know some more things about Zoid Music and your collaboration.
We started Zoid back in the 1980s as the management company for the band. Later it became Zoid Recordings and ultimately Zoid Entertainment. We released Eyes of Tomorrow on Zoid and partnered with different labels over the years for distribution. The new record is released by Zoid in partnership with The Label Group in the USA. Ingrooves handles all digital distribution globally. In Europe we partnered with Sleaszy Rider Records to release the CD and vinyl in Europe and the rest of the world. Zoid Music USA is the publishing arm. Zoid is run by our manager Peter Tsiolis and Aric Swaney. Over the years Zoid Entertainment also managed the band Soil. Zoid created a bidding war for them and got them signed to J Records to the largest record deal from any Chicago band ever.
What are your current tour plans? How do you plan to present the concept of the album live? Should people expect to listen to some of your classics from the demos and 1st album, too?
We are looking to tour if the right tour comes along. We have no plans to play the record in its entirety at this point. Our last show last month had a set list that include all periods of the band. We will be doing the same thing in our upcoming show with Warbringer and Enforcer.
Back to the concept of the album... In the battle of good vs evil, who wins and why?
Evil is currently winning. In the end good always wins right? If good is to beat evil, the masses need to wake up and expose the evil. The light is their biggest fear.
Do you think that if the system was completely destroyed, new better forms of social administration would appear or is corruption maybe a part of human nature that makes it to the surface once we get power and as a result the same things would happen until we are extinct from the face of the planet?
Great question. There is a famous saying power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. If you believe that is accurate, then humans are doomed to repeat the same mistakes even if new governments are formed. What you need to do is make sure no one person or group gets too much power.
Who and how do they opiate and handle the masses? How do they use education, religion and political systems to control?
If you look at the entire system, it has been created to control us. Schools teach us what is their propaganda. They force their theories on us. They teach us that the economic system relies and can’t exist without the Federal Reserve – the central bank of the USA. Well, they never tell you that the US did just fine before they created this bullshit in 1913. The “Fed” controls the money policy and the banks. They call it Federal so we think it’s part of the government, but it isn’t. So in school you learn about the Fed and how important it is and how we need to borrow money as a country even though the Fed is a private organization and it really makes no sense why the USA needs to borrow money from the Fed. It is all a scam – a means to create debt slaves. Think about the fact they never teach you about why the Fed was created. No one ever challenges them on this. So they create debt slaves that are convinced that you need to borrow money to buy shit you don’t really need or can’t afford. This way you are too busy and stressed out to really see what is going on around you. You can’t spend time questing anything if you spend all day working to pay the never ending bills. Religion is another tool they use. The Catholic Church is the most corrupt organization in the world. They molest thousands of kids and no one ever goes to jail. Think about that why are they exempt? Why would you or I go to jail if we did what they did? Because it is there to keep the masses under control and if they commit crimes along the way, they can be ignored because getting rid of the institution will lead to more people that wake up and that is something that they need to prevent at all costs.
In the end, all these institutions which look like they are there to protect us are used to control us.
Thank you for the interview, Kyriakos. It was a pleasure and an honor. I wish people pay attention to the new Aftermath album and get its message. I must say again that it is an album that the listener has to listen in whole in order to get into it. The last words are yours...
Manos thank you for the interview. Since we spent so much time discussing the concept, I want to end on this note: even if you don’t care about the concept, the music kicks ass.
Interviewer: Manos Michaelides
May 8, 2019
May 8, 2019
Next interview: The tribute of Ravenous Dead