With so many cool bands out there to check out I offer you some minor guidance by introducing you to AFTERMATH. Anders Ekdahl ©2018
A band name says more than thousand words, or does it? How important is a band name to get people interested in your music?
-A great band name is important and in some cases so is a terrible one. The ones in the middle suck. Metallica for example is a perfect band name for a metal band. You know exactly what the band is about with that name. Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden great metal band names. Slayer a great thrash band name. A great name can make you check out a band like a great album cover would. In our case, the name has been one that a lot of bands have wanted to use over the years even Dr. Dre.
When you finish a recording and then sit back and relax, what kind of feelings do you get? Are you glad it is finished? Does the anxiety grow, not knowing if everybody will like it?
-The feelings have changed over the years. In the early days it felt like the music wasn’t good enough. What I mean is that back in the day, I never felt the final product was like I wanted it to be or sound. I always believed we could make it better. With the new record, I couldn’t wait to get in the studio and record it. The anxiety after it is all done is different than the anxiety while it is being recorded. In reality, I never worried about the reaction of the public. I need the music to make me satisfied. We recorded a demo called Killing the Future in the 1980s that got amazing reviews and fans loved it. I wasn’t completely satisfied with that recording. So all that praise still didn’t make me feel better. It wasn’t until 30 years later that I finally could listen to it as a fan and love it. With the new record I loved it the moment it was done. So there is no real anxiety with the reaction. I felt people would either love it or hate it and I am good with that because I personally wouldn’t change anything with it.
What is it like to be in a studio recording your music? What kind of feelings and thoughts race through your heads?
-Being in the studio is kinda like homework. Rehearsing and playing live are my favorite part of being in a band. The studio for the most part is a necessary evil. There is a lot of down time. You lay the drum, guitar and bass tracks. Then you add the vocals. At least that is the way we do it. So for the first few days, I am sitting around waiting to lay my vocals. So it is like the saying “hurry up and wait”. Our drummer Ray lays his tracks and basically doesn’t show up again until we are mixing the record. The recording of this record was pretty laid back. There wasn’t any pressure from a time perspective or from a label A&R person so the experience was way more enjoyable. The main thoughts running through my head involve the takes we just did. You wonder was that the one or can I do it better? Usually, the early takes are the best ones. After the first few takes you start to second guess the take and can get frustrated with it. It seems like someone is always hungry or thirsty during the recording sessions. If you watch band documentaries the studio footage is always the same. No matter how big the band is, once they get in the studio all musicians act the same.
Today I get a feeling that the promotion of a band lands a lot on the bands themselves so how does one promote oneself the best possible way in order to reach as many as possible?
-The industry has changed so much over the years. If you are signed to a label today whether a major or indie the experience is totally different than it was when labels had way larger staffs and budgets. Today, bands are way better at promoting themselves because they need to and also because it is so much easier now. In the old days, depending on the genre a band would be able to get a great local following by playing live and promotion with flyers and tapes, etc. But, that was on a local or regional scale for non-thrash bands. Thrash bands had tape trading and zines that allowed bands to get known outside their local scene. For most genres it was limited to the local scene or region. Now a band can promote itself globally. If you have some money and know how to use social media you can act like your own label and marketing department.
Today we have all these different sub-genres in metal. How important is that you can be tagged in one of these? Why isn’t metal enough as a tag?
-There are so many subgenres today that it’s impossible to keep up and somewhat comical. I understand the difference between a death metal band and a metal band and a thrash band and why those subgenres are needed to identify the type of metal they play, but some of the newer ones are just too much. A band that can be part of one of the subgenres can help greatly in finding an audience. Some of the fans of subgenres are only into that style of music. Some will buy almost anything in that genre. Fans of black metal often only buy black metal records so being part of that scene can help. There aren’t any real just metal bands today.
What importance is there in being part of local/national/international scene? Does playing in a band make you feel like you are a part of something bigger? I know it does to me knowing that in some slight way I was a part of the Swedish death metal scene in the 90s.
-Being part of a scene is what has made metal so cool over the years. We started out in 1985 as a speedcore or metalcore band – the term crossover wasn’t really around when we first formed. We were at the outset of a new scene and that feeling was amazing. It felt like you had an army with you. The scene makes being part of a band so much more than not having a scene. The fans and zines were almost as important as the bands. We went on to be pioneers of the technical/progressive thrash scene on our 1988 demo Words that Echo Fear and our debut Eyes of Tomorrow and that was also cool because that was new at that time. Not many bands can claim they were at the beginning of two genres like we can. We were also part of the Chicago metal scene of the 1980s and like you said about being part of the Swedish death metal scene made you feel like you were part of something bigger, I totally agree with you.
Ever since I first got into metal the art work has been a main motivator in buying a record. What part does art work for album covers play in the world of the band?
-I grew up loving the entire package. The artwork was almost as important as the record. It seems like great records had great artwork and shitty records also had terrible artwork. The metal world has had some amazing artwork over the years. The mascots have played a major role in making some of the best covers. We have our own mascot named Zoidy and he appears on both our debut and the new record. He is also on the reissue of the Killing the Future demo. With so many listeners today only streaming music or downloading it, the artwork is less important to them. I am a fan of the entire artwork package not just a great cover, but the entire booklet.
How important is having a label to back you up today when you can just release your music on any sort of platform online? With the ability to upload your music as soon as you’ve written it the freedom to create has become greater but are there any negative consequences to music being too readily available to fans now that every Tom, John and Harry can upload their stuff?
-Label backing isn’t necessarily as important today as it used to be. It was really impossible to become a viable band without a label in the past. You needed a label to fund the recording and promote it, but the biggest part was only a label could get it in stores back then. Today, you can do everything a label could do if you have enough money. The cost of recording has come down a lot. Shooting professional videos are way less expensive also. Terrestrial radio isn’t as influential as it was back in the day. And with digital and streaming becoming more and more popular an unsigned band has a better chance today of getting their music out there. But, that is true for way more bands so in the end there is way more competition. Years ago, labels were the filter or gatekeeper. Only so many bands would release records in the old days because there was only so much room on a label roster. Now, like you said, anyone can record and upload a record. With technology today it is way cheaper to film a video and upload it. So the negative is the competition is greater today because there are so many more bands which can make it harder to stand out.
What is a gig with you like? What kind of shows do you prefer to play?
-It’s like raw energy and aggression. Playing live is what it is all about. The energy of a great show can’t be beat. We just played a headlining show in Chicago in a really small club and that’s a great type of gig. But, I am sure playing to 50,000 people feels great also. I’d rather see a band at a small venue as a fan.
What lies in the future?
-It took us 25 years between releases so with us you never know what is in the future. But in the present we are promoting this record and enjoying the entire process. We want to play some fests and some shows in Europe and take it from there.