ATHEIST FRONTMAN KELLY SHAEFER ON DEATH TO ALL TOUR, STONES OF MADNESS, NEXT ATHEIST ALBUM
A tribute to late Death frontman Chuck Schuldiner and a fund-raiser for Sweet Relief Musicians Fund, the Death To All Tour also represents a convergence of tech-metal all-stars from Cynic, Death, and Sadus. And that was before last week’s announcement that opening duties on the short trek will be split between Atheist and Gorguts. So the tour accounts for nearly all of the now-ubiquitous genre’s godfathers and provides about a million incredible reasons to attend. And we found no disagreement from Atheist’s Kelly Shaefer, who kindly commented via email on his excitement for the historic tour, his hopes for an Extreme Metal Hall Of Fame, his new Stones Of Madness project, and more.
Anso DF: I read your statement about Atheist’s addition to three dates of the awesome Death To All Tour. You sound as excited as I am! Can you explain how Atheist joined the tour? What was your personal motivation for getting onboard?
Oh fuck yeah, we are very excited for these shows. I think it’s one of the most significant sets of shows in this form of metal’s young history. So many who have never had the chance to see or hear the Death songs live will be thrilled, and the charity is one that hits home because we always struggled to have the quality of gear that we needed to make music. And I think it makes great sense to have Atheist and Gorguts along, both for different reasons. It’s not hard to find personal motivation for gigs like these, you know? It’s gonna be epic!
Technical metal has come a long way; as such, I’ve actually said things like, “Man, if Chuck were still with us, there’d have to be a Big 4-style Hall Of Fame tour.” So it’s wonderful for fans that, via the Death To All Tour, it’s happening anyway! Do you anticipate an amazing vibe at the shows?
Yeah, I think Chuck would’ve been quite proud of the state of metal these days, and yes, the shows will really be vibe-laden in so many ways: Hearing and celebrating classic Death material. Having three of the most amazing drummers known to metal in Steve Flynn, Gene Hoglan and Sean Reinert. Fuck, I’m such a fan of all of those guys. I can’t wait to be a part of it.
Am I going too far in considering that a charitable event like this might contribute to the life of a future mega-talent like Chuck Schuldiner? How gratifying is it to you that our people do positive, constructive things?
It’s one of the first of what I hope will be many events of this nature, and a celebration as well of music that in the mainstream world is rarely heard or given a platform the way trendy Hot Topic metal is. I would like to see it continue with serious talks of an Extreme Metal Hall Of Fame. Over the last two years, I have been trying to pull together some label presidents and magazine editors to make this happen so we can pay homage to the greats we have lost, and to all of the amazing music we have not lost. And to provide programs and charities to help our brothers in extreme metal! This tour will be embraced in a way that I don’t think this music has seen yet. So much excitement just in the early days of this announcement … I’m stoked!
I love the three tracks you’ve released by Stones Of Madness, your new project with Scott Thompson of Dry Kill Logic. I’m fascinated by the circumstances surrounding the launch of a collaboration: Did Scott and yourself link up with the goal of creating heavy, melodic rock? Can you give us an update on the full-length’s status?
Yeah, Scott found me through a producer friend our ours named Scott Bush. Scott Thompson was coming out of DKL and wanted to do something different. He had his music all recorded; I heard it and laid down two songs, and it was a great experience so we decided to do a record. I’m very excited about it. It allows me to sing once again, and use different voices that tech-death metal will not really allow, so to speak. It’s heavy, very catchy, and groovy. I hope everyone will check out our three free downloads. The full-length will hopefully be ready by year’s end!
Relapse Records, which reissued the first three Atheist classics in 2005, recently made those and a huge number of releases available for preview and purchase on Bandcamp. Atheist’s label for 2009’s Jupiter, Season Of Mist, soon did the same. These moves come on the heels of a report stating that Bandcamp-style one-click availability defeats illegal downloading. Does it please you that your business partners are active in adapting to contemporary purchasing habits?
Certainly. So many people just do not understand the damage to young and old bands who have nothing but our music to live on. Of course if no one pays for it, we cannot afford to make another record. To the artist, it’s much like borrowing money from a bank to buy a home and having a monthly mortgage, but ten other people live there rent-free [laughs]. So any proactive efforts on the behalf of our music are welcome.
As we prepare to write a new record, we are excited to be making music, and can’t wait to see everyone out on DTA tour 2012 !