ATLS Interview in initonit Magazine (Issue 23) - Feb '08
The interview with Paul is transcribed below, and images from the
magazine are featured underneath the transcription.
I make no secret of the fact that I like a bit of metal now and again. I like dark music, and After the Last Sky's collision of dark metal and grind punk is perfect for my taste. At the time of writing, their album has yet to be uleashed, but a split CD with Inert and a 4-way split 12" as well as a couple of great shows at the IQ in Boston have already convinced me of the band's quality. The band comprises of Ben (Vocals), Matt (Guitar/Vocals), Shane (Bass) and Simon (Drums).
Ben and Matt answered the questions.
You've created your own musical genre with "Blackcore", how would you descibe "Blackcore",
are there any other bands that would fall in to this category?
Ben: Blackcore is the melding of our inspirations from the crust/grind/hardcore scenes with death/doom and black metal which back in the late 90's was pretty unique. The style in which we write is also significant as we have eschewed the standard verse chorus arrangement in favour of a linear story telling approach.
Matt: It was a joke/nickname that stuck in many ways as at the time (late '97) there seemed to be a real trend for just about everything ending in 'core', it was just getting stupid so to some degree it was both descriptive and poking fun at the same time. As for other bands there's Life is a Lie from Brazil, I'll tell you more about them later, then there's Prados Censurados from Spain who seem to have more of a metalcore take on it, I don't really know how Iskra describe themselves but I've seen their album (out on Profane Existence) as having a blackened influence but to me they sound more like a darker Infest...not that that's a bad thing.!
You have a metallic sound, are there any black metal favourites? Isn't the whole black metal thing a bit of a minefield when it comes to dodgy right-wing attitudes?
Ben: The majority of what I listen to is black metal so currently Shining, Gorgoroth, Drudkh and some of the better US bands. As for the right-wing aspect I listen to a lot of music that extols views I do not personally believe (eg. anarchy, Communism) but I do not feel influenced to act out these extremes in society. It's a question of a person's strength or weakness as to how and why they become perverted by such views.
Matt: Over the last 6 or 7 years I've become much less intersted in Black Metal, however, Ben has played me some cool stuff from the US which I find bizarre because when I was in my mid-teens American BM was just awful in my opinion. Really enjoyed the stuff by Shining that Ben played me recently. Wolves in the Throne room were another band that impressed me...but yeah preferred the early ninties stuff...the 2nd wave or whatever...the BM thing comes up from time to time particularly as we're involved in the DIY scene, I feel that conservatism is not in the spirit of independant/DIY/"Punk"/alternative music, why should it be such an issue as long as we make it clear where we stand???
Ben: At the end of the day black metal is about hate, its sentiments have been weakened down in the mainstream, but some people still believe in a war whether academic or physical against the intolerance and lies of christianity, Islam and Judaism in particular and that is something I personally support.
Matt: Black Metal has often dealt with subjects as the need to stand up for what you believe in regardless of others, the beauty of the natural environment and the way in which humanity is destroying not only the planet but also iteslf, not a million miles away from a lot of Punk bands...I also have a strong disdain for all organised religion largely due to the oppression it generates, musically BM gives another source of variety to the music, we want to keep things exciting that's why we're not conforming ourselves to a particular genre. BM has a bad rep but then again there's racist bands that consider themselves to be "Punk" so maybe having a Punk influence is also a minefield.....then you have "Grind" bands that turn out to veer more towards misogyny, homophobia and gore than the socio political approach you'd expect...where would it all end...maybe it should end with this....After the Last Sky are not in any way dodgy or right wing. or maybe this.....Dear Punk scene, I'm sorry if our lack of conformity to your traditions and constructs offends you, we're a band trying to offer new ideas musically and hopefully lyrically for you to discuss...if this is not to your acceptance I'm sure yout hierarchy will soon discredit us if it is decided that this approach is unacceptable...until then hope you enjoy our sets, writings and recordings. Lots of love ATLS xxxxxxx
You have a DIY attitude, is it easier to self-release and distribute stuff with so much new technology around (CD-R, Internet, Downloads etc)?
Ben: Yes though it also enables a lot of generic and inferior music to be distributed in the same way which dilutes the scene as a whole. There is something galling about competing for people's time with all this dross, but that's modern society's desire for instant gratification and fickle attention spans.
Matt: Yeah we definately do everything DIY, me and Ben also do a label/distro and I also put gigs on with my mate Alex (from Krupskaya)....I disagree with Ben in that I think there's no objective way to decide what is inferior/shite and what isn't, however, I do retain the right to say that something's shite or uninspiring without being pounced upon by the scene police. A lot of modern technology just makes it easier for semi bands to make lazy attempts at making a go of it....there's no quick fix, the old fashioned ways can be further helped with modern stuff but solely relying on the new quick and easy solutions just doesn't work, ie IF YOU PUT ON A GIG - PRINT FLYERS AS WELL AS USING MYSPACE OR YOU'LL FIND NO ONE TURNS UP.
Your explanation to the lyrics to Art School Lebensbourn mentions how hard it is for the working class to attend college courses. Has education become totally elitist in this country - is this why the student protest movement is all but dead?
Matt: I have little experience of higher education, I think Ben can answer your question more fully, from the lyrics and talking with Ben about this song the theme that resonates more with me is just how the notion of "Truth" is so subjective, the thing to really consider is what does the teller gain from your acceptance, is the truth being sold to you via contrived/corrupted means?...
Ben: The student protest movement is dead because for all but a few higher education is about recreation. Many people are now in higher education because our state thinks this is a good idea, but they are not being properly educated. They have nothing to lose picking up "Micky Mouse" degrees, students are whimsical and lazy. to them lectures are merely an inconvenience as would be a criminal record as they thoughtlessly slot neaatly in to their post university employment.
Matt: Maybe a bit of a generalization Ben, but I must admit that I've seen a lot of this within students I know, I mean what's the point in signing up to be further educated if your not going to take everything you can from your studies....maybe it's a result of apathetic attitudes towards life...that actualy you will achieve or change very little so therefore just tick the boxes and aim for nothing else....school/college/uni/work/car/house/married/kids/dead at 39/buried at 75.....I don't ever want to live that way
Your lyrics are very dark and bleak, is it difficult to be positive these days?
Matt: Err...next question...
Foreign policy from Britain and the US have led to huge problems over the last few years, is it time for the British administration to stand up to America and actually tell them they're wrong?
Ben: Yes, personally I believe we need to move further away from the stifling European Union and especially the US. I favour restoring better links between ourselves and other Commonwealth nations while also being able to stand on our own two feet rather than being dependent on so many imports.
Matt: Yeah I agree, if nothing else call me naive if you want but I thought that this whole democracy game was about representing the people it rules??? There seems to be very little in the way of support for the US way (in relation to foreign policy) so in itself that should have influenced an end to this bloody alliance...but no it seems the British administration will continue to support the super power that appears to make its decisions based upon Christian bigotry and capitalist greed over things like...err say humanitarian wellbeing or the environmant. It seems ridiculous to support a power that is failing on so many levels, Botch was right We Are The Romans
Climate change has become a burning issue, it seems to me that you can now be green through shopping.
Has the environment just become another marketing tool?
Ben: Of course the environmant is a marketing tool it has been for years. (But) now people are really starting to see the benefits of talking about the environment and presenting a message that they care, while at the same time making the majority of their money through destructive practises.
Matt: I think the phrase we're looking for here gentlemen is "Greenwash" as it happens Ben's been on the ball as ever and covered this issue in the lyrics to 'Cast the Liars to the Lions" which we recorded about a month ago for the split 7"...yeah unfortunately this is the case, even people attempting to consume with a conscience need to be mindful of exploitation
You guys seem to watch a lot of movies/TV, with the internet too, are we sometimes bombarded with too much information, to an extent that it's difficult to know what to believe sometimes?
Ben: Again this relates to the strengths and weaknesses of the individual to sift through the information. Too many members of society are content to be complicit and blindly believe what they are told through the media. One should always consider why we are being told something and who it benefits both financially and reputation wise. Finally what impact will this have on people viewing it?
Matt: Unfortunately the fact that people are so easily led means establishing a power base via misinformation and propaganda is relatively simple to achieve. Despite many being aware of examples in history where using various media have enabled the transfer between information into power it seems that applying these lessons to modern examples is often lost. We are bombarded but maybe sometimes we need to remember that (to quote ghost mice) "all we need to do is pull the plug". If we seek information/insight when we need it maybe we can use it as a useful tool rather than it using us.
As metal fans, who are your favourites, both old school and new school?
Ben: My Dying Bride such dark feelings and are very conductive for lyric writing. Also Canvas were one of the original inspirations I remember checking them out and being really excited at this clash of styles.
Matt: Yeah both of them are definately a 10 although MDB's latest I thought was unconvincing and the only one I don't own. Sabbath, Maiden, Slayer blah blah blah depends where you draw the line with metal I guess cos obviously there's a lot of bands on the fringes of the genre which typically I find more interesting...I said on the fringes not with fringes...All that new wave of at the gates with beatdown metal stuff is just rubbish.
If you could sum the band up with just one of your songs which one would it be and why?
Ben: It is dangerous and difficult to try to represent us through one song as they are so diverse, but "Land of Gluttony and Rape" is probably the best example as it encompasses so many elements we have worked on over the past decade.
Matt: Dangerous??? Yeah definately a difficult one...I guess a mid-length song that covers quite a few bases is a good call, having songs that blast through 18 secs and then others that last 10 mins make it difficult. I'm going to be positive (see Paul, sometimes we manage it!) and say the last one we wote...We haven't recorded it but I'm really happy with it.
Beer has been the corrupter of many a grind band - is it possible to play a great set pissed out of your head?
Matt: I don't drink, haven't done for years, never played a set pissed, but I jammed at some parties when I was a teenager baaaaaad. Anyhow, seen some bands balance on the drunk/playing set axis some manage it others don't...we wouldn't, Ben likes a little taste before a set but I always say "if you drink too much you'll be shit!" which generally makes him behave ha ha ha.
Ben: I would say yes, but I'm sure the other guys would disagree! The music is a tad complicated for playing off our faces, but it is sometimes good to let go and revert back to the more primitive and instinctual skills. It is very liberating.
Ben: Some bands I would not even want to see if they were straight as beer or drugs are a quintessential part of their music, Electric Wizard, Municipal Waste or Brutal Truth for example - that would just be wrong.
Matt: That much is true...although...XElectricXWizardX...????
What's next for After The Last Sky, tell us about the new album on Right To Refuse Records.
Ben: More gigs in Europe and the UK hopefully getting to London and the south of the country! Plus recording later in the year working towards an album but with 7"s and splits to precede, of material not fitting with the album's concept.
Matt: Yeah basically we're just back from a stint in Europe, we have an LP/CD coming out via our friends (RTR but also superfi, Crucifados Pelo Sistema and 6am7am) its called "And This Is Progress?" then it's off to Ireland, Sweden and maybe Iceland during the course of the year with another stint in the UK at some point and hopefully a split 7" with Life Is A Lie, we recorded it recently but the LP stuff is due first...hopefully Feb/March time...early 2009 we'll be back in Europe with a bit of luck so yeah trying to keep up the momentum really...
ATLS Interview in Zero Tolerance Magazine (Issue 008) - Nov/Dec '05
The interview with Russell Garwood is transcribed below, and images from the
magazine are featured underneath the transcription.
"Well, we definately had our tongues placed firmly in our cheeks with that one", guitarist Matt says of Blackcore, After the Last Sky's self-imposed genre. Benjamin Hoare, the band's vocalist explains in more depth: "A catch-all phrase encompasing Death, Black, Doom, Grind, Noise-core and Metal wasn't about when we started the band. I think with us all having an extreme metal history, and in particular not writing songs with verse/chorus structures, we deserved to create our own genre".
When I ask about the origins of the name itself, bassist Shane Turner laughs, "We did consider 'Unshaven-Trucker-Core' when we played Craven-Fest this year! Blackcore was an accurate description; you know what you're getting but you know nothing of what to expect at the same time."
Despite the myriad different styles present, the bands sound is a cohesive whole. "We basically make a conscious effort to write a song," Matt reveals, "rather than having a quota of how many musical bases we need to cover. Being eclectic keeps things interesting but it's got to work." Shane elaborates, "We all have a valued input into the music. Normally, if it doesn't sound wrong yet, we'll change it until it's as wrong as possible. Then it sounds just right!"
This 'wrongness'is reflected in the lyrics as well. "Much of the lyrical content has a socio-political focus and expresses our displeasure with the current state of the world," says Shane. "My distrust and hatred of humanity is what drives my passion and lyrics, which are also self-reflective," Ben exlains, before continuing, "The music of the EP deals with media representation of popular imagery, regimes, complicity in unethical conflict, and our own weaknesses - all catalysts for my personal hatred". The band used to work under the moniker 'Animosity', but changed because they felt they had outgrown it. Matt explains: "It felt like it was restricting us and the people who might be interested in what we were doing. The name was great as teenagers with a lot of aggression and knowhere to channel it, but we had developed beyond it's bounderies musically and interlectually - years ago."
A recent self-released EP, 'The Essence of our Art is Hatred', sees the band team up with Nottingham's 'Inert'. "If you want something done right, it's best doing it yourselves," comments Shane when I ask of the bands dedicated DIY approach. "We had full control over the release and flexibility over band decisions. The best way to get gigs and see the bands we wanted was to put them on ourselves." and with this our interview ends. I ask for some final words, to which Shane jovially responds, "Awaken to a Blackcore Dawn."