How has living in Chicago set the tone for Aftermath’s music?
Kyriakos Tsiolis: Chicago is the greatest American city and one the best in the world in my opinion. The city offers the best of everything from food, bars, architecture, but most importantly it has been a great city for music. The city’s music scene is really diverse. Most cities have a sound or scene that makes them known from Detroit (Motown) to Seattle (grunge) to LA (glam), Chicago has been a city that has broken artists in all genres from Chicago to Styx to R Kelly to Common to Chance the Rapper to Disturbed to Smashing Pumpkins to Fall out Boy to Chevelle. The industrial scene had Ministry. Big Black and producer Steve Albini are from here. There isn’t a genre that Chicago hasn’t been able to have an artist break out of it. What I am trying to say is that the city has no one sound or style. All those artists all had originality whether you like them or not. There are no cookie cutter bands here. This is especially true in the thrash metal scene. None of the heavier bands sound alike and this is what makes the Chicago music scene special. Beyond that the city has a gritty vibe it has a mob past and a political corruption history that makes the city have a dark side. It gives us a lot to work with in writing music.
What have you taken from the 21st Century social/cultural and political world climate and interwoven it into who Aftermath is?
Kyriakos Tsiolis: I have spent the past few years reading and researching a ton of stuff about the world and looking for answers to questions that have been bothering me for decades. This is the concept of the new record. Years ago I was in a band called Stripping the Pistol and one of the songs was called I think there’s something wrong. When we started to write this record I no longer thought there was something wrong I knew it. That’s why the record is called There is Something Wrong. I always wonder why has human history never had real period of peace or no war? Why do people act the way they do knowing that we all die one day? What is the force behind the evil things that people do to others daily? The deeper I looked the more I realized it really is about the battle of good v. evil. We spend time arguing about nonsense when we discuss politics. The puppets in the WH or the political leader in all countries are actors reading lines in a script that the real power structure has given them. The internet is starting to expose these forces and people that really control everything. The plans they have in place have been written decades ago, People are beginning to wake up – the question is it too late. The internet can be the greatest source of change for good ever, but it can also be the biggest divider just as easily.
We appear to be heading for a major event that will determine what side rules. The last few years have taught me that everything we were taught in the system is a lie. Know your Enemy.
“Smash Reset Control” is edgy- would you say it leans more towards punk or thrash metal?
The song is definitely a return to our roots. The band started out as a crossover band even before the term was created. We were four young kids that were influenced by metal and hardcore/punk. We wanted to be known as the fastest band in the world back then and still have the vibe of a hardcore band. Our original bass player Adam was a skinhead with his Dr. Martens and suspenders. This song is a crossover song in the truest form.
Is your sound always politically driven, as it is in “Smash Reset Control?”
My lyrics have always been based in reality. Real events and situations. Even in our 1987 demo Killing the Future which got reissued and remastered in 2015 and released on Divebomb has a political theme. Our first record Eyes of Tomorrow has a theme that includes politics. We never wrote songs about witches and warlords. It’s always been about challenging the system. Not taking their shit. The new record continues that theme and expands on it
Imagery along with words can be a force, what is your goal as a band musically?
The goal from a pure music standpoint is to write totally original music that we love ourselves first. We don’t follow the trends of what is current. We are always ahead of the curve from the crossover days to our technical/progressive thrash days, we seemed to be doing it before it became trendy or popular. Today, our goal is to still write the music we love, but it also important to us to get the message out there that it’s time to wake up. We wrote a concept record in the era of singles. We want people to hear it as a complete record in sequence because there is a message that is revealed in each song. The video tries to capture the message, but there is much more to it and the way to understand all of it is to listen to the entire record with a good pair of headphones.
Let’s get down to discussing the bones of “Smash Reset Control” who did you work with on production of the song?
Chuck Macak was the engineer on the record, but the production was really the band.
How about video production?
Josh Vargas in Houston edited the video based on what we told him we wanted to see in the video. We wanted a lyric video to reintroduce the band to our fans after I have been teasing them during the recording process with snippets and live performance. We also wanted to introduce the music to those that never knew the band with a lyric video before the release of the record.
The production was pretty easy, we told Josh what we were trying to get across in the song and the record in general and he came up with some images and a first draft, we tweaked and add some other images that we wanted to see in the video. We think it begins to tell the story.
Do you as a band get pretty involved when it comes to producing/creating a song from its inception to completion?
I have written all the lyrics from the beginning. Steve wrote the music on the new record and co-wrote songs on our debut and all the track on Killing the Future. Ray is an amazing drummer and his playing adds so much to the sound of the band that he’s important in the writing process. George joined the band about a year ago on bass and has added some killer backup vocals along with Steve, This is the first set of songs to actually have backup vocals, it adds a new dimension to the songs. The concept for the record is all based on research I have done over the past few years.
How does Aftermath foresee the human kind future?
The future of mankind seems bleak at the moment. It feels like too many things are happening around the world without any real explanation. From the crazy weather to wars and the rise of nationalism this is a dangerous time. At the same time, globalization isn’t a good thing unless those in power have good motives – judging by history they won’t be good. Issues like transgenderism and gay marriage are used to divide the masses and create chaos. All this paints a scary future. But, if people wake up in time and expose all this, then the future can be a good one.
Where do you as a band want to take your music?
We want people to hear it the way we do. The best thing is when you hear a band for the first time and it blows you away. The first time I heard Van Halen or Slayer. You can’t beat that feeling. That’s what we want people to take away from our music. There is no point in doing this if people don’t get that reaction.