Interview with Kyriakos “Charlie” Tsiolis
By Allyson Kingsley, Music Journalist
Boston Rock Radio
Chicago based Progressive Thrash Metal Band AFTERMATH are back with new material and have released the official lyric video for “Smash Reset Control,” off of their upcoming LP, There is Something Wrong.
BRR: Hi guys, this is Allyson, Music Journalist for Boston Rock Radio. First I would like to start with introductions of the band members and what instrument you play.
KT: Allyson, thanks for the interview.
Kyriakos “Charlie” Tsiolis – vocals
Stave Sacco – Guitar
Ray Schmidt – Drums
George Lagis – Bass
BRR: What is the history of Aftermath and who are your influences?
KT: Where do I begin? It was a cold rainy Halloween night in 1985 in Ray’s basement where Aftermath was formed. We all went to high school together. Ray was a few years younger than us, but I had jammed with him and some other guys for fun. When we decided to get together that night we wanted to become the fastest band in the world. We all need goals right? Steve was actually a guitar teacher; I was his most impatient student. We found Adam (no last name needed) and brought him in to play bass. We all had different influences at that time, but Ray and I were the true metal heads. Steve was influenced by rock bands more than metal at that time. Adam was a punk rocker – skinhead and suspenders – he had the whole look. We brought those influences into our early songwriting and became known as a crossover thrash band, we were one of the first to play that style of music. By 1987, we had recorded a demo tape called Killing the Future and it went on to become really loved in the thrash metal underground. Metal Forces magazine (the bible at that time) loved that demo so much that Bernard Doe, the Editor picked two songs from it to be included on the Compilation record called Scream Your Brains Out. They picked only 5 bands from the entire planet, so that was a huge honor. We were offered record deals from a lot of indie metal labels at that time and we rejected all of them.
We fired Adam and added John Lovette on bass even though he wasn’t a bass player. He pretended to be to join the band. Eventually, he came clean and he became our second guitar player and we started our search for a bass player again. We wanted to slow things down despite the band’s fans love of our speed, So we wrote a second demo that was slow, complex, progressive and technical. Words that Echo Fear was released as a demo in 1988 and got us more label offers. We pissed off some of our old-school fans, but got a ton of new fans that loved the technical/progress thrash we were playing. We were at the forefront of that genre just like we were with crossover. We finally signed a deal with Big Chief Records, a label that had major label distribution. We went in to the studio to record our debut record Eyes of Tomorrow. The label was owned by a rich kid whose dad was funding his dream. Well the father decided to cut the cord during the recording of our record. We were left with a studio bill that took four years to pay off. The studio refused to release the masters until the entire bill was paid. This really screwed us. Instead of releasing the record in 1990, we didn’t release it until 1994. Metal was dead in 1994. Making things worse, we released it on our own imprint Zoid Recordings with distribution by a company called Feedback. Feedback filed for bankruptcy during the release. I can’t make this stuff up.
In 1996, we are working on new material, when I got a call from Peter Paterno the huge entertainment attorney that at one time was the boss at Hollywood Records. He called and wanted to license our trademark for a new small R&B label his client was forming, he said on the call. I have a good bullshit meter, that story smelled. My brother was a law student and our manager. We knew who Paterno was, he represented Metallica and Guns n Roses – he had no small clients. We eventually find out that his “small” client was Dr. Dre and the label was Aftermath Entertainment, Dre’s new label after he left Death Row. We ended up suing them for trademark infringement. Despite our federal trademark, we were not successful in getting an injunction. So why bother getting a trademark if isn’t going to protect you right? We couldn’t afford a full blown trial either. So we could coexist said the judge. We ended up getting a deal on Interscope as Aftermath. We started writing some material that didn’t sound like Aftermath and we decided to change our name to Mother God Moviestar. We released our self-titled record in 1998. We toured and called it a day.
Through the years labels from China, Greece, Italy and the USA have reissued our debut Eyes of Tomorrow and our Killing the Future demo. Those reissues kept the band name alive while we were gone. In 2012, we released a box-set called 25 Years of Chaos on Area Death, a Chinese label. In 2015, we were invited to play Headbanger’s Open Air in Hamburg, Germany. My brother convinced me to book the gig and then try and get the guys to do it. We did and they surprised me and said they were in. We asked Adam to come back to form the original line up. He looked exactly the same. It didn’t workout. We found another bass player (the real life Spinal Tap). While rehearsing for the gig we decided to write a new track for the fest. We were so blown away by it and we decided to write an entire record of new material. And here we are today about to release that album.
BRR: How would you describe your music and what do you wish to accomplish with your music.
KT: The new record is a mixture of our early days and later period. We mixed crossover thrash and progressive thrash to create something original. It will be interesting to hear the response from the two different camps. We just want as many people to hear it as possible.
BRR: Your video for “Smash Reset Control” reminds me a bit of the anarchist atmosphere of old school punk. In the video I noticed it was mostly done in red and I wondered why. Also it covered scene clips from a lot of sociopolitical imagery, not only from the US but also worldwide. Can you get into more detail?
KT: “Smash Reset Control” could have easily been on our Killing the Future demo and that’s why we released it in advance of the record. We wanted to go back to the beginning and bring that attitude and energy back on this record. Specifically, on this track I felt we needed to have that punk/hardcore vibe. Listen to the lyrics it definitely needed to be a crossover track. The video is edited by Josh Vargas. Lyric videos can go one of two ways, you can either just have one image and the lyrics or you can try to make it visually more stimulating. We decided to go with the latter. The red is used to make the entire video come across as a theme. If it changed colors on different frames, we felt it wouldn’t look cohesive. It would be just a bunch of images and video clips. We used red because it’s trying to show how urgent the message is. The lyrics and video and the concept on the entire record are about how screwed up things are and to get people to look behind the puppets in office – look to those with the real power. It is code red and I think the color in the video helps get that point across.
BRR: Can you give us a synopsis or a description of your forthcoming album There is Something Wrong?
KT: As I started to say the record is an 11 song concept album. Its point or message is to examine everything you know. Everything you have been taught – question it. Things aren’t as they seem. I have spent years reading and researching the topics I wrote about on the record. You are brought up to believe the government, programmed to trust what you are taught in school without any real critical thought. It all started for me years ago when I questioned things as a kid. When I got older I continued to wonder why this is or that are this way and not that way. What really seemed strange to me was why has there never been a period of peace on earth? There has never been a period without war. Let that sink in. We kill each other – why do we do it was what got me into looking into all of it. The record is meant to educate people to think outside the system’s teachings. Stop wasting your time arguing about Trump and start waking up to the fact he is the latest actor playing president. The real power isn’t elected; they select the actor to play out their agenda. Politicians are selected not elected. The record talks about all of it from the FED to the Vatican to the CIA, FBI and IRS (THE ALPHABET SOUP) and their mission to control the masses. It is simple: Know Your Enemy is an overriding theme.
BRR: Finally, I am always curious to know about the metal scene in other areas of the US. How would you describe the Chicago metal scene? What would you change about it?
KT: Chicago is an amazing city for music. The metal scene when we came out was very diverse, no band sounded like any other band. There have always been metal clubs or places to play in Chicago and that’s still true. I haven’t been following the younger metal bands as much as I would like to, but there are a ton of them.
BRR: Boston Rock Radio thanks you for your time.