Interview w/ AFTER by Nicholas Senior
AFTER has assumed many forms over the years, but the current collection is Jose Freitas on vocals/guitars/keys, Matthew Denis on bass, and Brian Sumwalt on drums.
Can you give a brief history of the band?
AFTER started a few years ago in Orange County as a four piece and moved to Los Angeles after getting picked up by local indie label Skullr Records; countless lineup changes later, we finally settled into our current sound as a focused power trio.
In the last year we met our manager, Don Hamister, and developed a devoted LA following that recently culminated with a sold out show for our ‘Riders on the Storm’ video release at The Viper Room in Hollywood.
How would you describe After’s sound?
We’re influenced by such a wide variety of bands, but a lot of our sound is our take on a very 90′s sound; we love the power of bands like Rage Against the Machine and Pantera, but our melodic sensibility is more in the vein of bands like Incubus and Foo Fighters, and to be fair their rhythm sections are influences as well.
We’re also inspired by bands from the last decade: Karnivool, Dub Trio, & Circa Survive to name a few.
Some people have termed our sound ‘progressive pop rock’, but we also have a serious alternative bent; we really just try to focus on quality song craft while retaining the musicality and groove that defines a power trio.
Your new EP is available at http://afterishere.bandcamp.com/. Great job on it, by the way! How do you feel about the finished product and its reception so far?
Thanks for the plug, glad to hear you enjoyed it; we worked with a great producer, Barrett Yeretsian, who brought the clarity of our sound to a new level, and we’ve been getting some really great feedback.
Even the very liberal rendition of the Doors tune, which we thought might garner some backlash from Doors and classic rock purists, turned out to be a favorite on the EP for a lot of people; we had a lot of fun making it, and we’re really glad that people seem to enjoy it just as much.
Why cover a classic song by The Doors? Did it have anything to do with the fact that they were also an LA-based band?
It actually really had to do with the fact that the melody worked really well for the ‘quiet/loud’ dynamic structures we are fond of, and the lyrics are timeless and endlessly relatable; a great song will always be a great song, no matter what style it’s being performed in, and hopefully we’ll get some of the kids today to broaden their musical palate.
You state you are fans of the late great comedian Mitch Hedberg. Do you have a favorite of his jokes? Is After just a bunch of comedians who also play instruments?
He has so many good lines, but the first one that comes to mind is:
“I was going to whiten my teeth, but I decided to get a tan instead.”
He, along with others like Bill Hicks and George Carlin, were truly geniuses in their own right; if those names are unfamiliar to anyone reading this, please stop reading and use YouTube immediately.
You can thank us later; we’ll be waiting for you here when you’re done
If you could tour with any bands dead or alive, who would it be?
Jose: With Nirvana on their 1989 Bleach tour through Europe and with Filter on their 1995 worldwide tour with the Pumpkins. Oh yaaa…
Matt: That’s an almost shockingly specific list Jose…in no particular order: Incubus, Rage, Foo Fighters, Circa Survive, Thrice, Deftones, Tool, Muse, Bad Religion, Karnivool, 3, Fair to Midland…it’s a long list, I suppose I’ll stop there.
Brian: Matt stole a few from my list, so I’ll just go with Nine Inch Nails or Michael Jackson.
You guys frequently mention your prowess as a live act. What sets you apart from every other rock band in 2012?
We actually sound even better live than we do on record; in all seriousness though, a lot of live acts today use so many backing tracks that the performance element suffers.
We used to run tracks as well, but after slimming down and really focusing on our tones we still have people thinking we run a click and tracks; we don’t use either anymore.
And our chest hair is inspiring.
Do you have any plans to tour in the future?
We’re always looking to play outside of Los Angeles as often as possible, and with the recent release of the ‘Riders’ video we are about to start a big promotional push; if you live in the US, you’ll likely have an opportunity to see us this year.
What has inspired After lyrically?
Frustrations, women, fictional scenarios, and other ruminations on life…
What bands/artists have you been listening to lately?
Jose: Dub Trio, Karnivool, Meshuggah, just discovered Failure, and always tons of Fu Manchu.
Matt: Jose borrowed the first three from me; other stuff I’ve been sinking my teeth into lately includes the latest releases by Skyharbor, MuteMath, and The Brew.
Brian: Someone beat to me Karnivool again…aside from that, I’ve been listening to a lot of Dredg and The Great Wall.
What is the best/funniest story out of the After camp so far?
Despite all of the lineup changes incurred by the band over the years, we’ve only had two drummers; they’ve both been named Brian S.
Fortunately, neither has yet to explode.
Is there anything else you would like to tell our readers?
If people really love music, they should go out and get involved in their local music scene, even if that just means going to the shows of a local band they particularly enjoy; going to our friends’ shows is almost as much fun as playing our own.
There are so many talented groups who never get any recognition that are as good as any band you’ll hear on the radio, and often times they are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet.