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Aftermath was a killer thrash band back in the 80's and I felt at the time they were a very underated band. I recently came across ex-band member Charlie and asked if he wouild be interested in doing an interview and he was cool with the idea so i emailed him some questions and here is what he said and keep an eye out for a box set of stuff coming out soom from these guys:
MC: Charlie what led to the break-up of Aftermath and do you still talk to
any of the ex-members and was it a nasty break-up or a mutual one?
Charlie: Chris just wanted to say thanx for the interview first off now and the demo review so many years ago. The decision to break up Aftermath was a mutual decision by the band members after the whole Dr.Dre trademark issue. Once the federal courts screwed us on our Federal Trademark and ruled that we could coexist with Dr. Dre’s label Aftermath Entertainment, we decided it was time to end the band. We were pissed we had done everything right – we hired a lawyer to register our name as a federal trademark – we paid $1,000 (if I remember correctly) for the trademark – which we received by the trademark office years before Dre stole our name. We spent years recording, playing and promoting our music and in one minute some old asshole on a bench took it all away. As you can tell this issue is still really pissing me off today. So after the court case, we decided that Aftermath was over. We then formed Mother God Moviestar - a totally different vibe. It wasn’t meant to sound like or be Aftermath, even though we were the same guys playing together. We have kept in touch over the years, but with the forthcoming release of our Box Set on Area Death Productions we have been in touch more recently. I just spoke to Ray and John the other day. The only guy I haven’t spoken to in years is Steve.
MC: How would you describe what the band sounded like and do you feel you were an original band?
Charlie: This is an interesting question. Listening to the music today, I would say the music and the band overall was really original and changed drastically from demo to demo and ultimately on the record. We started out as a four piece speed core band with metal influences – we were a band that loved Slayer as much as the hard core bands and we rolled that all up and created extremely fast, aggressive and often heavy music. The first demo was a great sample of these influences – by the time we get to Killing the Future –I think we were pretty fuckin original – I can’t believe how fast we were – Don Kaye of Kerrang called us “too damn fast” on the Killing Demo, which is still the ultimate praise for us during the Killing days. When we replace Adam with John Lovette the band starts to transform into a technical thrash band – total transformation from the first two demos. Just as original but slower, darker and way heavier.
MC: Now I know you are in another band now. What did you do after the break-up of the band and tell me a little bite about the band you’re in now?
Charlie: I am in a band called Stripping the Pistol – it is heavy and catchy, I scream and Kevin the other vocalist sings. Check it out on our MySpace page or www.strippingthepistol.com. The music is original - nothing like Aftermath, it is not technical at all – more conventional, but at the same time original. John Lovette is in the band as well. We formed Stripping the Pistol several years after the breakup of Mother God Moviestar. Aftermath breaks up in 1996; by 1998 Mother God Moviestar had released its self-titled release on Interscope done one US tour and broke up. I was still into playing music and by 2001 John and I had talked about doing something together. He was working at Guitar Center at the time and met Kevin Cherello, who had just moved to Chicago. He was a great player and songwriter and we formed the band.
MC: Now let's go way back in time. If your memory can remember, how did the band Aftermath get together?
Charlie: That is 25 years ago – a ton of weed and alcohol consumption since, so forgive me if the details are hazy. The story is pretty simple. I had met Ray Schmidt through my brother, we jammed in a band for awhile nothing but basement shit. I went to High School with Steve Sacco and we met up in our freshmen year of college and decided to write some music together and see how it sounded. We ripped through some songs and felt it was pretty cool and interesting so I asked Ray to play drums. We added Adam on bass – a friend recommended him. So on Halloween night (October 31st) 1985 Aftermath jammed together as a band for the first time. At that moment, we all decided to be the fastest band on the planet and still audible.
MC: What were the first few months of the band like? Did you go through a lot of line-up changes and how fast did songs come together?
Charlie: The music came along quick we jammed 3 or 4 times a week and by June of 1986 we played our first live gig at a local club called Snob’s – we played with Terminal Death and Devastation. They were death metal and we were nothing like that, but the speed won the crowd over. The line up stayed the same for both the first demo and Killing the Future – so we were together with the original line-up for over a year. As the band began to grow – we wanted a better bass player because the music was getting more technical. We replaced Adam with John Lovette on bass. John was the fastest bass player ever – he played the bass like a guitar player – we later found out he never played bass before joining the band. He was a guitar player that told us he played bass because he wanted to be in the band badly. Eventually, we wanted a second guitar player. As we became heavier a second guitar player was necessary. We kept searching and no one could cut it, so out of nowhere John says I can play guitar and he blew us away – John is one strange dude - for months we auditioned tons of players and he said nothing. We switched John to guitar and searched for a new bass player. It became Spinal Tap with the bass players we went through: Adam, John, Danny Vega, Pat Delagarza and finally Chris Waldron.
MC: Looking back what are your thoughts on your 1st demo? Can you still listen to Aftermath stuff?
Charlie: I didn’t listen to Aftermath at all for years. Recently, we started to get some interest from several labels to release some vinyl or box sets. So I went back and started to listen to all the shit we recorded over the years. I can now listen to it as a fan. I can enjoy it and not be overly critical. I can’t believe how original it was. The first demo had the worst recording quality. The songs were cool, but the recoding needed to be better. It was done on 2 tracks (a music track and a vocal track). We did it all in one session with no overdubs - basically a rehearsal vibe. I can’t believe how much we changed over the years. I have just recently burned it all – I mean all our recordings onto cd and I can honestly say I am really proud of it all.
MC: How did you end up using the name Aftermath? Do you know of any other band trying to use it?
Charlie: Like every other band in history, the name search is harder than the music. I was working security at O’Hare airport in Chicago (the busiest airport in the world at the time) and instead of screening bags for weapons and drugs, I was creating lists of band names. Aftermath was the one that we all liked. We weren’t aware of any other Aftermath when we picked the name; they all came out after us. I am shocked today to see bands still using that name. Don’t they use Google?
MC: What were you guys like and who did you share the stage with and did you think you were a good live band?
Charlie: We were pretty tight live – musically and vocally pretty dead on. The band line up changed over time so did the performance. I think we were pretty cool as a live act – think we were becoming a really great band live at the end. We only played 33 gigs in ten years. So you could imagine we were still growing as a live act. I listen to some of those gigs now and realize how killer the songs sounded. We had some pretty aggressive mosh pits and fights would break out often. We played with a lot of national acts including: Mercyful Fate, Solitude Aeturnus, Sacrifice, Crumbsuckers, Flotsam and Jetsam, Cynic, Mind Funk, Trouble, Cyclone Temple, Metal Fest 7, 8 and 9, Carcass, Pitchshifter and Macabre. Plus a ton of local bands.
MC: Are there any videos up on You Tube at all and did you have a good local following?
Charlie: There were some videos on You Tube for some time, but You Tube pulled the videos – I guess they are pretty strict with copyrights. The videos were put up by fans. We will be putting some videos out as part of the box set we will be releasing called “When Will You Die.” So those will eventually make it on You Tube. Last night I found a video on You Tube for the songs “War for Freedom” and “When Will You Die” just the demo cover. It is cool to see fans take time to do that for our music. Also there are a bunch of Eyes of Tomorrow songs on there as well. We had a pretty big local following, we didn’t play a ton of local shows at every crappy club like a lot of other bands, so our shows locally were more like an event. Few and far between made the live shows more special for the fans.
MC: Did you get to play out of town much?
Charlie: We played in Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Detroit plus some small towns in Illinois, but most of our gigs were in Chicago. We were offered to swap gigs with out of time bands all the time, but we were a little spoiled. In Chicago, we had big crowds and going on the road to play to small crowds was something we didn’t want to do. Today, I think we should have played more.
MC: I thought the band was very different from a lot of the bands out there, did many people "get" the band or not?
Charlie: We agree the band was unique, which is often a drawback, it seems being too original is negative while a band is in existence. In our case, we had a pretty large following locally and a ton of fan mail from around the world. I just recently scanned over 200 fanzine and magazine reviews (Including the first issue of Metal Core). The reviews were truly amazing – so I guess people got it.
MC: How many demos did you end up putting out and is there any unreleased stuff lying around that might see the light of day one day?
Charlie: We officially released 3 demos for sale – the 1986 demo, Killing the Future (1987) and Words that Echo Fear (1989). We also recorded a demo in 1990 for Roadrunner and a 1996 demo. Those demos were for record companies only. They will be included, however, on the box set. So there are a total of 5 demos and the record. We will also include some live performances as well.
MC: Do you still have a lot, of the old zines and press clippings on the band stashed away somewhere?
Charlie: Like I said earlier, I just scanned 200 magazine and fanzines, they will make it on the multimedia part of the box set. There were literally hundreds of reviews over the years and I can’t believe 95% were really positive. A lot of them I no longer have, I wished I had all of them.
MC: What are some good memories you have of the band and some bad ones?
Charlie: Our last show in Chicago is our greatest memory; we headlined the Freefest in downtown Chicago. The crowd was huge over 6,000 fans – the weather was perfect- the sun was setting – it was special. We didn’t know it was going to be our last show as Aftermath. Looking at it now it was an amazing ending. The next couple of months with the Dr. Dre battle were the low point of the band. We went from the high of that last gig to a battle for our name and ultimately the future of Aftermath. But the lowest point of our career came when Big Chief went bankrupt in the middle of the recording session for Eyes of Tomorrow. We are working on our debut record that we now had no label for that really fucked everything up.
MC: If you could turn back time what are some things you might do differently as far as the band goes?
Charlie: As I said earlier we should have played more live gigs.
MC: If I am not mistaken you were on a Metal Forces comp LP right? If I am how did you get on that and how was the exposure being on that for the band?
Charlie: We were on that record. It was a major honor to be selected for the Metal Forces Comp. Only 5 bands were selected from around the world. Metal Forces and Bernard Doe were extremely influential in the underground metal scene. Metal Forces was the coolest magazine at the time. We submitted the Killing demo for a review, we never sent it in to be included on the Comp. We got a call from Bernard Doe asking us if we would like to be included on Scream Your Brains Out. Of course, we agreed. The exposure was great. It would have been bigger if it was released on cassette, but it was only a vinyl release, which today it makes it more special and unique.
MC: At times was it frustrating for the band not getting signed and seeing all these other bands getting signed?
Charlie: We received several offers from several indies like New Renaissance and several others early on. But, we wanted to sign to a bigger indie like Metal Blade, Combat, Roadrunner, etc. So we decided to wait for those deals to come. Eventually, we got a demo deal with Roadrunner in 1990. To be honest, we should have gotten a deal prior to 1990 by one of the big indies. The band was getting massive magazine attention and amazing reviews, the demos were groundbreaking and if the band was signed before 1990, then the record would have been ahead of its time.
MC: What were some crazy things you saw at some of your shows and does Chicago still have a healthy metal scene now?
Charlie: We saw a ton of fights at the shows. The metal heads vs. the hard core kids, it was funny to see them both into the same songs in the same pit. The metal scene has always been strong in Chicago. However, today the scene is different from back then; Chicago was known around the world for its metal scene. All the bands in the scene then sounded different, but they were all metal so it was special. It was the early days of thrash and some of us were there at the beginning of a new genre that is not the case today. Now Chicago is known for Disturbed in the Metal world, a band whose member were around in various bands in the 80s that was never accepted back then – how strange is that?
MC: Do you still get into the old thrash and death metal bands?
Charlie: I still listen to the pioneers of the scene, it was trailblazing. We are proud to be there at the beginning and honored to hear all the new thrash bands of today paying tribute to our scene.
MC: So tell me a bit about the last few weeks of the band.
Charlie: As I said earlier, the end of the band came after our court case with Dr. Dre. The judge ruled that Dre could use our name and that it would have no impact for us. We disagreed, if we wanted to appeal the judge’s order, then we needed to post a bond in court. A bullshit bond of $1 million dollars was required for the right to continue the court case to the next level. Basically, the bond killed the case. So the last weeks of the band were spent on legal issues. At the end, we decided to end the band and create a new one. If Dre never came a long or if we won the case, then Aftermath would have continued – what would have resulted is impossible to say.
MC: What did you do after the band broke up and how did you end up in the band you’re in now?
Charlie: Like I said earlier, we formed Mother God Moviestar – wrote an album, recorded it and toured. We ended that band after the tour and I basically stayed out of music for some time. The other guys went on to have regular lives. Some got married and had kids. Eventually John and I formed Stripping the Pistol.
MC: What kind of music is it and are you signed or unsigned?
Charlie: The band is original - heavy and melodic at the same time. Really political. The dual vocals make it cool. The music is even cooler live. The band is unsigned and we have no desire to get a deal. We went through the label shit early on, we showcased for ten labels. They were all there ready to sign us. The performance was our first live one as a band, we had recorded a three song demo that our manager had sent to the labels and the buzz was huge. He just done the Soil deal with J Records and it was a huge deal, so they wanted to hear what he was managing next. We weren’t ready to showcase, we weren’t ready to play live. We recorded the demo to hear what we were creating and then the music world heard it and wanted to see it live. A bad move on our part. The demo was recorded with Matt Walker (the Smashing Pumpkins, Filter) on drums. We finalized our lineup with Joe Nunez (Soulfly) on drums and became a great live act. Even Roy Thomas Baker (Queen Producer) wanted to work with the band; he told us that our song “Sunshine in the Rain” was the best song he heard in 20 years. We ultimately refused to work with him because he wanted us to make some songs mellower. Matt Pinfield called our song “Black Reflections” an anthem and wanted to sign us to Columbia Records, he was fired as the major labels started to die. We released a vinyl on Floga Records available on flogarecords.com. It has 8 songs on it.
MC: A few years back an Aftermath CD came out. How did this come about and did the band have any input in it and what are your thoughts on the CD?
Charlie: Eyes of Tomorrow was recorded in 1991 and was to be released on Big Chief Records. The label went bankrupt in the middle of the recording of that record. The studio bill took years to payoff, which we did and we decided to release it on Zoid Recordings our own label with my brother as the President of the label and the band’s manager. We sold out the original Zoid pressing quickly, it was released in 1994. I just heard that the original Zoid pressing was sold for $270 on eBay recently. I wish I had some to sell. We then partnered with Thermometer. They pressed more copies and cassettes (believe it or not). Thermometer eventually goes under also. By 1998, we rerelease the record on Black Lotus Records (Greece). The record was meant to be released in 1990, by the time it is originally released on Zoid and later rereleased on Thermometer and Black Lotus – metal was dead. Grunge (I hate that word) killed metal in 1991 and we were releasing a metal record in the middle of the worst period in metal. By 1998, bands like Korn were ushering in a new kind of metal and bands like Aftermath were not what was in.
MC: I know there is a My Space page on the band. How has the response been on the page and has the band reconnected with any old bands/fans etc?
Charlie: The MySpace page was created and maintained until now by a fan Chris Aubert (Ripping Headaches zine). Because of the upcoming release of the box set and vinyl, I am becoming more active on the page. We have reconnected with fans and zine writers recently. It is cool to talk to people from back then. The internet is great for spreading the word.
MC: Do you miss the old days of dubbing tapes and mailing stuff at the post office?
Charlie: Those were amazing days. It was new and fresh. We were taking on the world - it felt that way to us- at least we thought so. It cost a lot of money back then to spread the word, dubbing and mailing tapes was a lot of money for us. If we had the internet back then, the music would be spread instantly. The point of releasing the music was for people to hear it and the MySpace and Facebook pages make that possible. It would have been cool to have those tools back then. Would you not agree? How cool would have been for Metal Core issue one to be released instantly to thousands of possible readers.
MC: Where do you see the metal scene going in the next few years?
Charlie: I think metal will always be around in one form or another. As a young kid how can you not get into metal – the aggression of metal cannot be replicated. I think metal is returning to its roots, I mean its thrasher roots. Guitar solos are back, great players are back. Now all you need is a new Metallica to give the scene a shot in the ass. Not sure if there is a band out there right now that can do that.
MC: Ever see any Aftermath stuff being sold on EBay and places like that?
Charlie: Sorry I answered this question earlier; I should have gone through the entire interview questions I guess. Well besides the cd I already mentioned, I have seen other Aftermath material sold on eBay. It is still cool to see people bidding on our stuff after all these years. The Words that Echo Fear demo just sold for $42.
MC: Charlie, good luck with the new band and everything and thanks for going down memory lane with me any last words the floor is yours.
Charlie: Chris thanks for the time and interview. Thanks for the support with Aftermath and the support of Stripping the Pistol. In closing, look for the release of our Box Set on Area Death Productions out by the end of this year. It celebrates 25 years of Aftermath with a 4 disc set (three music and on dvd). The booklet will include rare flyers and reviews and interviews. It is a complete retrospective of the band; we would like to thank Filippo of Area Death for the release. Also, in 2011 we will release the demos on vinyl through FOAD (Italy) Thanks to Marco for that release. We are considering putting the band back together for some shows in 2011 to promote the releases. We want to thank all the fans for the support over the years. Long Live Metal!!