An Interview with Afterlife

Back In October I ran into a bunch of guys in a rock bar called Solid Rock while I was waiting for someone else. One of these guys was Iain Stratton who after a few words exchanged mentioned they had been in a band that I was familiar with and that he and his mates had started a new project. This was to be the Glasgow rock outfit known as Afterlife who were kind enough to let review their awesome debut E.P. ‘Alpha’. Ive now managed to catch a hold of the bands lead singer Pete McCoy and band guitartist Stewart Brown to reflect on the success of their intial outing and see what 2013 holds for them.

TL: On your website you said the band was born out of a lot of downtime. Would you care to elaborate further as to how band came together?

Stewart – Well Al (Reilly), Steve (Reilly) and Iain (Stratton) were playing in another band which had always been their main focus and took up a great deal of their time. But there was a point where that band became more or less totally inactive with no writing/rehearsing or gigging happening at all.  Being gigging musicians there was only going to be so much sitting about those guys could do.  Initially it was just a bit of chatter that would go back and forth for a few months between myself, Al, Steve and Iain about the possibility of getting together and trying to write some songs. The discussion built up to the point that there was a name for the band before there had even been one rehearsal! The 4 of us finally got together and realised that there was definitely something there musically that we could build upon. The following week we started and finished the search for a vocalist. We were very lucky to come across Pete!  It was actually a very quick process after that and we more or less had a couple of complete songs completely locked down after just a few rehearsals together.

TL: A lot of people talk about the band’s main influences being ‘Alter Bridge’ and ‘Black Stone Cherry’ being carried over from some of the band members days in ‘Logan’. Would you agree with this or is there a new direction to come with new music?

Stewart –  With Al, Steve and Iain all playing on the tracks, it’s going to be impossible to shake off those influences and that sound. I wouldn’t say showing our influences is something we’re conscious of when we’re writing. But I would say if you like Alter Bridge and BSC, then there is a good chance you’d like what we’re doing!

Pete – Most of us are huge fans of that American hard rock style, so its forms elements of the sound. While Al, Steve and Iain have been playing as a unit for years, I’d like to think Stewart and myself bring some fresh elements to the table. Stewart tends toward the Southern metal vibe in a lot of his song writing, whereas my vocal style takes more notes from older rock singers like Paul Rodgers and Freddie Mercury.

TL: Response to ‘Alpha’ was pretty positive. When writing it was it a case of just having fun and seeing what came out of it?

Stewart – In a way that was definitely how it started, just get together and see what happens. Although from that very first rehearsal, it was clear we had something that was not only fun, but had all the potential to be a serious project.

‘Alpha’ is really a perfect representation of us ‘seeing what happens’. We kind of sat on those songs for a while before we could get them out there for people to hear. Since then we’ve been getting so much positive feedback from the E.P. it’s been great.

Pete – There wasn’t much of a concerted effort to create a certain type of release or go in the studio with any sort of ‘vision’ in mind. We all brought pieces of our own ideas to the table and the end product was born out trying to fit them together while jamming, as opposed to any extensive out-of-studio arranging. We were still all finding our feet as a band and gelling as a unit, so much of it just came from putting on an instrument and getting tore in head first.

An Interview with Afterlife

TL: Did you guys have any particular songs that you enjoy recording/playing on the E.P?

Stewart – Personally I really enjoyed recording all of it!  It was really satisfying to sit back at the end of recording and listen to how well those songs transferred from the rehearsal room into studio recordings. At the moment I’d say ‘Never Fade’ is my favourite to play live, just because it’s a song that means a lot to all of us, and musically it has a lot of scope to it.

Pete – I’ve got to agree with Stewart. There’s always a special energy playing a song like ‘Never Fade’ especially since it means a lot to us. It’s about some fairly universal things in life, so the sentiment always translates really well to an audience in a live setting. As far as recording goes, I found the whole thing a blast. For me it was my first chance to record with a band, so I was in the unique opportunity of having all these riffs in front of me and pretty much carte blanche to put whatever I wanted to it, so I got to try loads of different ideas.

TL: What made you decide on ‘Don’t Come Cryin’ to Me’ as the single?

Stewart- Really it was just down to the fact we felt it had a little bit of everything in it, and would be a good song to showcase the kind of the thing to expect from us.  Heavy riffs, great lyrics, strong vocals along with a brutal guitar solo from Al!

Pete – We’ve also got a soft spot for the song since it was the first song we ever wrote as a band, and it defines us in many ways. To me it’s our no nonsense mantra. Go out there, kick ass and don’t let anyone tell you how to steer your ship.

TL: What have you guys got planned for 2013?

Stewart – 2013 is going to be all about getting out and playing wherever we can, specifically up and down the UK.  The internet is a great tool for getting your music heard globally, but nothing will ever match that LIVE experience and hearing those songs being played right in front of you.  So in combination with releasing a full length album this year, reaching out and playing live shows in new towns and hopefully building a strong fan base are our main goals.

Pete – Aside from finding Izzy Hale from Halestorm and marrying her . . . gigging more all up and down the UK (and sample all the Bourbon we can on our travels), releasing our first Album, and getting to see the as-of-yet untapped potential in the other four awesome musicians I have the privilege to create music with every week.

An Interview with Afterlife

TL: ‘Alpha’ has quite an angry sound to it. With the exception of ‘Neverfade’ the momentum just keeps going. Is that something you plan to continue on the new album?

Stewart- At this point it’s quite hard to answer that simply because we haven’t decided exactly which new songs are going to make the album, although momentum wise I think we’re definitely looking to make a record that is just, BANG, BANG, BANG! Just great song after great song after great song. We want to create an album that is just consistently good all the way through, as you would! We really feel that we’re coming into our own, now that we’ve been playing together for nearly two years, so hopefully this album will show the fans how we’ve grown in that time.

Pete – Its one of those things you can never say for certain. So far our songs, for the most part are instrumentally complete before I start writing lyrics and melodies, so the music usually guides me with what I write and by virtue of being in a metal band, your writing naturally tends towards more aggressive subjects. For the album, we’re making a conscious attempt to be more open minded and focused in diversifying what we write so that everything else opens up as a result. In short, I’m hoping the album can strike a nice balance, but with such powerful riffs coming from all angles it’s hard not to make some angry metal!

TL: Do you have anything written or roughed out for the new record?

Stewart – Yeah we have quite a lot of the songs we expect to be on the new record written already, with a few of them at the demo stage just now. We’ve actually been playing 2-3 of the new songs live to see how they go down.  We’re definitely happy with what we’ve got so far, a nice mix of tracks too.  They’re not all just heavy songs or all just mellow songs, we’ve got a nice balance so far. You can only ever have one ‘debut’ album, so we want to make sure it’s the best it can be!

Pete – While we’ve got a lot of complete ideas, there’s still new ideas flying out of everyone’s heads in the studio, so I can foresee it being a really tough process once we have to chose what makes the cut.

TL: Will the new album be self produced?

Stewart – Yeah, to be honest at this stage we don’t feel we need an outside influence when it comes to the songs in terms of writing or producing. Our bass player Steve is a world class sound engineer and has worked with hundreds of bands over the years, when it comes down to actually recording the songs he has always great ideas sonically of we could add, or take away for that matter.

TL: You performed at Hard Rock Hell 2012 in Wales. Good Crowd?

Stewart – Yeah the crowd was really responsive.  We were actually on at the same time as Testament who where headlining the main stage, so we weren’t really sure what to expect, but we ended up with a great turn out.

Pete – It was a great experience. Despite being around for nearly two years now, we’re still getting our gigging feet wet, and to be able to do one of our early shows at something like Hard Rock Hell was truly a test of our metal.

TL: Did you manage to enjoy any of the festival when you where there?

Stewart – Absolutely! We managed to check out a few of the bands before and after we performed. My personal highlight was getting to see Ugly Kid Joe, who I’ve loved since I was about 17 years old.

Pete – Definitely UGK. They were flawless. I’d never been a major fan but I was blown away by their set.

An Interview with Afterlife

TL: You had a few gigs under your belt in support slots for Terrorvision and Attica Rage. What where they like to support?

Stewart – Supporting Terrorvision was excellent, it was a very last minute gig with us only being announced the week before, but we’re always ‘gig ready’ and it was a good chance to introduce ourselves to an audience who aren’t necessarily a ‘Hard Rock’ or ‘Metal’ crowd.  But we seemed to go down well and got a lot of good feedback.  Playing with Attica Rage was a fantastic night, it’s actually the first time we’ve played with another Scottish act on the bill and they’re a great bunch of guys.  I think I can speak for the rest of the band and say it was the gig highlight of year for us…maybe with the exception of supporting Thin Lizzy.

PeteTerrorvision was quite a test for us, since it was so last minute and as Stewart pointed out, not an act you’d tar with the “Hard Rock” brush, but I’d like to think we pulled it off. There can be a lot of fear for artists and bands when it comes to supporting acts that, on the face of it, might not gel with your genre. However, I’ve found that as long as you treat the audience with respect, are sincere and have belief in the music and the show you’re putting on then you’ll generally do well.

TL: The Thin Lizzy support gig must have been fun? How did that come about?

Pete – It was amazing! Definitely the highlight of our run so far and a brilliant way to end the year. As for how it came about, we got lucky I guess! I’m downplaying the work and graft that goes on behind the scenes from Steve (who still wears his managerial hat from time to time) of course, but I think with our little December run of gigs (HRH/Attica Rage) as well as Terrorvision in November and Nashville Pussy back in September, we showed that we were capable of pulling off a slot like that one a relatively big stage, so the powers of that be granted us the chance.

TL: You play ‘Les Fest 2013’ this year. It’s considered Scotland’s only Metal Festival. Looking forward to it?

Stewart – Very much so! After hearing how successful it was last year we’re all looking forward to helping make it an even better second year.  They’ve secured some really popular bands this year along with some really great up and coming bands.  So it looks to be a great weekend.

Pete Yeah, I can’t wait. Scotland needs more things like this to try and tie together the rock/metal scene in Glasgow. I’m sure it’ll be a great weekend.

TL: What records are you guys listening to these days?

Stewart – At the moment I’ve been listening to a lot of Anthrax and Sevendust. Also listening to a lot of an up and coming band from the US called Eye Empire, who’s debut album is ridiculously good.

Pete – My listening tastes are all over the place just now. I’ve been working my way through loads of different stuff from Pantera and Mastadon to Jeff Buckley and Radiohead. I did discover a relatively new blues/rock outfit from the UK called The Temperance Movement and fell in love with their ‘Pride’ EP. It’s like a mish-mash of Free, AC/DC, The Faces and Fleetwood Mac. I love my old microphone-stand-humping classic rock!

TL: What is your favourite album to listen to?

Stewart – Favourite album…that’s a tough one. I’d probably answer differently tomorrow but an album I’ve always come back to is Zakk Wylde’s ‘Book of Shadows’. It just really has a bit of everything and Zakk’s vocals on it are amazing. Pantera’s ‘Cowboys From Hell’ is another record I always stick on, it sounds as good now as it ever did!

Pete – Too tough to pin it down to just one, but Audioslave’s self-titled debut album is something that’s always stuck around and listen to it at least once every month. I’d loved Rage Against The Machine for years, but Soundgarden and a lot of other grunge bands passed me by when I was growing up and cutting my musical teeth, and that album made me fall in love with Chris Cornell’s voice!