An Interview with Atheist’s Kelly Shaefer…
Greetings there! I must say that this is a dream come true to interview such a legendary musician that I have followed the releases for many years. Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity. As usual, I’d like to ask you to, please, introduce yourself to our readers.
Well it’s my pleasure my friend…truly! I am Kelly Shaefer Screamer/Singer, shit talking, dead honest extraordinaire!
I’m not going to ask you about your previous releases or past histories. This interview is about the man behind the music and, if you’re able to tell us, about your future albums. So, I’ve read that you were composing a follow-up to Jupiter to be released in 2013. Can we still expect a new Atheist album soon; maybe now in 2014, if possible? And, if you can or feel like telling us, which were the reasons why the album wasn’t released last year?
Well these albums take a while to clear the mental space for, once we commence to actual writing it comes together quickly, but we in the last 20 years have grown up, and grown wiser about how to tap into the spirit of this music, and everyone needs to be fully committed to be able to put all of this chaos together in some sort of audio medium.
This album will be unique in that Myself, Tony Choy, and Steve Flynn will be writing together for the very first time…the only songs we ever actually worked on as a trio were at the very end sessions of Unquestionable Presence. When we lost Roger Patterson, we had not quite finished 2 songs, Mother Man, and “And the Physcic Saw”, so tony helped finish those with myself and steve.
So as you could imagine, I can’t wait to put this album together. But it will be a 2015 thing!
Connected to the previous question, Kelly, you’ve already mentioned that the new album will be a different child, with new ideas. Is there a possibility for you to tell us a bit about this album, nothing to spoil it, of course. Will we ever hear that “more jazzy elements/ feelings” that characterized Atheist albums?
One thing you must know is that Atheist is a “spontaneous combustion” of audio flames and we never really know how that flame will burn and what the results will be.
We literally get in a room and combust, and whatever happens… happens. I would love to give you some fabulous story about how we carefully prepare the chord changes, and use algebra to conduct structures of songs…blah!!! It has always been about keeping it organic and unbridled. We get our minds right, click the sticks and blow it the fuck out. We know if our hair stands up that its keepable. It’s really quite simple 🙂
You are also on a band called Stone of Madness. Can you tell us a bit about it? Be it about how it was formed, the style, lyrical themes, new tours, whatever you’d like to share with us.
Super excited about this band. We just released our debut EP in April, and the full length will be out in October.
I had been working with Scott Thompson, who used to play with Dry Kill Logic, and he wrote some really great music, and he asked me to sing on it, we worked really well together and decided after the reaction to the demos, that we would do a record, and so it’s on!!
It’s a entirely different animal than Atheist, this my singing side, harmonies and thick guitars, big chorus’s, and groove. Very catchy but crunching, and a ton of fun live.
We hope to head to Europe to do some shows, that people will check out the EP on our website www.stonesofmadness.com or on Itunes, Google Play, Spotify, etc. It’s fucking solid groovy metal, with some great guitar performances, and easily the best vocals my throat has allowed me to produce. 🙂 I expect it to be around for a long while.
Being a highly recognized musician, considered one of the godfathers of a metal style and after being on the musical “business” for over twenty years, I’d like to ask you about the driving force that motives you to keep involved with music. Tell us if you ever think about “retirement” when it comes to bands (hopefully you don’t!)
Well thanks for that sir. I’m humbled… but Oh man!! That is like asking me if I have ever thought about not breathing lol. Music is who I am, so as long as I “am”, I shall create music and paint, and just try to be creative. Some have Heroin, I have music.
It is not like a “job” in which you retire from now is it? I am always creating something musically, as well as painting, or cooking. These are things that are sewn into my fabric. Retirement is for accountants 🙂
In addition to the previous question, do you feel that you have already accomplished everything in music with Atheist or do you feel that you still have more goals to reach?
No way, we still have many mountains to explore so much to do so little time…
We have a shitload more to say musically. I think it will be a refreshing reminder of what is truly important in metal in moving forward. And it’s not about being all pro tooled out, and having everything so over produced, with structures of non memorable, collections of wanking, with no regard for the “song”.
As I said during press for the JUPITER album, we cannot go faster, or heavier…everyone has pushed those boundaries to beyond a tolerating level. So it is important for good songwriting to now take center stage…technicality wears many hats and does not always have to be non memorable chaotic circus music.
Tony Choy Steve Flynn and Myself, for the very first time? Writing an album w 2 superb guitar players Jason Holloway, and Chris Martin? It’s gonna be crazy… I can’t wait to hear it 🙂
Kelly, I ask this question very often to the musicians I interview. It’s something that I enjoy getting to know your/ their thoughts and feelings over this matter. I truly believe that music is one of the few things that no one can take away from us, at least the love for music. And it helps us, it supports us, comforts us in hard periods of our lives. Your music has sure helped me and I am 100% sure that helped many, many others. Has anyone told you about this, that your music has helped them through tough periods and how do you feel about this?
Well yes, over the years I have heard some great stories about our music and it’s relationship with the listeners…a college math professor who graded papers while listening to Atheist…to a certain hi profile euro metal singer who kicked drugs in the woods of Norway in the snow camping with only Atheist and Obituary cassettes….kids in Bahgdad,fucking risking their lives to listen to our music, I have no words for what that means, that is true wealth to me, not being a millionaire. Because a millionaire cannot buy those stories, and that connection with that many lives…music is SO important, and to me as essential as air I breath.
I feel very lucky to have taken part in so many people’s memories of growing up to our music. I have those relationships w Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin… I have so many scenes in my life with that as the soundtrack. I feel lucky to have made some music that others have in their cinematic portrayal.
Maybe, in a way, connected to the previous question and this is now perhaps more a compliment than a question itself, you are among my “friends” on a social media and from what I read, I have to say that, honestly, I think you are a very good person; the way you treat your daughter, your girlfriend, the fans, people that you don’t even know personally, this is not something that common these days and for that I congratulate you. So, I do believe that you are a very happy person, like the next regular guy that likes metal and a joyful life. Can you share with us the secret or the Kelly Shaefer philosophy of life? Your life motto, perhaps?
Oh brother we all have our days of rain, and its equally as important as having sunny days, it sculpts us and makes us who we are. To me, I will always feel so grateful to be alive to see my beach, crank great tunes, write music, smell the air, kiss my girl, hug my child, play my guitar, I mean I really think about it a lot.
When people ask how I am a common reply is “Its good to be alive” isn’t it sad that it’s not a “common” reply? I don’t try to grow up, but I try to grow wise. And I try to love like it’s my last day…. every day.
Again something related to music, do you have any regrets, something that you’d change if you had the opportunity concerning your releases, shows, etc.?
Well of course, much like the analogy of the sunshine and the rain… you have to have the, ups and downs, but every pencil you drop, every move u make is connected to the next, and if you change any of that? Well then that is a different voyage to me. So I would change very little.
The biggest regret would be having my best friend and fucking MONSTER bass player “Roger Patterson” back here on earth to enjoy his importance in extreme metal. Really brought the bass to a height in extreme technical metal at a young age that inspired so many. I only wish he could be here… he would be such a beast !!
This is a question that have been asked many times, but, again, it’s something that I like “listening” the opinions of the musicians. And they do tend to be different, I should add. How do you feel about the musical industry nowadays? Do you think that illegal downloads are destroying the bands or, in some sort of way, helping promoting them at least for concert’s ticket sales? And what about the merchandising bootlegging, how do you feel about it?
Well I would ask anyone how they felt if they bought a car through a bank, and paid lots of money for said car, and when anybody felt like it they could drive your car around without paying a dime? Music does not seem to carry the same importance as books for instance. Now many great things have happened in the wake of all of this new technology, and the earning branches have changed as a result. Shows are now far more expensive, it has become the main way for bands to stay alive. On the other hand many new bands have the ability to market themselves, and that becomes a powerful tool. It’s bitter sweet.
What are your main interests outside the musical world? I’ve read somewhere that you enjoy painting. Is there a site that we could check your painting works?
Yes I love painting, thanks for asking it is https://www.facebook.com/pages/ArtofKelly/254903434580123 only about 80 of my paintings are there but please click like while you are there.
Painting is the sister obsession to music for me. Equally expressive and open to interpretation which I love. I have been painting since the dawn of the 21st century. (Sound better than early 2000’s lol). I have luckily sold, and shared paintings on both sides of the water.
Someday I hope to just cap my life by doing nothing but painting, and smoking out, listening to music, and enjoying my final days. I will be offering a series of limited edition prints of my work in early 2015. Or you can write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Twitter @kellyfknshaefer
Kelly, thank you so much for answering this interview. It really means a lot to a guy that started listen to your music so long ago (good thing you started young!) and never thought it would be possible to interview you someday. I really appreciate this. Do you have any last words for our readers?
Well the pleasure is all mine and I think the readers should know that you have great patience in that it took me a couple of months to finally get this to you… but in my defense, I’m the only one who does press for Atheist online and most of the interviews are written out like this one so you could imagine the amount of time it takes to answers 12-20 questions about a very long and detailed history of this band. So sometimes it takes a moment to get it done but you were a gentleman about it, and your questions were very enjoyable and interesting so thank YOU!!!
Kelly Shaefer – Vocals Atheist/Stones of Madness
Follow me on Twitter @kellyfknshaefer
All pictures belong to their rightful owners.July 20, 2014