-- After All gets shredded --

Stijn Daneels
I received a warm invitation to have a talk with a couple of artists during the Evil Or Die Festival. The first of them was After All's guitarist Dries Van Damme. For those people who, like me, were a fan of the Studio Brussel radio program "De Zwaarste Show" that name will certainly sound familiar. So this was an interview that I was really looking forward to!

So obviously we talked about "De Zwaarste Show" and After All's freshly released beast called Waves of Annihilation. But you all know I'm a curious guy so I also wanted to know what the message is behind the band name After All, the warm welcoming their received when they shared the stage with Judas Priest in 2012 and finally we poked a bit of fun at Metallica.

BMS: Hi Dries! I've got to say I'm honored to talk to the host of the now defunct radio show "De Zwaarste Show" on Studio Brussel. I was a huge fan of your program and I've got to know several bands thanks to your show. Why did Studio Brussel retire it?
Dries: "De Zwaarste Show" was a long-running radio program and I was its host for more than five years and enjoyed it a lot. But you know, at Studio Brussel a lot of shows and personnel come and go so looking back it was a small miracle that "De Zwaarste Show" managed to survive for so long. But to answer your question, one day Studio Brussel's management simply decided to abolish the show without given me nor the public a valid reason to do so.

Dries: Still, I had a lot of fun in presenting all this great, heavy music to the public and there still were a lot of people who frequently tuned in to "the Zwaarste Show." Ok, Studio Brussel still plays an occasional heavy metal tune but they just keep on recycling songs like Motörhead's Ace of Spades, Iron Maiden's Fear of the Dark or Metallica's Enter Sandman. No disrespect to these aforementioned bands, but there is so much more awesome stuff to discover.
BMS: I agree. Nowadays the folks at Studio Brussel play Metallica's latest single, Hardwired to Self-Destruct on a daily basis.
Dries: Since you were a fan of "De Zwaarste Show" you can check out my weekly radio show called "Arte Neuten Kraken." You can listen to it on the program's Facebook page and live every Thursday on 20.00 H at www.vbro2.be. It's more or less a spiritual successor to "De Zwaarste Show."

BMS: Then I have to check it out. Now let's talk about After All. First off, congratulations on releasing your ninth full album this year, called Waves of Annihilation. Your band has built up an impressive, consistent repertoire in its 26 year existence!
Dries: Thank you, Stijn! Waves of Annihilation's production was a rather slow process. Its predecessor, Dawn of the Enforcer saw the light of day in 2012 and then we spent about a year and a half on touring. In addition, before Waves of Annihilation we had the habit of fully composing every song for an new After All album before going into studio for recording and mixing. For Waves of Annihilation we decided to split the album's production.

Dries: The album has ten tracks and we went no less than three times into the recording studio. The first time we recorded and mixed three songs of the album. In July 2015, we released these three songs on a limited edition EP called Rejection Overruled. Nine months after these first recordings we returned to the studio to wrap up another four songs and half a year later we went back one more time to record and mix the final three songs for Waves of Annihilation.

Dries: That way, we had much more time to get everything nicely canned. Plus we didn't have record deal at the time nor did we have any project in mind with the songs. We just recorded them and eventually decided that this newly produced material would fit well for a new After All full length release.

Picture by Karina Wijckhuyse.
BMS: I'd say a four year period between releasing two full albums isn't all that long. As long as the band remains active through touring or social media. I believe it takes time to write great new material. After all, creativity needs time to grow. What are After All future projects?
Dries: Although the band is very active we didn't do a lot of shows these past few years. Now that we've got a new album out, we want to put more attention on going out and performing. And hopefully come up with a new song or two while we're at it.
BMS: I'm actually curious what the significance is behind the name of your band.
Dries: To explain the context behind the name After All I'll have to take you back to the band's beginnings. Our band's sound has gone through many subtle changes over the years. Back in 1988, our band was known as At Last and that year we released a demo that was thrash metal with a slight death metal tone. Around the mid 1990s we shifted to a slower, more melodic sound, inspired by traditional heavy metal. However, in the past ten years we regained our thrash tendencies and managed to make our style both technically sound and aggressively fast.

Dries: So although the band name After All doesn't mean much on its own, it does allow us to continuously redefine our sound without the risk of alienating our fans. Let's take a band like Rotting Christ, for instance, with a name like that, you don't expect they'll be playing joyful power metal. Some goes for other bands that have dark, morbid names such as Cradle of Filth, Obituary and Cannibal Corpse.

Dries: That idea of making certain names synonymous with certain metal subgenres was one of reasons why people were poking fun at Metallica after they released their black album in 1991. As you know, Metallica's sound on that particular album was a lot different compared to their earlier work.
BMS: Yup! Metallica went from Metal Up Your Ass to Nothing Else Matters!

Picture by Karina Wijckhuyse.
Dries: A fun fact regarding the name After All is that back when we thought about calling ourselves After All, we didn't know that back in the 1960s there was a hippie prog rock band named After All. There also was a band in Canada and another one in the Netherlands that were also called After All. But I'd say that after all, we've become the most successful.
BMS: I saw on your band's Facebook page that in 2012 you had a show alongside Saxon and Judas Priest. Share with me your memories about the event.
Dries: It was a very fun and memorable experience and the fact the we were allowed to share the stage with the Metal Gods in a sold-out Lotto Arena certainly remains one of After All's greatest achievements. I was pleasantly surprised at how warm and friendly Judas Priest treated us that day. Two roadies from the band gave us technical support and we were also able to meet a few of the Priest members and seeing how Rob Halford himself came out to watch our show from the side of the stage.
BMS: Well, in case I walk into Rob Halford one day I'll be asking him to warmly and friendly autograph my copy of Painkiller!

Picture by Karina Wijckhuyse.
BMS: You also played at Graspop and Alcatraz. What do you remember from those shows?
Dries: Just like you (your t-shirt says it all) I'm a huge Iron Maiden fan. So it was a pretty epic moment to play on the same day as Maiden at Graspop, even though they were on top of the lineup and we were at the bottom of that same lineup. Maiden had the big stage and we had the smaller one. Still, we had a great time there.

Dries: As for Alcatraz, it was one of the earlier editions of the festival. At the time, Alcatraz took place indoors and in Deinze rather than in Kortrijk. The night was fun, since we got to share the stage with great bands such as Helloween and Death Angel.
BMS: What other activities do you do in life?
Dries: Aside from After All and my radio show I own an editorial office. I mainly focus on writing about IT and technology. Frederic is a logistics manager, Christophe works as a transport planner. Bert works as a medical assistant in a hospital here in Roeselare and finally Sammy is an operator at Cargill, which is an oil refinery.
BMS: All right. Do you have anything else you want to say before we wrap this up?
Dries: Have you already seen us live or heard our latest album?
BMS: No for both questions. But I'm going to get Waves of Annihilation today (and autographs!) and I'm sure to catch up with you on stage tonight. Thank you for your time, Dries!

After All, you've got shredded!
After All - The Unusual Sin