-- At The Front gets shredded --

Stijn Daneels
Back when I was writing a preview for Devils Rock For An Angel one of the bands I didn't know of before was At The Front. And after hearing a little teaser for the EP they released in 2015 I was more than interested in getting them shredded alongside other bands like Lemuria and the Emperors of Decay!

And right after the show, me and the ATF guys went outside for some fresh air and to talk about the band's philosophy, the band members' memories of seeing Pantera live on stage, the production of their EP and Geert's particular set of skills.

BMS: Hello there. How did At The Front got out to the front?

Geert: You talk about the band's beginnings? Well, me and the guys started out as a cover band but one day we decided to make our material. Back in the day ATF was a three piece band with me doing both bass and vocals until eventually we recruited Mario to replace me on bass while I went to rhythm guitar.

Bruno: Geert had a lot of material in his mind and together we transformed that into fully written songs.
Geert: Yeah, my main goal was to give ATF an unique sound and personality. I'd describe our sound as inspired by 90s thrash and groove metal. Something in the vein of Pantera or Sepultura. We certainly had fond memories of seeing Pantera live on stage!

BMS: Ah, you saw Pantera! That's a band that I always wanted to see! Tell me how they were?
Geert: Pantera was a one of a kind band. Their sound, attitude and philosophy was so brutally down-to-earth! They played what they wanted to play and they didn't care about what other people thought of them.

Mario: I agree with Geert. At the time Pantera's sound felt both fresh and familiar! That combined with the band's take-no-shit attitude helped make the band as legendary as they are today. Even now, almost 15 years since Pantera disbanded, they still remain one of the most well-known and inspirational bands of all time!

Bruno: And we as ATF share Pantera's attitude! We go out and do our own thing and we're fully committed to our sound.
Geert: Our past as a cover band did help us in defining ATF's overall sound. Back then we covered pretty much every music genre you could think of! From pop artists like Madonna to industrial like Rammstein to hard rock like AC/DC. Hell, we even played Father Abraham! That's why I've grown myself a Father Abraham beard!
BMS: And the beard looks great! Hell, you even look a bit like Liam Neeson. I guess you also have a very particular set of skills!
Geert: And these skills make me a nightmare for people that criticize ATF's music! So beware! Ha, ha!

BMS: Tell me what the meaning is behind the name At The Front?
Mario: The name At The Front has several meanings. First, it describes our mentality, we play hard-hitting metal that's easy to enjoy and that sticks in your head after you finished listening to it. Furthermore, we live in a world where everything is a battlefront. Everybody has or will eventually have to face some kind of battle! It may be war or anarchy but it may as well be unemployment, financial difficulties, a divorce or a life threatening disease!
BMS: You're right. Life is always a struggle but a man has to get at the front and fight! Something else, tell me about the production of your EP.
Geert: In 2015 we decided to put six of best songs on record and we scrolled through the internet to find a suitable recording studio. Our choice went to the Shellshock recording studio in Knokke because bands like Eternal Breath and Atomic Vulture had also recorded material there to satisfying results. And we too are very happy with Shellshock. They did a great job in providing excellent sound quality for the EP.
BMS: What are your other activities aside from ATF?
Jim: Driving around the country with my motorcycle!
Bruno: Same for me.
Geert: I enjoy camping.
Mario: I often go see my son AƤron play with his band Eternal Breath. He also plays bass. Like father, like son they say! I'm very proud of him.

BMS: And both father and son got shredded in the span of two weekends! Now I hope to one day see both Eternal Breath and ATF play at the same event!
Mario: That's certainly a possibility.
Geert: Obviously we aren't that much focused on music as we were back twenty years ago. I recall back in the day when I was part of Evil Sinner that we didn't have much on our minds except for getting as many gigs and selling as much merchandise as possible! Now we've all got our jobs and families to support and that's where our main priority lies. We still love going out and playing music as much as we did back then, but we do it for fun, not to eventually get to a big stage like Graspop or Alcatraz. We enjoy every moment we spent with ATF and we hope to enjoy plenty more of such moments.

Bruno: But we do are grateful for the fact that there are plenty of young, talented metal bands around today that all help in keeping the spirit of metal alive! Plus we've got all those veteran bands from the 80s and 90s we have recently regained their vibe and decided to once again perform on stage and write new material!

Mario: And of course there still are many dedicated fans from all different ages and walks of life who go to concerts and buy merchandise! Our EP sells well and today we played in a packed venue! So this event has become everything we wanted it to be!
BMS: I couldn't agree more with you on those statements! Is there anything else you want to add?
Geert: We wish to dedicate this interview and our show at tonight's Devils Rock For Angel to our sound technician Renaat Danckaert who passed away four weeks ago from a stroke. Renaat and I played together as Evil Sinner and his style of bass play served as a huge inspiration for ATF and later on in his life he helped our band shine on stage! So Renaat, we miss you, we love you and we hope to meet you again in the afterlife!
BMS: May he rest in peace! And thank you for your time!

At The Front - Rise (live at Devils Rock For An Angel 2016)