Former ATHEIST Frontman Doesn't Rule Out Festival Appearances

Denmark's Antenna webzine recently conducted an interview with ATHEIST founder, guitarist and vocalist Kelly Shaefer. A couple of excerpts from the chat follow:

Antenna: Was it a surprise to you that there still is such an interest for the band?

Kelly Shaefer: "Yeah, of course. When we originally made these records we never imagined that we would be talking about them 15 years later, because people really didn't understand our music that much back then. So, yeah, it's nice and a pleasant surprise that people are embracing it and it played a role in influencing some of the newer metal bands. So yeah, it's a good surprise."

Antenna: What tricked the idea of re-issuing the ATHEIST albums?

Kelly Shaefer: "Just in the process of turning up copies for myself I realized that people were charging over 100 American dollars for them online, so that lead just me to believe that this was all crazy. I don't think people have to pay that much for it, so we gathered together a collection and I started about two and a half years ago trying to find the right label to do a really good job on it. Relapse definitely came to the table with the most enthusiasm and they treat them almost like new releases. That's were it all kind of started and those guys did a really great job and I'm glad to have them out there again."

Antenna: Have you thought of reforming ATHEIST?

Kelly Shaefer: "We'll never make another record, but there is a good chance that if the right situation came up that we would do some festivals next year, maybe. We have been talking about it and everybody is really into it. If the response sort of want us to return then I definitely would like to play those songs again, but for us to make another record would be stupid. I mean that would be sort of jading the integrity of what we made. We're just different people now so we wouldn't possible be able to write that kind of record. I'm not saying that we won't play and record together in the future in a different band. I would love to jam with [Steven] Flynn and [Rand] Burkey again. ATHEIST is ATHEIST and we want to leave it alone and leave it's legacy alone and not change it by trying to recreate what happened 10-15 years ago."

Antenna: ATHEIST was musically really different from what was released back when the band was still around. Do you feel that you first got the recognition that you so rightfully deserve after the band was dead and buried?

Kelly Shaefer: "Yeah, definitely that's the case. We never got the appreciation that we get now that's for sure. It took about eight years for people to kind of get, what we were doing and I appreciate it. It just kind of happens, when you're alone at top of a unique genre. Most people would tell me that they didn't understand, so they didn't understand what we were doing, so they didn't like it at that time, but after a number of years went by and people sort of look back on it and other bands were influenced by it, I think we got a lot more attention post-break up than we did while we were together."

Antenna: It's actually kind of weird because I remember seeing rave reviews of your albums all the time back then.

Kelly Shaefer: "We got some good reviews. I think a lot of the writers were kind of understanding it, not all of them, but altogether it was just that the fans of MORBID ANGEL and CANNIBAL CORPSE were just confused by what we were doing, specially in a live setting because there were so many time changes and so many different parts and they just weren't used to that, but as time has gone on now a lot of bands have sort of done it too. Like MESHUGGAH, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE and all these kind of bands are all using a lot of harmonies, guitars, and a lot of complicated riffing so it makes more sense now than ever. That's why I want these records to be treated like new releases because I feel they stand up against anything that is out there."

Antenna: Why did ATHEIST eventually disband?

Kelly Shaefer: "We just couldn't get along. We were so frustrated about everything that has happened. It was really hard to stay together. We didn't have any support from the label. The fans at that time was confused by us and it was really hard to find a band to tour with, because we were so different, so we became frustrated and decided to call it a day and leave it as it was."

Read the entire interview at


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