18.11.06 text: Ada pics: Bart
FEW BANDS HAVE LEFT A MARK IN THE HISTORY OF EXTREME MUSIC AS DEEP AS ATHEIST HAS. IN TIMES WHEN DEICIDE WERE NAMED AMON AND OBITUARY CALLED XECUTIONER, FLORIDA-BASED ATHEIST COMPOSED AND PERFOMED MUSIC THAT NO ONE UNDERSTOOD BACK THEN. THE FOUR MEMBER BAND LOVED FAST METAL RIFFS THE SAME WAY THEY DID THE JAZZ TECHNIQUE AND COMPOSITION. THEY WROTE SONGS THAT WERE SUBSEQUENTLY LABELED AS FUNDAMENTALS OF TECHNICAL (DEATH) METAL. THIRTEEN YEARS AFTER THE ULTIMATE DEMISE OF THIS LEGEND, THE MEMBERS MET ONE LAST TIME TO REHEARSE FOR LIVE SHOWS THAT WOULD CELEBRATE THE UNQUESTIONABLY ORIGINAL MUSIC FINALLY GETTING ITS SHARE OF MASS APPRECIATION.
Atheist was a progressive thrash-death metal band from Bradendon, Florida, founded in 1985, under the original name R.A.V.A.G.E. (standing for Raging Atheists Vowing A Gory End), which was later shortened to Atheist. Their music displayed a high degree of technical musicianship execution, thrash metal influenced ferocity, and diverse musical arrangements. They combined fast metal riffs with jazz breakdowns, later even with some Latin music arrangements.
They recorded their debut album, Piece of Time, in 1988, but had to wait due to label issues until 1990 to release it. In 1991, bassist Roger Patterson died in a car accident and Atheist recruited Tony Choy (who also recorded albums with Cynic and Pestilence) to record their second album, the now classic Unquestionable Presence. Atheist disbanded for the first time in 1992, reuniting in 1993 and recording their last album Elements, fulfilling their contractual requirements, before disbanding for the second time. While the debut album Piece of Time was labeled by many as a classic technical death metal album, the Unquestionable Presence has become a huge step forward for Atheist in their technical ability, and jazz-influenced death metal, creating a landmark record in the history of metal. Although the bass parts on Unquestionable Presence were recorded by Tony Choy, the remarkable writing style of Roger Patterson gave these songs ever-present drive and fast technical breakdowns. The last album Elements came out as a great futuristic sounding jazz-metal that was very heavy, yet almost with no double bass drums. The album was based on a delicate jazz drumming, Latin rhytms, and triple quitar technical attack.
Relapse Records re-issued the band's three albums in late 2005, which came to be a huge success triggering an idea for Atheist to perform live shows one last time. In the beginning of 2006, Atheist announced to regroup in order to perform live during the summer and fall of 2006. The line-up Kelly Shaefer (vocals), Rand Burkey (quitar), Tony Choy (bass) and Steve Flynn (drums) had to be expanded by Gnostic guitarist Sonny Carson who handled all of Shaefers guitar duties due to Kelly’s persisting problems with tendonitis and carpal tunnel. For the Prague’s live show, Chris Baker of Gnostic had to fill in for Rand Burkey because of Rand’s legal troubles.
Adolf met Kelly Shaefer during their one and only live performance in Prague to document their legendary musical footprint, which marked the history of metal in the beginning of 90’s. Speaking about their difficult position in the scene, band’s philosophy, and current musical involvements, the interview provide a journey through the history of one of the most innovative and original bands in the history of extremely well played and original music.
Where exactly is located the hot warehouse, in which Atheist rehearsed in the early days?
It was in Bradenton, Florida. That’s where we grew up, and for this tour we rehearsed in Atlanta, Georgia, which is equally as hot. We always seem to find ourselves in super super hot places in the course of writing this music or rehearsing it. So, this atmosphere is perfect.
Back in those early days, your musical influences were Slayer, Rush, or Mercyful Fate. Was jazz also an influence then?
Yeah, Chick Corea, Frank Zappa, King Crimson: we were fans of well played music, people that are good musicians and certainly these guys are amazing. We just kind of took that same philosophy and turned it into metal. We have always been big Rush fans as well, we loved that drumming – that was a big influence in Steve Flynn (Atheist drummer). We love Slayer and we love Rush. We just combined the two and threw in a little bit of jazz and craziness that we would want to hear in a band. We did it at a time when people didn’t really understand it. In 1993, everybody was very confused, and it took until now for people to appreciate it. I’ve said before, I would rather have people appreciate it like that than sell a hundred thousand records any day. It’s much better to have a legacy than to sell records. This whole reunion thing is not about money. It’s just about celebrating these songs that we love and we worked so hard to write and to play for people that now appreciate it. So, the music community sort of caught up to our philosophy in metal, which was always very different. It’s very nice and rewarding.
Back in those days, what was your motivation to play music and rehearse endlessly? Was it driven by friendship with your peers at that time such as Obituary, Death or Morbid Angel or was it driven by your love for the music?
It was definitely love for the music. Obituary and all those guys - we all came up together, we were all starting at the same time but we were very much an outcast from that scene musically. We all played shows together with Morbid Angel, Obituary, and even Deicide and Malevolent Creation, Cynic. But we had a hard time finding bands to play with that were not just straight death metal. We toured with Cannibal Corpse, Candlemass, and Benediction. All those bands were very different than us. So, we found ourselves in front of audience that was confused by our music. They didn’t understand why we were putting jazz and technicalities in our music. We would always tell people that we enjoy musicianship. It’s about playing your instruments well. Back then, nobody understood that. In about 1996-97, bands like Dillinger Escape Plan started coming out with more musicianship. For that, it was really nice, so it’s a good time for us to come back. It took 13 years for people to get it, to get our music – better late than never.
Atheist, the name of the band was always a bit mystery. You had lyrics against religion, sing „we are our own God“ but you would never cross the line over to Satanism. Why did you stick to atheism so strictly?
I think organized religion is just a scam. It’s people trying to instill fear in other people and people trying to get groups of people to believe in what they believe. I believe that if I want to step into traffic and get run over and take my life, then I will. That’s God enough for me. That’s very powerful: I can take my own life. There’s no imaginary guy in the sky – I’ve never ever bought into that philosophy, and I think that people do that out of insecurity and not believing in themselves. They have fear, it’s instilled in religion. Religion instills fear in people, and we just choose to live our life without that fear. We believe in ourselves and we believe we can do whatever we want to do, and we call our own shots. Even though our side of the fence is very lonely so to speak, we don’t choose to be a part of the big group. I think when people feel comfortable, when a lot of people agree with them like ‘look I am Christian – all these people agree with me‘ they feel secure in then. But I can be standing by myself and I don’t agree with any of you people – I believe in myself. I’ve always been comfortable with that. Atheist is really a great name for a band. I doesn’t really even classify how we feel about religion. Because it’s almost an organization as well – Atheist. But it represents the best that we could find of no God, not believing in God. Believing a God is within us, within ourselves. If I want to be motivated by sheep things in a life, then I will and no imaginary guy in the sky has nothing do with it. I don’t believe in a tooth fairy – when you loose your tooth, you put it under your pillow – it’s the same shit as God. It’s bullshit. Santa Claus – bullshit, all of it.
The band name originally came from shortening your former name R.A.V.A.G.E., meaning Raging Atheists Vowing a Gory End …
That acronym was just because there was another band called Ravage, and they sounded like Dokken. We were like – no, we didn’t want to change our name at that point. So, we went like Raging Atheists Vowing a Gory End, and then we just finally dropped everything and said: Atheist, yes. That was a great powerful name for a metal band, and it’s held its own for all these years.
Since your music was not easily accepted, why have you toured with Cannibal Corpse after releasing Unquestionable Presence, and not with more similar bands such as Cynic?
Cynic wasn’t around when we did that, Cynic came after it. They were influenced by our first record, so they didn’t come up until then. So, at that time we didn’t have anybody else to tour with. We were both on Metal Blade. We just wanted to have a tour and opportunity to play for a lot of people. At that time, most people were into just straight death metal, so we thought we could win them over but we didn’t have a lot of luck. Those fans were very confused by our music and they would yell things like ‘you suck!’, and we would be like – OK, we suck and Cannibal Corpse is great. It was really tough and frustrating for us. Inevitably, it caused us to call it a day. We were like – if people are not appreciating this, then why are we doing this? We want to make music that people would be interested in. If they didn’t like our art, then we would make some different art. So, we walk away from it plus loosing Roger Patterson was a tough blow for us. We all grew up together, we were friends since we were little kids, and it just wasn’t the same anymore, which is why that we don’t really want to make another record. If we made another record right now, it would be sell-out – it would be us trying to capitalize. We were offered a deal from Nuclear Blast, from Relapse. We could easily do three more records if we wanted to and the money is very great but we won’t do it to the legacy of this band. The fans have been so amazing – I get letters every day from all over the world from people that just say ‘this music changed the way I think about metal’. That’s all we ever wanted. We just wanted people to think, and play music well, not just rumble. Play interesting; make good art, that’s what we wanted. We wanted to make good art and we feel like we made three great pieces of art. We just want to leave it like that – we just wanted to come and celebrate them and call it a day.
What is the future for Atheist after all your reunion shows are over?
This is it. We don’t want to be like all these other bands. This is not about money. It’s not about trying to kick-start our career again. We all continue to play music, lots of different kind of music. I have Neurotica that’s coming back again in 2007. We’ve never had a European release, so I am coming back with them. This [reunion] was just about celebrating those three albums [of Atheist] and coming over here with Steve Flynn on drums. We really wanted to bring Rand Burkey (Atheist original guitarist) as well but he got some legal trouble and wasn’t able to come at the last minute. But these two guitar players did a good job and we just wanted to come over and play these songs one last time for Europe, and just have fun. Now that people understand it and appreciate it more, we thought it would be fun to take them over and do it. We did the reissues on Relapse because I just saw people paying a lot of money for used copies and I hated that. I hated that people were spending hundred US dollars on a CD. So, that’s why we wanted to make it possible for fans now to get it for ten US dollars instead of a hundred and throw some old stuff, some old demos on it, trying to make a good package. When we did, it ended up being way more successful than we anticipated. So, we thought well, maybe we could do some shows.
What are members of Atheist doing these days?
Steve has a new band, and I have an Indie label that just started last year called Starrfactory Records. My first band that I’m doing is Steve’s new band called Gnostic. They are amazing. The two guitar players here (playing Atheist reunion shows) are playing there with Steve, and its Steve’s finest hour in drumming. I mean his drumming is insane; it’s very technical. It’s different than Atheist but very complex and in the same spirit as Atheist, very challenging but very heavy. Steve didn’t play drums for ten whole years – he took the whole decade off and came back on in this new band. He is going to blow people’s mind, his drumming is furious. If they thought Unquestionable Presence was amazing, they are going to be blown away by Gnostic. He is really one of the best drummers in the world – he really is. I have so much respect for him as a player. So, he’s got that. I have Neurotica, which I started in 93. We did a couple of records, toured on Ozzfest in America but we never got a European release. So, I’m working on finding a good label here in Europe to put those records out. I work with Brian Johnson from AC/DC on a project called Big Machine (Brian, the singer of Australian AC/DC lives in Sarasota, Florida). It’s songs that he wrote. It’s very in the vain of an old school Bon Scott era AC/CD: very simple – which is a challenge to me, which is why I did it. It would be obvious for me to do another technical band but I thought this would be equally as technical to do something very similar, very straight-forward, very rock. And the same in Neurotica – Neurotica is a little more complex than Big Machine but I also have another band where I play guitar in called Unheard. With a different singer, I’m really proud of that. I’m really into stoner rock. I really like Kyuss, and it’s along those lines – Black Sabbath. So, it’s very heavy but not technical. Very big riffs, good vocals, the guy named Mike Callahan singing. He’s an old friend of mine. He used to be in a band called Burial, which was a death metal band back in the day. So, it’s pretty busy with all that. I just had a baby, so that’s the best record I ever made right there. Her name is Sky Lilly and she is amazing, so I have to be a good dad.
Why have you not played a guitar for these reunion shows? (Kelly was both the original guitarist and singer in Atheist)
My hand is from playing and singing all that crazy shit for all those years – I got a carpal tunnel in my hand, so when I play on stage it falls asleep. My nerves narrow, so I need to get an operation to get these nerves in my thumb fixed. It would be terrible if I tried to play and sing. Since 93 really, it’s been a problem. I am going to have the operation next year and get it fixed. It’s like arthritis – it hurts so bad I can’t fret any of the chords.
But you just mentioned to play a guitar in Unheard?Right, that’s much simpler. It’s just a stoner rock, a real simple stuff – I can do that. It’s challenging [Atheist music], that stuff is very hard to play and that’s what caused the damage in my thumb to begin with. So, rather than hack my way through it, so I just figured I would just pause plus I like being on a mike. Either just playing guitar or just being on the mike – being the leader, working with crowd and having fun.
Since Atheist will never do any record anymore, which bands, in your opinion, took over from you that flag of technical metal and continue carrying it on? In other words, which bands today, you feel, have been inspired by Atheist?
Dillinger Escape Plan, Alarm from Australia, In Flames and there are a lot of bands that buy a little bit of that philosophy. They may not sound like us but they subscribe to our philosophy in music, which is to challenge yourself while playing instruments. We always felt like Sieges Even from Germany was a great band. There’s Necrophagist, very talented band. There’s probably a lot more that I don’t know about and I admire anybody who pushes the boundaries of music. I think that those bands, to name a few, are carrying that flag and doing really well. It would be very easy for us to come back, have good times, and make some money. We were offered the In Flames, Sepultura tour and we declined. We said ‘No, we want to do some select shows’ and declined those opportunities. We want to pick the few good festivals that we could do and have some fun for people that were the best to us through the years. We want to do Holland, France, Australia, maybe Japan and then call it a day.
Having read the Elements CD booklet, I realized there is a different drummer, Josh Greenbaum, doing the actual recording than the drummer in the line-up, which is Marcel Descantes. Can you explain that?
Josh Greenbaum was – are you familiar with River Phoenix? (Kelly asks me, and I shake my head in reply) – He was a very famous actor and died in front of The Viper Room (a famous Hollywood night club partly owned by the actor Johnny Depp) in 93 from a cocaine overdose. He did a lot of movies like Stand by Me. When I went to Gainesville, Florida, when I first put Neurotica together, I met River and we became friends. He had a band and Josh was his drummer – he was an amazing jazz and prog drummer and I had a lot of respect for him. When it came time to do the Elements record, we really had 40 days to write it and record it, so a little over a month. We fired the drummer after two weeks that we had practiced (Atheist started to write a new material for Elements album with the drummer Mickey Hayes but fired him after two weeks of rehearsing) and Josh came in – two weeks and did that album, which is fucking unbelievable. All that complicated stuff that’s on that record to do that, write it, and record it in forty days – I don’t think it’s ever been done. I can’t think of another band that ever done that on that level of technicality. So, Josh wasn’t able to tour; he wasn’t a metal guy. He had a lot of things going on and he didn’t want to tour. So, we wanted to get out and tour in support, and Marcel was a friend of Tony Choy and he was available to do it. So, his picture ended up in the record instead of Josh’s.
Why was the Elements album recorded in Gainesville instead of in Morrisound? Have you not been satisfied with work of Scott Burns on the previous records?
We love Scott Burns and we love Morrisound but we felt like – the sound of Morrisound had been really overused and lot of bands were coming from all over the place in there. Being the different kind of band that we are, we wanted to experiment and we happened to come across Mark Pinske who did six Frank Zappa albums. As I said, we loved Frank Zappa, so we saw that opportunity to go up and do the record there. It was a digital studio, which means a cleaner sound, and we decided to go for it and just change it up a little bit. They did offer us a great deal: they offered us a lot more time to do the actual recording than money-wise we would have had in Morrisound. Also, Scott Burns at that point was pretty much done. He was burned out as a producer; he just didn’t want to do it anymore. His heart wasn’t in it. That combination of those things led us just go ahead and do it in Gainesville. I’ve done some recording there with Neurotica and I love the studio. Mark Pinske was brilliant. He had an amazing studio where all the walls were at two degree angle. There are no flat walls, so the drums sounded really good. It was cool. We had a good time there. Gainesville was a lot of fun. It’s a great city and we smoked a lot of pot. It was good.
After you had recorded the third album Elements, you knew that you were pretty much done as a band. Still, you did that last tour with Benediction in Europe after that. Why did you tour when Atheist was done as a band?
Benediction really made it impossible for us to say no. Very great guys, they paid for everything. They spent a lot of money out of their pocket to bring us out. We had not done a full European tour ever and it seemed like a good time. The Brits [Benediction] are great guys. They have been our friends for years and they came to see us at Bloodstock festival in the UK and we love Benediction. They are a fucking great metal band and one of the few straight-forward metal bands that really fly the flag up. We love them, and they were really great to us. They made it possible for us to see the world. So, we were grateful for that and it seemed like a lot of fun. So, we did it.
Which line-up was on that tour?
It was the Elements line-up except for Josh. He wasn’t there; it was Marcel [on drums]. Steve (the original drummer on two first records) had done away to college, did really well, and graduated in the top of his class. It was hard to get along. It wasn’t the same for me being the only original guy other than Rand. I and Rand never saw eye to eye, musically we did but as people we had a hard time getting along. He is a very difficult guy to get along with. So, by the end of that tour we were like – it wasn’t fun anymore. So, we were like – that’s it, we’re done.
Which bands do you think are pushing the music boundaries these days? Which music do you like to listen to and you find inspirational?
I don’t listen to a lot of technical metal these days. Like I said, I love stoner rock – I think it’s like the new underground to me. There are a lot of great underground stoner rock bands that are just fucking amazing like Hermano and Kyuss. I love The Mars Volta – they are fucking amazing. I find myself referring back to old Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin. Sabbath and Zeppelin is where it all begins for me, and it’s always been my heart. Those two bands really created rock’n’roll and heavy metal in my opinion. Zeppelin was always very technical but never really got credit for it. They have always played many styles of music and I respect that so much. Kyuss is a great metal. It’s got an element of sex to it that I dig – it’s very fucking heavy and dirty and sexy. I fucking love it. My new band where I play guitar, it’s really in that vein. It’s just big nasty riffs and big rock. A lot of kids that were into Atheist were really pissed at me for Neurotica and playing that kind of music. I make no apologies for that band. I am very proud of Neurotica and the stuff that we did. If people go back and listen to those records now and put aside their hatred for me for playing a different kind of music than technical death metal, then they’ll appreciate those songs. I wanted to be one of the few death metal guys to actually convert to a singer. I wanted to sing and push myself as a singer, so I can really transform myself into a different kind of singer. If you listen to those records [of Neurotica], it doesn’t sound like the guy from Atheist. It sounds completely different. It’s still very educated and the lyrics are very thought out. A lot of big hooks, a lot of catchy rock that I am really proud of. Hopefully the kids that were snubbing their nose back then have grown up a little bit. I look at it the same way as Atheist – when we first made that music, people were like, eh [doing annoying sounds]. So, Neurotica I find now in the last two years that people started to come really like – wait a minute, it sounds really good. Once they remove themselves from the Atheist, and the fact that I did that, and they listen to Neurotica with a different hat, they find it’s a good music. I love a lot of different kind of music. I listen to music nine, ten hours a day. I own a smoke shop where I sell bonks and pipes. So, I listen to music all day long. But I find myself listening to a lot of The Mars Volta, and the new metal bands that I found that are really great are Alarm, Gnostic – the stuff that Steve is doing right now if phenomenal, and the In Flames guys are really cool.
Can you tell me who are you not impressed with?
I’ll tell you who I am not impressed with and I am always full of opinions – it is Shadows Fall. I’ll agree with Dave Lombardo [of Slayer] and the fact that for Jason Bittner to be on the cover of the Drummer magazine and Steve Flynn to not ever be mentioned in that magazine. (Jason Bittner was voted the #1 drummer in the "Metal" category in the July edition of Modern Drummer magazine's 2006 Readers' Poll). Drummer magazine needs to get their shit together and find out that Shawn Reinert [of Cynic] and Steve Flynn are the two best drummers on this fucking planet. Jason Bittner of Shadows Fall couldn’t make them fucking breakfast. That’s just true. If somebody wants to tell me different, I dare him because at the end of the day, technical drumming is an art form. It’s an art form that should be appreciated. It’s not a popularity contest, it’s technical ability. Those two guys don’t get enough credit in the drum world. Another band I feel is very overrated is Messhugah. I know a lot of people will disagree with me but I think there is a difference between the technicality of Cynic and Atheist and the technicality of Messhugah. Messhugah is very (Kelly imitates fast but regular drumming), there is no in-between (Kelly imitates irregular drumming rhythm). It’s not truly independent limbs. These guys [drummers of Cynic and Atheist] have limbs that all have brains of their own – this hand is doing one thing, this hand is doing another, the feet are all doing something different. It’s not (Kelly imitates fast but regular drumming). Messhugah is a good band but they don’t deserve the technical flag as the leaders. We were doing this shit over ten years ago and I want these guys to get some credit. I’ve always been the least talented guy in the band [Atheist] when it comes to technicality playing. It makes me very angry that Steve Flynn, Sean Reinert, and some of these guys get never mentioned when it comes to best drummers and polls. When it comes down to it, I know in my heart that when you put them side by side and they had to play one another’s music, then that guy from Shadows Fall (he shrugs shoulders). Dave Lombardo – did you read what Dave Lombardo from Slayer said recently? (Kelly is asking me and I answer that I don’t know) Dave Lombardo is an amazing drummer, always has been, always will be. The stuff that he has been doing with Mike Patton is fucking unbelievable. He finally was the first person to step out in the press and say ‘come on this guy from Shadows Fall’ while everybody was like – no, no, he is doing drum’s clinics. I am sure he is a nice guy, Jason I am sorry buddy, but I am sure he would agree if he would have experienced listening what these guys have recorded. Certainly he deserves to be heralded as a good drummer – I don’t take that away from him – but the best drummer? No, sir, this is not true. I dare people to challenge me on that. Put the records on, listen to what these guys have recorded, and listen to what Shadows Fall does and I think you will agree. I’ll debate somebody to my death on that shit and I believe it with my heart. Not because I am in the band: Sean Reinert – I am not in a band with but Sean Reinert is fucking unbelievable. The shit he did with Cynic and his abilities have barely been tapped. When you listen to the stuff he did on Fucus [Cynic’s record], very few people on this Earth could play it. You know who else is great that is very underrated? Gene Hoglan, very fucking amazing drummer – people hardly ever put him on the best drummer polls. Jason Bittner and Gene Hoglan – there is no comparison. I am very outspoken and that is my feeling. Some people will be very mad at me and I am sorry – I don’t mean to offend Shadows Falls fans but go back and listen to Darkness Descends and tell me if Gene Hoglan isn’t a bad motherfucker. Listen to Focus and tell me if Sean Reinert isn’t amazing and listen to Unquestionable Presence and tell me this drumming isn’t the next level and insane. Nobody had yet done anything like that. I hope that they all prove me wrong in the future and that Bittner will come with some serious shit in the future to warrant being the best drummer to be on the cover of the Drummer magazine. To me it’s just not warranted.
The drummer Steve Flynn just entered the room and I am asking last provoking question to both – if the original bass player Roger Patterson was still alive, how would Atheist have developed and sound these days?
“I think we would have stayed together,” replies Kelly. “We clearly would have stayed together to at least the third album and maybe even the fourth,” continues Steve. “That was the catalyst for him that started the break-up. His death was monumental in our lives and the formula we had – you removed such a big chunk. All the (Steve imitates very fast jazz bass rhythm) that was Roger. Me, having to expand my abilities to play with him – when you remove that …,” Steve leaves that open. “It was tough to carry on,” continues Kelly, “and that’s why we are not doing reunion. Tony is an amazing bass player but Roger Patterson, Steve Flynn, Kelly Shaefer, Rand Burkey – that was Atheist. That was the formula and once it’s started falling apart – like I said, it isn’t about the money, it isn’t trying to capitalize on anything, this is just about celebrating that music and leaving it alone. A lot of people are like ‘come on, do another record’ but if we did, it just wouldn’t be the same!” concludes Kelly. “It’s hard to say where we would be now,” expands Steve further. “I think you would have had progression from Unquestionable Presence to another album where the four of us were together. I think it would have been Unquestionable Presence and then another step of progression to another level. I think you can hear it in the older material like The Formative Years. It was an older song and there’s like Mother Man – it was a newer song near the end and it was much more groovy and technical than some of the older songs like The Formative Years and Enthralled in Essence. So, you can hear the progression as we were going.” Kelly expands the answer, “Every song was like this – we were trying to top the last one. So, if we did another eight or nine songs …” “There was no ceiling on his ability,” Steve goes back to talk about Roger. He was absolutely one of the best players I have ever seen in my life. Before he died, he just started getting into popping and tapping and changing his style to where he would have had the killer intercap riffs and the tapping ability,” says Steve. “He had a lot of attack as a bass player,” explains Kelly. “He has always played with all his fingers and he would just pound the shit out of him, so he got the sound that I rarely hear of anybody. He just had really a unique style and snot would fly out of his nose and he was just a fucking beast. He was just amazing and we were just in odd! But he was a very simple guy – he just liked to get high, smoke cigarettes, and play fucking metal. He was happy with that. We love and miss him terribly, so it was just never the same after he died. We did our best to do a couple of tours, obviously did the Elements album, which is a whole different but in the same philosophy of Atheist, but still not the Unquestionable Presence Atheist. It was a different Atheist but fortunately, it took a while but people finally kind of got it and appreciated it. We just leave those three records as it is and come to Europe. I never got to come to Europe on a full blown tour with Steve Flynn – we grew up together and we just wanted to put a nice little bow on this and call it a day.
Rotting in Hell (R.A.V.A.G.E. demo 1985)
On They Slay (R.A.V.A.G.E. demo 1986)
Raging Death compilation CD (two tracks from the R.A.V.A.G.E. demo 1986)
Hell Hath No Mercy (Atheist demo 1987)
Beyond(Atheist demo 1988)
Piece of Time (CD 1990, Active Records / Metal Blade)
Unquestionable Presence (CD 1991, Active Records / Metal Blade)
Elements (CD 1993, Active Records / Metal Blade)
Kelly Shaefer - Vocals (Guitar, 1984 - 1993)
Steve Flynn - Drums (Gnostic)
Rand Burkey - Guitar (not touring with the band in 2006)
Tony Choy - Bass (ex-Cynic, ex-Pestilence)
Sonny Carson - Guitar (Gnostic)
Chris Baker - Guitar (Gnostic, filling in for Burkey in 2006)
Former members / Additional Musicians
Roger Patterson - Bass
Frank Emmi - (Guitar on Elements & tour 1993)
Josh Greenbaum - (Drums on Elements Album 1993)
Marcell Dissantos - (Drums only for the 1993 Elements Tour)
Darren Mcfarland - (Touring only on the Cannibal Corpse tour 1992)
Comment on the interview:
Number of entries: 3 last: 19.03.2007 - 16:23:15
sc - Killer Article 19.03.07 - 16:23 Excellent read! ...
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Lr - Great job 24.11.06 - 19:29 Very good job Adolf!!! FUCK YEAH!!!!...