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Deutsche VersionInterview mit After All (12.07.2012)

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Logo After All

Band photo After All

A support-gig for Judas Priest, a tour together with Sacred Reich and then a new album - After All guitarist Dries Van Damme really had a lot to tell when we invited him for this interview. Obviously still flattened by all the occurances of the last weeks, Dries unveiles several details of Dawn Of The Enforcer and of course the highlights from his tour activities...

HH: Hello together from Germany / Bavaria! Your new studio album Dawn Of The Enforcer has been released a few days ago. What differs the new material from its predecessors. Is there anything new or is it all at the old?

Dries: Hello from Belgium! Although this is our 8th album already, it really is a new start for After All. It is our first album with our new singer Sammy and new bass player Frederik. It's almost like having a new band. Especially the vocals are very different from what we did in the past. Apart from that, we really took care in writing effective, to-the-point thrash metal anthems. So all in all, when you compare to the older albums, the new one is definitely a step up on all possible levels.

HH: What are your top three selling points of this album, if you're doing some adverts?

Dries: First of all, it's the vocals. Sammy Peleman is a true natural talent. He has been compared with Rob Halford, John Cyriis, Midnight, etcetera. As a matter of fact, we opened for Judas Priest at the Lotto Arena here in Belgium a couple of weeks ago, and Rob Halford came out to watch our show from the side of the stage. So yeah, everyone who likes high pitched metal vocals so check us out. Second selling point is the production by Dan Swanö. Our music is deeply rooted in 80s thrash, but Dan makes it sound very up to date: heavy and in your face. The third selling point is the artwork by Ed Repka. We all remember his classic work for bands such as Megadeth, Evil Dead or Death. We are so proud that he designed such a cool piece of artwork for us. You should see the vinyl version of the album, with the artwork in full 12 inch splendour. It's awesome!

HH: As you mentioned Dawn Of The Enforcer is already your eighth studio album, but I think that so far After All still is not very popular to a lot of potential fans. Do you think you can change the situation with your new songs?

Dries: It all depends how you define popularity. Of course we're not very popular when you compare us to Iron Maiden, haha... We are really glad with the status of the band today. In Belgium, we are one the best known bands. Over the last ten years or so, we have been touring all over Europe. More and more people come to our shows, especially in Germany. Our albums have been released in Europe, Russia and the US. So I guess we do have some fans, and their number is growing. Of course we hope that we will reach more fans with the new album. In Belgium and Holland, the album is out through Roadrunner Records. In Germany, Austria and Switzerland, the album is out through Van Records. Everybody is working really hard to promote the record, so I guess we'll definitely become more popular with this one.

HH: Recruiting some new fans works best when your are playing your stuff live on stage and luckily you had some great occasions to do so. First you had the honour to share the stage with no one else than Judas Priest in the Lotto Arena of Antwerpen in the end of May as you already told me. What are your impressions from this event? Did you have contact to Rob and the others?

Dries: It really was a great night of metal. We had never expected to be invited for such a high profile show. It was one of the biggest shows we've played so far, in an arena with 8,000 headbangers. As I said before, Rob Halford watched our show from the side of the stage. That was pretty surreal. Later on, we bumped into Ian Hill and Scott Travis. Really cool people. Same goes for the Priest crew. We never were treated better than by Priest's crew. True class!

HH: And after that you've been on a little tour supporting Sacred Reich! I had noted the date of the gig in Nürnberg in my wall calendar for months, but unfortunately in the end I had to work exactly this evening. So I hope you can give me a short report that I know what I have missed.

Dries: Well, to be honest, Nürnberg was the best show of that tour. The venue was packed with thrashers and they loved every minute of our show. Nürnberg was also a record in merchandise sales for us.

HH: Oh thank you, now I'm really pissed off, haha! How was the reaction of the fans on the new material?

Dries: The response is far beyond our expectations, to be quite honest. Of course we knew that we had written a bunch of killer new songs, but still, it's only when you see the audience headbang and mosh to them that you know that you were right all along.

HH: And what have been your highlights behind the stage? Some hilarious, drunken anecdotes?

Dries: We had our wildest party on the bus on the way over from Belgium to the first show in Hamburg. After that, we were all more or less partied out for the rest of the week... We had a great night out in Berlin - as always. Best show was in Nürnberg, no question.

HH: Ok, now let's get back to the album. The sound of this piece is really awesome! Which role played producer Dan Swanö during your recording sessions or maybe for the songs themselves?

Dries: Dan is awesome. He didn't really interfere in the writing and recording process. On the other hand, he was crucial for the sound of the album. He mixed it with great sense for detail, very heavy, but always dynamic, and never too compressed, as a lot of modern day albums are, sadly enough... Dan is a real metalhead. He's our age, grew up listening to the same bands as we did. We get along great. And he's a very funny person too.

Cover of After All's Dawn Of The Enforcer

HH: To tie on my second question: one of my own top selling points for your album definitely is the amazing cover artwork by Ed Repka. What story is hidden behind this motive? Did you give some suggestions to Repka or had he absolutely free hand for the creation of the artwork?

Dries: Working with Ed was unbelievable. Really proud of it. Honestly, I expected that he would send us some artwork that he had laying around somewhere. And in fact, we probably would have found that awesome too. But no, Ed asked us what we wanted, what we had in mind ourselves, what our ideas were. He came back to us with a first sketch, just pencil on paper. It was exactly as we had been describing, it was unbelievable. He took it from there and as you said, the end result is unbelievable...

HH: Do you have some favourites among the metal works from Ed Repka?

Dries: There are so many. "Rust in peace" by Megadeth obviously, but also "Think this" by Toxik, "Annihilation of civilization" by Evil Dead, "Game over" by Nuclear Assault... There are so many.

HH: Let's risk a little look in the future. Is there some kind of special goal, you necessarily want to reach with the band?

Dries: Sure. We'd love to play live in the US. We were invited a couple of times already, but every time things didn't work out in the end. Hopefully we can make that happen in the coming months. And of course, it would also be really cool to play more big shows, like the one we did with Priest. It must be really amazing to be on an arena tour and play for such big crowds every night.

HH: I keep my fingers crossed that you'll reach your goals and say thank you very much for this interview.

Dries: You're most welcome. Thanks for the interest in the band. Heavyhardes has been following After All for many years now. Thanks for your continued support!

HH: If you have one last message or maybe one universal wisdom for our readership, then out with it!

Dries: If you like thrash metal, don't miss the After All album. You really won't regret it! Cheers!


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