Aftershok – Return to Detonate Part II

Thursday, 23rd June 2016

Read Part I HERE.

Dead Rhetoric: How do you view the current metal landscape both in America and abroad? It seems like there are more choices than ever, but does quantity necessarily equate to better quality overall?

Mihalovich: I often say the state of metal is amazing in the sense that there’s an absolutely unbelievable amount of choices – it’s very difficult for the record buying public, they are used to now getting stuff for free so music is kind of disposal in a way. They see it’s available digitally on a torrent site, so they rip it for free, maybe it sticks with them or maybe they move on to the next thing. Even though there probably are too many releases, the amount of quality work being done to me in metal is incredible. There are tremendously good bands that are writing really good songs that are just as good as anything that was written in the so called glory days of metal. The difference is music isn’t quite the cultural or social force that it was at that time. Songs don’t have as a big an impact on you when you are in your 40’s as it does in your late teens or 20’s. It’s not quite as much of a background of your life. Even with the very difficult financial times and how hard it is to make money in this business, and how little profit there is in releasing a record, you see how strong metal is and how many bands are stepping up to the plate and putting out their own records and really doing good work. I wish there are times that there are less releases to wade through, I think that impacts things.

Dead Rhetoric: What have been some of your favorite live shows to participate in with Aftershok through your career? And what are some of your most memorable metal shows that you took in purely from a spectator, fan perspective?

Mihalovich: With Aftershok, the 20th Auburn Records anniversary show because it was a really big event. That was our first time playing in an amphitheater in front of 700+ people. That was my first time in front of a large crowd like that. We opened for Yngwie Malmsteen at the Odeon in Cleveland, which is a great venue. The others that sort of standout include the Classic Metal showcases, we are good friends with those guys. We opened for Judas Priest in Pittsburgh, and that was a real highlight. We had a good night and everything went well, but we also went on that stage and were treated with a great level of professionalism. They came back to the drummer and said draw us a diagram of your drums, they let our sound guy run the board. We had been treated worse by local bands that we had been playing with, so we felt like we had a chance to sound our best at that show in front of a band that we really admired and fans that liked the style of music we were playing. One more when Heaven and Hell and Motörhead played in Pittsburgh, we were able to play the second stage – and a couple of the band members got to meet Dio backstage.

Since we are on the subject of Dio, I saw Dio at the Odeon in Cleveland when Doug Aldrich had joined the band- Killing the Dragon tour, and that was a really killer show. I think Hammerfall and King’s X opened up, one of the last times I got to see Ronnie other than the Heaven and Hell show I mentioned. I saw UFO in Akron a couple of years ago, and they were just fantastic. Such a great band and to see them sounding so tight and vital, writing good new material is really cool. I saw U.D.O. a couple of years ago, I’d never seen him – bought the Steelhammer record, thought it was great so I went to Cleveland and checked them out. I respect the fact that you have Accept and U.D.O. both putting out great new albums. I got to see Saxon for the first time recently – and in fact I prefer what I’ve heard from them over the last 10 years than probably what most people consider their classic period.

Dead Rhetoric: I believe Saxon is one of those bands that’s stepped up their game, a little bit of modern touch while being consistent in terms of their songwriting.

Mihalovich: I really respect that. Maiden and Priest and Accept and U.D.O. and Saxon, they are models for how you do things. They aren’t just out there doing these sad sort of reunion tours and rehashing the past. They are putting out new music every 2-3 years, good music and putting a lot of effort into it. They are combining a lot of the new production techniques, a little heavier and darker, but retained their identity and continued to write and release good music. I think that’s a model for how things should be done.

Dead Rhetoric: Has work begun on the fourth Aftershok studio album, as I would imagine you don’t want to have as long of a wait for the next record? And how do you handle pressure when it comes to songwriting and recording activities?

Mihalovich: I have enough material now where I don’t have to really write anything for another record. I do still write from time to time, but I have over 15 songs now ready to pick from for the next record. While we haven’t actually initiated anything formally, the drummer and I when we have time we rehearse and hash things out, we make notes on what we like and I am doing a fair amount of demos at home when we have the time to work with the singer on those. So I probably have 3-4 full songs that are going to be on the record. I can’t predict a time frame, but sooner rather than later.

From a writing and rehearsing aspect I never really feel any pressure because I’m writing as I go. When I get something that I like or think is worthy, I file it away and we hammer it out until it’s there. Recording where the pressure comes in is getting the right performances and everything to come together so that you have as few problems as possible – and do it as economically as possible. You go in, book a day in the studio- maybe you’re playing and you are not having one of your best days, and that can be stressful. You pay for this whole day and maybe you only get one track done, and I’ve got to come back next week and do it a little faster and a little better.

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