Aftermoon – The Next PhaseSunday, 23rd October 2016
One of the best aspects of heavy metal is that bands can take a core sound and then go anywhere they want with it. Some purists may not always approve of the more drastic changes a band may employ, particularly when it comes to including more pop/electronic elements. But with more bands embracing these techniques, it provides a fresh perspective – one that can reel in some genre fans, as well as crossover appeal beyond the metal realm.
A fresh new act that falls into this broad category is that of the Ukraine’s Aftermoon. Their first album, Phase One, was released earlier this year through WormHoleDeath Records, and elegantly combines some symphonic metal qualities coupled with upbeat electronics, some pop sensibilities, rock hooks, and some excellent female vocals. The type of sound that could easily go places if properly exposed to the music fans of the world. With that in mind, we reached out to the act (with responses from vocalist Valerie Laitinen, keyboardist Ivan Popov, drummer Dima Loboda, and guitarist Roma Kovalenko) to learn more about Phase One, their approach to cover songs (which can be easily found on YouTube), and what comes next.
Dead Rhetoric: Where did the name Aftermoon come from?
Valerie Laitinen: When we were thinking about the band`s name, we tried to find something simple and clear, but at the same time unusual. So a word-play “AFTERMOON” appeared. Aftermoon is a period before the dawn, the darkest time, but after it the sun always rise.
Dead Rhetoric: There are a lot of elements that seem to fuse together in Aftermoon. Where do you pool your influences from?
Valerie: I`m pleased you noticed, because we intentionally mix elements and techniques from different music genres and I think it sounds good. I have a diverse taste in music and each style has its own cool and unique features combining which you can create something great. You know, sometimes while listening to a pop song I find myself thinking that a track lacks some hard guitar riffs or, e.g. in some hardcore song I do like the groove and breakdowns, but a vocal part seems to me too poor. In our music we try to mix the best features of each genres.
Ivan Popov: Huge impact on our music has been a musical background, music education and our personal preferences. We try to learn from our colleagues, to take the best of classic and contemporary songs. I`d like to quote the Queen song “Radio Ga Ga:”
“We watch the shows – we watch the stars
On videos for hours and hours
We hardly need to use our ears
How music changes through the years.
Dima Loboda: The pace of life is so fast and probably for the last fifty years so many music styles appeared, as never before. Our music is an ongoing process of continuous improvement and continuous development. Sometimes we try to combine incompatible elements. We are always in the rhythm of the modern world and it’s also a key factor that affects our work.
Roma Kovalenko: Emotions and life itself make the greatest inspirations, first of all. And the influence comes from music I listen to.
Dead Rhetoric: How would you describe the sound that Aftermoon plays?
Ivan: This is a modern metal, with the influence of the electronic and symphonic music. The music for those who do.
Valerie: Modern-metal, I guess.
Dead Rhetoric: Is there a song on Phase One that seems to embody what Aftermoon is all about?
Ivan: Perhaps this is the refrain of our song “Runaway”: “The world can bring us up, world can bring us down, but we never stop!”
Roma: For me it`s our song “Cold”.
Valerie: Great question! Honestly, I don’t know. Our songs are quite diverse, but both “To You” and “Daemons”, “Losing me” and “DeadBorn Revolution” are a reflection of our thoughts, emotions and feelings. Maybe this difference is what AFTERMOON is about.
Dima: I think it has no sense to judge the album by its parts. We made up a solid picture, so you cannot highlight one song and state with certainty: “This is what AFTERMOON is”. We tried to make this album harmonious, so each one listening to the song moves into a new overall picture – a picture embodies our essence and the essence of our music.
Dead Rhetoric: Is it important that the band takes elements from both metal and non-metal sources?
Valerie: Absolutely. As for me, pop-tricks make metal more catchy and the power of metal gives our music groove and strength. Music should be sans frontiers.
Dima: Perhaps our listeners have to answer this question. We believe that these elements only complement the music we do. Every style of music has something to learn from and each style has its own peculiarity. Before no one could imagine the sound of classical music with metal, but Nightwish have proved that it sounds awesome, Metallica and Dimmu Borgir too, who made stunning shows with symphony orchestras.
Ivan: Music, as a part of the global cultural process, is many-sided and in today’s world is a little bit strange to be closed within one genre or direction. For us it is important to convey the spirit, vibe and groove of the songs, and we try to use all the available means.
Roma: Following the metal “rules” and songs templates is too boring and simple.
Dead Rhetoric: As it was your debut, how long did you spend writing and putting the finishing touches on Phase One?
Ivan: We worked on the album for almost two years, because of many reasons, but now we really enjoy the result. One of the reasons is our inner perfectionism, because of which sometimes it is very difficult to stop working on the one song, trying to make it better.
Valerie: It was a long and hard road, that we were happy to pass, because we have learned and discovered a lot. We wrote more than 20 songs for this album and then we chose the best ones from them. Some of the songs were recorded several times, some parts of the lyrics were remade right during vocal recording, certain ideas about arrangement came to us after mixing and it made us redo a song. The same story about artwork.
Dead Rhetoric: There are a number of different covers that Aftermoon has done that are on Youtube. Are there any limits in regards to something the band would consider covering?
Valerie: Usually, when we choose a song for cover, my arguments in favor of one or another song are: 1) it should be the greatest hit ever, so people will recognize a melody from its first notes and will sing it with me; 2) we can make this song in our way and it will sound completely different and unexpected compare with an original version, but still remain harmonious; 3) “Please, guys, it`s the best song I`ve ever heard! Let`s play it again, I damn like it!”
Dima: We have no limits as well as style borders. We try to perform music in an unusual way, mixing different genres and ideas together. For each our show we prepare something new, something unique. And we won`t stop and hope these efforts will be appreciated by our listeners.
Roma: The main criteria for cover is a point how much the audience and we love the chosen song.
Ivan: Sometimes while listening to a song I’m thinking: “Hey, I know how to make it better!” We search for a perfect sound and image for each cover we play, trying to enrich it with new ideas and “fresh blood”. On YouTube there is only a small part of what we’ve played. And the only one limit is our time.
Dead Rhetoric: How did you land the signing to Wormholedeath Records?
Ivan: We were looking for a label, sent out promotional materials everywhere we could. At that time we already had a couple of offers from other labels, but when we talked to Carlo Belotti (head of the label) we realised that WHD is what we were searching for.
Valerie: Yes, we are very pleased to work with WHD, cause they are true professionals. You know, the begining is always a hard thing. We really have been searching for a best option for us, and, nothing to hide, we sent hundreds of mails, some of them left unattended, some replies disappointed us, some offers made us laugh, cause they were too weird. And then, as Ivan said, we received several good offers and were practically ready to accept one of them, but then we met Carlo. And everything became as it should have been.
Dead Rhetoric: What sort of a scene does the Ukraine have in terms of metal bands?
Roma: We have a quite specific metal scene in Ukraine. As usual people like some incredibly extreme genres or listening to a pop music only.
Dima: I guess Ukrainian metal scene stands at the beginning of its formation and, unfortunately, isn’t developed as well as it is in Europe countries. The shows that we have sometimes may be called some kind of charity, because your expenses are higher that the benefit. And it’s not only about the money.
Ivan: On the one hand, there are plenty of awesome bands in Ukraine. On the other, we have not many ways to deliver such kind of music to listeners.
Valerie: To be honest, rock and especially metal music is not very popular here. And it`s a root of all problems such as low attendance of metal events, the difficulty to break through to a wider audience and so on. But I’m sure the situation is gradually changing for the better.
Dead Rhetoric: Have you began to write any new material? If so, how does it compare to what you’ve done with Phase One?
Ivan: We create new material non-stop. By the time Phase One was released, we had already made half of a new album. What it will be? That remains to be seen. Music is a living creature: it grows, modifies, changes. We will take into account the experience of the first album and the new one will be “faster, harder, better, stronger”
Dima: Phase One was just the first step and we have no plans to stop there. You can read it on the title of the album. It’s just a beginning. Of course, new songs will be a continuation of what you have already heard on our first album, but as mentioned before, we are not standing still and are always in constant development. What we can say for sure, all our upcoming songs will sound like AFTERMOON.
Dead Rhetoric: Is it a fair assumption to assume the next album will be entitled Phase Two?
Roma: Maybe yes, maybe no. We don’t want to be predictable.
Dima: Why not? But first of all, the album’s title is a common idea that unites musicians while they are working on the album. If “Phase Two” will be that unifying force it is quite possible that this title will be on the front page of our upcoming album.
Ivan: Anything is possible. The moon changes.
Valerie: The previous title was rather conceptual, but it’s kinda simple way, so I guess we can come up with something more original and interesting. Or…Let`s see.
Dead Rhetoric: Where would you like to see the band in a few years?
Dima: Time will tell where we will be in the next few years. We’re just going to continue to work hard on ourselves: on our shows, on our songs and of course we will try to bring our music to everyone to become a band that people wish to see in their cities, regardless of which country or which continent their cities are.
Roma: The band successfully touring the world.
Ivan: On the same stage with the bands that inspire us. For example on the stage of Wacken Open Air.
Valerie: I. want. Grammy.
Dead Rhetoric: What are your plans now that Phase One has been released?
Roma: We played the great show in Kiev in support of the album and now we’re going to promote the album in Europe, so we prepare for our first European mini-tour. Yet we plan to shoot several video clips and release live-DVD. And then record our second album. As you see, we have no time to relax. And it’s great!
Valerie: Certainly, the release of Phase One was very significant step for AFTERMOON, but it`s just a beginning, so we have a lot to do. The main goal is to bring our music throughout the world.
Dima: Touring and new material are our main goals. I guess, AFTERMOON in the nearest future will be able to please the listeners with something new. So, see you soon. Stay Metal. Stay AFTERMOON. Together we can ROCK the world!