Aftershok – Return to Detonate Part I

Wednesday, 22nd June 2016

Dead Rhetoric: Where do you see the balancing act between staying true to your roots in terms of your influences but also delivering a product that can sound exciting and convincing in the modern world? As I believe Detonate has a lot of obvious 80’s reference points but production and tone-wise doesn’t sound that ‘dated’ so to speak…

Mihalovich: I think that’s a fair statement. You really just have to make a record that you like and that you believe in. That’s how I was able to persevere- I knew what I wanted to do. We just wanted the best production, the clearest production, and the best representation of the songs. Of course you understand some of the techniques and Jim does as well as to what people are using now. I made an album I was comfortable with- of course there are a lot of 80’s influences because that’s what I am comfortable with and I grew up in. As you go through life you hear different things and pick up different influences in terms of modern metal bands and production techniques, and you sort of pick and choose what you think is appropriate for your music. To us it wasn’t necessarily about having a particular production style, we wanted to make sure this had the best presentation possible, which to me meant not a lot of hard compression or making it super loud or cause ear fatigue. I hope this makes sense to you.

Dead Rhetoric: I do understand, especially considering this is an hour long record, you didn’t play the loudness war that a lot of bands play when it comes to the mixing and mastering…

Mihalovich: I felt that was important. Don’t get me wrong, I hear a lot of those records and that sounds great- but you get four or five songs in and then you have to take a break and listen to it later. I didn’t want that to happen – for a lot of metal bands, it’s not about singles, it’s about a whole record. Metal fans, the ones that are still a part of the record buying public, appreciate a complete album.

Dead Rhetoric: Auburn Records is your record label – tell us about the work that they’ve done for you throughout your career and how important it is to have a label and staff truly behind your work in these digital driven, download era times?

Mihalovich: Bill (Peters) is an old friend of the band. I had heard of him and Auburn Records, and been aware of some of the things he put out on his label- Shok Paris being the most notable. That was my connection to Bill- I started working with Vic, he heard about it and said he was excited to hear this and asked if we would like to be a part of his 20th anniversary label show. That was when I met Bill, we did the show, so he helped us in the promotion on the tail end of Unfinished Business – because that was self-released. The relationship developed, he has a long standing relationship in the music industry beyond his own record label, and we worked together more closely on Burning Chrome. He helped us pick the songs, arranged the tracks – we became solid friends so when we were ready to release Detonate I gave him the first option to listen and see if he wanted to put it out. Fortunately, he liked the record, I can’t say enough about what he’s done. Anyone can release a record in this day and age- but it has a really fast burn. Bill with his knowledge of the industry and his connections is really able to get things out there not only for awareness to the metal fans, but distribution as well.

Dead Rhetoric: Can you tell us about your experience playing at the Bang Your Head Festival in Germany with Shok Paris?

Mihalovich: Yeah, it was fantastic. I always liked the band, I was always a fan. When somebody said they had people switching in and out of the situation, I was working with Vic and they asked me. He didn’t want to do the reunion the first time, but the second time he said yes- and they needed another guitar player. I felt really honored and after I got to play with that band and got to know those guys, the records were great but playing with those guys is really an experience, as they have something special all those years that hasn’t been diminished. I understand now why they made so much noise on an independent label and got signed to a major label even if it was only for one record. It was great playing Bang Your Head with them – we played early in the morning at 11:30 and there were still 8,000-10,000 there. It’s just beyond anything I had ever experienced as far as the stage, the production, the lighting, the professionalism and the enthusiasm of the fans. They were there to hear metal, and if you do a good job with good players they will give you a shot. And obviously Shok Paris has that history and ability.

Dead Rhetoric: Were there any funny or strange incidents that happened on the way there or back?

Mihalovich: I took one guitar and that guitar got held up or lost in customs. So we were doing two shows, a club show on a Friday night and then Saturday morning was the performance on the main stage. And I didn’t have a guitar. One of the main guys, his son gave me a guitar and I restrung it, tuned it and tried to get it in playing condition for the show. As it turned out, this great guy who was working with us went to airport, saw my guitar there when he was picking somebody else up, and I don’t know how he did it but he got customs to give him my guitar. I couldn’t even change the strings on it, he got there probably half an hour before we played, so I just tuned it up and went out. The funny part of it is, the guitar had been in a case for a while and it was a bit dirty, it looked like it has some moisture that had developed in it. I get up in the morning, and there was this rash that had developed on my arm where it was resting on my guitar. I covered it up, did the show, and had to go to the first aid area after our set – they put a steroid cream on it, put a bandage on and said this would be okay. It was probably an allergic reaction. I wore as many long sleeve shirts as I could as I didn’t want to seem like I had some kind of skin disease.

Part II of Matt Coe’s interview with Aftershok will post Thursday night, June 23, 2016.

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