ATHEIST Frontman Talks About His VELVET REVOLVER Audition

September 11, 2006

Blastwave webzine recently conducted an interview with the seminal technical metal pioneers ATHEIST. A few excerpts from the chat follow:

Blastwave: You've recently had Relapse reissue your back catalogue. A lot of people would probably not have heard this music without those reissues. A lot of people are more familiar with a band like DEATH who have obviously got a lot of similar sounds going on. How did the reissues come about?

Steve Flynn (drums): Kelly hooked all that up.

Kelly Shaefer (vocals): I was on the Internet a lot just looking around and people were paying like $25 for used copies of each record.

Steve Flynn: On eBay people were paying $90 for a copy of one of the CDs just because they were out of print.

Kelly Shaefer: We were thinking that's not fair and there's maybe still a market for the music so I called a couple of labels and they were interested. Season Of Mist said they would do it but I thought if we're going to fucking do it, we're going to do it right this time, since we didn't do it right last time. So we remastered it and the guys at Relapse were fans. They're great guys and they've really got their shit together. They're an awesome label; I can't say enough about the job they did on this because the first time around we had a really…we had a shitty label. . . Once I got in touch with Relapse, they just had the best vibe and they really wanted to do a good job and go above and beyond what any other label had ever done. Back then, we didn't realy have a lot of appreciation and I think people were very confused by our music.

Blastwave: Yeah, it seems as though it'd be very much ahead of its time back then.

Kelly Shaefer: And just for the record, no disrespect to DEATH because Chuck is the master of all death metal but I mean technicality is something that didn't come as an influence from DEATH. Actually, the reverse, DEATH was actually more influenced by CYNIC and ATHEIST after he jammed with Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert and did the "Human" record. That's when Chuck really wanted to get technical. Me and Chuck had a lot of problems early on and we just didn't see eye to eye. I said some stuff to him that I regretted and Chuck said some stuff that I'm sure he regretted but we got together and smoked a joint when they were doing "Human" and our relationship ended with that peace before he died. We were definitely both eager to make revolutionary music.

Blastwave: So is Relapse your full-time label now as a band?

Kelly Shaefer: No, this is just a reunion and we don't want to mess with the history of the band. A lot of bands come back and try to recreate the past but we just wanted to do these select shows, go and do five American shows and call it a day. Steve's got GNOSTIC and I have a label called Starrfactory Records, so I'm just now getting it launched and the first thing I'm going to do is GNOSTIC. It's more of a production company at this point, it's not a big label.

Blastwave: Kelly, we heard a rumour that you were supposed to be working with VELVET REVOLVER, is there any truth in that?

Kelly Shaefer: Well yeah I was, I went to the audition and made it to the final four and then Scott Weiland became available. I went out to L.A. and jammed with them and did three songs and it was a great experience. For me, I was happy just happy to get an audition and have that opportunity. I did a record with NEUROTICA and we were on Ozzfest 2002. So I sent them that record when they were looking for a singer and they called and sent me three songs, asked me to do my thing on it. I sent it back and they dug it so I moved to L.A. for a weekend. We wrote another song and recorded a bunch of shit. I had the gig pretty much; Slash and me really hit it off, it was cool. But, of course, I don't blame them a bit, I'm happy for their success and Scott's a great frontman that fits in perfectly with them. I think they wanted someone a bit more dangerous and obviously he's sold millions of records so I lose out on that one! [Laughs] It would've been a great story though, it would have been interesting for a death metal guy to end up singing in a band with Slash. But it was a good experience and a lot of fun.

Blastwave: What do you guys think of the reunion thing? ANTHRAX have been a big talking point here, with people questioning why they brought back the old line up when they had a really good solid line up anyway. What are your reasons for reuniting?

Kelly Shaefer: I think we're doing it for a lot of different reasons than those guys are. This was more for the people that stayed with this band for years. We went through a lot of shit and lost our bass player on our first tour and that was really brutal. This was not about making money, it was about coming over and getting the opportunity to hear what we never got to do with Steve Flynn and it's just been really for fun. It's been a lot of work, it's really hard to play those songs. We're doing it for the people that were standing in line waiting for us to sign posters! I know it sounds cheesy, but it's what it's all about. We wouldn't be here if those people didn't stay with us and shout us out to all their friends. We're happy with the legacy we had as opposed to selling 100,000 records ten years ago. I wouldn't trade that respect for records sold any day. We're fans of metal like those kids that were waiting in line, so it's cool that it's all come full circle.

Read the entire interview at

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