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In Words: After All

- Dries van Damme - June 2009 - Claudia Ehrhardt -

After All: Dries van Damme & Piet Focroul live @ Biebob
© Claudia Ehrhardt

Dries van Damme - June 24th 2009 (by email)

I came across After All when they toured with Anthrax years ago. Since that tour I saw the band many times and they never disappointed me live. And with Cult Of Sin the have another great album. Time to shed some light on the Belgium thrashers and guitarist Dries van Damme answered my questions.

Your new album Cult Of Sin is out for a bit and I guess you already got some feedback... Are you satisfied with the response so far?

Absolutely! We got great reviews in almost all the major magazines, and we were featured on the free CDs that came with Rock Hard (Germany and Greece), Rock Tribune (Belgium and Holland) and Terrorizer (UK). Most people seem to really like the record. The new songs go over really well live, so yeah, we are very happy with the way things turned out.

This time you have some guest at your album, friends you made on tour. How did you choose the songs they contributed to?

That was quite easy really. It was just a matter of getting the right feeling. When we were recording Land Of Sin for example, I just thought: it would be great to have a Andy LaRocque style solo on the song. Instead of trying to play such a solo myself, I just asked the man himself. The same thing happened with the other songs, so that's how we ended up with James Rivera (Helstar), Juan Garcia and Bernie Versailles (Agent Steel) and Joey Vera (Armored Saint) on the album as well...

Why the title Cult Of Sin?

Our singer Piet wrote all the lyrics for the album. They deal with the dark side of humanity, as usual, haha... Sin is major part in society, in our everyday lives... Cult Of Sin really fits the general theme of the lyrics well.

This time you worked with Dan Swanö? Was Tue Madson not available? Or haven't you been satisfied with his job on This Violent Decline?

On the previous album Decline we worked with Frederik Nordström (Opeth, In Flames) as well as with Tue Madsen (Halford, Hatesphere). We have considered working with them again, but in the end we thought it would be better to try something new. Don't get me wrong: I'm still very happy with the way Decline was recorded and mixed, but we wanted something else, that's all. I had been in touch with Dan Swanö already in 2002-2004. At the time he wasn't working in his studio anymore, so in that period, we made two albums with Harris Johns (Voivod, Kreator). For Cult Of Sin, the time was right to finally work with Dan. And I must say: he did an amazing job. He easily exceeded the high expectations we had.

Andy LaRocque plays on your album and he's a well-known producer. Have you thought about asking him to produce the album? Was he too busy?

I have been in touch with Andy for quite some time as well. When we were in Gothenburg, he came to see our show. Later on, we toured with King Diamond, and yes, we discussed the possibility of working together. For now, he played a guitar solo on the new album, but who knows we can work together on recording or mixing one of the next After All albums, we'll see. I sure would love to work with him one day...

You did a cover of Holy Diver, why this one? Can we expect more stuff like that?

We rehearsed Holy Diver as a special song for our set at the Graspop festival in 2008 (with Iron Maiden headlining). Around the same time we were in the studio recording Cult Of Sin, so since we had rehearsed Holy Diver, we decided that we could as well record it. In the end, we added the song to the new album as a hidden bonus track.

Have you sent your version to Mr. Dio to hear what he thinks?

Not yet. There's a chance that I'll meet him at the Graspop festival, so who knows, maybe I can give him the CD there. But we did get a nice compliment from Dio's tour manager. We played a couple of shows with Testament earlier this year. Their tour manager has worked for Dio for many years. When he heard us play Holy Diver, he came up to us to congratulate us. He said that he had heard a lot of horrible Dio covers of the years, but that we should be proud of our version of Holy Diver. So I guess we're doing pretty okay, haha...

For all albums you have vinyls, what about Cult Of Sin? Will there be a vinyl release?

There is vinyl release in the making. We hope to have it out in the fall-winter of 2009.

At the moment it seems that vinyl is getting more popular again... Is that a trend you welcome?

I am a bit of vinyl collector myself. So yeah, I really like to see After All being released on vinyl. I'm not sure if it's really a trend, although there is some rise in the interest for vinyl. And that's nice, obviously.

You just played 2 shows with Testament.. How was it? And will there be more shows with them in future?

The shows went really well. Nice crowds. Testament ruled as usual. And I must say: really cool people to work with. We felt very welcome. There is a chance that we will be playing more shows together. We are looking into the possibilities as we speak.

You started about 2 decades ago and played with many great bands through the years. Do you think that coming from Belgium was a kind of hindrance?

We get that question a lot. Well, it certainly was in the late 80's. There was no scene over here, no venues, no clubs, no nothing. But at the same time: we didn't have a clue about the whole music business. I was only until we got the hang of the music industry – by the time our first album came out – that things started to get going for us. Since the last 6 or 7 years, we focus more on Europe than on Belgium. We play most of our shows outside of Belgium anyway.
These days, I don't think it doesn't matter anymore where a band comes from. With the internet and Myspace, everybody is within reach.

It seems that there is a quite active scene in Belgium, is that right?

There is quite a large metal community, that's correct. Most Belgian bands are part of the death and black metal underground. Only a handful of bands are known outside of their own area. Only a handful of bands have a proper record deal and can tour outside of Belgium. I'm happy to say that After All is one of those bands, haha.

There are a few more shows scheduled. You'll play with Abattoir and Forbidden. Seems like little by little you play with all of the influential thrash metal bands... Anyone you still have on your list? Someone you want to play with?

Yeah, the list gets longer year after year. We played with most of the famous Bay Area bands: Exodus, Testament, Forbidden, Heathen, Laaz Rockit... Death Angel is still on the list. And Metallica of course, haha. Seriously: it is always a pleasure to go out with bands that we listened to as kids, bands that we grew up with. Touring with King Diamond, for example, was really a dream that came true. Or opening for Voivod. Or Paradise Lost. Or Life Of Agony. As I said: the list has become really long over the years. Bands that we would love to tour with or play shows in the future? The really big ones, I guess: Maiden, Slayer, Priest, Heaven & Hell... We played at the Graspop Festival last year, with Iron Maiden headlining, so we are getting closer already, haha...

Last year you played at Graspop - and the billing was awesome. How was it to play there?

Awesome, totally. Iron Maiden are my favourite band of all time. Playing the festival at the same day of Maiden was really cool. Graspop had about 140,000 visitors in 2008, so it was really cool to be part of it. On the new album, there's a video included as bonus track that gives an idea of how it is being on the road and in the studio with After All. There's some stuff from Graspop in the video as well.

Are any festivals in sight? Or any talk about a tour later this year? Or other news to share?

Right now, we are looking into the possibilities of playing a European tour later this year, probably in the fall or winter. We are also working on our first American live dates. If all goes well, we will play a couple of shows in California before the end of the year. At least, that’s the plan...
Thanks for the interest in After All! -

I really hope that they get a proper tour and that more metalheads discover After All. I would really like to hear Cult Of Sin live again. And I highly recommend to see them live, don't miss them on tour!

Claudia Ehrhardt


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