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Making A Connection with Afterlife

Making A Connection with Afterlife

Photo Credit: Ana Massard

Making A Connection with Afterlife

Metalcore four piece collective Afterlife has presented Part Of Me upon the world of large via Hopeless Records, and it’s sonic testament that is well worth seeking out.  Their own personal soundtrack to maintaining mental health in these turbulent pandemic days, the explosive Part Of Me is an ultimately liberating experience.  Selections such as Burn It Down, Wasting Down, and Not Giving It Up are destined to become genre classics, well thought out and absolutely epic in scope.  Blending singing, screaming and rapping over a heavy, yet satisfyingly melodic landscape for a unique sound coupled with socially conscious lyrics, Afterlife are poised to influence this generation of heavy music. Highwire Daze recently made a connection with Afterlife’s charismatic front man Tyler Levenson to find out a whole lot more about the devastating impact found within the massive Part Of Me.  Read on…

Where’s the band based out of and what is your music scene currently like there?
The band Afterlife is based out of West Palm Beach, Florida. And our music scene is great here. We actually just did an album release show a couple of weeks ago and it sold out. This is our third sold-out Hometown show consecutively since we’ve been a band. The scene here is very great.

Tell me about the new album Part of Me. Is there any overall story or concept behind that title?
Absolutely. The whole concept of this record is all the different emotions and experiences that myself and the band felt during its creation. We wanted to feel as very much a part of the listener as it was a part of us during this process. And obviously, during writing this record – we were undergoing a first-time event. A global pandemic. So, a lot of the emotions and feelings that were going on at the time are very present and the album.

Let’s talk about a few of the songs on the album. One of the singles is Burn It Down, tell me a little about the song and the inspiration behind it.
Burn It Down came at the tail end of the recording process.  It was actually the product of us saying “No” to one of the other songs that we’ve written. We felt like we needed to do something better and a little more persuasive and aggressive. So, we scrapped one song and started writing Burn It Down and it actually came really, really quick in about a couple of days instrumentally and vocally.

And that song was inspired just by all the events going on. From when we started recording the record in March to when we eventually finished the album in October. We were very upset and concerned and angry at the state of the world – and not only the US but everywhere. It seemed like everybody was going through something. Where I was mentally was like maybe we just need to burn it all down and start fresh. Kind of like the story of a phoenix, you know. Rise From The Ashes was the premise for that song. Then the music video, it felt only right to have a lot of pyro and fire. We wanted it to translate lyrically and visually at the same time.

Let’s talk about the other single Wasting Time and the inspiration behind that.
Wasting Time was one of the first songs actually written for the record before we went into the studio and it is coupled with Burn It Down because they’re very similar in context. But, I feel that Wasting Time is a little more direct. While writing that song, and still right now, I feel like we’re on this path of no return. And we’re given all these options to either slow down that path or turn it all around completely.

One of the lines in the song is like, “Is it too late to turn back the clocks?” I feel like we’re going to reach a point where no matter what we do, our fate is sealed. I don’t believe we’ve reached it quite yet, but that is kind of the premise of the song. To have the listener, look around at everything that’s going on, and ask is this possible to be changed? Can I make a difference? The answer is, yes, you can, but we need to act now.

I picked all the singles to talk about.  Why don’t you select a song off of the album that maybe you don’t talk about that much and the inspiration behind it.
It never made being a single on the album, but I really love the song Pure and a lot of our fans have really felt attached to this song as well. They feel like they can relate to the song. The song Pure is about my personal battle with anxiety and depression, which I feel more and more people are coming out and speaking about, because I feel like it’s not so looked down upon these days, which is a great thing.

I feel like mental health is very important to talk about. The song essentially is when I’m going through a panic attack or a depressive episode, the only thing that I’m able to feel is as if I’m drowning. I wanted the song to be very chaotic and very frantic in its structure and sound – and the main hook in the song, it feels like drowning.

I wanted that song to feel to the listener what it’s like when I go through an anxiety attack, a panic attack, and a depressive episode. I feel like that song, since it was not a single, people are picking up on it while they listened to the record and that’s why it’s rising up in the stream counts. It’s just also a very, very fun song to play live.

What was it like recording an album in the middle of a pandemic and all this social unrest going on in the world today?
It was something that really molded and solidified how we wanted this record to be. And we went to the studio in March. In all of 2019, we toured 19 countries. We are ready to go in and write a new record. I was living in LA at the time and all the guys flew in.  About three weeks into the album, we are in the Los Angeles area and the pandemic happened and it put this weird blanket over the process – because at the time, they were talking about shutting down Airports. At the time, they were talking about all these restrictions. So, the rest of the guys who didn’t live in LA were like, we need to get home. We have to get home before we’re stuck here.

Obviously, at that point in time, we had to put a halt on the record. And then we didn’t revisit the album physically in the studio until May, which took place in Florida – because Florida was the only place at the time that was allowing things like that to happen. It was very still locked down in California. I think during the process, it only gave us more fuel, and it really inspired us to create a record.

I actually live in Los Angeles. Yeah, I remember what that time was like. That was pretty nuts.
Yeah. It was insane. I was living in Long Beach. So, we had to Airbnb in Los Angeles. It got to the point where, in LA, obviously there’s a huge smog issue, there were photos from the beginning of the pandemic where you could hardly see the skyline, to almost the end before people started being allowed to be back out and it was clearing up. You can see the skyline. It was very interesting to see how the lack of human presence was almost bettering the environment.

Oh, absolutely. It didn’t even look like Los Angeles and of course, once everything started opening up again, it all went to crap.
Yeah. Where I was living in Long Beach, there’s a place called Signal Hill. It’s like this big hill. You can go up on it and look out and you’ll see the marina and everything and it was incredible to see what it looked like without smog. Same as if you were to hike Runyon or anything. I think it was a global thing too. People started seeing specific species of animals return to lakes and rivers and stuff like that because there was no one out.  There was no one fishing. There was no one doing these things. It just kind of put it in perspective, like touching back on Wasting Time and Burn It I Down. If we really wanted to go out there and fix these things, it was proof right there.

Let’s talk about Zach Jones, the producer of Part Of Me.  His credits include Crown The Empire, We Came As Romans, and Telltale. What did Zach Jones contribute to the overall recording process with Afterlife?
I’ll start off first by saying we absolutely love Zach. Zach has been the producer for this band from the very beginning. From the very inception of Afterlife with our Vicious Cycle EP. He was there for the Breaking Point record, along with Zakk Cervini.  And now, for Part of Me, he was the main producer on the entire record with help from Drew Fulk and a few of our peers, and it’s awesome working with Zach. He really understands what we’re trying to do as a band, not only musically but visually, he’s there to help us create.

He’s very much an official unofficial member of Afterlife. He’s also one of our great friends, even before when he was in a band. He used to be in the band called My Enemies & I, and we actually toured with them, and that’s how we became acquainted. He’s a great man. A lot of his recent work aside from our new record is really speaking volumes; the new Crown The Empire song. The stuff that he has done with Lil Lotus and Chelsea Grin.  He’s worked on the new Fever 333 music. He is rising as a producer and it’s absolutely awesome to see. It’s been awesome to see both of our careers have an upward trajectory through the time that we’ve known each other.

I think you’ve played two shows since the pandemic. The Record Release Show and the Emo Nite. What was that like to suddenly play again after being off for a year and a half?
It was incredible, especially for our album release show. Our album release show was the first show back in 608 days. So, we were very deep into rehearsals making sure that it was the perfect setlist for a release show for the new album. And we put the bands on the show that we really wanted to see, and they were awesome. They set the tone perfectly for us to take the stage, and when we walked on stage, we were told that the show was sold out. It was a very incredible feeling to not only perform after nearly two years of not being on the stage, but to also see the crowd singing so loudly for songs that had only been out for a couple of days.

It was a very awesome moment. It felt like it paid off. It was a very rewarding show for us. Emo Nite was fun. We flew out there. We know the people who put it together. We do have a lot of Texas fans. It was awesome for them to finally get to see the band post / during the pandemic. It was great.

If Afterlife could open for any band either now or from the past, who would it be and why? I’m sure all the members would pick someone different, but who would you pick?
Yeah, our drummer would take Led Zeppelin hands down.  Me personally, I would love to open for – one of my favorite bands is the Shinedown.  So, I think opening for Shinedown would be absolutely insane. And Linkin Park, Slipknot, Korn, all those bands. I would feel accomplished if we were able to open for any of those artists and who knows what the future may hold?

I see a lot of these larger Arena act bands bringing out smaller artists. Papa Roach, they brought out Memphis May Fire and these bands that are smaller compared to them and it’s awesome to see that it’s possible in the future. It’s definitely a realistic thing.

Do you have any messages for your fans who are reading this interview right now.
I think one thing I would like to leave them with is that this record is a clear indication that anything is possible. Because there were a lot of times during the recording process of Part of Me, I felt like this album would never come out, and there was a lot of things that kind of reinforced that idea. But our perseverance is the reason this record is out today. It is the reason we’re able to tour. Because let’s be honest, a lot of people called it quits during the pandemic. Not only in music, but in all aspects of life – and we refused to take that path. So, perseverance, patience, and you just got to trust the process – it is something I would like to leave with everybody because it’s real.

Afterlife is vocalist Tyler Levenson, guitarist Andrew McGuire, drummer Luke Walkinshaw and bassist Tristan Edwards.

(Interview by Ken Morton)

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