Earlier this week, Anso DF of MetalSucks unveiled part one of his epic two-part interview with legendary guitarist/vocalist Kelly Shaefer of Atheist and Neurotica. Amongst other topics, Shaefer discussed Atheist’s new album, Jupiter, his lyric-writing process, locking horns with Death’s Chuck Schuldiner, drugs, the genius of James Hetfield, and how Atheist represents a “different kind of technical metal.”
An excerpt follows:
At this point, it’s a matter of record that the instrumentation of Atheist is amazing, right? Adding a confrontational personality throughout the lyrics serves to elevate Atheist to an even higher plane. It’s like chocolate on ice cream. Or fresh raspberries in cereal. Better!
[laughs] You know, there was a question poised to me 20 years ago: “How is this music going to survive?” And my answer was always that people need to learn how to play their instruments. That’s probably an easy statement to make, but it was something I felt really strongly about. In order for extreme metal to make it as a valid genre of music that would have classic qualities to it 20 years later, it’d have to up the level of musicianship. And that’s exactly what happened. And 20 years ago, I didn’t think we’d make it here and people would still be talking about this music now.
You can see that in the early career of Chuck Schuldiner [of Death] — very basic, very simple, with more of a shock factor than instrumentalism. As the story is told, Death gets a lot of credit for being one of the bands that broke into technical metal. Purists and people who were there back in the day know that that’s not necessarily true. I give him all the credit in the world; Chuck is the godfather of Death Metal, without a doubt. So in order for the genre to survive this far, if anybody needed to turn and introduce more musicianship into their band, it was Death. They had so much influence on all the young bands coming up. So by Chuck recognizing that musicianship would be key, it became easier for fans to accept bands like Atheist. I love Chuck for that. I love the fact that he finally got it. But if you look back at the old magazines, he was not a fan of Atheist at all. We had many, many verbal confrontations at Morrisound Studios and through magazines. His argument was always that jazz has no place in metal. “Those guys [in Atheist] don’t even listen to metal,” he used to say.
Really? Is that true?
Oh my god, yeah! He says all that then gets Paul Masvidal and Sean Reinert [both of Cynic] in his band. So his opinion changed. That’s okay. I don’t chain him to that in any way. He was smart enough to recognize it. He never admitted that he was wrong, but the music admitted he was wrong, from Human on. He knew to go get the best musicians. That was most important — not the guy with the most evil hair, or the biggest upside cross, or the guy who watches the most horror movies. He fucking got Gene Hoglan, Paul Masvidal, Steve DiGiorgio, Sean Reinert … all these guys who could play their asses off. So I tip my hat to him for that.
Read the rest of the interview at the below URL. Part two will be unveiled Monday.