Interviews: ĀTER

In this new occasion, we have had the opportunity to interview the  Black Metal band ĀTER from Belgium. Check out the interview and follow the band on their FACEBOOK PAGE.

1. Where did you get the idea for the band name, you planned it or came out just like that?

Wesley: I was looking for a name that represented everything dark and filthy, Āter came to mind because it is latin for several things, depending on how you use it. It’s partly the origin of the word “atrocious”, coming from Āter and Atrox. Depending on which fall you use (nonimative, accusative, dative…..) it will mean, dark, dark liquid, malevolent, black ink… So everything dark and “atrocious” is more or less present in the meaning of the bandname. Also the dash on the A is the only correct way to write it: Ā, the dash means it’s a long sounding A instead of a short sounding one, and as soon as Latin became the written word of books, they realised the pronunciation had to be indicated in some way, there is one other Ater (active) band that I know of and they play a completely different style and spell it wrong.

2. Why did you want to play this genre? 

Wesley: Ever since I was 12, which is 95. That is why the project started in 1996, although it only really came to fruition in 2014 since I was constantly playing and touring as a vocalist with other bands, before 2014 and after. This was at the time a solo project so somehow at the end of the priorities, only in 2014 it seemed like it could have become a band, but it continued to remain a solo project with session musicians. Mantorok deserves a special mention because he really wrote a lot of the stuff with me and I hoped he and I would become what Āter is today, but he chose to remain a session musician.

Guy: Preferably I tend to love music where melancholic melodies form the base of the song. This works through different genres, from classical music to black metal. This combo with the dark atmosphere that the early black metal has been known to shape was marvelous to me. Meanwhile I’m close to 25 years of playing black metal, for me this is still the genre where I can channel all my emotions through.

Jeroen: In the early days, my guitar playing never left my bedroom. I practiced the most diverse styles I could: Rock, Nu-metal, Thrash, … But I always had a strong preference towards black and death. As an inexperienced guitar player, playing black metal seemed easy, because back then I did not have the knowledge or experience concerning different tunes (like downtuning). A lot of the traditional black metal bands played in standard tuning (Mayhem, Watain, Dimmu Borgir, Marduk, …) so having them as my examples taught me to play and practice this style. A few years ago I suffered from depression. A very lot changed in my life in the most negative of ways. Black Metal was the music that gave me the power to lift myself up, relive my emotions, channel them through music and help me cope with my negative feelings. Playing Black Metal is a way I found to express those emotions and exorcise those demons that I could not do any other way or with any other person. Since about 3 years I’m an active guitarist with the death/grind band “Putrid Inbred”, by rehearsing with those guys my guitar playing improved tremendously. Still I always wanted to play Black Metal, I missed the style, the way to concentrate my energy and channel the aforementioned emotions, so by having the experience and practice I gained by actively playing and gigging with Putrid Inbred I found the confidence to join this band, when I saw the advert, my only thought was: now or never. I chose “now”.

Jerry: I always had a passion for black metal and when Wesley talked about Āter he immediately got my interest . So this was absolutely the right moment to join the band.

Luca: Black Metal possesses in my opinion one of the most uniques characteristics in the whole extreme music scenario. The dark atmospheres and the deep lyrics that depict this genre are probably what attracted me when I was 13 and still makes me feel like it’s in a way the music style that makes me reflect about everything surrounding me. The harsh yet mesmerizing atmospheres in combination of the deep lyrics (often inspired by litterateur, life experiences, philosophy, myths and/or any kind of culture) have always been factors that have catched my attention ever since I was 13.

Roger: I had a lot of bands in all kinds of genres. But black and death metal are more my kind of music. As soon as Wesley asked if I would join his band, I didn’t hesitate!

3. Did you know each other before the band was formed? 

Wesley: As previously stated, it started as a solo project. A lot happened in between. I wrote about 26 songs, a lot of them with Mantorok, a lot of them alone. It so happened that a storm caused water damage and broke all pc’s. It was years later that I discovered that I still had a hard disk worth fixing and I recovered some songs, replayed certain parts, remastered it and released it as an EP. It was after the EP enjoyed modest success that people came to introduce themselves as possible musicians, most of them which I indeed already did know. The only non-familiar face was Jeroen Lagae, guitarist of death/grind metal band Putrid Inbred, who proposed himself to play with us after we put out an advertisement for a second guitarist, since Luca lives in Germany, so playing live and rehearsing with him is not the most easy of tasks. However, he remains an active and writing member and will be present at special shows, sometimes performing songs with 3 guitars.

Guy: I knew Wesley but all other bandmembers were new to me, but there was a clear notice that we all shared the same passion… things like that bring people closer together.

Jeroen: I knew the band Gotmoor and Lemuria, but I had no clue who was in the band, haha!

Jerry: Wesley and Roger are already long time friends, they are even more like brothers to me. And like in every band you get to know new people and hope that you have this common click. Luckily Guy, Jeroen and Luca are cool dudes and they are some damn fine guitarplayers.

Luca: I met Wes and Jerry while I was playing lead guitar for Anwynn (Symphonic Metal Band from Belgium). I have had the luck to share the stage quite a few times with Lemuria and Ithilien and therefor know these amazing artists I am proud to be working with now. I got to know Nevel, Jeroen and Roger right after Wesley gave me the big opportunity to be part of Āter.

Roger: Jeroen and Guy are new for me. I knew Wesley since a few years. And Jerry, I know him a very long time, we are from the same city. I think we first met somewhere at the beginning of the nineties.

4. Each band member favorite band? 

Wesley Beernaert: Emperor 

Guy Van Nieuwenhove: Satyricon, Belphegor, Emperor, Opeth, Dark Tranquility, Pink Floyd

Luca Viperini: Belphegor

Jeroen Lagae: Ascension, Darkened Nocturn Slaughtercult, Whoredom Rife 

Jerry Winkelmans: Difficult to name one band but Dissection, Emperor, Opeth, Anathema and Fleshgod Apocalypse can be in my top 

Roger Romain: Cannibal Corpse, Dimmu Borgir, Immortal, ...

5. Who or what inspires you to write songs? 

Wesley: Mostly feelings, emotions and nostalgia. I fell in love with the 90’s metal scene after hearing Emperor, Gorgoroth, Carpathian Forest, Necrophobic, early Dimmu borgir, Ancient Rites and Enthroned… I never wanted to play anything else since.

Guy: Emotions and everyday things one notices around himself. All the shit in the world, the beautiful things… just life.

Jeroen: V. Santura from Dark Fortress has been my biggest inspiration!

Jerry: Everything around me.

Luca: Besides the music I am lately getting more inspiration by Paintings and literature/philosophy Books. I normally develop an image or a concept that I connected to feelings and passion, the core of every artistic work, and let my mind process those informations into music.

Roger: I just wanted to play and I developed my style and taste over the years. I’ve played every genre I can think of, as long as I could play, but my love has always been black and death metal 

6. Where was your last gig? 

Wesley: Hellhammer headliner tour through Czech-Republic and Embrace The Journey Tour through Germany and Holland were the last gigs I participated in. I mostly toured with a band called Lemuria the past few years, but as a side profession I work as a session vocalist and live-stand-in. I built my own vocal studio for this. For some projects I get paid royalties, then my name is mentioned in the credits, for some I’m paid by the job, in that case mentioning my name is of no obligation or I’m doing it under a pseudonym. Also, I must mention again that Āter was a solo project until we got signed, so the band never performed together, even knowing most of us shared stages before. We are now getting ready to go live with old (solo) and new (band created) material.

Guy: My last gig was with my other band, Gotmoor, in “De Baroeg” (Rotterdam - Holland)

Jeroen: My last gig was with Putrid Inbred at Dreamer Fest, where we played together with Cryptopsy, Sinister and Ingested.

Jerry: My last gigs where with my former band in Japan (Osaka and Tokyo) and Germany in Bremen.

Luca: Durbuy Rock Festival 2018 with Anwynn. That is a big highlight in my musical journey.. playing alongside Eluveitie, Alestorm and Igorrr.

Roger: My last gig was with my coverband, I play in different bands, but focusing on Āter as the only fulltime project.

7. Where would you like to act? 

Wesley: Norway, Switzerland, Czech-Republic, Holland and the rest of Scandinavia are always pleasant places to tour. US would be great, but that requires a very good booker and promotor so we’ll keep that for a questionable future.

Guy: I have a huge love for the Scandinavian countries.

Jeroen: Everywhere, as long if it’s possible with my wife (and kids).

Jerry: Everywhere

Luca: The whole world for sure. I love traveling and discovering new places and cultures... it would be a dream to connect it with the band.

Roger: Doesn’t really matter, every stage is good for me. 

8. Whom would you like to feature with? 

Wesley: Emperor, MGLA, Gorgoroth, The committee, Mayhem, ….

Guy: Doesn’t really matter to me.

Jeroen: A Belgian gig with Wiegedood and Kludde would be nice ^^

Jerry: Hard to tell, can only hope that we can perform with bands that are a pleasure to share the stage with.

Luca: Belphegor, Arkhon Infaustus, Behemoth, Vitriol, Hate.... too many to mention.

Roger: As I mentioned earlier, any stage is good for me, we will see who we meet.

9. Whom not?

Wesley: We will never break down musical colleagues… let’s just say we don’t like troublemakers. People with their feet firmly on the ground and no ego or “acted character” are welcome to play with us and we hope they welcome us as well.

Guy: I respect anyone who’s into music, tastes differ, that’s just the way it is. But personally I basically get along with as good as everyone.

Jeroen: I don’t like black metal ego’s who are extremely into the satanic stuff, I’m more down to earth, I’m a gym teacher in a elementary school, a family guy, … Black metal is just music to me, a way to express myself, art.

Jerry: Following Wes on this one too.

Luca: Belphegor, Arkhon Infaustus, Behemoth, Vitriol, Hate.... too many to mention.  I love to work with everyone as long as there is the much needed mutual respect. If this doesn’t happen to exist I would rather avoid conflicts and go my own way and leave the others go their own.

Roger: I agree with Wes on that. 

10. Any of you has ever suffered from stage fright? Any tip for beginners on how to beat that?

Wesley: I personally had huge stage fright when I began gigging, I overcame it by stopping to worry about the crowd and sinking into my own character, the show I am giving, the story I am telling, acting out the emotions the music and lyrics bring to me. The audience is there and exists, and I love to communicate with them, but once performing you crawl into that professional space and just play your role and enjoy as much as you can. That is why a show in front of 3 people is as intense to perform as for 10.000 people. Of course the bigger crowds bring the bigger response, therefore also the bigger kick and the greater enjoyment.

Guy: I’m a perfectionist by nature, which sometimes makes playing live a living hell for me. Bad or negative thoughts can really affect your performance. Taking a look at the bigger picture of the gig helps to determine the value of what you are doing, and also helps to relativate what’s happening. Also, convinding yourself that a simple mistake isn’t the end of the world helps a lot to relax a bit more.

Jeroen: Never!

Jerry: In the beginning when I started playing drums.Nowadays I don’t have any trouble anymore with stage fright. I think it’s a process you need to endure. Once you’re over it, you can handle the whole world.

Luca: Never suffered of stage fright, on the opposite, I feel much more myself on stage than off stage. I connect strongly to my music and use that as a positive source lf energy. However I have had friends suffering stage fright and the best tip I could think of to help them was to keep in mind that the people there are for the most part there to see you being yourself doing what you love to do.

Roger: Stage fright? Just do your thing and the rest will follow!

11. What bands have inspired you the most?

Probably the bands I mentioned as who I’d like us to be featured with: Emperor, MGLA, Gorgoroth, The committee, Mayhem, ….. I myself started with Metallica, Cradle of Filth, Venom, Emperor, Slayer, Burzum, Mayhem, Hellhammer,… but soon found that the most melodic black metal touches my soul the most. Thus bands like Emperor and Old Gorgoroth + early Cradle Of Filth really caught my attention and gave me the first REAL musical goosebumps.

Guy: Requiem van Mozart

Jeroen: Cradle Of Filth, Mayhem, Dark Fortress, Watain,…

Jerry: The bands with the great drummers like Hellhammer, Martin Lopez, Trym Torson,etc...

Luca: I’d love to mention Behemoth first since they changed my musical view in a drastic way as soon as I discovered them at the age of 13. I still remember listening their works until Evangelion on a daily basis. Belphegor is still and will probably always be number one, their mix of rawness and harmonies in combination of strong and deep lyrics make it one of the most incredible bands out there to me. Other bands worth to mention would be Arkhon Infaustus, Aoratos, Nightbringer, Vitriol, Hate, Hate Eternal, Gorgoroth, Enthroned, Conquering Dystopya, Marduk, Mgła, Decapitated, Aborted, ... the list is endless.

Roger: Immortal, Cradle of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Satyricon

12. What's the weirdest thing a fan has ever asked you for?

Wesley: Next to the occasional boob and booty signing, probably a lock of my hair to keep in a box.

Guy: No strange experiences yet.

Jeroen: For me it was very awkward when somebody asked me to sign a playlist from my other band, because I don’t feel, and I don’t look like a typical metal dude, I am just a simple guy that was playing some music in a bar with my band. I didn’t understand why anybody wanted my autograph.

Jerry: Well most of the time a signed drumstick but when I was in Japan I received some amazing gifts like beans, candy, miso soup and also a fan who knew that I became a father gave a drinking cup for my son.

Luca: Probably the request to have a look underneath my kilt.

Roger: Nothing weird: autographs, guitar picks, a nice chit chat about my gear. 

13. What do you think of your fans? 

Wesley: I am ever so grateful that they are there. Without them, I would probably still make music, but would never be able to go public with it or make new records and perform, which is what I love to do most.

Guy: I agree 100% with Wes.

Jeroen: I agree 100% with Wes.

Jerry: Fully agree with Wes, fans are the cherry on the cake. 

Luca: I haven’t seen so many people supporting a project that hasn’t played live yet. It is rewarding, especially since I am living in Germany, so I can’t really always see it for my self. I am really grateful for each and everyone of them and I cannot wait for them to hear the new material coming next.

Roger: I agree 100% with Jeroen, Jerry and Wesley.

14. What do you think of our site?

Wesley: It’s very diverse, which I like. Easy to navigate, the search function is very precise (you for example can’t find Ater, but you CAN find Āter, with the dash, perhaps you should make it less strict because not everybody knows how to type the dash upon the A), one tip I would give it to create everything in the same language. When there’s no commentary, it says “no comments yet” in Italian (introduct tu commentario) or when the search function doesn’t find anything it also shows an Italian message. I like the way you guys introduce free music, paid music and new bands. It gives people the opportunity to find new music to discover without much hassle, on the right you have a great sub-selection of genres and of course there is still the search function. Even though we love to play black metal, we support any artist expressing their passion and dislike segmentation of the scene. A site devoting themselves to metal or even alternative rock in general is something we greatly support. It’s comparable to our own Belgian/Dutch site “Zware Metalen” who does more or less the same.

Guy: Respect!

Jeroen: Same comments as Wes, great site!

Jerry: Great site and respect for keeping the rock and metal alive.

Luca: Always nice to see sites dedicated to metal and alternative styles with so much content.

Roger: A very clear site, everything is sorted-out, good information.

15. Something add?

Wesley: Thank you so much for this opportunity to present ourselves and answer your questions, please keep on doing the great work that you do with the site and we most certainly hope that you will love our next release, which will be a band effort rather than the solo EP that is out right now. It will contain so much more melody and diversity. We are most certainly proud of what we are doing and hope the audience will react with the same enthusiasm as we are producing and playing the material.

Guy: Nothing to add.

Jeroen: What Wes said.

Jerry: Look out, we are spreading the Āter plague.

Luca: Thank you so much for this interview, it’s nice to see that some people are still dedicated in supporting the musical scene, especially in these more extreme styles. I can’t wait to know what you will think about the new music.

Roger: Following Wes and Jerry on this one.

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