An exclusive interview with Trent Hafdahl from After The Burial

Minnesota Twin Citers, After The Burial have been hard at work establishing what they consider to be their most dynamic, diverse, appetite you could ever imagine coming from them. The crushing wave of guitars, dividing drums, with powerful vocal chords is what you’ll be experiencing from their third installment, “In Dreams”. In which guitarist Trent Hafdahl discusses the band's past, present, and what lays ahead once this album comes into full effect.

1. What originally inspired you to want to play in a band and play guitar?

Trent: Basically what inspired me was the music I grew up listening to as a kid. I listened to a lot of music with killer guitar players like Randy Rhoads, Darrell Abbott, Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, and Alex Lifeson. Just the way those dudes spoke with the guitar made me want to pick it up and try it on my own. I swear man; I probably played "Flying High Again" and "Domination" a thousand fuckin' times a piece! Jamming loud as hell along to these dudes everyday in my parents’ house really made me realize that playing guitar was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, whether I made it my main focus or just kept it as a serious hobby. I was lucky enough to be friends with a group of really talented musicians through my last few years of high school, so that kind of spring-boarded my drive to start a band.

2. What drew you to wanting to play the 8-string guitar?

Trent: We started After The Burial in 2004 playing 7-strings. This was actually the first time I had really ever played one in a serious setting, to be honest. Through learning this new approach at writing songs with an extra string, I got into experimentation mode with the thing. Tuning that B string down as far as I could until it was flappin' off the neck and trying to write riffs with it. I still have some seriously funny demos lying around where you can hear how fucked up the action on the guitar is because of how detuned I had the thing. Justin and I both really enjoyed a lot of music with lower tunings, and after a year or two of throwing around the idea of tuning lower; we decided it was where we wanted to go. We didn't just want to tune the whole 7-string down and chug away though, because we wanted to retain the upper range for solo work/harmonized shredding that we enjoyed so much. The 8 string was the only logical direction for us. We pre-ordered two of the first batch of Ibanez rg2228's in March of 2007, got the axes in August, and the rest is history. 

3. What is your ultimate guitar you'd like to own, if not the one you already own?

Trent: That's a hard question! I could go through and list a bunch of guitars that I'd like to own that would perfectly suit every single aspect and approach of my playing, but instead...I'll just say the ultimate guitar I'd like to own would be a magical guitar where the strings were always brand new and in tune, the neck was always properly set-up, and it somehow magically always made it back into the guitar case without dents or scratches on it. Do they make those yet? Oh, and it would have a full size fridge compartment in the back. Why not? It's a fuckin' magical guitar dude.

4. So, In Dreams is the title for your third release, tell me about it.

Trent: "In Dreams" is our second release on Sumerian Records, third overall. What to say about it? Well, it's a little bit of the old and a little bit of the new, as far as the music is concerned. We went a couple places musically where we were always a little hesitant to go in the past. For this record, we're truly showcasing the way our band has been for the past two years since Anthony joined. We we're in a huge transitional period when the first "Rareform" came out in 2008, and subsequently had to fight to stay relevant to people as we had line-up troubles.

It was really tough to tell you the truth. When Anthony joined the band, we felt like the vibe was back to where it was when we first started. Unfortunately we weren't quite ready to get into writing a brand new album, so we did the next best thing in our minds which was to re-release "Rareform". "In Dreams" is the first actual album where Anthony is in the vocal drivers-seat, and you'll hear that on this album. It's a collective compilation of all us dudes grooving together in the truest sense.

5. When you started writing and recording the new album, did you go into it all having your mind set on this is the sound we want, this is how it's going to be done or did you go in and just start playing and piecing things together?

Trent: The only predisposition we ever have when writing an album is that the end result is something we like to listen to. That's the only "formula" we go by, and it's been that way since day one. Each one of us comes from a diverse musical background, and that lends itself to the music 100%. We know what we like. If it turns out we don't like a part of a song, we'll scrap it and come up with something new. There's not really much beyond that. We're huge fans of music that just happen to be lucky enough to create some together for others to listen to.

6. After finishing an album do you feel totally drained, like you've got all your creativity out?

Trent: Not really. The draining things about putting out an album are those that are outside of the actual writing of it. We're writing tons of material whether it's for an album or not. When we're writing a new album, we'll focus on the task at hand and put the songs together that we want to hear on the record, but after that it just goes right back into writing and demoing material. At any given point in listening to any of our songs, you could be hearing a riff that is four or five years old, and that's because we have so much material laying around. We're very picky about how the songs are put together, so inherently that means a lot of stuff is thrown into the archives, which is good because then we always have a wealth of ideas to choose from should we get stuck in a rut on a song or something.

7. What do you like and dislike about your past albums. Do you ever look back and feel like you could have done anything different?

Trent: Not enough solos.

8. Do you find it hard to keep motivated when you're on tour?

Trent: If the tour isn't doing so well, then yes. But I'm sure I could speak on behalf of the whole entire music industry, as far as the bands are concerned, in saying that being on a tour where you're playing awesome shows night to night is the ultimate form of motivation. Even if you're playing first on a bill at 3:30 in the afternoon for $100 a day, if the kids are reacting to you in a positive way, there's nothing like it in the world. It makes you want to get to the next city, do the next show, and do it again, even if you just have gotten off the stage. 

9. You are about to head out on the road with Wings of Plague is this cycle new to you or have you visited these spots before?

Trent: We've been touring hard since 2008, so a lot of these shows are in places we've been to before. I see a few new clubs here and there, but for the most part we've played in these areas at some point in the past.

10. Where do you see heavy metal and music in general in ten years time? Do you see any trends emerging?

Trent: I'm probably not the best person to ask about that, because honestly, I don't listen to much new music as far as metal is concerned. If it is something new I'm listening to, it's from a band that I've listened to for years, so it'll have a sort of sentimental value to it. Or it's from someone who I've made friends with through being in a band. I hear all sorts of names of bands that are making it big these days, and when I check out a song I can tell that the whole swoop-hair screamo singing/screaming thing is making some sort of a comeback, but not without the help of an abundance of keyboards/vocoders/electronic music samples etc. A lot of people dig it, but I'm not into that stuff. There's also been a big influx of bands who are taking to the vein of poly-rhythmic, progressive metal. I know there are a lot of really talented bands emerging these days, but I’m only aware of a very select few of em.

Trent: In ten years, I wouldn't be surprised if an audio sample of a robot taking a shit was the most popular single on iTunes. Technology is taking over the music industry as a whole, and it's making it easier for the average person to create mind blowing music, regardless of their talent. But what is talent? Ya know? I think that a lot of people overlook certain types of music because they think it doesn't take "talent", but you damn well know that the average person couldn't go up and DJ at some nightclub and have everybody hopping off. Just like you couldn't have Joe Shmoe write a poem and have all the beatniks snapping their fingers in some stoney spoken word coffee house. It's all within context I guess. Mostly all of the music on the radio these days is recycled garbage anyhow, so I really couldn't care less about what happens to the mainstream.

11. Does After The Burial have anything planned for the holiday season?

Trent: Well, we'll be on the road for Thanksgiving, which is going to suck because we're all huge fans of loads of good food and watching football.  We'll be getting home from tour on like Christmas Eve, so we'll be able to enjoy that and New Years in proper style. Nothing crazy planned for the band, just spending time with family and friends. We've been away for a long time, and although we get a couple weeks home in between tours, schedules are so busy and conflicting that it's hard to catch up with everyone you want to.

12. Finally, where do you see yourself in ten years? What do you want to achieve?

Trent: Ten years from now I'd like to see myself still doing something that brings me happiness. I've always lived by the motto "if you don't like your job, quit it". So I guess whether I'm still touring, or whether I'm doing something else aside from music altogether, as long as whatever it is makes me happy more often then it stresses me out, that's all I really need. I'll always be writing music regardless of anything, it's just part of who I am and I'll be doing it right up until I keel over.

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